Universiteit Leiden

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Tsolin Nalbantian

University Lecturer Modern Middle-Eastern Studies

Dr. T. Nalbantian
+31 71 527 2985

Tsolin Nalbantian is a University Lecturer at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies.

More information about Tsolin Nalbantian


I am a historian who focuses on the contemporary history of the region of North Africa and West Asia between the Atlantic and Central Asia, commonly known as the Middle East. In particular, I research and teach about the roles minorities have played in the construction of the nation-state and nationalism; the interactions of diasporic populations with other populations and the state in the Middle East; the politicization of identity; and Syria and Lebanon in the 20th century.

My future research agenda entails building upon the groundwork laid in my dissertation: “Fashioning Armenians: Armenians in Lebanon 1946-1958,” a history of the shifting dynamics of self-identification and external classification of this simultaneously diasporic and local Middle Eastern community as tracked through Lebanese media. I engage with the growing body of scholarship on the phenomenon of “marginality” in the modern period. Moving beyond writing the “minority” into the historical narrative of the nation-state, my work explores the (rhetorical and material) relationships between the idealized categories “minority” and “majority.” As both categories are constructions employed to mobilize resources in support of the nation-state, examining these relationships reveals much about various forms of agency and their deployment in ongoing contests over access to resources and other sources of power.

In exploring these processes –i.e. the ways in which certain groups are pushed to the margins while others embrace “minority” status to seek a place near the centers of power – I seek commonalities with other analytical categories, e.g. gender and class, whose dialectical relationship with the nation-state is already well developed in the scholarly literature. I hope that uncovering such connections will enable us to begin transcending the limits of the sectarian-ethnic mode of conceptualization, which so often constrains our understanding of majority/minority power relationships within the nation-state.

Teaching and Research Interest

Contemporary Middle Eastern History; Nationalism in the Middle East, Codification of Identities, Minorities and their Relationships vis-à-vis the Nation-State, Diasporas in the Middle East; Syria and Lebanon in the 20 th century.

Key Publications

  • “Articulating Power through the Parochial” Mashriq & Mahjar 2(2013), pp. 41-72.

  • “Lebanese Power Struggles and Fashioning “Armenian” Space: 1957-1958,” MESA Review of Middle East Studies 47:2 (2013), pp.218-227.

  • “Going Beyond Overlooked Populations in Lebanese Historiography: The Armenian Case,” History Compass 11:10 (2013), pp. 821-832.

Courses taught

  • Theories and Methods of Middle East and Islamic Studies (MA Seminar)

  • Developments in the Middle East: Nationalism and Communal Identity (MA Seminar)

  • History of the Middle East 1500-present (BA 1 Lecture)

  • Politics, Ideologies, and Societies in the Middle East (BA 2 Seminar)

  • Diasporas and Minorities in the Middle East (BA 3 Seminar)



  • PhD in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University (2011)

  • MA in Near Eastern Studies, New York University (2003)


  • Lecturer in Middle East History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2010-2011)

  • Arabic Instructor, Columbia University (2004-2006)

Grants and awards

  • NWO Veni grant (2014-2018): “Connecting citizens: the fused identities of Nusaybin, Turkey and Qamishle, Syria”
  • Marie Curie (CIG) Grant, European Commission (2012-2016): “Centering the Margins”
  • Zohrab Faculty Fellowship, Columbia University
  • Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Summer Fellowship, Columbia University
  • Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, Wenner-Gren Foundation
  • FLAS Dissertation Fellowship in Arabic, Columbia University
  • Fulbright-Hays Fellowship (Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad), US Department of Education
  • FLAS Fellowship in Arabic, New York University
  • Graduate Student Fellowship, New York University
  • Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA), Cairo, Egypt

University Lecturer Modern Middle-Eastern Studies

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies

Work address

Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 4
2311 BZ Leiden
Room number 1.11b


No relevant ancillary activities

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