Middle East Studies

Announcing Summer 2024 Center for Middle East Studies Research Travel Award Recipients

April 25, 2024

Research Travel Awards Poster

Graduate Research Travel

Adel Ben Bella (Modern Culture and Media), a filmmaker and curator, is pursuing a Ph.D. in modern culture and media at Brown University. He holds a bachelor of arts in Lettres Modernes Spécialisées from Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV), and a master of fine arts in film directing from Columbia University. His work revolves around twentieth-century colonial and postcolonial Algeria, with a focus on activist and militant visual culture within the context of the Algerian Revolution and Algerian national identity formation.

 Arif Erbil (History) received his B.A. in political science and history and an M.A. in history from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. He also holds an A.M. in religious studies from Duke University. His research focuses on the intersection of political and legal thought in the early modern Islamicate world, particularly the Ottoman Empire. He adopts a spatially and temporally comparative and theoretically diverse approach, aiming to explore the role of governmental authority, its limits, law-making processes and legal agents. This summer, he will explore the mechanisms of state and law formation in the early modern Ottoman era through the lens of the history of knowledge. His project intersects with various disciplines, including political thought, bureaucracy, legal history and manuscript studies, and involves scrutinizing the transnational movement of knowledge. He will conduct research in manuscript libraries and state archives in Turkey, seeking materials to study scribal practices and chancellery cultures in the Ottoman Empire. This involves investigating the contents of these materials and tracing the intellectual genealogy of the corpora produced around these practices.

Hosna Salari Sardari (History of Art and Architecture). From childhood, a passion for art, architecture and literature intertwined with my exploration of history. My academic journey has centered on unraveling the complexities of gender dynamics in Iran. Now, as a third-year PhD student at Brown University, I'm dedicated to exploring the transformative role of women in shaping Iran's cultural landscape and to challenge traditional narratives and amplify marginalized voices. My mission at Brown University is to offer a nuanced perspective on Iran's culture and modernity. This project, "Literary Selves and Architectural Spaces: Women's Struggle for Presence in Modern Iran," explores how Iranian society has transformed over the past century, focusing on the roles of women in literature and architecture. It examines how women have challenged traditional norms, pushing for more visibility and influence in both public and private spaces. By analyzing literary works and architectural designs, the project uncovers a narrative of resistance against patriarchal structures. It tracks how women have moved from traditional home settings to more public spaces, shedding light on their evolving agency. Through a comprehensive analysis, the project aims to fill a significant gap in understanding while offering insights into the ongoing struggle for gender equality in Iran.

Amelle Zeroug (History) is a first-year Ph.D. student in history. Their work explores the intersections of gender, violence and national imagining in the 19th- and 20th-century French empire. Amelle’s current project employs oral histories with former female guerrilla fighters to examine the role of gender in the construction of sexuality, ideology and sovereignty by the French occupying forces and the Front de Libération Nationale during the Algerian War for Independence. The CMES Travel Award will allow them to conduct archival work in France and oral histories in Algeria. 

Gabriel Zuckerberg (Music) is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology and ethnomusicology and a multi-instrumentalist of American and (South)Eastern European folk musics. Following up on his earlier collaborative research on Greek-Jewish religious music, Gabriel will soon be conducting fieldwork in the Epirus region of Greece for his dissertation on semiotics and interculture in the region’s tradition of professional folk music. He is interested in the musical enactment of political themes such as anti-Romani racism, the Greek-Albanian border and the Ottoman past. This summer, Gabriel will start his research with an intensive language course in Thessaloniki and by playing in a concert with master musicians Petroloukas Halkias and Vasilis Kostas in Pogoni. 

Undergraduate Research Travel

Aboud H. Ashhab ‘25, a third-year student concentrating in history and international and public affairs, will be writing an honor history thesis on conscription in Syria during the Egyptian Occupation from 1831-1841. His work will specifically examine how policies of conscription influenced the political consciousness of minority religious groups.


Previous recipients

Fall 2014 MES Research Travel Award Recipients
Spring 2015 MES Research Travel Award Recipients
Spring 2016 MES Research Travel Award Recipients
Spring 2017 MES Research Travel Award Recipients
Spring 2018 MES Research Travel Award Recipients
Fall 2018 MES Research Travel Award Recipients
Spring 2019 Research Travel Award Recipients
Fall 2019 Research Travel Award Recipients
Spring 2022 Research Travel Award Recipients
Spring 2023 Research Travel Award Recipients
Spring 2024 Research Travel Award Recipients


Up to $1,000 for Middle East studies undergraduate concentrators
Up to $1,500 for Middle East studies graduate students

  • Priority is given to undergraduate students concentrating in Middle East studies using the funds towards research for the senior Capstone or Honors Thesis
  • Students in concentrations other than Middle East studies but with Middle East-related research will be considered 
  • Graduate applicant support is based on travel focused specifically on conducting research for their dissertations