Ph.D., Princeton University, 2012;
M.A., Princeton University, 2008;
B.A., Princeton University, 2004.
My research interests lie at the intersection of intellectual, political, and administrative history in the pre-modern Middle East. The book project on which I am presently working traces the history of a question—whether non-Muslims might hold positions of political and administrative authority in Islamic states—and the diverse answers that were given in response to it. I am also in the process of editing, translating, and studying two medieval Arabic polemical works composed in Egypt on the same topic. More broadly, I am intrigued by historical approaches that synthesize very large numbers of sources, especially comparative history, as well as by those with a very narrow focus, such as the decipherment and contextualization of medieval Arabic manuscripts and documents. I am developing databases that deal with the prosopography of Islamic administration and with the statistical analysis of hadith and akhbar.
In graduate courses I like to juxtapose the close reading of primary sources in the original languages to broader historical-sociological problems. Course topics are driven by the needs and interests of the students as well as my own. My undergraduate courses tend to emphasize direct encounter with documents, even at the introductory level. The usual itinerary in courses on the Middle East will be, first, a whirlwind tour of the political and geographical settings to historical change, followed by more leisurely study of selected themes. In all cases I am most excited by philological and comparative problems.
Recent Courses Taught:
- Origins of the Modern World: 1500 to the Present
- The Making of Islamic Societies
- "Upholding God's Rule: Early Muslim juristic opposition to the state employment of non-Muslims," Islamic Law and Society 19:1 (2012) (ed. H. Motzki and D. Powers).
- Primary-source appendix for students, to Heinz Halm. The Arabs: A Short History. Princeton: Markus Wiener, 2011, pp. 181-330 (co-edited book section).
- Research Fellowship, Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, 2012
- Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship, 2011-2012
- William H. Rea '34 Fellowship, Princeton University Graduate School, 2010-2011
- Fulbright Fellowship, Egypt, 2004-2005