MEIS Faculty

Mitra Ara

Mitra AraMitra Ara is assistant professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and founding director of the Persian Studies Minor at San Francisco State University. She obtained her PhD at UC Berkeley. Currently, she teaches language and culture of Persianate societies, as well as Iranian religious traditions and minority religions.

Fred Astren

Fred AstranFred Astren is professor and chair of the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University. He received his PhD in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. He holds a BES degree from the University of Minnesota with specialization in medieval history and an MA in Arabic from UC Berkeley. Areas of research include minority/sectarian history and sacred history in the Mediterranean Middle Ages, with special focus on Jewish history under Islam, Jewish-Muslim relations, and the Karaite Jewish sect.

Mohammad Azadpur

Fred Astran Mohammad Azadpur is professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University. He teaches courses on Islamic Philosophy and Islamic Mysticism, and he has written about the links between Islamic and Western thought. Prof. Azadpur obtained his PhD from the University of Virginia.

Maziar Behrooz

Maziar BehroozMaziar Behrooz is associate professor in the History Department. He received his PhD in History from the University of California, Los Angeles. He teaches core classes on Middle East History from 500 CE to the present, as well as courses on Afghanistan and Iran in the 19th century. He has written about the Iranian left and its influence on the politics of Iran up through the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Daniel Bernardi


Daniel Bernardi is interim dean of the College of Liberal & Creative Arts, and professor of the Cinema Department. Bernardi's research explores the representation and narration of cultural difference, including race, gender, and sexuality in film, television and popular culture. His work also addresses culture conflict, transmediation, and the shifting American narrative in the Middle East, Latin America and the Pacific.

Carel Bertram

Carel BertramCarel Bertram is associate professor in the Department of Humanities. She was trained in Near Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley (MA) and in Art and Architectural History at UCLA (PhD). Her field is urban history and historical consciousness in the Islamic world. She is an expert in Turkish vernacular architecture and she teaches classes on Istanbul, as well as courses on Cultural Expression and the Poetics of Space in the Islamic World.

Chris Chekuri

Chris ChekuriChris Chekuri is associate professor in the History Department at San Francisco State University. He received his PhD from the University of Madison, Wisconsin. He teaches courses on world history as well as the colonial history of India, with a focus on Muslim-Hindu relations.

Tarek Elhaik

Tarek Elhaik is assistant professor in the Cinema Department. He received his PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley. His research interests focus on Media and Culture.  He is also a film curator, who has curated various experimental cinema programs from Latin America and the Arab world. Within the context of MEIS, he teaches a course on Arab cinema.

Burcu Akan Ellis

Burcu Akan EllisBurcu Akan Ellis is associate professor in the Department of International Relations. She received her PhD in International Relations from American University. Her research interests include identity formation within the Muslim communities of the Balkans, and gender and transnationalism among the young Muslim elite. At SF State, she teaches courses in transnational relations of Muslim societies and core courses in International Relations. 

Dina Ibrahim

Dina IbrahimDina Ibrahim is associate professor in the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts department at San Francisco State University, where she teaches Radio and Television News Production courses. She has reported for the BBC World Service Radio in London, CNN in Atlanta and Cairo, NPR in Austin, Texas, UPI in Cairo and Arab News newspaper in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Her research interests are in the area of American television news representation of Arabs and Muslims.

Eran Kaplan

Erin KaplanEran Kaplan is the Rhoda and Richard Goldman Chair in Israel Studies at SFSU. He received his BA from Tel Aviv University and his PhD in Modern Jewish History from Brandeis University. Before coming to San Francisco, he taught at Princeton, Cincinnati and Toronto. At SF State, he teaches courses on contemporary politics of Israel, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israeli cinema, and Jerusalem.

Santhi Kavuri-Bauer

Santhi Kavuri-BauerSanthi Kavuri-Bauer is associate professor in the Art Department. She received her PhD in Art from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her scholarship focuses on the preservation and representation of South Asian architectural monuments, and their role in the construction of social identities, national memory, and political protest. Among her teaching portfolio is a course on Islamic Art and Architecture.

Shirin Khanmohamadi

Shirin KhanmohamadiShirin A. Khanmohamadi is associate professor in Comparative and World Literature. She received her BA from Brown and her PhD from Columbia University. She specializes in comparative medieval European literature, premodern travel and ethnographic writing, cross-cultural and confessional representation within medieval literature, and literary cross-fertilization between the medieval European and Islamic worlds.

Hafez Modirzadeh

Hafez ModirzadehHafez Modirzadeh is professor of Music and co-director of the Jazz and World Music Studies. Prof. Modirzadeh received his MA from UCLA and his PhD from Wesleyan, both in ethnomusicology. He continues to develop an interdisciplinary musical approach he calls “Chromodal Discourse”. Internationally and locally, he is active in the realms of performing, teaching, recording, publishing, and presenting cross-cultural perspectives regarding musical culture, tradition and innovation, and individual representations thereof.

Mahmood Monshipouri

Mahmood MonshipouriMahmood Monshipouri is professor of the Department of International Relations who received his PhD from University of Georgia. Before coming to SFSU, he was a Visiting Fellow at Yale University's Center for International and Area Studies. At SFSU, he teaches classes on the politics of the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf.  He has published widely on the topic of Human Rights in the Muslim World, as well as on the role of social media in the Arab Spring.

Mohammad Salama

Mohammad SalamaMohammad Salama is associate professor and chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at San Francisco State University. He received his PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a minor in film, and his MA in English Literature from ‘Ayn Shams University, Egypt. His main research areas are intellectual history and theories of modernity, with an emphasis on comparative literary, social and cultural trends in colonial and post-colonial Europe and the Middle East.

Evren Savci

Evren Savcı is an assistant professor in Women and Gender Studies. She received her PhD at the University of Southern California in Sociology and Gender Studies, and joined SFSU's Department of Women and Gender Studies after a fellowship at the Sexualities Project at Northwestern (SPAN). Her areas of interest include gender; sexualities; queer, feminist and social theory; globalization and transnationality; cultural sociology and epistemology. Among her course offerings are classes on Muslim feminisms and gender politics in the Muslim world.

David Selim Sayers

David Selim Sayers is a lecturer and director in our new program of Turkish Studies (TURK). He holds an MA from the Department of Turkish Literature at Bilkent University in Ankara and a PhD from Princeton's Department for Near Eastern Studies. His academic interests are wide and varied, and include Ottoman prose literature, the news media in Turkey, and Japanese Animated Film. He is one of the founding editors of the Journal of Turkish Literature, published by Syracuse University Press.

Lucia Volk

Lucia VolkLucia Volk is professor in the Department of International Relations. She teaches introductory classes in Middle East and Islamic Studies, the Model Arab League, and the role of culture and ethnicity in politics. Her research interests include the politics of memory in Lebanon, and more recently, questions of Arab and Muslim immigration to the United States and Europe. She obtained her MA in Arab Studies at Georgetown University and her PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and Anthropology at Harvard University.

Nicole Watts

Nicole WattsNicole Watts is professor in the Department of Political Science, where she teaches on comparative politics, the politics of the Middle East and North Africa, and social movements. Her research interests include ethnopolitical and national movements, state-society relations, protest and dissent, and Kurdish politics and mobilization, particularly in Iraq and Turkey. She is a graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London and the University of Washington in Seattle.