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Benjamen, Alda

Post-doctoral Researcher, History
University of Pennsylvania


I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center, and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, in the Office of the Under Secretary for Museum and Research. I work as a historian specializing in cultural heritage documentation and preservation. I recently completed my PhD in Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of Maryland, College Park. My dissertation, “Negotiating the Place of Assyrians in Modern Iraq,” examines the relationship between a stronger Iraqi state under the Ba?th regime, which began in 1968, and the Assyrians, a Christian ethno-religious group. My research weaves ethnographic material, and oral histories, with original archival sources uncovered in Baghdad, and in libraries and private collections in Erbil, Duhok, and Mosul in languages ranging from Arabic, Classical Syriac and modern Aramaic. I specialize in the history of the modern Middle East; in particular I focus on twentieth-century intellectual, cultural and social history of Iraq and Syria, Middle Eastern minorities and their transnational networks, and women and gender issues. My current research examines cultural heritage in times of conflict, and focuses on intangible heritage within agricultural domains. I received the E.B. Smith Award for Best Dissertation in Political History, and was a fellow at the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq. I hold a Master’s degree from the Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations Department at the University of Toronto in Syriac Studies.

DISCIPLINE
History
SUB AREAS
Middle East/Near East Studies   
Transnationalism   
Identity/Representation   
Nationalism   
Pop Culture   
Folklore/Folklife   
Diaspora/Refugee Studies   
Cultural Studies   
Minorities   
Kurdish Studies   
Gender/Women's Studies   
Assyrian Studies   
19th-21st Centuries   
Arab Studies   
AREAS OF INTEREST
Assyria   
Iraq   
Syria   
All Middle East   
SPECIALTIES
Assyrian Stds   
Modern Middle East   
Women and Gender   
LANGUAGES
Arabic (Fluent)   
Assyrian (Native)   
French (Intermediate)   
Syriac (Advanced)   
EDUCATION
DPhil2015HistoryUniversity of Maryland, College Park
MA2008Near and Middle Eastern Studies CivilizationUniversity of Toronto
BS2004Applied SciYork U
Image
Alda Benjamen






Washington, DC
United States

personal website