I am a literary comparatist and cultural historian interested in the manner by which the cultural, social and political fields have been constitutive of forms of identity across Southwest Asia and North Africa, and in diaspora settings. Specifically, I study Persian and Arabic literary history in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. My first book Literary Modernity between Europe and the Middle East (Routledge, 2009) explored the origins of the conception of literary modernity in Arabic and Persian literatures, a topic that I have further addressed in articles and as editor of a special issue of the journal Middle Eastern Literatures. Second, I research the role of cinema and visual culture in the formation of cultural memory in conflict and post-conflict social settings. This research is reflected in my second book, Surviving Images: Cinema, War and Cultural Memory in the Middle East (Oxford UP, 2015). I am currently completing a critical study of the cinema of Elia Suleiman, under contract with Wallflower/Columbia University Press.
I was a founding member of Tufts' Department for Studies in Race, Colonialism and Diaspora, and have directed the Tufts Arabic program for over 10 years. I also served as the director for the Center for the Humanities at Tufts for four years (2018-2022).