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Benjamen, Alda

Avimalek Betyousef Faculty Fellow, History
University of California, Berkeley


Alda Benjamen is the Avimalek Betyousef Faculty Fellow in Assyrian history, and a Senior Research Scholar at the Center for the Middle East, at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to that, she was a Fellow at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. She has also held post-doctoral research positions at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. Her expertise lies in the twentieth-century intellectual, cultural and political history of Iraq and Syria. Her work focuses on issues of minoritization and pluralism, raising questions about memory, home, and belonging in multilingual and diasporic communities in the context of rural-to-urban and global migrations. She obtained her PhD in Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Master’s degree in Syriac Studies from the University of Toronto’s Near and Middle Eastern Studies Department. Her book, Assyrians in Modern Iraq: Negotiating Political and Cultural Space (Cambridge UP, Dec 2021), is a monograph on twentieth-century Iraqi intellectual history based on extensive primary research inside the country. It focuses on the perspective of the Iraqi periphery and the history of bilingualism, challenging the monolingual narrative of the state, examining the relationship between the strengthened Iraqi state under the Ba'th regime and Assyrians. Drawing upon oral and ethnographic sources and archival documents, in both Arabic and modern Aramaic, uncovered at the Iraqi National Archives in Baghdad, as well as libraries and private collections in the north, it explores the role of minorities in Iraq’s intellectual and mostly leftist oppositional movements in the late twentieth century.

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
BE2005Ontario Institute for Studies In EducationUniversity of Toronto
BS2004Applied SciYork U
Image
Alda Benjamen






Washington, DC
United States

personal website