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. Since July 2013, she is also the Academic Director of the MA in Arab Studies Program.
Dr. Davis’ research focuses on refugees and conflict. Her most recent research in Jordan and Lebanon has examined both Syrian refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war and Iraqi refugees who fled to Jordan and Syria post 2005. She has authored or co-authored a number of reports on this research.
Her book, Palestinian Village Histories: Geographies of the Displaced, (Stanford University Press) was co-winner of the Middle East Studies Association’s Albert Hourani Book Award to recognize outstanding publishing 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. Her book chapter “Mapping the Past, Recreating the Homeland” on the subject appears in Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, edited by Lila Abu Lughod and Ahmad Sa’di (Columbia 2007).
Professor Davis’ other research interests focuses on the role of culture in the U.S. military in the 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, Dr. Davis’ research discusses how the servicemen and women assess the cultural training they received, their experiences with Iraqi culture and society. See her publications page for articles and book chapters she has published on the subject. Dr. Davis has presented this research at the TRADOC Culture Summit IV, two University of Chicago conferences (“Reconsidering American Power” and “Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency”), the Middle East Studies Association annual meeting in 2008, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, and the American Studies Association. The research has been funded by Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, a CCAS Oman Faculty Research Grant, and The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq.
Her past research has explored Arab and Arab American identity 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; war and conflict; and tradition, conflict and change. 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 new articles for Wikipedia and contribute to already existing articles as part of their course assignments. This project was discussed in stories by NPR, the Washington Post, and the Christian Science Monitor, among others. Four of her students were profiled on the Wikimedia Blog: Patrick Friedel, Nicole Anderson, Abbie Taylor, and Adrian Bien.
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.