Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University of Washington
Website URL
Iraq, Modern Middle East, Persian Gulf, urban history, environmental history, colonialism, ethnicity, identity formation, disputed territory, borderlands, oil
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I am a historian of the modern Middle East at the University of Washington, Seattle. I have a Ph.D. in History and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University (2012) and a master’s degree in Modern Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Michigan (2006).

My first book, City of Black Gold: Oil, Ethnicity, and the Making of Modern Kirkuk (Stanford University Press, 2019), explores how oil and urbanization made ethnicity into a political practice in Kirkuk, a multilingual city that was the original hub of Iraq’s oil industry. I find that, over the course of the twentieth century, Kirkuk transformed from a provincial town into a prominent symbol of urban modernity, developing a distinct civic identity. However, the city became segregated and polarized as a result of British neocolonialism, urban development schemes, the expansion of the oil industry, and Baghdad’s systematic attempts to integrate Kirkuk into an Arabized Iraq. Today, claims to Kirkuk’s identity, as in so many disputed cities, have become reduced to a zero-sum game between ethnic communities—a phenomenon that, far from being predictable or inevitable, requires a historical perspective to be fully understood.

My research has been funded by, among others, the American Historical Association, the UW Royalty Research Fund, and the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. I have published articles in the Journal of Urban History and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. I am on the board of the Academic Research Institute in Iraq.

Recent Publications

City of Black Gold: Oil, Ethnicity, and the Making of Modern Kirkuk (Stanford University Press, 2019)

“Preservation or Plunder? The ISIS Files and a History of Heritage Removal in Iraq,” Middle East Report Online (May 8, 2018),

Media Coverage
Recently: The Intercept (, The Daily (, The Arab Weekly (
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
Middle East
Expertise by Chronology
Modern, 20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Colonialism, Environment, Urban History