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Anne-Marie McManus

Anne-Marie McManus is assistant professor of Modern Arabic Literature and Culture at Washington University in St. Louis in the department of Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (JINELC). McManus' research engages debates in comparative and world literatures, Arabic and Middle Eastern studies, translation theory, and anthropology. She is returning to St. Louis after a junior leave spent in Berlin and Abu Dhabi, where she was an Alexander von Humboldt fellow (2016-2017) at EUME and Humanities Research Fellow at NYU Abu Dhabi, respectively. In addition to her work as a Wastelands co-director, she is writing her first book, titled Of Other Languages: Arabic Literature, Decolonization, and Materialities of Language, under contract with Northwestern University Press. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Yale University in 2013.

Nancy Y. Reynolds

Nancy Y.  Reynolds is associate professor of History at Washington University in St. Louis; she holds appoints in the departments of Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (JINELC) and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (by courtesy). Her research interests concentrate on the cultural and social history of twentieth-century Egypt. Her first book, A City Consumed: Urban Commerce, the Cairo Fire, and the Politics of Decolonization in Egypt, was published in 2012 by Stanford University Press and received the Roger Owen Book Award from the Middle East Studies Association in 2013. She is currently writing a social and environmental history of the building of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt during the 1960s. The research for that project was partially funded by an ACLS fellowship. Since 2014, she has co-convened the Wastelands faculty seminar with Anne-Marie McManus, which is sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at Washington University. She serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Middle East Studies and as director of graduate studies in History. Her research has appeared in City & Society, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Journal of Women’s History, European Review of History, and Arab Studies Journal. During 2017-2018, she holds a New Directions Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for training in the environmental sciences, in addition to co-directing the Mellon Sawyer Seminar.

Mellon Sawyer Post-Doctoral Fellow

Vasiliki Touhouliotis

Vasiliki Touhouliotis is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Language and Cultures at Washington University in St. Louis. She received her PhD in Anthropology from The New School for Social Research in 2016 and has conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork in southern Lebanon. Funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the Charlotte W. Newcombe foundation, her research investigates the temporality of war, the forms and effects of its wounding, and its toxic contaminations. She is especially interested in how people who inhabit warzones challenge the idea of war as a temporally bounded event and how they understand the environmental effects of militarized violence. At Washington University, Vasiliki will teaching courses on aerial bombardment and slow violence in the Middle East.

Mellon Sawyer Graduate Fellows

Waseem-Ahmed Bin-Kasim

Waseem-Ahmed Bin-Kasim is a history Ph.D. candidate, who studied African History, Modern Middle East, and International Urban History. His current research project explores sanitation in Accra and Nairobi, two important capitals in the British non-settler and settler colonies of the Gold Coast (renamed Ghana during independence in 1957) and Kenya. Increased mobility and global trade as well as the foundation, expansion, redesign, and development of the capitals in the twentieth century had far reaching ramifications on sanitation, environment, and the built space. In the past, Waseem-Ahmed researched and wrote about Islam and Muslim societies in Africa, south of the Sahara. In the last five years, he grappled with very critical questions that shaped Middle the East. Engaging the questions extended the scope of his interest to Egypt and the other parts of Africa north of the Sahara.

Olivia Chen

Olivia Chen, a 5th-year Ph.D. Student in Comparative Literature, Washington University in St. Louis. Her major field is contemporary American fiction with an emphasis on ecocriticism and energy humanities.

Graduate Associates

Deniz Gundogan-Ibrisim

Deniz Gundogan-Ibrisim is a fourth year doctoral candidate and graduate research assistant in the Comparative Literature Department at Washington University in St. Louis. She has been awarded the Fulbright Ph.D. Scholarship. She received a BA from Istanbul University in 2001 in English Literature and a MA from Central European University, Budapest, in 2009 in Gender Studies. Her research and areas of interest include Anglophone literatures, world literature, postcolonial theory, gender and sexuality studies, trauma and memory studies, Middle Eastern Literature in translation, and modern Turkish literature. Gundogan-Ibrisim worked as a lecturer at the School of Foreign Languages at Istanbul Technical University between 2002-2014. Currently, she is working on ecologies of violence, witnessing, and trauma in postcolonial Anglophone literature and modern Turkish fiction.

Michael Kaplan

Michael Kaplan is a second year Masters student in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies at Washington University. His research interests include contemporary Islamic social and political movements, as well as conflict, refugees and displacement in the modern Middle East.

Analeah Rosen

Analeah Rosen is a Masters of Fine Arts candidate in Fiction. She is currently working on a collection of writing that explores irradiated soils, transnational environmental justice movements, swarm intelligence, and living collaboratively in the trouble. 

Sawyer Participants

Denise Gill

Denise Gill is assistant professor of ethnomusicology in the Department of Music, the
Department of Jewish, Islamic, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (JINELC), and the
Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) at Washington University in St. Louis. She is a music anthropologist and sound studies scholar who works with communities in contemporary Turkey and former Ottoman territories. Denise is the author of the book Melancholic Modalities: Affect, Islam, and Turkish Classical Musicians (Oxford, 2017). As a kanun (Middle Eastern trapezoidal zither) artist of Ottoman-Turkish art and Mevlevi musics, she has performed solo recitals in concert halls in Turkey, the U.S., and throughout Europe. Denise is a two-time Fulbright scholar, winner of a Ki Mantel Hood award, and recipient of a Sakip Sabancı international research award. As an ACLS Fellow in 2016, she completed ethnographic research on listening structures attuned to death, burial, and the creation or expansion of Sunni
Muslim cemeteries in Istanbul and along Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. Denise holds certification in washing and shrouding the deceased for Janazah.

Bret Gustafson

Bret Gustafson is an Associate Professor of Anthropology.  He studies the politics of race, nature, and the state in Bolivia.  Past work has focused on the politics of native (Guaraní) language education.  His current project examines the extractivist and redistributive impacts of natural gas development in southeastern Bolivia.

Heather O'Leary

I am an interdisciplinary environmental anthropologist with deep commitment to teaching students about power disparities, natural resource distribution, and intersectionality.  
My Fulbright and Wenner-Gren funded ethnographic research explores the cultural dimensions of water and wastewater in India. My fieldwork follows the construction of both domestic workers and the water they use as critical "conduits of purity"--actively making Delhi as a world class city by redirecting, absorbing and transforming its waste.  I establish the limits and agency of these conduits of purity, ultimately demonstrating that interstitial places like slums and tenement communities are not dysfunctional wastescapes of cities, but rather, sites of dynamic, innovative renegotiation of the sustainable future of urban life. Delhi’s in-migrant population grows by 1,000 every day; the water habits of this population, though largely dismissed, are extremely germane to the dynamics of urban life and also have broader implications on the environmental hazards which compound the problems of vulnerable populations worldwide. 
My postdoctoral research, built on this research with macro-level interdisciplinary research in Global Water Security.  My research contributed to the OECD/Global Water Partnership report Securing Water, Sustaining Growth, creating timelines which focused on multi-scalar water development chronologies, including investments into infrastructure, institutions and information systems to prevent risk and maximize opportunities.  The 32 case studies of aquifers, transboundary river basins, and cities were presented in a report at the 2015 World Water Forum as models for heads of state to plan future water security strategies.


My present research draws from Public Anthropology and EcoFeminism to activate students as researchers in community-engaged partnerships in wastescapes of St. Louis, Missouri.  This will culminate into a larger project on American wastewater.

Jenny Price

Jenny Price is a public writer, artist, and environmental historian-and a 2016-18 Research Fellow in the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Author of Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America and "Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in L.A.," she is a co-founder of the L.A. Urban Rangers public art collective and a co-creator of the Our Malibu Beaches mobile-phone app. She created Nature Trail  for Laumeier Sculpture Park, and has held visiting professorships in American Studies, the arts, and environmental humanities at Princeton University. She is working on a new book-Stop Saving the Planet! A 21st-Century Environmentalist Manifesto.

Anika Walke

Anika Walke, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Washington
University in St. Louis. Anika was educated at the University of Oldenburg, Germany and the State University of St. Petersburg, Russia, before she completed her doctorate at the University of California-Santa Cruz. Anika’s research and teaching interests include World War II and Nazi genocide, migration, nationality policies, and oral history in the (former) Soviet Union and Europe. Her book, Pioneers and Partisans: An Oral History of Nazi Genocide in Belorussia (Oxford University Press, 2015), weaves together oral histories, video testimonies, and memoirs to show how the first generation of Soviet Jews experienced the Nazi genocide and how they remember it after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. A current research project is devoted to the long aftermath of the Holocaust and World War II. Foregrounding the role of space and
place in her inquiry, Anika examines how people remember and live with the effects and repercussions of systematic violence and genocide in Belarus, including population losses, the ubiquity of mass grave sites, environmental damage as a result of warfare, and the destruction of cultural heritage sites.

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