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2012-2013 Jamal Daniel Scholarship Recipients and Post-Doctoral Fellows at Georgetown University Announced

Washington, DC – The Levant Foundation is pleased to announce the 2012-2013 Jamal Daniel scholarship and post-doctoral fellowship recipients.  In 2011, The Levant Foundation established the Jamal Daniel Fund for the Study of the Levant at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University; the program supports students and scholars in their studies of the Levant Region – its culture, history, society, religion and current political context – as well as provides a platform for policymakers to discuss current and future issues as they pertain to the Levant Region.

Following a meeting with the new scholars and fellows this week, Mr. Jamal Daniel remarked that he “is truly impressed by the caliber of each of the scholars and fellows.  Their commitment to the study of the Levant is impressive and it is without a doubt that their research will play an important role in continuing to develop the notion of a Levantine identity.”

Jamal Daniel scholarship recipients will receive scholarship and stipend support as well as serve as research assistants to professors whose disciplines are related to the students’ own research interests.  The recipients of this year’s scholarship include:

Ms. Samantha Brotman

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Ms. Brotman began her academic inquiry into the Arab world as an undergraduate at the University of Oregon. Ms. Brotman’s leadership positions in Jewish student groups and an interfaith dialogue fostered her interest in the Middle East and North Africa. Through these activities, a rigorous study of the Arabic language and a study abroad experience in Morocco, she has engaged the complexities of the various religious narratives of the region and set out to improve her knowledge of Arabic and the Muslim world. She spent three years living and teaching in Morocco – where she worked for AMIDEAST - and Indonesia, taking the opportunity to travel around the Arab world and Southeast Asia.  Since beginning the Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) program at Georgetown, Ms. Brotman has focused her interests on religious narratives within the Israel-Palestine conflict. She pursued these interests through analyzing often-overlooked angles. Specifically, she has studied Christian Zionism, Israel’s Arab-Jewish minority, religious freedom in Israel and anti-Zionist Jewish movements. For the remainder of her tenure in the MAAS program, Ms. Brotman will continue to research religious themes relevant to the Levant.  Since the fall of 2011, Ms. Brotman has been an intern with the Arab Studies Institute. She has also held a short-term internship with the Embassy of Iraq’s Cultural Office, helping to prepare for a bilateral academic conference. These professional experiences have complemented her studies and Ms. Brotman hopes to integrate these experiences into her professional endeavors after graduating this coming spring.

Mr. Graham Griffiths

Graham Griffiths is a second-year student in the MAAS program concentrating on politics.  He is a graduate of the University of Washington with degrees in Philosophy and Economics.  While at the University of Washington, he spent six months studying at the American University in Cairo and wrote his undergraduate thesis on the political economy of pension reform in Turkey, two experiences that confirmed his interest in the Middle East.  After graduation, he spent one year in Damascus studying Arabic with the Center for Arabic Study Abroad and completed an internship with the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Middle East Program.  During his time at Georgetown, he has also interned with the Albright Stonebridge Group’s Middle East Practice.  His interests include the political economy of development, Turkish-Syrian relations, and Islamist politics in Turkey and Syria.  He began studying Turkish at the beginning of last year and recently spent the summer in Bursa, Turkey with the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship program.

Mr. Gregor Nazarian

Gregor Nazarian, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, graduated from Yale University in 2009 with a major in History. At Yale he studied US involvement in the Middle East in the twentieth century, with a thesis exploring Henry Kissinger’s handling of the 1970 Jordan crisis. Outside class he was involved with improvisational comedy, humor writing, and leading backpacking trips for incoming freshmen.  Immediately after graduation he moved to Lebanon, where he spent two years teaching high school social studies at the Universal College in Aley. He also helped coordinate the school's Model United Nations team and spent two summers studying Arabic at AUB. At Georgetown Gregor is a History concentrator focusing on education, nationalism, and identity in Bilad al-Sham. He has worked with Dr. Yvonne Haddad on a book about the decline of Christians in the Middle East and with the Community Resource Service on educational materials related to Arab history. He worked this summer as a research intern for Dr. Daniel Serwer at the Middle East Institute. 

This year, two Jamal Daniel post-doctoral fellowships were awarded. Each fellow will conduct research for one semester and teach one or two courses at the School of Foreign Service on a topic of their choosing related to the Levant region. Each fellow will also deliver a public lecture about their individual research.  The recipients of this year’s fellowships are:

Dr. Raja Abillam

Dr. Raja Abillama holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. He earned a M.S. in social anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a B.Arch. in architecture from the American University of Beirut. He completed his dissertation with the support of a Mellon Dissertation Writing Fellowship and a Mellon Doctoral Fellowship with the Graduate Center’s Committee for the Study of Religion. His research focuses on the shifting interconnections between marriage, law and secularism that are constitutive of the modern state and sensibilities in Lebanon. His dissertation, "The Marital State: Personal Status Laws, Discourses of Reform, and Secularism in Lebanon," traces articulations of marriage across distinct spheres of discourse and practice: controversies over civil marriage, the marriages of Lebanese citizens in foreign civil jurisdictions, marriage annulments by Maronite ecclesiastical courts, Sunni sharÄ«‘a family court rulings and civil court opinions in cases of conversion. Embedded in a legal system that consigns it to several religious jurisdictions and in a history of a discourse of legal reform, marriage is key to the configuration of religious and secular identities. As such, marriage involves a basic yet unstable assumption underlying the modern Lebanese state, namely, that society in Lebanon consists of several religious communities each having a distinctive personal status. In the future, Dr. Abillama will extend his anthropological inquiry into the interconnections between sensibilities and the state by exploring formations of religious minorities, and discourses and practices of censorship. In the meantime, he will be turning his dissertation on marriage into a book manuscript.

Dr. Jeremy Walton

Jeremy F. Walton holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago. He earned a M.A. in anthropology from the University of Chicago and a B.A., with a major in religion, from Reed College. Dr. Walton is currently in the process of writing and revising his book manuscript, Pieties of Pluralism: Formations of Islam, Liberalism and Secularism in Turkey. Dr. Walton co-edited, with John Kelly, Beatrice Jauregui and Sean T. Mitchell, the collection Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency and has book chapters in Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency, Orienting Istanbul: Cultural Capital of Europe? and the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Religious Studies. His teaching and research broadly interrogate the complex relationships among Islamic practice, the politics of contemporary secularism and global regimes of publicity. Dr. Walton conducted fieldwork for his dissertation  in Istanbul and Ankara from 2005 to 2007 and he continues to spend as much time as possible in Turkey in pursuit of multiple research projects. Prior to coming to Georgetown, Dr. Walton was an Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in New York University’s Religious Studies Program (2009-2012).

Upon completion of the Jamal Daniel Study for the Levant, all scholarship recipients and fellows will be admitted to an exclusive alumni association including graduates of other programs supported by the Levant Foundation.  These alumni will commit to participating in organized forums, networks and exchanges to broaden understanding of issues that pertain to the Levant Region and interfaith.  

For more information on this program, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.