Anselm Kiefer, Iconoclastic Controversy, Bilder-Streit, 1980, oil, emulsion, shellac, sand on a photo with woodcuts, 290 × 400 cm. Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam
I recently joined Sciences Po (Médialab) as an associate researcher. Until recently I was an invited researcher at the École normale supérieure and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (Centre Alexandre Koyré). In 2017, I was elected to join Columbia University’s Society of Fellows.
My research focuses on the politics of life, health, and wealth with a particular interest in the politics of health as it plays out in poor and developing countries as well as in the modern Middle East. My interests and perspective lie at the intersection of history, philosophy, ethics, medicine, and policy. My book ‘Asfuriyyeh: A History of Madness, Modernity, and War in the Middle East (MIT Press, 2020) reconstructs the history of one of the first modern psychiatric hospitals in the modern Middle East and through it explores the complex relationships between pathology and modernity. I like to think of this book as a global history of psychiatry through the localized history of an institution, which was international, indeed cosmopolitan. The book probes the ways in which modern psychiatric thinking and practice were established and diffused since the nineteenth century to illuminate questions related to modernity, medicalization, and social policy. It probes more specifically the role that war, civil strife, and conflict played in the emergence of new pathologies, in the paradoxical flourishing of education, and in the process of institution building and eventually destruction or deconstruction. The book received the 2019 Jack D. Pressman-Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Development Award in 20th Century History of Medicine or Biomedical Sciences bestowed by the American Association for the History of Medicine (AAHM). Check my interview on the publication of Asfuriyyeh on “The East is a Podcast“. Along with Nikolas Rose, I co-authored Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind (Princeton University Press, 2013) that examines the “neuro-turn” and the salience of the new sciences of the brain in the governance and everyday life of neoliberal democracies.
Since October 2019, when an unprecedented economic and political crisis erupted in Lebanon and more specifically since the tragic Beirut explosion on August 4, 2020 and the humanitarian crisis that ensued, I have also been involved in several civil society initiatives. More recently, since the Covid-19 pandemic crisis erupted, I have engaged in writing and activism with the implications of the crisis on individuals and societies. My research and public engagement output can be consulted under “Media” and “Research”.
I hold a Medical Doctorate from the American University of Beirut (2006), an M.Sc. in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics (2007), and a Ph.D. in History of Science from Harvard University (2017).