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, 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 a Level 5 core module entitled 'Introduction to the Politics of the Middle East'.
  • In 2016, the module became an optional choice 'Middle East Politics'. It continues to attract hight numbers of students each year.
  • 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' .
  • I resumed this role in 2014.
  • 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 taught on the MA module 'Democracy and Islam' until it was discontinued in 2016. 

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

In the early 2000s, I conducted an oral history project of the end of the British colonial period in southern Yemen, which included interviewing individuals in the UK who worked in Yemen in the period before 1967 and Yemenis who remembered the British occupation. This later became part of a book Without glory in Arabia: the end of British rule in Aden (with Peter Hinchcliffe and John Ducker).

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. 

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; and also a book,  Women and conflict in the Middle East: Palestinian refugees and the response to violence, published by I B Tauris 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 another book (with Haifaa Jawad), published by Lynne Rienner 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. 

I am continuing to develop these various research strands and am currently working on four projects: (1) Violence against women in war and peace: a case study of Lebanon (which builds on the work of the Coalition of Women MPs from Arab Countries to combat violence against women); (2) The Palestinian nation in a post-national world; (3) Migration research from a gendered perspective, with a particular focus on Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon; and (4) Islamization, empowerment and violence against women: a case study of Malaysia.

In response to my work, I have received expressions of interest and invitations from the Middle East, Europe, North America, South East Asia and Brazil. I have participated in numerous international conferences and published journal articles and book chapters about my research. 

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 resistance in the Arab world) 

2018

Everyday practices of sacrifice: a case study of Palestinian women (2018)
Holt, M.C. 2018. Everyday practices of sacrifice: a case study of Palestinian women. Gender and Research. 19 (1), pp. 2-25.

2015

An 'Invented People': Palestinian Refugee Women and Meanings of Home (2015)
Holt, M.C. 2015. An 'Invented People': Palestinian Refugee Women and Meanings of Home. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies. 14 (2), pp. 452-460.

2010

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

2009

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

2008

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

2004

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

2003

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

2015

Women, Islam and War in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories (2015)
Holt, M.C. 2015. Women, Islam and War in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories. in: Kendall, E. and Stein, E. (ed.) Twenty-First Century Jihad: Law, Society and Military Action London & New York I.B. Tauris. pp. 216-232
Stories of Identity and Resistance: Palestinian Women outside the Homeland (2015)
Holt, M.C. 2015. Stories of Identity and Resistance: Palestinian Women outside the Homeland. in: Gorman, A. and Kasbarian, S. (ed.) Diasporas of the Modern Middle East: Contextualizing Community Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press. pp. 212-238
Resistance narratives: Palestinian women, Islam and insecurity (2015)
Holt, M.C. 2015. Resistance narratives: Palestinian women, Islam and insecurity. in: El-Affendi, A.A. (ed.) Genocidal Nightmares: Narratives of Insecurity and the Logic of Mass Atrocities New York and London Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 153-170

2011

'A world of movement': memory and reality for Palestinian women in the camps of Lebanon (2011)
Holt, M.C. 2011. '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. 2011. 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

Challenging preconceptions: women and Islamic resistance (2010)
Holt, M.C. 2010. 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
Unexamined lives: a methodology of women, violence and war in Lebanon (2010)
Holt, M.C. 2010. 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

2009

A crisis of identity: Palestinian women, memory and dissent (2009)
Holt, M.C. 2009. 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. 2008. 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

2013

Women and conflict in the Middle East: Palestinian refugees and the response to violence (2013)
Holt, M.C. 2013. 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. 2006. Without glory in Arabia: the British retreat from Aden. London, UK I.B. Tauris.

2006

Identity under siege: Palestinian women and memories of violence in the camps of Lebanon (2006)
Holt, M.C. 2006. 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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