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ISEK - Institut für Sozialanthropologie und Empirische Kulturwissenschaft Ethnologie

Bio notes

Mustafa Akcınar

Mustafa Akçınar acquired his bachelor degree in sociology from Hacettepe University (Ankara) in 2005 and graduated from the Middle East Technical University Sociology department in 2010 with a thesis on a Dersimi immigrant community in Berlin. He worked in numerous research projects in Turkey that allowed him to acquire a wide range of country-specific knowledge on Turkey, with an emphasis on Kurdish regions. Since March 2012 he has been working in the SNSF funded project "Development and Trust in Upper Mesopotamia" under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Heinz Käufeler and Prof Dr. Peter Finke.

Peace and War: An on and Off Relationship with the Field

Prof. Dr. Mehrdad Arabestani

Mehrdad Arabestani is an assistant professor at the Department of Anthropology, University of Tehran (Iran). With a background in Medical Sciences, he shifted his study to anthropology and received a Master’s degree in anthropology from University of Tehran (Iran) and a Ph.D. from University of Malaya (Malaysia). He has carried out extensive fieldworks among the Orang Asli- the indigenous people of Peninsular Malaysia- and the Mandaeans- an ethnoreligious minority in Iran and Iraq- and among the Kurds of Iran. His research interests are ethnicity, minorities, religion, power relations, identity, and subjectivity. He is also interested in psychoanalytically informed ethnography that enables the ethnographer to investigate the underlying logic of the motivations and behavior. For the time being, he is the president of Anthropological Society of Iran (ASI), which is the only official anthropological society of the country and is a platform dedicated to the free exchange of various national and international anthropological studies.

Ethnographic Practice in Iran: Politics and Precarity

Dr. Noah Arjomand

Noah Arjomand is Mark Helmke Postdoctoral Scholar in Global Media, Development, and Democracy at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies and at the Center for International Media Assistance. He studied sociology (MA, PhD) at Columbia University and, before that, public and international affairs (AB) at Princeton University.

Noah’s research focuses on international communication and its mediators. His dissertation, under revision into a book manuscript, focuses on the roles and strategies of “fixers” who broker between foreign journalists and sources in Turkey, demonstrating how they manage their ambivalent position between conflictual moral worlds and shape the news within the strictures of hegemonic conceptual frameworks outside of their control. Prior research addressed international state-building in Afghanistan, specifically relationships between foreign patrons and their local brokers.

Noah is also a photographer and filmmaker. He has created mixed media visual/written essays on Afghanistan and Turkey for Public Culture, shot videos and photos for a public scholarship project on shared sacred sites in Turkey, published photographs in major US newspapers, and done multimedia work for music and theater companies Morningside Opera, Wet Ink Ensemble, and Siren Baroque. Noah’s first feature-length documentary will be released in 2019.

Protecting the Confidentiality of Surveilled and Well-Connected Research Subjects: The Case of Turkish and Syrian Media Workers

Dr. des. Anne-Linda Amira Augustin

Anne-Linda Amira Augustin worked as a research associate at the Philipps-University Marburg (Germany) and conducted research on resistance in Southern Yemen and on the Southern Movement, i.e. the independence movement in Southern Yemen. She now works as a political advisor in the Foreign Representation of the Southern Transitional Council in the European Union in Berlin. She is a founding member of the Academic Forum Muhammad Ali Luqman, creating a platform for academic and scientific exchange on topics related to Southern Yemen.

Becoming an Involved Outsider and a Temporal Insider: The Impact of Rumours, Fears and Solidarity in Fieldwork in Times of Political Turmoil (Southern Yemen)

Nafay Choudhury

Nafay Choudhury is a PhD candidate in the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London. His PhD, funded by the SSHRC (Canada) and Modern Law Review, involves an ethnography of Afghanistan’s money exchangers to understand how trust relationships may sustain complex financial transactions. His research explores issues of social and legal ordering, economic exchange, identity, and legal development. He is currently a residential Research Fellow at the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies studying electoral representation in the country. Nafay was previously Assistant Professor of Law at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), where he taught and researched in the areas of contract law, legal pluralism, legal education, Islamic education (particularly madrasas), sociology of law, legal development and the rule of law. He joined AUAF as part of the Afghanistan Legal Education Project at Stanford Law School, helping to establish the country’s first English-medium law program. He has contributed peer-reviewed articles to various journals, including Asian Journal of Law & Society, Suffolk Transnational Law Review, Afghan Journal of Legal Studies (forthcoming) and Religion, State & Society. He served as a Shari’ah Advisor for the Afghanistan International Bank. He has been a Visiting Research Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg and was also a Researcher for the Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics in Doha.

Strategies of Survival: Navigating Kabul’s Money Bazaars

Prof. Dr. Marina de Regt

Marina de Regt is Assistant Professor at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She worked from 1991-1998 in two development projects in Yemen after which she returned to academia. Marina obtained her PhD from the University of Amsterdam in 2003 for her dissertation Pioneers or Pawns? Women Health Workers and the Politics of Development in Yemen (Syracuse University Press, 2007). She did post-doctoral research about migrant domestic workers in Yemen, especially those coming from Ethiopia, and published extensively about this topic. She is co-editor (with Bina Fernandez) of Migrant Domestic Workers in the Middle East: The Home and the World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and co-author (with Katarzyna Grabska and Nicoletta Del Franco) of Adolescent Girls Migration in the Global South: Transitions into Adulthood  (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). Marina is the chair of LOVA, the Dutch Association for Gender Studies and Feminist Anthropology, and co-chair of SEPHIS, the South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development. Marina also was involved in two documentary projects,  Young and Invisible: African Domestic Workers in Yemen (2007), and Time to Look at Girls: Adolescent Girls Migration and Development (2015).

Finding Ways to Work in Yemen: A Plea for Engaged Scholarship

Dr. Lamia Moghnieh

Lamia is a EUME fellow and a part-time faculty at the Sociology and Anthropology department in the American University of Beirut. Her dissertation research looked at the intersection of humanitarian psychiatry and trauma politics in Lebanon Her current project is on exploring the history of psychiatry in Lebanon through the archival records of the Lebanon Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders.

"The violence we live in": Reading and Experiencing Violence in the Field

Emilie Lund Mortensen

Emilie Lund Mortensen is a PhD candidate at the Department of Anthropology, University of Aarhus, Denmark. Her project, with the working title of Building better futures, ethnographically explores everyday practices of moral transformation and the practical reconstitution of better lives in the face of war among young Syrian men in the Jordanian capital of Amman. Taking a generative stance on being in exile, Emilie L. Mortensen currently works with themes such as care, friendship, love and masculinity. She has undertaken 12 months of fieldwork in Jordan and has approximately a year left of her PhD fellowship.

Facing the (Fear of) al-Mukhabarat: toward Paranoiac Modes of Inquiry and Creative Understanding in Paranoiac Fields

Dr. Shirin Naef

Shirin Naef is an anthropologist working at the intersection of ethics, law and religion. She has a particular interest in Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh), especially the Shia School and its relation to modern legal concepts, morality and governance. An examination of the religious, legal and social aspects of the development and implementation of assisted reproductive technologies in Iran was the subject of her doctoral thesis; it was published as “Kinship, Law and Religion: An Anthropological Study of Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Iran” (Tübingen Studies in Ethics, 2017). Her current research projects examine Shia philanthropy and charitable giving in Iran at the intersection of religion, law and economy, and the history and ideas of charity in Europe. She has recently been awarded a fellowship (2018-2019) at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as culture” at the University of Bonn to work on her project titled “Economy, Law and Religion: A Study of Shia Philanthropy in Iran”.

Doing Anthropology in the Fields of Religion, Law and Medicine in Iran: Challenges, Lessons and Other Thoughts

Prof. Dr. Leyla Neyzi

Leyla Neyzi, an anthropologist and oral historian, is Professor at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Sabanci University, Istanbul. In 2017-18, she is Visiting Professor at the Keyman Modern Turkish Studies Program at Northwestern University. Her areas of research and teaching include oral history in conflict-affected settings, memory studies, Kurdish studies, transnational youth cultures, (neo)nationalism, ethnicity and minorities, violence, and displacement. The website of her oral history project on youth in eastern Turkey (Diyarbakir), western Turkey (Mugla), and Berlin, is

Her recent publications include “Generation in Debt: Family, Politics and Youth Subjectivity in Diyarbakır.” New Perspectives on Turkey, 52: 55-75, Spring 2015 (with Haydar Darici). “National Education Encounters Critical Pedagogy: Teaching Oral History in Turkey,” will be published in Oral History Review in 2019. Other publications and research projects can be found on her website

Fieldwork and Writing in Unpredictable Political Environments: The Case of th eturkish-Armenian Rapprochement and the So-Called Kurdish Opening

Prof. Dr. Jessica Winegar

Dr. Jessica Winegar is Professor of Anthropology and Middle East and North African Studies at Northwestern University. She is the author of numerous articles on arts and culture in/of the Middle East, with a number of recent writings on Egypt’s uprising. Her book Creative Reckonings:  The Politics of Art and Culture in Contemporary Egypt (Stanford, 2006), won the Albert Hourani award for best book in Middle East studies and the Arnold Rubin award for best book on African arts. She is also the co-author, with Lara Deeb, of Anthropology’s Politics: Discipline and Region through the Lens of the Middle East (Stanford, 2015). She is the incoming president of the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association and co-editor of Political and Legal Anthropology Review. She is currently the Chair of the Editorial Committee of Middle East Report and a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

The Country of Anthropologists: Creativity, Imagination, and Nation-State Power

Dr. Erol Saglam

Erol Saglam completed his doctoral research at Birkbeck, University of London, in early 2017 with his anthropological study on Romeika-speaking communities of Trabzon, Turkey. His PhD dissertation explored processes of subject formation across a number of socio-political registers, including national identity, state practices, memory, religion and gender. Funded by the Swedish Institute, Saglam’s current project explores everyday makings of authoritarianism through which he aims to demonstrate how ordinary subjects demand and enact authoritarianism through different means, such as the circulation of conspiratorial narratives, vigilantism, collective violence, and extralegality.

In addition to his academic engagements, Saglam participated in a number of research projects that dealt with a diverse range of issues such as democratization in Turkey, armed conflict casualties and (the absence of) mourning, and gentrification in London. He has contributed to a number of edited collections and journals. His articles on the construction of masculinities in conjunction with state practices in rural Turkey, peculiar configurations of the piety in the Turkish context, and how the concept of trauma has evolved in contemporary Middle East are forthcoming in 2018. His primary research interests are masculinities, subjectivity, treasure hunts, conspiracies, psychoanalysis and Islamic pieties.

Manoeuvring Across Suspicion: Secrecy, Conspiracies, and Ethnographic Praxis in Contemporary Turkey

Dr. Younes Saramifar

Younes Saramifar, PhD is a lecturer and a research fellow at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He is involved with teaching and finishing his second book while trying to survive combat-zones of Iraq and Syria. His research focuses on war memories, combat resilience and militancy in West Asia. His latest publication is ‘Living with the AK-47’ and ‘Lamenting the Real and Crying for the really Real’.

Combat-Zone Ethnography and Staying alive in Iraq and Syria

Hande Sarikuzu

Hande Sarikuzu is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at Binghamton University. Her dissertation research, based on ethnographic research conducted in Dersim and supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, investigated the moral economy of reconciliatory justice in Turkey. She is currently preparing to co-edit a volume on ethnographies of the contemporary in the ’New Turkey’.

Voices Beyond Tasteless Interviews: Tea, Memory, and Rumors

Dr. Emanuel Schaeublin

Emanuel Schaeublin (DPhil, MSc, MA) is an anthropologist working on the themes of ethics, poverty, Islam, and generosity in politically repressive contexts, such as the occupied Palestinian territories. He is generally interested in social interactions as a field of ethical disciplining and currently teaches anthropology at the University of Zurich. Previously, Emanuel worked in peace-promotion and humanitarian dialogue at the Graduate Institute in Geneva and was trained in mediation and conflict negotiation.

The Anthropology of Zakat in Conflict Zones: Researching Muslim Giving in a Securitized Field of Knowledge

Dr. David Shankland

David Shankland studied social anthropology initially at the University of Edinburgh, then moved to Cambridge University for his PhD research, where he studied under Ernest Gellner, supported by an ESRC grant to conduct field research in Turkey. After writing up, he moved back to Turkey as the Assistant, then Acting Director of the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara. In 1995, he took up a lectureship at the University of Wales Lampeter. He went to Germany as a Humboldt scholar in 2001, then joined Bristol University in 2003. Shankland is currently seconded to the Royal Anthropological Institute, London, as its Director.

Henceforth No Privilege; No Refuge

Prof. Dr. Shirin Zubair

Shirin Zubair is currently professor of English and Linguistics at Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore in Pakistan. She has held several fellowships including two Fulbright fellowships to teach and research in the US  as well as senior research positions in Germany, Norway and the UK.  Current research interests include  feminism and gender, representations in popular culture  and postcolonial studies. She has presented her research on Pakistani women's uses of literacy in multiple languages and identity-related issues at several international conferences; published her work with leading international publishers including Sage, Routledge, John Hopkins among others. Recent publications are in Feminist Formations (2016), South Asian Popular Culture (2016) and Women Studies International Forum (2017).

Doing Feminist Ethnography at a Pakistani University: Possibilities and Challenges