The History Department would like to welcome Assistant Professor Muriam Haleh Davis. Her research looks at the French empire and the post-colonial world in the Middle East and North Africa. Muriam’s current project, which studies how strategies of economic development underpinned the production of national identity, combines political economy, environmental history, and critical race theory.
After competing her B.A. from Georgetown, Muriam spent two more years in Washington D.C. in order to continue an M.A. in Arab Studies from the same university. Over the course of her Masters degree she began to study Arabic, spending time in Jordan, Syria, Morocco and Algeria. Her time living in Algeria led her to continue her studies, as she sought to understand how the French colonial past continues to influence contemporary events.
Muriam then embarked on a second M.A. from the University of California, Irvine, in Culture and Theory where she started to examine how the exchange of goods and the development of agriculture not only created economic value in colonial situations, but were also key sites of social practice and identity formation. She subsequently changed coasts again, pursuing her interests further at NYU, where Muriam completed her dissertation in 2015. During this time she conducted archival work and interviews in France, Italy, and Algeria with support from the American Institute for Arab Studies as well as a dissertation grant from the Social Science Research Council.
For the 2015-2016 academic year Muriam was a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, where she worked on her book manuscript that is tentatively entitled From Homo Islamicus to Homo Economicus: Markets, Muslims, and the Remaking of Race in Algeria, 1958-1965. This book studies a development plan introduced by French president Charles de Gaulle in 1958 and traces the influence of these initiatives on the independent Algerian nation-state.
Muriam is currently co-editing an edited volume entitled “North Africa and the Making of Europe” which will be published by Bloomsbury Academic Publishing in 2017. Her articles have appeared in the journals of French and Francophone Philosophy, Social Identities, and Middle East Critique. This September, an article entitled “’The Transformation of Man’ in French Algeria: Economic Planning, and the Postwar Social Sciences, 1958-62” came out in the Journal of Contemporary History. Muriam also enjoys writing for a larger audience and has written for websites including Al-Jazeera, Jadaliyya, the Huffington Post, and Truth Out.
Muriam is extremely excited to return to the UC system. She will offer classes on France and French Empire, Race in Europe, and post-colonial North Africa as well as a graduate seminar on Republicanism in a comparative context. She looks forward to working with students, learning from their views, and encouraging them to think historically about contemporary challenges.