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Yasmin Moll, Emily McKee, Tessa Farmer, and Jessica Barnes


Academic Freedom and the Middle East: A Handbook for Teaching and Research

[Photo by Walt Jabsco via Flickr]

The Middle East is a region that is continuously in the news and frequently the focus of controversial, polarizing, and sometimes virulent debate within both policy and media circles. Scholars working on the Middle East face a unique set of challenges in their teaching and research. What they have to say, and how they say it, is often subjected to intense scrutiny by those with vested political or ideological interests. Such extra-scholarly pressures can pose serious threats ...

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Yasmin Moll, Emily McKee, Tessa Farmer, and Jessica Barnes


Yasmin Moll is a doctoral candidate in anthropology at New York University. Her dissertation “Producing Islam: Religion, Media and Visuality in Contemporary Egypt” investigates how Islamic televisual media is made in the everyday interactions between producers, preachers and viewers. The Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays and the Wenner-Gren Foundation funded Yasmin’s dissertation fieldwork in Cairo. She is a recipient of a 2013-2014 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. A graduate of NYU’s Culture and Media program, Yasmin is also a documentary filmmaker (Fashioning Faith, 2009; The Women of Tahrir, 2011). 

Tessa Farmer is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas in Austin. Her interests include political economy; the intersection of technology, social relationships, and water/environment; resource distribution; gender; nationalism; Middle East and North Africa. Research for her dissertation, entitled “Cairo Ecologies: Water in Social and Material Cycles,” was supported by the Social Science Research Council's (SSRC) International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IRDF) and the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) award. The project explores the conjunctions of social relations, built forms and biological life that interact around the common resource of water.  It seeks to understand how lower income residents of Cairo work to obtain sources of potable water and deal with the ramifications of sewage in their urban ecology, as well as to begin the process of rereading social life to include non-human factors, such as water. 

Emily McKee specializes in environmental and Middle East anthropology and is particularly concerned with the drawing and policing of group boundaries, experiences of agriculture and urbanization, and environmental sustainability activism.  She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Michigan and is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Brandeis University.  Next year, she will join the faculty at Northern Illinois University, working with the Anthropology Department and the Institute for the Environment, Sustainability & Energy.  Her research on land conflict and socio-environmental movements in the Negev/Naqab region of Israel explores how Jewish and Bedouin Arab citizens and governmental bodies vie over access to land for farming and homes and over the status of unrecognized Bedouin villages.  She has recently begun research on cross-border water conservation, examining the strategies and practices of Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli water conservationists, as well as the reactions of local residents to water scarcity, resource competition, and conservation campaigns.  

Jessica Barnes’ research examines the culture and politics of resource use and environmental change in the Middle East. Her first book, Cultivating the Nile: The Everyday Politics of Water in Egypt, forthcoming with Duke University Press, is an ethnography of water and the politics surrounding its use. She is currently working on a co-edited volume with Michael Dove, entitled Climate Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives on Climate Change, which is under contract with Yale University Press. Jessica received her PhD in sustainable development from Columbia University in 2010 and held a postdoctoral fellowship with the Yale Climate & Energy Institute and Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies from 2011 to 2013. In August, Jessica will start as an Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina, in the Department of Geography and Environment and Sustainability Program.