Visiting Scholars and Fellows

Current Research Fellows and Scholars

Emilio Distretti
CBRL Visiting Research Fellow
Emilio Distretti holds a PhD in Aesthetics and Politics of Representation from the School of Art and Design, Portsmouth. His research interests are multidisciplinary and have a strong emphasis on new materialism, comparative colonial histories, geography, and theories of space. Emilio's current research explores the representation and transformation of deserts as colonial spaces. His work investigates two case studies of desert colonization and their cultural and historical convergences around the dream to "make the desert bloom": Fascist Italy colonization of the northern Sahara in Libya and the Zionist colonization of the Negev. Emilio is the Head of the Urban Studies and Spatial Practices programme at Bard College, Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, where he has taught since summer 2015.



Dana Erekat 

Kenyon Institute Researcher

Dana Erekat is a specialist on development and planning in conflict areas. She previously served as Head of Aid Management and Senior Advisor to the Minister of Planning in Palestine, and as a consultant for the private sector and the World Bank. She holds a Master’s degree in City Planning from MIT and a B.A. in Architecture from U.C. Berkeley. 







Micaela Sinibaldi

CBRL Visiting Research Fellow

Micaela Sinibaldi is a medieval archaeologist specialising in the material culture of the Middle East. For her current CBRL fellowship, she is researching the subject of Islamic period pottery in Petra, its role in understanding settlement in the region and its chronologically significant aspects. This phase of research follows her work on comparative studies on several Islamic period assemblages and on the development of a local chronology based on both typological and scientific analysis and stratigraphy.

Micaela holds a PhD from Cardiff University, where she submitted a thesis entitled Settlement in Crusader Transjordan, 1100-1189 (2014); she has been a post-doctoral fellow at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany (2014/2015). She currently directs the CBRL-affiliated Islamic Bayda Project in Petra and has recently co-edited the volume Crusader Landscapes in the Medieval Levant: the Archaeology and History of the Latin East (2016).






Gabriel Varghese 
CBRL Visiting Research Fellow

Gabriel Varghese completed his PhD at the University of Exeter, looking at the history of Palestinian theatre in the West Bank after the first intifada. He holds degrees in Arabic and Middle Eastern history from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and in dramaturgy from Goldsmiths. His research is interdisciplinary: applied theatre practices in sites of conflict; space and spatiality in theatre and performance; and colonial abjection, activist theatres and counterpublic formation. He is also a theatre director and has served as the co-artistic director of Sandpit Arts, an award-winning non-profit cross-arts organisation producing theatre, film and music festivals related to the Middle East and North Africa.

Polly Withers

CBRL Visiting Research Fellow​

Polly Withers has a PhD in Middle East Politics from the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter (UK). Her doctoral research provided an ethnographic and gender-sensitive analysis of urban Palestinian youths’ translocal musical practices, in the post-Oslo era. Her post-doctoral work at the Kenyon Institute focuses on further fieldwork and analysis of the politics of performative and expressive sonic cultures in the Palestinian case. This research is especially concerned to trace the identities, social relations, and hierarchies such musical practices perform, and in which contexts these shift. Polly also holds an MRes degree in Middle East Studies (University of Exeter), an MA degree in Gender Studies (SOAS), and a BA(hons) in International Relations (University of Exeter). Her research interests are interdisciplinary, drawing on anthropology, gender studies, critical political theory, (sub/post) cultural studies, queer theory, and performance studies. 

Recent CBRL Visiting Research Fellows

Jamie Allinson, Victoria Biggs, Michael G. Brown, Dena Freeman, Piotr Jacobssen, Sean LeatherburySuzanne Morrison, Nora Parr, Hector M. PatmoreEdmund Thomas, Eduard Reitenbach, Reema Salha Fadda, Hanan Toukan, Fiona Wright.

Current and past affiliated research projects

Conflict in Cities and the Contested State - Prof. Wendy Pullan (Cambridge University)
Excavations at Khirbet el Mafjar, Jericho -  Dr Mahmoud Hawari (Birzeit University and University of Oxford)
Perceptions of democratization in the Arab-Mediterranean world -  Dr Michelle Pace (Birmingham University)
Restoration of the Dome of the Rock -  Prof. Beatrice St Laurent (Bridgewater State College, USA)
Statebuilding as Exclusion: (Re-)Defining Palestine -  Dr Mandy Turner (University of Bradford)
Teaching Contemporary Palestinian Political History -  Dr Karma Nabulsi (University of Oxford)
Tel Zahara Excavations -  Prof. Susan Cohen (Montana State University, USA)
Tel Jezreel Post-Excavation and Publication Project - Dr Charlotte Whiting (CBRL Honorary Fellow).