Brown University
Development Studies
Elizabeth Williams

Elizabeth Williams

+1 401 863 5329
Watson 321

Elizabeth Williams

Postdoctoral Fellow in International and Public Affairs

Areas of Interest: 19th and 20th c. social, political, economic and environmental history of the Middle East; Ottoman Empire; French and British colonialism in the Middle East; postcolonialism; development studies.


Elizabeth Williams received her Ph.D. in History from Georgetown University in 2015. She holds an MA in Near Eastern Studies from New York University and a BA in Religious Studies and English from the College of William and Mary.


Elizabeth’s research examines the relationship between imperial governance, expertise, and the environment. Focusing on the transition from the late Ottoman Empire to the French Mandate period, she analyzes how agricultural technologies emerging during this period intersected with the development of new strategies of rule and conceptions of expertise. By tracing the movement and activities of global, imperial and local actors in networks involved in the production of knowledge regarding these new technologies and their implementation, she investigates intellectual and practical continuities and divergences in approaches to governance during the late Ottoman and French mandate periods and their impacts on rural communities and environmental management. Her work draws on materials from Ottoman and French archives as well as sources from Lebanon, the national archives of the UK and US, and the UN FAO archives in Rome. 


“Nazik al-‘Abid and the Nur al-Fayha’ Society: Independent Modernity, Colonial Threat, and the Space of Women.” In Mohammed Bamyeh, ed., Intellectuals and Civil Society in the Middle East: Liberalism, Modernity, and Political Discourse. London: I.B. Tauris, 2012.

“Contesting the Colonial Narrative’s Claims to Progress: A Nationalist’s Proposal for Agrarian Reform.” Review of Middle East Studies 44:2 (Winter 2010): 187–195.