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Historian Sherene Seikaly Wins 2016-17 Plous Award

Sherene Seikaly Click to view larger
Sherene Seikaly (Sonia Fernandez / The UCSB Current photo)

Sherene Seikaly, an assistant professor of history at UC Santa Barbara, has received the 2016-17 Harold J. Plous Award.

One of the university’s most prestigious faculty honors, the award is given annually to an assistant professor from the humanities, social sciences or natural sciences who has shown exceptional achievement in research, teaching and service to the university.

Presented by the College of Letters and Science, the award was established in 1957 to honor the memory of Harold J. Plous, an assistant professor of economics.

Seikaly will showcase her research when she delivers the annual Plous Lecture next spring.

“Sherene is accomplished in all areas of teaching, professional service, public service and research,” said John Majewski, dean of humanities at UCSB and a professor of history.

He cited as an example the four-day international symposium “After Tahrir,” organized by Seikaly earlier this year, which took place on the fifth anniversary of the Tahrir Square uprisings.

Majewski described the symposium as epitomizing Sherene’s career “because it involved first-rate academic scholarship, but it was also very much public-facing and involved art and culture. It made a scholarly impact and it also made a profound public impact.”

Noted Paul Spickard, a professor of history and Seikaly’s nominator, “Professor Seikaly exemplifies intellectual rigor, energetic pedagogy and extraordinary connection and compassion as a teacher. She teaches an array of undergraduate courses on the history of the modern Middle East and Israel/Palestine, as well as graduate seminars on the Middle East and on historical methods.”

“I am honored and humbled to be counted among such an accomplished group of people at UCSB,” Seikaly said of the award. “I am particularly grateful for the Department of History, which has been such an intellectually rich and generous home.”

Seikaly, who joined the UCSB faculty in 2014, describes herself as a historian of capitalism, consumption and development in the modern Middle East.

She completed her Ph.D. in history and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at New York University and her master’s degree in Arab studies at Georgetown University.

She held the Qatar Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Europe in the Middle East Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

She has served as director of the Middle East Studies Center at the American University in Cairo, where she received an Excellence in Teaching Award.

Seikaly’s research explores how individuals, groups and governments deploy both concepts and material practices to shape economy, the body, the self and the other. She is the author of “Men of Capital: Scarcity and Economy in Mandate Palestine” (Stanford University Press, 2015), which examines British-ruled Palestine in the 1930s and 1940s with a focus on economy.

She has published in several academic journals, including International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, as well as online venues such as Jadaliyya, Mada Masr and 7iber.

Andrea Estrada writes for the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.


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