Dr Andrew Arsan
I am a historian of the Arabic and Mediterranean worlds, with a particular interest in the cultural, social, and political histories of the Ottoman and post-Ottoman Levant; political thought and intellectual life in the world beyond Europe; French imperialism in the region and beyond; and diaspora and the trans-regional movement of people.
I was born in Beirut, and grew up in Lebanon, France, and the United Kingdom. After secondary school in London, I studied History at Cambridge, staying on for an MPhil and a PhD. I taught at Birkbeck for a year and spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton before returning to Cambridge as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in 2012, and taking up a lectureship in 2013. Since then, I have taught a wide variety of courses in Middle Eastern, global, and European history.
I’m the author of two books, Interlopers of Empire: The Lebanese Diaspora in Colonial French West Africa (2014), which won the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize; and Lebanon: A Country in Fragments (2018). The latter examines the everyday strains and stresses of life in twenty-first-century Lebanon and argued that, far from exceptional, Lebanon’s recent history helps us to make sense of many of the phenomena that have defined our times, from neoliberal economic management and financial crisis, to populist rancour, forced displacement, xenophobia, and popular upheaval. Lebanon’s story, in short, is that of our twenty-first-century world.
I have also co-edited with Cyrus Schayegh (IEHD/Graduate Institute Geneva) a broad-ranging volume on the British and French Mandate states in the Middle East.
I’m now at work on two book projects: a synoptic history of the lands that we now call Lebanon, under contract with Cambridge University Press; and a new history of the Arab twentieth century, for publication with Allen Lane and Basic Books.
In 2016-17, I was the Chaire Ganshof van der Meersch at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, giving a series of lectures on ‘European Order and Middle Eastern Disorder’ in March 2017. I’ve also been lucky enough to spend time as a visiting fellow at the American University of Beirut and at North Carolina State University.
In 2018, I was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize in History.
I welcome inquiries from prospective graduate students interested in the history of the Arab world – and in particular the Arabic-speaking Eastern Mediterranean – from c.1850 to the present day. Past and current graduate students have worked on topics including: histories of 'insanity' in Mandate Palestine; right-wing thought in the Lebanese civil war; history-writing and ideas of the Arab subject in mid-twentieth-century Lebanon and Syria; licit and illicit migration in late Ottoman Beirut and Alexandria; and Shi'a reformism in early twentieth-century Iraq.
From 2013 to 2018, I served as Convenor of the Part I survey paper 'Empires and World History from the Fifteenth Century to the First World War'. I have also lectured for Papers 18, 'European History since 1890', and 23, 'World History since 1914', and taught for a variety of Themes & Sources courses - and in particular 'The Bandung Moment', on anti-colonial thought in the twentieth century.
At Part II, I convene the Specified Subject 'Middle Eastern Modernities since c.1700'.
I have also co-taught the Core Course of the MPhil in World History.
I currently serve as the Reviews Editor of the Historical Journal. I am also one of the founders of the journal Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East Migration Studies, which I currently co-edit with Akram Khater (North Carolina State University) and Stacy Fahrenthold (UC Davis).
In March 2017, I was the 2016-17 Chaire Ganshof van der Meersch at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, giving a series of lectures on 'European Order and Middle Eastern Disorder'. More details of these lectures can be found here.