Arbella Bet-Shlimon

  • Assistant Professor

Ph.D. Harvard University, 2012

Fields: Middle East, Comparative Colonialisms, Urban History
Phone: 206-616-5279
Office: SMI 204A | Office Hours: SPR & SUM 2017: by appointment

I am a historian of the modern Middle East. I am also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization and an affiliate of the Jackson School's Middle East Center. In my research and teaching, I focus on the politics, society and economy of twentieth-century Iraq and the broader Persian Gulf region, as well as Middle Eastern urban history. In addition to specialized courses on these topics, I offer general introductory courses on the modern Middle East, including a survey of the Middle East since the nineteenth century. My teaching has been recognized with several awards, including the UW's Distinguished Teaching Award.

I am currently preparing my first book for publication—a history of the city of Kirkuk, a multilingual, multiethnic borderland and the original hub of Iraq’s oil industry, since 1918. In this book, I seek to understand how oil and urbanization mediated the processes of nation building and collective identity formation in Kirkuk. I find that as Kirkuk transformed from a provincial town into Iraq's preeminent "oil city," it became a contested domain with a distinct civic discourse. The ethnic identities of its communities solidified and became politicized—and polarized—amidst urban development, the growth of the oil industry, Baghdad's policies of integration, and British neocolonialism.

My research has been funded by, among others, the American Historical Association, the UW Royalty Research Fund, and the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. I have published articles in the Journal of Urban History and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. I am on the board of the Academic Research Institute in Iraq.

Up-to-date information on my research and publications, as well as links to my work, may be found on my profile.


Courses offered:

HSTAFM 163: Modern Middle East

HSTRY 388: Identity and Politics in the Modern Middle East: Nation, Religion, Conflict (Introduction to History)

HSTRY 498: Cities in the Modern Middle East

HSTAFM 463: Modern Persian Gulf

HSTAFM 563: Modern Near East (Graduate Seminar)