Department of Middle East Studies
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
My life before BGU:
I was born in Kibbutz Kfar Haruv, but I grew up and finished high school in Jerusalem. I studied at the Hebrew University's Dept. of Middle Eastern Studies and School of History for a bachelor's degree, as well as for a master's in middle eastern studies. For my PhD I went to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I did my postdoc at the Hebrew University, in the Martin Buber Society of Fellows.
"One insight that continues to excite me is discovering the wide range of perceptions, experiences, and world views across the Muslim word, especially in areas usually considered as “peripheral", that is, beyond the Middle East"
My fields of research are Iran and Central Asia during the 13th to 16th centuries, the Mongolian Empire, and inter-religious contact and polemics (Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and more).
My research focuses on the transmission of cultural, religious and political ideas and concepts across Asia, from China to Iran and the Middle East, with an emphasis on how foreign perceptions of sacred kings were absorbed and “translated" in the medieval Islamic world. Another focus of my research is the expansion and mediation of knowledge about Buddhism in the medieval Islamic world, and a third focus is religious minorities in medieval and modern Iran, especially Jews and Shiites, and their relationship to the Sunni-Muslim majority.
One of the most “exciting" discoveries I made during my research is the intensity and frequency of contact between Buddhist monks and Muslims in medieval Iran, and the way these exchanges left their mark on Islamic scholars and shaped the Islamic view of the East.
Because of the unique communal atmosphere on campus, because of a concentration of leading Middle East scholars, because of the excellent professional atmosphere and especially because of the enthusiastic and curious students.
An insight from my research:
One insight that continues to excite me is discovering the wide range of perceptions, experiences, and world views across the Muslim word, especially in areas usually considered as “peripheral", that is, beyond the Middle East, be it Iran or further east, from India to China, Australia, and Thailand, or even to the West, in Africa during the pre-modern era. This range of opinions and perceptions often starkly contradicts the monolithic fixed views we have of Islam and Muslim societies.
Something that doesn’t appear on my CV:
When I was young I thought I would continue in plastic arts, and I even exhibited in the Tel Aviv Museum (statues I created out of clothes)!
And something else – I listen to Jazz when I'm writing.
A source of inspiration:
The Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg's book, The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth Century Miller, a microhistory study of common belief in Christian Italy during the time of the Inquisition. I read the book as an undergraduate, and then spent a long time searching for “millers" and other colorful local characters, especially imposters, in the medieval Islamic world. I even wrote an essay about such an imposter from the 14th century. I hope to teach a course about this one day.
If I were not a researcher, I would…
Maybe I would go back to art.
» Facebook or Twitter? Facebook. I don't do Twitter, and as a humanities scholar I was never good at being brief
» Game of Thrones or the Simpsons? Game of Thrones, it's like the middle ages
» Yoga or CrossFit? CrossFit, but yoga is better for you
» Chess or backgammon? Chess, even though my son now beats me every time
» Steak or tofu? It's a tough question we tackle every other month at our house
» Trekking or the spa? Trekking, and the higher the better
» Car or train? Train. My car is a typical crappy little Tel-Aviv car
» Fortis or Sakharov? Fortis is a neighbor, so I can't really answer