Pheroze Unwalla received his PhD from SOAS, University of London. He is a historian of Turkey and the modern Middle East whose main research interests include memory, trauma, nationalism and space. His prior research focused on Turkish national remembrance of the First World War and, in particular, the 1915 Battle of Gallipoli, challenging the notion of the 1915 battle as a foundational moment for the Turkish nation and, more importantly, complicating the figuration of the Gallipoli Peninsula as an archetypal Turkish national space secured as such through victory over foreigners.
As EL-stream faculty, I am presently focused on expanding Middle East Studies (MES) at UBC and developing SOTL and new pedagogical approaches in MES and Middle East History in particular. My most pressing initiatives include:
- The establishment, development, and expansion of Middle East Studies at UBC. Working with the student-run Middle East Engagement Collective, I established an interdisciplinary Middle East Studies (MES) program at UBC, the first in British Columbia. As the first Chair of the program, I am working to develop the program by developing outreach and events, providing research and work opportunities to students, and advocating for new faculty and curricular options. Beyond program expansion, I have also developed numerous MES and MES-affiliated courses. These include the program’s core course – MES 300 The Middle East: Critical Questions & Debates – as well as four Middle East History courses (in addition to several other courses on global history). Further MES courses are presently in development.
- Rethinking the Middle East History survey course. I am working to reconceptualize the Middle East History survey, tackling such issues as the coverage model, skills instruction and large lecture formats from a MES-specific vantage point.
- Critical pedagogies of hope in Middle East Studies and History curricula. I am working to gird MES and Middle East History courses with a critical pedagogy of hope, embedding it in syllabi, learning outcomes and class sessions. Given the troubled history of the field, I hypothesize that a critical pedagogy of hope can help a) refashion and reinvigorate Middle East Studies (and History) in the classroom; b) transform students’ understanding of their place in academia and the wider world; and c) create community, empathy and hope, thereby ameliorating students’ and instructors’ emotional wellbeing.
- Mentorship, Research Opportunities and Platforms for Undergraduate Students. I am committed to providing meaningful opportunities for undergraduate students with interest in the Middle East (broadly construed). In particular, I am working on the following:
- Continuing the Conversation: The Middle East. I created this series to provide room for informal discussion on history and current events in the Middle East because a) there is never enough time in courses to tackle these difficult subjects; and b) the academic classroom can inhibit certain kinds of difficult discussions. The series thus provides a platform for students to speak their mind and debate outside the strictures of the academic classroom.
- Creating new undergraduate research experiences. I supervise and support Honours students in History who work on Middle East-focused topics. I have also created research internships, and am this year trialing a new directed studies course that will train a select group of students on how to write a major research paper on a Middle East subject and present it at the 2022 Middle East and Islamic Consortium (MEICON) Student Conference that I am hosting at UBC.
Courses Developed and Taught:
MES 300 The Middle East Critical Questions & Debates
HIST 104 A Global History of Genocide (Vantage College)
HIST 104 Thinking Like a Historian (Vantage College)
HIST 105 The War on Terror: A Global History (2021W)
HIST 105 Film & History (Vantage College)
HIST 352 Modern Middle Eastern History
HIST 402 The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
HIST 403 The Middle East in Graphic Novels: History, Politics and the Tragic Comic
HIST 421/321 Remembering the Traumatic 20th Century: History, Memory, Tragedy (Honours)
Courses Developed but not yet Taught:
HIST 353 Special Topics in Middle East History
HIST354 The Ottoman Empire
HIST 404 The First World War
Courses in Development:
MES 301 Topics in Middle East Studies
MES 499 Middle East Studies Student Workshop