Current Visiting Scholars

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Dr. Alda Benjamen

Avimalek Betyousef Faculty Fellow in Assyrian history and Senior Research Scholar at the Center for the Middle East, UC Berkeley

Alda Benjamen is the Avimalek Betyousef Faculty Fellow in Assyrian history, and Senior Research Scholar at the Center for the Middle East, at the University of California Berkeley. Prior to that, she was a Fellow at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, and a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. She is committed to public engagement with questions of cultural heritage and digital humanities, in which she leads projects pertaining to minoritized communities. 

Her book, Assyrians in Modern Iraq: Negotiating Political and Cultural Space (Cambridge University Press, February 2022), is a monograph on twentieth-century Iraqi intellectual history based on extensive primary research from within the country. Drawing upon oral and ethnographic sources and archival documents, in both Arabic and modern Aramaic, discovered by the author at the Iraqi National Archives in Baghdad and in private collections from the north, it explores the role of minorities in Iraq’s intellectual and mostly leftist opposition. Benjamen has also edited two volumes: a special issue of the Journal of Contemporary Iraq and the Arab World (June 2020) “Narratives of Co-existence and Pluralism in Northern Iraq,” and a roundtable for the International Journal of Middle East Studies (November 2018): “Pluralism and Minoritization in the Middle East.” 

Benjamen’s second book project explores the Alqosh bazaar, positioning it within local and regional networks marked by the exchange of goods. The book will also consider imperial and colonial influences and religious institutions, as well as multilingual and cultural practices among religious communities. The text will seek to go beyond the usual parameters of regional history, identifying trends that are paradigmatic of developments in multilingual and multiconfessional areas in the Middle East and globally. This project is supported by a grant from the University of Pennsylvania Museum. 


Yi-Nou Chang 

Ph.D. Candidate in History, National Cheng Chi University

Yi-Nou Chang holds a B.A. in History, a B.S. in Physical Therapy, and a M.A. in History. He is particularly interested in history of modern China and European military history. In his master dissertation, he examined military transformation in late Qing China (1901-1911), discussing the elements and essence of the “New Army”.  

His PhD thesis explores how Chinese People Voluntary Army contest effectively against UN army leading by the United States throughout the Korean War. With the approach of military science, he manages to analyze its military doctrine conducted on the battlefield, in order to explore how Chinese army adopt modern military knowledge and materials. Furthermore, to discover the adaptation and innovation they made during the war, with its effect to postwar China.

Yi-Nou is also a practicing physical therapist in Taiwan.


Nathan Ellstrand 

Doctor in History, Loyola University Chicago

Nathan Ellstrand is a Doctor in History from Loyola University Chicago.  Among various topics, he is interested in United States-Latin American transnational history, ideology, and borderlands.  He recently finished his dissertation on the anti-communist, Catholic, and nationalist Mexican Unión Nacional Sinarquista (National Synarchist Union) within the context of the United States during World War II.  His work for his Masters in Latin American Studies at the University of California, San Diego covered women's leadership in the Partido Liberal Mexicano while the party was in exile in early twentieth century Los Angeles.  Nathan has also conducted research and presented on the sanctuary movement of the 1980s.


Alison Klairmont Lingo

Research Associate


Burak Sayım

Ph.D. Candidate in International History, Graduate Institute of International Studies Geneva

Burak Sayım is currently completing his dissertation, titled “Transnational Communist Networks in the Post-WW1 Middle East: Anti-colonialism, Internationalism and Itinerant Militancy (1919-1928).” His research examines the communist networks across the borders of the MENA region. In particular, it looks at the fledgling communist organizations' interaction with the anti-colonial rebellions and actors, emerging national frameworks and Islam. It also explores the daily practices of militancy -from the cross-border practices to the question of language or prison life.

Karl Siebengartner 

Ph.D. Candidate, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich

Karl Siebengartner is a Ph.D. candidate and research associate at LMU Munich. His current project deals with punks in West Germany and is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The working title of the project is "Punk in the Federal Republic Germany from 1976 until the mid-1990s: Youth Protest against/with Mass Culture". It aims at an understanding of West German punk as a youth and protest culture which had to deal with being part of mass culture although it was directed against it. At UC Berkeley, he conducts further research into the transnational connections of West German punks with the US and with the Bay Area in particular.


Dr. Gizem Sivri 

Post-doctoral Researcher, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich

Gizem Sivri is a post-doc researcher at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University at Institute for Near and Middle Eastern Studies. She holds her doctoral degree in January 2022 from LMU Munich, a master’s degree in Modern Turkish History from Boğazici University (2017), and a bachelor’s degree in History from Istanbul Bilgi University (2014). She was also a Ph.D. fellow in Gerda Henkel Stiftung and a pre-doctoral fellow in Zeit Stiftung. She is the third prize winner of the Sabancı University, Dicle Koğacıoğlu Article Awards in 2019.  Her dissertation concentrates on women’s imprisonment and women’s prisons in the late Ottoman Empire (1840-1918). Her study aims at exploring the Ottoman penal policies for women offenders and the effects of gender roles, femininity, sexuality, motherhood, and types of criminal acts on women’s imprisonment. She teaches on the social, legal, and political history of the Late Ottoman Empire and the Middle East since April 2019. Her research interests focus on criminality, imprisonment, women prisoners, gender and history, history of Ottoman Empire, 19th and 20th centuries, history of Turkey.


Siou-meng Syu

Visiting Research Scholar 

Siou-meng Syu received her Ph.D. at National Taiwan University in July 2020 and was a post-doctoral research fellow at Academia Sinica in 2021. Her research focuses on Chinese society during WWII, with particular attention to the Japanese-occupied territories. In her research, she has examined the food rationing system implemented in Shanghai and its connection to state power, social inequality, changes in diet, and the emergence of an underground market. She is also working on a monograph about the development of personal identification cards in modern China. At UC Berkeley, she is conducting a food study that traces the critical transitions in Chinese pork consumption and trade in ham during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She is particularly interested in a Sino-American "trade war" that took place in the Philippines a century ago, with its implications for how the place of Chinese ham was challenged in the marketplace by the American meat industry.


Christin Zühlke

Ph.D. Candidate, Center for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University Berlin

Christin Zühlke is a Ph.D. Student at the Center for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University Berlin. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on the Yiddish writings of the Sonderkommando prisoners in Auschwitz-Birkenau with an approach to Cultural Studies and Literature. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy and German Literature and Linguistics and an M.A. in Jewish Studies and Philosophy. Christin was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Hebrew University Jerusalem in 2016/17. In April 2019, she became an ELES Research Fellow, and she will be a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley for the entire year of 2021. She is currently working on an edited volume on microhistorical approaches on an integrated history of the Holocaust.

During her studies, Christin has worked in political and historical education since 2007; she was an intern at the German Desk of the International School for Holocaust Studies in Yad Vashem and the educational department of the Jewish Museum Berlin. In 2014, she was in charge of the Death March Memorial in the Below Forest, which is part of the Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen.