Graduate Students

Wolfgang Alders


Wolfgang Alders is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley, working on the archaeology of settlement patterns and land use in Zanzibar, Tanzania. His dissertation work uses archaeological survey, geoarchaeology and remote sensing to understand the spatial patterns of settlement across a historical plantation region in north-central Zanzibar, over the last millennium and across different environmental contexts.

Heba Alnajada


Heba Alnajada is a Ph.D. Candidate in Architecture History at the University of California at Berkeley. Her Ph.D. research situates the spaces that Syrian refugees inhabit in Jordan today within a rich history of providing and building refuge in the Sham region and the larger Arab and Muslim worlds. Ones that are connected to (and not separate from) those of Muslim Ottoman refugees (after 1878) and Palestinian refugees (since 1948). Heba received her undergraduate degree in Architecture from the University of Jordan and her master’s degree in Urban Design from the University of Sheffield....

Nicole Ferreira

South and Southeast Asian Studies

Nicole Ferreira is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies at UC Berkeley. She received her B.A. in History from Guilford College in 2010 and M.A. in History from the University of Delhi in 2014. Her dissertation, Mobile Pasts: Memory, Migration, and Place in Afghan Identity, 1451-1700, traces the development of an Afghan identity in transregional textual conversations that unfolded throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Her broad research interests include memory and practices of...

Riad Kherdeen

History of Art

Riad Kherdeen (2016) studies global modern art and architecture, with a focus on the region of West Asia/Middle East and North Africa (MENA). His dissertation project, titled “Spectral Modernisms: Decolonial Aesthetics and the Art of Resistance in Early Post-Protectorate Morocco,” is a study of modernist art and architecture in Morocco between the 1950s and 1970s. Riad’s interests fall within three main clusters of study: the first is in comparative and planetary modernisms via postcolonial studies and critical theory; the second is in the study of perception,...

Ariana Pemberton

History of Art

Ariana Pemberton is a PhD student in the Art History department focusing on South Asia and the Indian Ocean world during the medieval period (ca. 800-1500). Bringing together agents of South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa, her MA thesis on the fifteenth-century Firuz Minar in Bengal, built under the first African reign of the subcontinent, engages architectural histories of the subcontinent and the broader Islamic world, epigraphic and numismatic histories of Sultanate Bengal, and East African diasporic histories of Habshis and Black kingship in South Asia. More broadly, her...

Laila Riazi

Comparative Literature

Laila Riazi is a doctoral student in the Department of Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley and is pursuing a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. Riazi previously served on the editorial board of Duke University Press’s interdisciplinary journal, Qui Parle. Riazi currently co-organizes the Townsend Center Working Group on Psychoanalysis and serves as assistant to the Berkeley Psychoanalytic Society.

Laila Riazi works primarily in postcolonial theory and across Arabophone,...

Lubna Safi

Middle Eastern Languages & Cultures

Lubna Safi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures and in the Designated Emphasis Program in Critical Theory. She holds an M.A. in Comparative Literature from The Pennsylvania State University, where she completed a thesis on 20th century Spanish poets and the ways they invoked and mobilized al-Andalus (Muslim Iberia) in order to negotiate Spain’s changing national, racial, and literary identities. Her work centers on aesthetic experience, knowledge formation, reading praxis, and theories of vision and the imagination, with a focus on al-...

Ahmad Rashid Salim

Middle Eastern Languages & Cultures

Ahmad Rashid Salim (احمد راشد سليم) is a doctoral student in the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests include Persian mystical literature and their epistemologies of Islam. His work attempts to re-read texts as sites of spiritual exegesis, poetics, and socio-political-literary critique. Furthermore, he...

Maryam Sedaghatpour

Integrative Biology

Maryam Sedaghatpour is a Ph.D. candidate in Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. Sedaghatpour's research currently focuses on the origins, evolution, and conservation of the Bilad Al-Sham flora, an understudied biodiversity hotspot threatened by climate change and urbanization. Sedaghatpour's dissertation assesses the biodiversity of the region through an evolutionary lens with the goal of identifying important conservation areas. Throughout her career, she aims to continue to advance...

Christine Theunissen

History of Art

Christine Theunissen (2020) is a History of Art PhD student studying Global Early Modern and Modern Art and Architecture with a particular interest Spain, North Africa, and Latin America. Interests in Orientalism, post-colonial, and literary theory have driven Christine’s past research and in working with professors at Berkeley, she hopes explore questions related to globalization and transnationalism.