Prof Andrew Arsan
I am a historian of the Arab world, with a particular interest in the cultural, social, intellectual, and political histories of the modern and contemporary Middle East; political thought and intellectual life in the world beyond Europe; French imperialism in the Mediterranean; and diaspora and the transregional movement of people.
I grew up in Lebanon, France, and the United Kingdom, and completed my undergraduate and graduate studies at Cambridge. I held positions at Birkbeck and Princeton before returning to Cambridge.
I’m currently at work on two book projects: a new intellectual and political history of the Arab twentieth century, for publication with Allen Lane and Basic Books; and a synoptic history of the lands that we now call Lebanon, under contract with Cambridge University Press.
In 2016-17, I was the Chaire Ganshof van der Meersch at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, where I gave a series of lectures on ‘European Order and Middle Eastern Disorder’.
From 2018-2021, I held a Philip Leverhulme Prize in History.
I have also spent time as a visiting fellow at the American University of Beirut and at North Carolina State University.
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. (Please note that I will be on leave in 2023-24 and will not therefore be accepting new graduate students for that academic year.)
My doctoral 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; late Ottoman regimes of migration control; Shi'a reformism in early twentieth-century Iraq; Syrian and Palestinian migration to colonial Sudan; and Beirut's urban history. Several have gone on to take up academic positions in the United Kingdom and North America.
I convene the third-year course 'Middle Eastern Modernities, c.1850-2011' and the first-year Sources option on 'Arab intellectual history, c.1856-1967'. I also lecture for the new Outline paper on 'The Twentieth-Century World'.
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 primary-source based Themes & Sources courses – and in particular 'The Bandung Moment', on anti-colonial thought in the twentieth century.
At the graduate level, I have co-taught the core course of the MPhil in World History, 'Debates in World History'.
I am a founding co-editor of 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). I also served for several years as the Reviews Editor of the Historical Journal.
I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Centre for Lebanese Studies, which I helped to bring to Cambridge, and sit on the Research Committee of the Council for British Research in the Levant.