James L. Gelvin

James L. Gelvin

James L. Gelvin (born February 12, 1951) is an American scholar of Middle Eastern history.[1] He has been a faculty member in the department of history at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) since 1995 and has written extensively on the history of the modern Middle East, with particular emphasis on nationalism and the social and cultural history of the modern Middle East.



Gelvin earned his B.A. from Columbia University in 1983, M.A. from the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University in 1985, and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1992. Before joining the faculty at UCLA, Gelvin taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston College, and Harvard University. He has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (1999–2000) and the recipient of a U.C. President’s Fellowship in the Humanities (1999–2000). In 2002-3, he was Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Visiting Professor of History at the American University in Beirut.

Teaching Awards

In 1998 Gelvin received the Faculty Excellence Award, presented by the UCLA chapter of Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society.

Works by Gelvin


The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2011).

Circuits and Networks: Islam and Islamic Communities during the First Age of Globalization (co-editor, forthcoming).

Israel Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War (Cambridge, ENG: Cambridge University Press, September 2005). -----Revised Edition, 2007. -----Italian Edition, Giulio Einaudi Editore SpA, 2007. -----Polish Edition, Jagiellonian University Press, 2008.

The Modern Middle East: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004). -----2nd Edition, 2007. -----3rd Edition, 2011.

Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the Close of Empire (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998).


“‘Modernity,’ ‘Tradition,’ and the Battleground of Gender in Early Twentieth-Century Damascus,” Die Welt Des Islams (Winter 2012).

“Nationalism, Anarchism, Reform: Understanding Political Islam from the Inside Out,” Middle East Policy XVII, 3 (Fall 2010).

“‘Arab Nationalism’ Meets Social Theory,” “Pensée: ‘Arab Nationalism’: Has a New Framework Emerged?," International Journal of Middle East Studies 41 (2009).

“Al-Qaeda and Anarchism: A Historian’s Reply to Terrorology,” and “Al-Qaeda and Anarchism: A Historian’s Reply to Terrology: Response to Commentaries,” Terrorism and Political Violence 20:4 (2008).

“The Politics of Notables Forty Years After,” Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, 40:1 (June 2006).

“Globalization, Religion, and Politics in the Middle East: The Current Crisis in Historical Perspective,” Global Development Studies (Winter 2004/Spring 2005).

“Islamism and Nationalism: Common Roots, Common Destinies,” Beiruter Blaetter: Mitteilungen des Orient-Institutes Beirut, 10-11 (March 2004).

“Zionism and the Representation of ‘Jewish Palestine’ at the New York World’s Fair, 1939-1940” The International History Review XXII:1 (March 2000).

"Modernity and Its Discontents: On the Durability of Nationalism in the Arab Middle East," Nations and Nationalism 5:1 (January 1999).

"The League of Nations and the Question of National Identity in the Fertile Crescent," in World Affairs (Summer 1995).

"The Social Origins of Popular Nationalism in Syria: Evidence for a New Framework," in International Journal of Middle East Studies (November 1994).

"Demonstrating Communities in Post-Ottoman Syria," in The Journal of Interdisciplinary History XXV:I (Summer 1994).

Chapters in Edited Volumes

“American Global Economic Policy and the Civic Order in the Middle East,” Michael Bonine et al., Is There a Middle East? (forthcoming).

“The Middle East Breasted Discovered,” in Geoff Emberling and John Larson (eds.), Pioneers to the Past: American Archaeologists in the Middle East, 1919-20 (Chicago: Oriental Institute, 2010).

“Resolution of the Syrian General Congress—1919,” in Neil Schlager (ed.), Milestone Documents in World History (Dallas: Schlager Group, 2010).

“Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc?: Reassessing the Lineages of Nationalism in Bilad al-Sham,” in Thomas Philipp and Christoph Schumann (eds.), From the Syrian Land to the State of Syria (Würtzburg: ERGON Verlag, 2004).

“T.E. Lawrence and Historical Representation,” in Charles Stang (ed.), The Waking Dream of T.E. Lawrence: Essays on His Life, Literature, and Legacy (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2002).

“Secularism and Religion in the Arab Middle East: Reinventing Islam in a World of Nation States,” in Derek R. Peterson and Darren Walhof (eds.), The Invention of Religion: Rethinking Belief and Politics in History (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002).

“Developmentalism, Revolution, and Freedom in the Arab Middle East: The Cases of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq,” in Robert H. Taylor (ed.), The Idea of Freedom in Asia and Africa (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002).

"(Re)Presenting Nations: Demonstrations and Nationalisms in Pre-Mandate Syria," in F. Moge Gocek (ed.), Social Constructions of Nationalism in the Middle East (Albany: SUNY Press, 2002).

“Napoleon in Egypt as History and Polemic,” in Irene Bierman (ed.), Napoleon in Egypt (Reading, ENG: Ithaca Press, 2003).

“The Other Arab Nationalism: Syrian/Arab Populism in Its Historical and International Contexts" in James Jankowski and Israel Gershoni (eds.), Rethinking Nationalisms in the Arab World (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997).

"The Ironic Legacy of the King-Crane Commission," in David W. Lesch (ed.), The United States in the Middle East: A Historical Reassessment (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995).

Recent Conference Presentations

Chair/Discussant: Rethinking Ottomanism: Citizenship, Nationhood, and Late Imperial Modernity,” Annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association, November 2010.

Introduction, Circuits and Networks Conference, UCLA, February 2010

“American Global Economic Policy and the Civic Order in the Middle East,” Conference: “Connections and Ruptures,” Center for American Studies and Research, American University in Beirut, January 2010.

“Politico-Economic Discourse and the Middle East State in the Twentieth Century,” Conference: “The Global Middle East,” University of North Carolina, February 2009.

“Foucault and the Historiography of Nationalism in the Arab Middle East,” Conference: “Foucault and Middle East Studies, UCLA, April 2009.

“Al-Qaeda as Anarchism,” American Historical Association Annual Meeting, January 2009.

“Nationalism, Anarchism, Reform: Understanding Political Islam from the Inside-Out,” Conference: “Terrorism and Modernity: Global Perspectives on Nineteenth Century Political Violence,” German Historical Institute and Tulane University, October 2008.

‘‘Modernity,’ ‘Tradition,’ and the Battleground of Gender in Early Twentieth-Century Damascus,” Conference: “Traditional Scholarship and Asian National Modernity,” Indiana University, Bloomington, October 2008.

“Political Islam: Beyond Religion and Terror,” Plenary Session, Conference: Colloquium on Violence and Religion, University of California, Riverside, June 2008.

“Recent Trends in the Historiography of Nationalism in the Middle East,” Panel: "New Directions in Middle East Historiography," American Historical Association Annual Meeting, January 2008.

“Al-Qaeda and Anarchism: A Historian’s Response to Terrorology,” Jihadi Islam Conference/Workshop, November 2007.

“Iraq: Four Years Later,” UCLA Department of Sociology Irene Flecknoe Ross Lecture Series, Public Sociologists Working Group, April 2007.

Recent Invited Presentations

“The Politics of Islam,” Brown University, September 2010.

"'Modernity', 'Tradition' and the Battleground of Gender in Early 20th Century Damascus," Brown University, September 2010.

“The Israel-Palestine Conflict,” Great Decisions lecture series, College of the Desert, Palm Desert, CA., March 2010.

Appleby Lecture, San Diego State University, “A Global War Against Whom, Exactly?,” March 2010.

Twenty-fifth Annual Russel B. Swenson Lecture, Brigham Young University, “Enemies and Mistaken Identities: Political Islam in a Post-9/11 World,” March 2010.

Sesquicentennial Lecture, “Varieties of Political Islam,” University of Memphis, November 2009.

“Global War on What, Exactly?: Making Sense of Political Islam,” Boston College, March 2009.

“Political Islam: What Ayman al-Zawahiri Knows That We Should,” Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, University of North Carolina, February 2009.

“Rethinking Political Islam,” Indiana University, Bloomington, October 2008.

"America and the Israel-Palestine Conflict in the Post-Bush Era," California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, April 2008.

“Al-Qaeda: Twenty-first Century Anarchism," California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, April 2008.

“The Israel-Palestine Conflict: A Look Back and a Look Forward,” Lecture Series: Perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, California Polytechnic State University, February 2007.

“A Modern History of Southern Syria, Palestine, and Israel,” Global Issues Colloquium: Israel/Palestine, University of California, Santa Cruz, January 2007.

“America and the Middle East: A Historical Overview,” Special Session, Organization of American Historians, March 2005.


  1. ^ "James L. Gelvin. The Modern Middle East: A History.". Teaching History: A Journal of Methods. 22 March 2007. http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-6570825/James-L-Gelvin-The-Modern.html. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 

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