Nasser Abourahme

Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and North African Studies

I work between comparative colonial history, political geography, and political theory. My teaching and research interests include borders and migration; histories of encampment and carcerality; settler colonialism and race; revolution and revolt; Marxism and global Left thought; the anticolonial tradition; and the question of Palestine. I’m also very interested in questions of critical pedagogy and the training of critical methods.

Currently I’m working on two broad but connecting tracks of research. The first thinks about how the global stakes of mass migration and mass encampment today might be read in the arc of colonial history. Against the reactionary presentism of mass migration as “crisis” but also beyond a simple reckoning with the coloniality of the border regime, I think about the concepts and political forms we can draw from movement and migrancy struggles in colonial history. I’m particularly interested in how some of our most urgent concepts and practices in the politics of migration (inhabitation, return) are prefigured in settler colonial history.

The second track revolves around the concept of revolution and what can be thought of as its various temporalities. It takes the present as an age that seems defined by open-ended revolt or uprising—but decisively not revolution—to ask how the concept of revolution might be rethought from the archives of anticolonial thought and practice. What can a restaged encounter between the decolonization imperative and the revolution concept do today? 

In both tracks I try to think about what Middle East Studies, or Area Studies more broadly, can still offer us in our present, after the clearing work of postcolonialism. That is, how can the regional, linguistic, archival competencies of Area Studies move these histories and geographies away from their designated role as empirical or ethnographic data, and instead into their potential use as generators of the very thing that distinguished the West from the rest—conceptual thought.

Nasser Abourahme headshot