For me, coming to St. Lawrence University has been a sort of homecoming: growing up in Upstate New York, I enjoyed camping and hiking in this region in my youth. After college, I was determined to get overseas and studied and worked in Turkey for four years before returning to the United States to begin doctoral work on Middle Eastern History at UCLA, where I received my doctorate in 2007. In between all of this I somehow managed to sneak in short stints in France and Indonesia, as well as volunteer work with refugees in Turkey and with Amnesty International.
So far, my research has primarily focused on the darker aspects of the Middle East’s interaction with modernity: nationalism, authoritarianism, assimilation, and ethnic cleansing. One of the many joys of teaching is that, alongside these brutal realities, I can also share some of the joyful or less well-known elements of Middle Eastern culture: the Sufi rituals of the Mevlevi, the pleasures of Islamic calligraphy (hatt), the energy of the Istanbul hip hop scene. Teaching about the Middle East in a time of war and terror holds special challenges and responsibilities. It also holds particular pleasures: my students tend to be engaged, energetic and eager to understand. I work hard to give them the context – and the tools – to do so.