Dr Maria Holt

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I obtained a BA (Honours) in Political Science and Middle East & Islamic Studies from the University of Toronto, in 1987; and an MA (with Distinction) in Middle Eastern Politics from the University of Exeter, in 1988. 

Following a career as a political lobbyist, specializing in the Middle East, and a parliamentary researcher, I returned to university in the late 1990s to pursue PhD research. Upon completing my PhD at the University of York in 2004, on the effects of violent conflict on Shi'i women and Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon, I was fortunate enough to get a short-term contract as a Research Fellow on the Democracy & Islam Programme at the University of Westminster. In 2007, I was given a permanent contract as a Lecturer. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer and then, in 2013, became a Reader in Politics in the Department of Politics & International Relations.

Undergraduate teaching and module leadership

  • In 2007, I was invited to devise a Level 6 module 'Towards New Identities: Language, Identity and Politics in the Contemporary Arab World' for the Department of Modern Languages (Arabic). I continued to lead and teach this module until 2010 
  • In 2010, I created a new Level 6 module within the Department of Politics & International Relations, 'Politics of the Middle East', which I taught until 2012 
  • As the Middle East is proving increasingly popular with students, the department decided, in 2012, to make Middle Eastern politics into a central element of the BA Politics programme. I took the lead on organizing the validation of two new modules: a Level 5 core module entitled 'Introduction to the Politics of the Middle East'; this has been taught since 2012/13 
  • Every year, I supervise several undergraduate dissertations 

Postgraduate teaching and module leadership

  • From 2007-2010, I was module leader for the MA module 'Dissertation and Research Methods' 
  • In order to build on the popularity with students of the field of Middle Eastern studies, I created a new MA module 'Islam and Politics in the Middle East', which I have led and taught since 2010 
  • I have taught on the MA module 'Democracy and Islam' since 2005 

I am currently supervising five MPhil/PhD students, as either Director of Studies or second supervisor

My current research interests fall into four main areas: (1) women and war in the Middle East; (2) the effects of violence on Arab women; (3) the influence of Islam, as faith and a form of activism, on Middle Eastern women's political activities, especially in light of the recent popular uprisings in several Arab countries; and (4) Palestinian women in the refugee camps of Lebanon; this builds on research conducted into Palestinian women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (my book, published in Jerusalem in 1998, was translated into Arabic and became a key source of information and debate on this topic). As a result of my ethnographic-based work in the Middle East, I have developed a new methodology (as a result of this, I was invited to participate in a workshop in Washington DC organized by the United States Institute of Peace In November 2009 to discuss policy implications of women's roles in conflict; I was also invited to contribute a chapter to a book on the development of methodology in conflict and post-conflict areas). The role of women has been identified by the EU and US as crucial to the development of post-'Arab spring' states. 

The research I am working on at the moment and will be developing over the next few years represents a steady progression from projects initiated and conducted since I started in 2004 as a Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Democracy (and, from 2009, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics & International Relations). In 2006-07, I received funding from the AHRC to conduct an ethnographic research project into Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon, in terms of memory, identity and change (this resulted in a number of peer-reviewed articles, several book chapters and conference papers, and evidence published as part of a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Enquiry; I was also commissioned by the publisher I B Tauris to produce a book, which will appear in 2013). In 2007-08, I carried out another project (funded by the United States Institute of Peace) into the effects of Islamic resistance movements on Palestinian women in the West Bank and Shi'a women in Lebanon (this research, which included over 100 interviews with Lebanese and Palestinian women, male political and religious leaders, academics and journalists, also led to a number of publications, conference papers and a joint-authored book, to be published in 2013). One of the outputs of this research was a one-day conference, in November 2008, at the University of Westminster to discuss the findings of my research project on women and Islamic resistance; the conference included invited speakers from Palestine, Lebanon, the Netherlands and the UK, three panels and nine papers. 

In response to my work, I have received expressions of interest from the Middle East, Europe and North America (for instance, I was invited in 2010 to participate in a Foreign & Commonwealth Office 'Prevent' consultation and, in March 2012, I was invited to address a NATO parliamentary group conference). 

Grants

2000 British Society for Middle Eastern Studies 

2001 British International Studies Association 

2002 Council for British Research in the Levant 

2006 Arts & Humanities Research Council (Project: Memory, identity and change: a case study of Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon) 

2009 United States Institute of Peace (Project: Women and Islamic resistance in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories) 

2010 Cordoba Foundation (Project: Women and Islamic resithe Arab world) 

I am currently supervising five MPhil/PhD students, as either Director of Studies or second supervisor

2013

Women and conflict in the Middle East: Palestinian refugees and the response to violence (2013)
Holt, M.C.
Women and conflict in the Middle East: Palestinian refugees and the response to violence London I. B. Tauris

2006

Without glory in Arabia: the British retreat from Aden (2006)
Hinchcliffe, P., Ducker, J.T. and Holt, M.C.
Without glory in Arabia: the British retreat from Aden London, UK I. B. Tauris

2011

'A world of movement': memory and reality for Palestinian women in the camps of Lebanon (2011)
Holt, M.C.
'A world of movement': memory and reality for Palestinian women in the camps of Lebanon in: Knudsen, A. and Hanafi, S. (ed.) Palestinian refugees: identity, space and place in the Levant London Routledge pp. 180-192
Keeping the memory alive: Palestinian women in Lebanon narrate home, homeland and homelessness (2011)
Holt, M.C.
Keeping the memory alive: Palestinian women in Lebanon narrate home, homeland and homelessness in: Glenn, D., Bouvet, E. and Floriani, S. (ed.) Imagining home: migrants and the search for a new belonging Wakefield Press pp. 47-66

2010

Unexamined lives: a methodology of women, violence and war in Lebanon (2010)
Holt, M.C.
Unexamined lives: a methodology of women, violence and war in Lebanon in: Özerdem, A. and Bowd, R. (ed.) Participatory research methodologies: development and post-disaster/conflict reconstruction Farnham Ashgate pp. 197-210
Challenging preconceptions: women and Islamic resistance (2010)
Holt, M.C.
Challenging preconceptions: women and Islamic resistance in: Pace, M. (ed.) Europe, the USA and political Islam: strategies for engagement London Palgrave Macmillan pp. 79-101

2009

A crisis of identity: Palestinian women, memory and dissent (2009)
Holt, M.C.
A crisis of identity: Palestinian women, memory and dissent in: Kanaana, S. (ed.) The future of Palestinian identity (papers presented at the Third International Conference held at the Centre for the Study of Palestinian Society and Heritage, Society of Inash El Usra) Palestine Al-Bireh

2008

Women and Islamic resistance in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories (2008)
Holt, M.C.
Women and Islamic resistance in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories in: Stivachtis, Y.A. (ed.) Global affairs in a turbulent world: perspectives and controversies Athens ATINER pp. 479-488

2010

The unlikely terrorist: women and Islamic resistance in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories (2010)
Holt, M.C.
The unlikely terrorist: women and Islamic resistance in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories Critical Studies on Terrorism 3 (3) 365-382 1753-9153
Agents of defiance and despair: the impact of Islamic resistance on Palestinian women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (2010)
Holt, M.C.
Agents of defiance and despair: the impact of Islamic resistance on Palestinian women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 11 (3&4) 397-415 1469-0764
Moving from silence into speech: Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon speak about their lives (2010)
Holt, M.C.
Moving from silence into speech: Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon speak about their lives Crossings: journal of migration and culture 1 (1) 69-86 2040-4344

2009

Myths, rhetoric and hidden agandas: a history of failed peace processes between Palestinians and Israelis (2009)
Holt, M.C.
Myths, rhetoric and hidden agandas: a history of failed peace processes between Palestinians and Israelis Aqsa Journal 11 (2) 13-20 1463-3930

2008

Women and Islamic resistance (2008)
Holt, M.C.
Women and Islamic resistance Muslim News 235 0956-5027

2004

Memories of Arabia and empire: an oral history of the British in Aden (2004)
Holt, M.C.
Memories of Arabia and empire: an oral history of the British in Aden Contemporary British History 18 (4) 93-112 1361-9462

2003

Palestinian women, violence, and the peace process (2003)
Holt, M.C.
Palestinian women, violence, and the peace process Development in Practice 13 (2/3) 223-238 0961-4524
Palestinian women negotiate violent conflict (2003)
Holt, M.C.
Palestinian women negotiate violent conflict Al-Raida XXI (103) 26-30 0259-9953

2006

Identity under siege: Palestinian women and memories of violence in the camps of Lebanon (2006)
Holt, M.C.
Identity under siege: Palestinian women and memories of violence in the camps of Lebanon British International Studies Association Annual Conference Cork, Ireland 18 - 20 Dec 2006

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