My ethnographic research on stage, street, and digital performance focuses on youth culture in the Arab world. My first book Theaters of Citizenship: Aesthetics and Politics of Avant-Garde Performance in Egypt (Northwestern University Press, 2020) examined the cultural politics of identity in Egyptian underground theater, before and after 2011. A second project on digital performance began with articles on Egyptian bloggers who talked about self, sexuality, and revolutionary politics, a Saudi beauty YouTuber, and an Egyptian hijab influencer on Instagram. I studied the algorithmic, technological, and bodily strategies they used to assemble signature embodiments, developing a methodological toolkit for performance ethnography on digital platforms. My current research centers on digital entrepreneurs in Dubai - including those marketed as icons of modern Emirati identity and others who embody third-culture cosmopolitanism in an immigrant-majority nation. While they capitalize on the UAE’s thriving influencer marketing industry, these digital microcelebrities also use TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and podcasts to produce culture under the radar of national ideology. I am intrigued by the dialectic of branding and self-realization, commodification and iconoclasm in their performances.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • PhD: Anthropology, Columbia University
  • BA: , Amherst College


  • Egypt
  • Digital Media
  • Gender Studies
  • Middle East Studies
  • Performance Studies
  • Youth Culture