Dr. T. (Tsolin) Nalbantian

  • Lecturer
  • Modern Middle Eastern Studies

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 2985
E-Mail: t.nalbantian@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden Institute for Area Studies, SMES APT
Office Address: Witte Singel-complex
Witte Singel 25/M. de Vrieshof 4
2311 BZ Leiden
Room number 1.11b
Personal Homepage: www.hum.leiden.edu/​lias/​staff/​nalbantiant.html

Fields of interest

I am a historian who focuses on the contemporary history of the region of North Africa and West Asia between the Atlantic and Central Asia, commonly known as the Middle East. In particular, I research and teach about the roles minorities have played in the construction of the nation-state and nationalism; the interactions of diasporic populations with other populations and the state in the Middle East; the politicization of identity; and Syria and Lebanon in the 20th century.

My future research agenda entails building upon the groundwork laid in my dissertation: “Fashioning Armenians: Armenians in Lebanon 1946-1958,” a history of the shifting dynamics of self-identification and external classification of this simultaneously diasporic and local Middle Eastern community as tracked through Lebanese media. I engage with the growing body of scholarship on the phenomenon of “marginality” in the modern period. Moving beyond writing the “minority” into the historical narrative of the nation-state, my work explores the (rhetorical and material) relationships between the idealized categories “minority” and “majority.” As both categories are constructions employed to mobilize resources in support of the nation-state, examining these relationships reveals much about various forms of agency and their deployment in ongoing contests over access to resources and other sources of power.

In exploring these processes –i.e. the ways in which certain groups are pushed to the margins while others embrace “minority” status to seek a place near the centers of power – I seek commonalities with other analytical categories, e.g. gender and class, whose dialectical relationship with the nation-state is already well developed in the scholarly literature. I hope that uncovering such connections will enable us to begin transcending the limits of the sectarian-ethnic mode of conceptualization, which so often constrains our understanding of majority/minority power relationships within the nation-state.


·   PhD in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University (2011)
·   MA in Near Eastern Studies, New York University (2003)

·   Lecturer in Middle East History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2010-2011)
·   Arabic Instructor, Columbia University (2004-2006)
·   Arabic Instructor, City College of New York (2005)
·   Teaching Fellow, Columbia University (2004-2010)
·   Research Assistant, Kevorkian Center, New York University (2001-2003)

Key publications

·   “Lebanese Power Struggles and Fashioning “Armenian” Space: 1957-1958.” In MESA Review of Middle East Studies.
·   “Inserting Overlooked Populations in Lebanese Historiography: The Armenian Case.” In History Compass.
·   Dove in Free Flight a collection of poetry by Faraj Bayraqdar, translator as part of the New York Translation Collective. Published by Beyond Baroque Press in Los Angeles. Previously published in Bomb magazine, Fall 2004 issue, and in the online magazine for International Literature Words Without Borders.


Contemporary Middle Eastern History; Development of Arab Nationalism, Role of Minorities in the Middle East, Diasporas in the Middle East; Ethnicization of Identities; Syria and Lebanon in the 20th century.

Courses taught:
·   Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies (MA Seminar)
·   History of Modern Iran (BA 2 Seminar)
·   History of the Middle East 1500-present (BA 1 Lecture)
·   Politics and Islam (BA 2 Seminar)

Grants and awards

·   Zohrab Faculty Fellowship, Columbia University (Fall 2003-2006, 2009; Spring 2004-2005, 2010)
·   Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Summer Fellowship, Columbia University (Summer 2004, 2009)
·   Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, Wenner-Gren Foundation (2007-2008)
·   FLAS Dissertation Fellowship in Arabic, Columbia University (2006-2008)
·   Fulbright-Hays Fellowship (Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad), US Department of Education (2006-2007)
·   FLAS Fellowship in Arabic, New York University (2002-2003 Academic Year and Summer 2002)
·   Graduate Student Fellowship, New York University (2001-2002)
·   Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA), Cairo, Egypt (2000-2001)

Last Modified: 31-01-2013