Dr. Sherene Seikaly has been named the 2007-2008 Qatar Post-Doctoral Fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. She is also the co-editor of the Arab Studies Journal. Dr. Seikaly received her doctoral degree in September 2007 from the Departments of History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University.
Her dissertation, Meatless Days: Consumption and Capitalism in Wartime Palestine 1939-1948, offers the first concerted examination of the Palestinian Arab middle class under the British Mandate (1918-1948). Situated at the intersections of studies of consumption, political economy, and colonialism, her research traces the formation of a Palestinian Arab middle class before the defining rupture of 1948, when Palestinian Arabs became either refugees or second-class citizens.
Dominant historical accounts of the mandate period depict Palestinian Arab society as divided between poor, illiterate masses of peasants and workers and a small group of venal notables engaged in internecine competition. Meatless Days disrupts this flattened topography of Palestinian social life by focusing on Palestinian Arab businessmen and their efforts to mediate between Arab society and the colonial state alongside unprecedented government interventions in everyday life during World War II. Through an examination of quotidian business and consumer languages and practices, her work unsettles long-held assumptions about 1940s Palestine as a period of political paralysis and stagnation. By exploring varied experience of markets and commodities as lived spaces of national and colonial contestation, Meatless Days calls into question the prevailing narratives of historical triumph and defeat.
During her residency at CCAS, Dr. Seikaly will be working on a manuscript based on her doctoral research and teaching a graduate seminar in the Spring semester.