Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
Walsh School of Foreign Service
Georgetown University
Washington DC  20057-1020
Tel: (202)-687-0351
E-mail: rad39@georgetown.edu

Rochelle Davis is an Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.


Dr. Davis’ research focuses on refugees and conflict, specifically, Palestinian, Syrian, and Iraqi refugees. She has conducted research in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Lebanon. Her current research is based in 300 qualitative interviews conducted through participatory research by refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, and includes displaced Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians, Sudanese, and Somalis. She is also the lead qualitative researcher on a Georgetown University-International Organization for Migration longitudinal study of Iraqis displaced by ISIS/ISIL and their access to durable solutions. The study follows 4,000 Iraqi families internally displaced in Iraq.

Her book, Palestinian Village Histories: Geographies of the Displaced, (Stanford University Press, 2011)  was co-winner of the Middle East Studies Association’s Albert Hourani Book Award recognizing outstanding publications in Middle East studies. The book addresses how Palestinian refugees today write histories of their villages that were destroyed in the 1948 war, and the stories and commemorations of village life that are circulated and enacted in the diaspora. This work is based on over 120 village memorial books composed by refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel, and ethnographic research in these communities.

Professor Davis’ is currently writing a book about the conceptions of culture in the U.S. military’s war in Iraq.  She examines the cultural training material produced by military institutions and contractors about Iraqis, Arabs, and Islam. Through interviews with U.S. soldiers and marines, her research discusses how the servicemen and women assess the cultural training they received and their experiences with Iraqi culture and society. Interviews with Iraqis provide perspective on how Iraqis experienced the American troops’ cultural knowledge in practice.

Her other research interests include Palestinian poster art ( and Palestinian social and cultural life prior to 1948. She has also collected over fifty oral histories of Palestinian Jerusalemites about their lives in the twentieth century.


Professor Davis’ teaching interests include Arab society and culture, refugees, migrants and immigrants in and out of the Arab World, and war and conflict. She uses different genres of texts and other forms of media in her classroom to expose students to the wide range of material – both primary and secondary – about the Arab World. Her syllabi include ethnographies, autobiographies, scholarly books and articles from different disciplines, blogs, cartoons, films, novels, poetry, and media.

In 2010-2011, she was a Wikimedia Foundation Public Policy Fellow, and had students in three of her classes write articles for Wikipedia as part of their course assignments. This project was discussed in stories by NPRthe Washington Post, and the Christian Science Monitor, among others.


Between 2013-2016, she was the Academic Director the MA in Arab Studies Program. During the academic year 2011-2012, she was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Dr. Davis is a member of American Anthropology Association (AAA) and the Middle East Studies Association (MESA).  She was an Editorial Board Member of Middle East Research and Information Project (2008-2013), a Board Member of Arab Studies Journal, an Executive Committee Member and Board Member of Palestinian American Research Center (2007-2014), and the Listserve Moderator for Middle East Anthropology and The Taskforce on Middle East Anthropology (2003-present).

Dr. Davis is fluent in Arabic (Levantine colloquial) and Modern Standard Arabic (reading/writing/speaking), skills she developed as a graduate student of Arabic literature and during ten years of living in the Middle East. During that time she volunteered and interned at a human rights organization (Egypt), a local development group (Jordan), and an artists’ NGO (West Bank) while she was studying, conducting research, or working. She studied at Yarmouk University, the University of Jordan and the American University of Cairo (year abroad and CASA). She continues to be active as a consultant for a number of local NGOs.