I received my doctoral training as a historian in the interdisciplinary Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago (2003). Prior to that, I studied at Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria.
My teaching and research are integrally connected. In the classroom, I explore methods by which to inspire and assist students to actively engage and learn about people in parts of the world that seems very distant to young Canadians today. My desire is to ignite interest in and empathy for the peoples and cultures of the Middle East as well as Muslims in many parts of the world as we explore contemporary experiences from a historical perspective. In the context of what can seem to be mind-boggling developments across the Middle East, I am interested not just in making sense of significant political developments and transformations but equally in the experiences of ordinary women, men and children who contribute to these changes while also enduring their consequences.
Recently I have diverged from my focus upon Turkey to study “International Islam” as a global phenomenon after 1945, particularly as articulated by the World Muslim Congress. At a time normally associated with secular nationalism and decolonization, the World Muslim Congress worked to cultivate a shared Muslim identity within the nation-state framework. This produced an expression of Muslim unity distinct from both early Pan-Islam and the Islamism with which we are more familiar today. In light of the prominence of various expressions of Islamism in recent years, it is imperative that we consider the nature of International Islam, its capacity to reflect the priorities of people in countries throughout the world and the framework it offers Muslims trying to negotiate modernity and globalization in the twenty-first century. I am currently exploring these themes as they have been manifest in Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt.
I invite undergraduate and graduate students to explore with me the possibilities of studying aspects of modern Middle East and Islamic history. I am happy to work with undergraduates interested in Directed Reading courses, and encourage students interested in a History MA to apply through the Tri-University Graduate Program in History.
I welcome students who wish to develop a historical perspective on the contemporary realities facing the Middle East as well as Muslims around the world. In the classroom and through extracurricular activities, we explore many of the contentious and difficult issues that dominate media headlines today. In recent years, I have hired a number of undergraduate and graduate research assistants, while also encouraging student engagement through the club Daughters for Life Laurier. Most recently, I have begun to facilitate student travel to the Middle East through MZ 200, “An Introduction to Muslim Studies.”
In Spring 2016, I plan to deliver a field course on the realities of the Israel-Palestine conflict in Israel.