The main focus of my research and teaching has been the socioeconomic, cultural and political history of the modern Middle East, particularly the Mashriq. Under the influence of the “new social history” and “history from below” movements of the 1960s and 1970s, I did my doctoral dissertation on the emergence and evolution of a working class and labor movement in Egypt from the late nineteenth century until the Second World War; it was published in 1987 in a book co-authored with Joel Beinin. Since then I have sporadically continued to work on Egypt, with a special interest in society, culture and politics in the 1882-1919 period. I have also done a great deal of research and writing on Palestine, manifested (among other things) in a 1989 edited volume on the Intifada and a 1996 book on relations between Arab and Jewish workers and labor movements in Palestine between 1906 and 1948, and various articles, papers and talks. I’ve also published an introduction to the history and politics of Orientalism and Middle East studies, with particular attention to the study of the Middle East in the United States since 1945 and its intersections with U.S. policy in that region. My latest book is a history of area studies and Middle East studies in the United States, based on extensive research in the archives of foundations, academic organizations and universities.
Along the way I have served as president of the Middle East Studies Association and a member of its Committee on Academic Freedom; as a member of the Joint Committee on the Near and Middle East of the Social Science Research Council/American Council of Learned Societies; and as an editor (and currently a contributing editor) of Middle East Report.