Guest Researchers

Call for Guest Researchers

We welcome a new round of advanced researchers (post-MA) to apply to the institute's guest researchers positions. As a guest researcher, we will provide you with a work space with desk and computer where you can leave your books, office support, access to our library, administrative support regarding permissions for access to other institutes, libraries, applications for permits etc. (no financial support or residence permits). In return, we expect guest researchers to contribute to the scholarly work at NVIC, for example by presenting a lecture on your research within the weekly lecture series, or by joining our PhD discussion round. The number of desk spaces for guest researchers is limited, so please contact the institute at an early stage at

Current guest researchers

Zakaria El Houbba

Zakaria El Houbba is affiliated with Kalam Research and Media, an academic research institute situated in Dubai, Tripoli and Kuala Lumpur, which is dedicated to academic research, pedagogy, content development and publishing in the fields of Islamic Theology (Kalam), Islamic Philosophy of Science, Scriptural reasoning and Inter-Faith dialogue. As Assistant Editor he oversees KRM's house publications and the John Templeton foundation’s initiative of Islamic Analytic Theology. Zakaria is a B.A in Philosophy at Leuven University and Ankara University and has spent several years of formal training with traditional scholars of Islamic sciences in Egypt, Morocco and Mauritania.

His current research envelops the epistemological structures of modern Islamic theology from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. The primary focus is on the collapse of epistemic structures within Islamic thought through the currents and expansions of Modernity as defined in the work of Mostafa Sabri, the last Ottoman shaykh-ul-Islam and Rene Guenon, the involuntary founder of traditionalism and perennialism. Both provided, from completely different yet traditional perspectives, a conceptualisation of the collapse of epistemic structures, their effect on the Muslim psyche as to conceptualise the necessary revival and reconstruction of epistemic structures which is oriented towards a consolidation of Islamic ontology.

Mary Elston

Mary Elston is a PhD candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. She is in Cairo this year conducting research for her dissertation entitled, "Religion and Science at al-Azhar: An Ethnographic and Historical Study." The dissertation explores the introduction of modern sciences (al-‘ulūm al-ḥ adītha) into the Azhari intellectual milieu in the 19th and 20th centuries. Her dissertation research in Cairo is supported by a Frederick Sheldon Travelling Fellowship from Harvard University.

The dissertation takes as its starting point the 1961 reform law under president Gamal Abdul Nasser which claimed to modernize al-Azhar, the oldest and most prestigious institution of learning in the Sunni Muslim world. To date, western scholarship has tended to portray the 1961 reform as a moment of rupture in which al-Azhar was transformed from a traditional Islamic school into a modern university that teaches secular scientific knowledge. Through ethnographic and archival research, the dissertation re-examines this characterization by contextualizing the 1961 law in a longer history of reform that began in 1872, and by exploring the place and nature of scientific inquiry at al-Azhar before and after the 1961 reform. A central question guiding this project is how al-Azhar’s scholars have sought to root their pursuit of modern science in the Islamic discursive tradition. 

Through this approach, the dissertation will not only examine the critical question of the relationship of modernity to religion and science, but it will also contribute to a growing body of literature that illuminates the diverse ways in which religious actors and institutions strive to maintain their authority in modern contexts.

Anny Gaul

Anny is a PhD candidate in Arabic & Islamic Studies at Georgetown University (Washington, DC). She holds an MA from Georgetown and a BA from Yale University. She is a Predissertation Travel Grantee through the American Research Center in Egypt (September 2016) and a CAORC Multi-Country Grantee (October-December 2016).

Her project grounds abstract narratives of anticolonial nationalisms in North Africa in the concrete realm of domestic food production and consumption. Over the first half of the twentieth century, women in Egypt and Morocco increasingly began cooking in modern, urban, domestic kitchens. They learned new culinary techniques through mass media and state curricula and cooked with running water and raised stoves. From their kitchens, the culinary styles now labeled "Moroccan cuisine" and "Egyptian cuisine" emerged, comprising techniques and recipes common to the urban middle classes of each nascent nation. Yet despite overlaps in culinary influences (e.g., sustained contact with French culture and a shared medieval Arab-Islamic elite cuisine), Moroccan and Egyptian cuisines have strikingly little in common today. Bringing together literary and historical approaches to texts about these culinary spaces, this project offers a new comparative account of cultural politics and identity formation in North Africa.

An avid cook and photographer, Anny is as likely to cook her way through her sources as she is to read them. You can find her recipes and kitchen experiments at

Previous Guest Researchers

Pavlos Kavouras

Pavlos Kavouras is a professor of cultural anthropology and ethnomusicology at the University of Athens. His research focuses on music and religion with a special emphasis on Sufism.

My affiliation with the Netherlands and Flemish Institute in Cairo as a guest researcher (January 11 to June 15, 2016) was a rich and creative experience.

I was provided with a convenient work space, office support and access to NVIC's library and in return I presented my scholarly research titled Othering: The Oracle of Delphi and the Question of Interpretation within the weekly lecture series of the Institute.

As a scholar specializing in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, I found NVIC's wide variety of academic scope, especially its foci on "The Urban Challenge of Cairo," "The Politics, Law and Society in Egypt" and "The Art & Culture" study areas to be extremely interesting and scholarly stimulating.

I would like to express my gratitude to the staff of NVIC and to Dr. Rudolf de Jong, director of NVIC, in particular for their friendliness and collegiality. I am going to miss you all guys!

Ilyas Saliba

Ilyas Saliba is a research fellow and a PhD candidate at the Berlin Graduate School for Social Sciences (BGSS) at Humboldt University Berlin. His research has taken him to Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt.

Teresa Pepe

Teresa Pepe is a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS) at the University of Oslo, and was provided a work space at the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo last year. She holds a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and Literature from the University of Oslo. Her dissertation "Fictionalized Identities in the Egyptian Blogosphere" (2014) explores the literary features of Egyptian auto - fictional blogs written between 2005 and 2011, in light of the events of the 25th January Revolution and of previous autobiographical writings in Arabic Literature . She has published preliminary results of her research in various academic journals.

Her current research project entitled "The adīb and adab – Demise, or metamorphosis, of a key figure and of a key concept of the Arab modernist project?" and explores how the role of writers and intellectuals has evolved during the 20th century in Arabic/Egyptian society.

She contributes to the cultural section of the independent media Mada Masr. She is also the organizer of the research forum "Arab Media Transitions", which analyses the impact of media on Arabic literature and culture from a historical perspective.

Cristina Dozio

After graduating from the University of Milan (Italy), Cristina joined the PhD programme in Linguistic, Literary and Intercultural Studies at the same University. Her research interests include contemporary Arabic literature - in particular irony and humour in the novel -, satirical journalism and translation studies. Her focus is on Egyptian and Moroccan writers. She co-translated Ala al-Aswani's Automobile Club into Italian (2014) and translated some short stories for collections and magazines.

Lucia Sorbera

Lucia Sorbera is a lecturer in Arabic, Islamic, and Middle East Studies at the University of Sydney, School of Languages and Cultures, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies. She is specializing in women and gender history, focusing on Egyptian women’s political activism. She earned a PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice (2006), and her thesis on Egyptian Feminism in the 1920s has been awarded the Franca Pieroni Bortolotti Prize by the Italian Society of Women Historians (SIS).

Dr Sorbera is a non-resident fellow of the Research Centre on Gender and Politics at Padua University (Italy), and she serves in a number of academic and editorial boards. She is currently on Special Study Program Leave, and was a visiting researcher at the Nederlands-Vlaams Instituut in Cairo, where she conducted her research on “Writing a feminist history of the 2011 Egyptian uprisings. Ethnography of a continuing revolution”.

Gerasimos Tsourapas

Gerasimos Tsourapas is currently a final-year PhD student at the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London. His work focuses on the impact of migration on authoritarian regimes’ durability in the Arab world. He received a BA in political science and economics from Yale University and a MSc in international political economy from the London School of Economics. While at NVIC, Gerasimos was also a visiting scholar at the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies at the American University of Cairo.

Meir R. Walters

Meir R. Walters is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Government at Georgetown University. From 2012-2013, he was a Fulbright fellow in Egypt. His work has been published in Perspectives on Politics and the Journal of North African Studies.    

Ifdal Elsaket

Ifdal received her PhD from the Arab and Islamic Studies and History departments at the University of Sydney in Australia. Her PhD, "Projecting Egypt: The Cinema and the Making of Colonial Modernity, 1897-1952", examined the political, social and economic dimensions of cinematic cultures in Egypt. She currently lectures part time in the Political Science department at the British University.

Last Modified: 30-10-2016