Universiteit Leiden

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Judith Naeff

University Lecturer International Studies

Dr. J.A. Naeff
+31 70 800 5485

Judith Naeff is Assistant Professor Cultures of the Middle East at Leiden University with a main interest in contemporary Arabic visual culture and literature. She has worked mainly on cities & urban imaginaries and memory & temporality.

More information about Judith Naeff


Literature and visual culture of the modern and contemporary Middle East.
Intellectual history and memory cultures of the Arab left.
Cities and city cultures in the Middle East. 

Judith Naeff investigates generational dialogues about the legacies and memories of labour, student and communist movements in the Arab world. The research focuses in particular on video and installation art by young makers born in the 1980s that address the generation of their parents and the events that took place in the 1970s.

The monograph "Precarious Imaginaries of Beirut: A City's Suspended Now" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018) explores a shared experience of time and space in contemporary Beirut (1990-2015) and the ways in which this experience has been given meaning in works of literature, arts and culture. The book conceptualizes "the suspended now" as the experience of a stretched-out present, cut off from a past that seems at once unresolved and inaccessible, and from a future that is radically uncertain. It argues that this experience has often been understood as a transitional phase, a period of recovery from a near-absolute traumatic rupture in anticipation of a future release. More and more often, however, the suspended now is understood to be continually reproduced by conditions that structurally expose the urban environment to harm. From narratives of underground journeys to exclusionary real estate advertisement, and from a sprawling city of concrete toy blocks to a vampire movie, the cultural objects discussed in the thesis do not only imaginatively express Beirut's suspended now; they also critically reflect upon its conditions and creatively imagine ways to live ethically in Beirut's precarious environment.

Curriculum vitae


2017 - present - University Lecturer (Assistant Professor) Cultures of the Middle East, Leiden University.
2016 - 2017 - Lecturer Cultures of the Middle East, Leiden University.
2016 - 2017 - Lecturer Visual Culture. Radboud University Nijmegen.
2011-2016 - PhD fellow (fully funded). University of Amsterdam.
Fall 2015 and Summer 2017 - Lecturer Literature. University College Utrecht.
2014-2015 - Lecturer Arabic Studies. Hogeschool van Amsterdam.
2006-2011 - Translator AR-NL, Translators collective AICA, Amsterdam.

2011-2016 - PhD, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), University of Amsterdam.
2011 - RMA (cum laude), Literary Studies, University of Amsterdam.
2011 - MA (cum laude), Arabic Language & Culture, University of Amsterdam.
2006- BA (cum laude), Arabic Language & Culture (Minor Literary Studies), University of Amsterdam  

University Lecturer International Studies

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies

Work address

Schouwburgstraat 2
2511 VA The Hague
Room number B1.08



  • ZemZem - tijdschrift over het Midden-Oosten, Noord-Afrika en islam mede-hoofdredacteur
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