About Me

For me, nothing is more exciting than traipsing through a city searching for signs of the past. I have spent hours looking for a movie theatre that was once an Ottoman mosque. For the colonial mausoleum concealed on the grounds of the former French Residence. For the tree where the King of Morocco gave a famous speech after returning from exile. Once I spent all day tracing empty canals in Fez to look for grinding stones once used in the old water mills.

I connect major historical events with the everyday lives of ordinary people.  I have written about how Ottoman policies in the nineteenth-century led to present-day tensions between Sunnis and Shi’ah of Iraq. I examined why a 2005 drought in Mauritania led to the overthrow of President Taya. I interviewed Harlequin authors about their creation of a fictive Arab world in desert romances. I traveled to Thessaloniki to speak with people who had traveled by bus from Turkey to Greece to commemorate Republic Day at the house where Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) was born in 1881.

I am an Associate Professor at Purdue University with a Ph.D. in history from Boston University.  As listed in my CV, numerous grants and fellowships have supported my research in the US, Europe, and North Africa. I have received two Fulbright Grants, the Carter Manny Award and Purdue University’s Enhancing Research in Arts and Humanities Grant. I authored The Politics of Food in Modern Morocco (University Press of Florida, 2009) and A Documentary History of Modern Iraq (University Press of Florida, 2012).

“Edith Wharton and the Islamic East: How a Gilded Age Novelist Laid a Foundation for Interventionism in the Twentieth Century” is now under contract with Cambridge University Press (look for it in late-2025).