Rosie Bsheer

Rosie Bsheer

Associate Professor of History

On leave 2022-2023

Rosie Bsheer is a historian of the modern Middle East. Her teaching and research interests center on Arab intellectual and social movements, petro-capitalism and state formation, and the production of historical knowledge and commemorative spaces. She is the author of Archive Wars: The Politics of History in Saudi Arabia (Stanford University Press, 2020), which won the 2021 AGAPS Biennial Book Award, sponsored by the Association for Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies, and the 2021 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title, sponsored by the American Library Association. Archive Wars also received Honorable Mention in the 2021 Nikki Keddie Book Award, sponsored by the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), and was selected as one of Foreign Affairs’ “The Best of Books 2021.”

Bsheer is currently working on a manuscript on the history of private property in Saudi Arabia. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on oil and empire, social and intellectual movements, political economy, historiography, and the making of the modern Middle East. She is Associate Producer of the 2007 Oscar-nominated film My Country, My Country, Co-Editor of Jadaliyya E-zine, Associate Editor of Tadween Publishing, and member of the Editorial Board of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Her work has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), and the Whiting Foundation. She received her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University (2014) and comes to Harvard University from Yale University, where she was Assistant Professor of History (2014–2018). She is the recipient of the Poorvu Family Award for Interdisciplinary Teaching at Yale University (2017) and Yale College’s Sarai Ribicoff ‘75 Award for the Encouragement of Teaching (2018).

Select Publications


Archive Wars: The Politics of History in Saudi Arabia (Stanford University Press, 2020).

The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings: End of An Old Order? Co-edited with Bassam Haddad and Ziad Abu-Rish. (Pluto Press, 2012).


Articles and Chapters

Historicizing Hope/lessness in Revolutionary Times,” in Archives, Revolution, and Historical Thinking Roundtable, (ed. Rosie Bsheer and Sherene Seikaly), Jadaliyya, September 2021.

The Limits of Belonging in Saudi Arabia,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 52(4), (November 2020): 748-753.

A Counterrevolutionary State: Popular Movements and the Making of Saudi Arabia,” Past and Present, Volume 238, Issue 1, 1 February 2018, 233–277.

Heritage as War,” special issue Cultural Heritage in Crisis,International Journal of Middle East Studies 49 (4), November 2017, 729–734.

W(h)ither Arabian Peninsula Studies?” in Jens Hansen and Amal Ghazal (Eds), Handbook of Contemporary Middle East and North African History. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

Theorizing the Arabian Peninsula,” Co-editor (with John Warner). Pedagogy Publications, Tadween Publishing, September 2013.


Journalistic Articles and Interviews

How Saudi Arabia Obliterated Its Rich Cultural History, Middle East Eye, October 20, 2020.

“How Mohammed Bin Salman Has Transformed Saudi Arabia,” The Nation, May 21, 2018.

Don’t be fooled by the comforting rhetoric coming from Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Washington Post, November 8, 2017.

Repères urbanisme: La Mecque et la politique saoudienne du réaménagement urbain, special edition, “Arabie Saoudite: Pouvoire et Société Au Royaume Al-Saud,” Moyen-Orient n. 29, Janvier-Mars 2016.

Changing Mecca Creates ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots,’ Interview with Rosie Bsheer, NPR’s Here and Now, September 25, 2015.

The Property Regime: Mecca and the Politics of Redevelopment in Saudi Arabia. Jadaliyya. September 8, 2015.

On Nostalgia and Material Culture in the Hijaz: An Interview with Sarah Al Abdali, Jadaliyya, November 7, 2013.

GCC and The Sacred Right to Punish. Jadaliyya. February 28, 2013.

Advocacy, Uprising, and Authoritarianism in Bahrain. Jadaliyya. January 22, 2013.

Saudi Arabia: Revolutionaries Without A Revolution. Jadaliyya and Egypt Independent. April 2, 2012.

Saudi Arabia’s Silent Protests. Jadaliyya, January 29, 2011.

It’s Not The Morality Police, Stupid. Jadaliyya, January 17, 2011.

Chocking Mecca in the Name of Beauty and Development, Jadaliyya, October 21, 2010.

Poverty in the Oil Kingdom: An Introduction. Jadaliyya, September 30, 2010.

Kafala Politics and Domestic Labor in Saudi Arabia. Jadaliyya, September 17, 2010.

Contact Information

Center for Middle Eastern Studies Room 210
38 Kirkland Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
p: 617-495-2817

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