Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)



The Centre builds on existing research being carried out by staff across UCL, while also providing a focal point for future initiatives and cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Houses in Jerusalem, Israel, credit Dave Herring via Unsplash

The Centre builds on existing research being carried out by staff across UCL, including: history and legacies of colonial rule, infrastructure and the fate of sustainable cities, navigating post-oil futures, cultural understanding in an age of rising xenophobia, and regional transformations in the wake of the Arab uprisings.   

Listed below are some examples of recent research projects on the region by staff across UCL:

  • Amnesia Across Borders: Writing the 1982 War between Israel and Lebanon (British Academy and Leverhulme Trust funded project).
  • Analysing South-South Humanitarian Responses to Displacement from Syria: Views from Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey (European Research Council, 2017-2022).
  • Çadır Höyük Archaeological Project, Turkey
  • Contemporary Hasidic Yiddish: providing the first in-depth description of the grammatical and sociolinguistic features characteristic of the Yiddish used by Hasidic communities worldwide, and an analysis of their implications for linguistic theory.
  • Creating software for analysis of ancient Near East objects and automated identification.
  • Housing and urban inequality in the Ottoman Empire, c.1500-1914: funded by UCL Global Engagement Fund.
  • ISLAMAFR: Conquest, Ecology and Economy in Islamic North Africa: This tri-national British-German-Tunisian project reconsiders and re-contextualises the impacts of the Arab conquests and subsequent regime changes in North Africa between 600 CE and 1600 CE through the first micro-regional study of its kind. 
  • Livelihoods and Macroeconomic Stability in Lebanon - Leverhulme.
  • Local Experiences of Displacement from Syria (AHRC-ESRC, 2016-2020).
  • Mobility, Identity and Community in Christian North Africa: This British-Tunisian project aims to understand late antique and medieval history of a Roman town and its population, with particular emphasis on identity, migration, diet and mobility in the increasingly Christian world of late antiquity. 
  • The Nahrein Network: This network fosters the sustainable development of antiquity, cultural heritage and the humanities in Iraq and its neighbours.
  • OASCIV: The Making of Oasis Civilisation in the Moroccan Sahara: This British-Moroccan collaborative project will examine early oasis development and social evolution in the W Sahara, how and why complex societies emerged in the W Sahara by conducting the first scientific excavations of Protohistoric and Medieval settlements, cemeteries and farming landscapes recently discovered in the Wadi Draa.
  • The Origins of Islam in Medieval Morocco: This British-Moroccan research collaboration aims to determine when and why new architectural forms, crops and production techniques and Muslim dietary and burial practices appeared, and how these relate to the Arab conquest, state formation and conversion to Islam.
  • Pilot citizen assembly on energy transitions in Lebanon – UKRI Citizen Science Exploration Fund.
  • Project to project cultural heritage and studying art trafficking in the Middle East.
  • ESRC-funded RELIEF Centre (Research, Education, Learning, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Future) :  The project is about the prosperity of Lebanon in particular, but is also part of a larger agenda for developing sustainable ways to improve the quality of life of people throughout the world. 
  • Russian-Israeli Writing in the Cultural and Geopolitical Context of the Middle East: this is a comparative and interdisciplinary study of the Russian-Israeli writing of the late 20th-early 21st cc. in the Middle-Eastern context, with particular attention to the interaction between Russophone, Hebrew, and Arabic cultural, social and political discourses.
  • Southern-led responses to displacement from Syria: This research project builds upon PI Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh’s long-standing research into the politics of humanitarianism and donor-recipient relations in Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) refugee situations.
  • Sounding Conflict: investigating role of storytelling, theatre, music in conflicts across 3 regions, including Israel-Palestine and Lebanon.
  • ERC-funded TAKHAYYUL project on political imagination and their connections across the Balkans, Middle East, and South Asia.
  • Teacher Professional Development for Refugee teachers in Lebanon. 
  • Urban dis/connections: infrastructures of refugee exclusion and incorporation in Beirut and Berlin.