Dahlia El Zein

El Zein

Ph.D. Candidate

I am interested in the relationship between Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East through migration and diaspora. My dissertation project explores the lived experiences, cross-colonial relationships, and racial constructions between the Lebanese Syrian diaspora in West Africa and West African soldiers (tirailleurs sénégalais) who served in Lebanon and Syria as part of the French colonial army during the mandate period after the first world war. I have also written about the educational project of the United Arab Republic, the period of unification between Egypt and Syria 1958-1961 focusing on how the state and its citizens negotiated the cultural, class, and gender dynamics of a young postcolonial nation. 

In a previous life, I was a history teacher and I've taught courses on the Middle East and Immigration at a Princeton University annual precollege summer program. I also worked for the Middle East Institute and Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University and prior to that in human rights for several years covering the Middle East and North Africa region. 

Committee Members: Eve Troutt Powell, Cheikh Anta Babou, Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet

Awards: 2019-2020 Academic Year Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (Farsi)




B.A. International Relations, Webster University

M.A. Arab Studies, Georgetown University

Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies 


Research Interests

19th and 20th century Middle East and Africa, Transregional and transnational histories, Colonialism, Diaspora, Migration, Empire, Race, Gender, Cross-colonial relationships

Courses Taught

TA for:

HIST 075 Africa Before 1800 (Spring 2020)

HIST 166 Arab-Israeli Conflict Through Literature and Film (Spring 2021)

Selected Publications

“Cultural Sensitivity in a Military Occupation: The U.S. Military in Iraq,” Rochelle Davis with Dahlia El Zein and Dena Takruri in Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency. (University of Chicago Press: 2010)