2010 US Fellows

Professor Sargon Donabed, History, Roger Williams University

“Documenting the Oral Folk Epic of Qatine Gabbara: Translation, Historical and Cultural Analysis, and Transmission”

Qatine Gabbara is an oral epic told in modern Aramaic that is thought to be the last vestige of a continuous oral tradition of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Since 2003, this oral epic, told in the northern region of Iraq, has been exiled with refugees from war and its subsequent problems. Donabed will record the aging transmitters of this epic as they tell the tale in their native Aramaic dialects. He will transcribe and translate the narratives for future scholarly research, and will interview their tellers in their native language.

 Samuel England, Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley

“A Vizier in Beggar’s Clothing: Abbasid Iraq”

The Qasida Sasaniyya is both a literary landmark and a social and political document of tenth-century Iraq, illuminating the twilight of the most powerful and expansive Islamic empire in history. England will collate the poem by Abu Dulaf al-Khazraji from its extant manuscripts and will use philological and historical literary analysis to demonstrate its previously unacknowledged political functions. The vizier Ibn Abbad took a keen interest in the jargon of a criminal subculture that emerged to evade official detection and commissioned the Qasida Sasaniyya, an example of low-brow entertainment. The use of this jargon by Ibn Abbad, an Abbasid official, reveals a complicated relationship between language and imperial power.

 Jill Goldenziel, Esq., Government and Law, Harvard University

“Refugees as Rents: Humanitarian Aid and the Politics of International Law”

Goldenziel will undertake a case study of post-2003 management of Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria, and Egypt in order to consider the mechanisms used by donor countries, host countries, and international organizations to further their own political aims. This case study will play a central role in her dissertation, which will analyze political mechanisms of refugee assistance, based on archival research and more than 100 interviews with assistance providers. Her aim is to explain how international refugee law has enabled the politicization of refugee crises and to suggest how it might better assist displaced Iraqis and other refugee groups.

 Joshua Jeffers, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania

“Tiglath-Pileser I: An Assyrian King Who Lit Up a Dark Age”

Tiglath-Pileser I was an important Middle Assyrian king who reigned in the late twelfth to early eleventh centuries B.C., from the city of Assur in northern Mesopotamia. Scarce documentation remains from the end of the second millennium, when the Ancient Near East was descending into a “dark age.” Jeffers will collect and analyze textual material on Tiglath-Pileser, which has recently become available and which promises to illuminate the period. Specifically, he will examine cuneiform tablets that will enable him to consider the king’s role as a figure who transitions from the Middle Assyrian territorial state of the second millennium to the Neo-Assyrian empire of the first. 

Dale Stahl, History, Columbia University

“The Two Rivers: Water, Development and Politics in the Tigris-Euphrates Basin 1920–1975”


This study focuses on the modern development and management of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers during the period 1920–1975. Stahl will draw upon an array of primary sources, including government archival sources, publications of professional associations, maps, engineering designs, media, and personal papers, to examine the social and political dynamics involved in managing the rivers as natural resources. He further aims to understand these dynamics in the context of state formation, ideologies of economic development, the relationship of Middle Eastern societies to the natural environment, and the international system in the region.

Professor Jonathan Tenney, History, Loyola University

“The People, Politics, and Economics of Nippur During the 14th and 13th Centuries B.C.”

Little is known about the Middle Babylonian slave population that constituted the public work force controlled by the governor of Nippur in the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries B.C. Building upon his doctoral dissertation, Tenney will integrate existing documents of the Kassite period (ca. 1500–1155 B.C.) into a database and create a digital record of unpublished sources, including photographs, transliterations, and collations of Middle Babylonian tablets to form a substantial foundation of primary sources. This will enable scholars to better understand the slave population in its geographical, social, political, and economic context. His effort will mark the first step in a larger research and publication plan aimed at improving present knowledge of the Kassite period of Babylonia.


These fellowships are funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs through a sub-grant from the Council of American Overseas Research Centers.