Research and Publications

Book Project 1

Optics of Capture: Platform Desires in an Age of Intervention.


My first book, Optics of Capture: Platform Desires in an Age of Intervention, considers how digital infrastructures and the production of user-generated content in the Middle East are appropriated by states, markets, and international organizations alongside gendered logics and practices of securitization and intervention to produce novel geographies of women’s rights, sexual violence, and political participation.  Specifically, the book considers how interventionist ethics are actively integrated into appeals to greater information access for women, and in bridging the so-called ‘digital divide’. 

I address a number of cases in the manuscript, including the use of mobile apps and crowdsourcing as techniques of sexual security in Egypt; the animation of

colonial archives of sexuality and ‘Arabness’ through content filtering and visual arrangements of data on social media; and the political and libidinal economies of digital image production and consumption among women soldiers in the IDF. 

Rather than simply champion new opportunities for women’s participation in politics and public dialogue through platforms and programs developed by proprietary networks, I consider the circuitous routes by which the region continues to function as a laboratory for new technologies of capital accumulation, security, and gendered and racialized discipline, while also creating novel spaces for more pluralist politics that resist commonsense overtures toward cultural and religious explanations of agency and change.


Book Project 2

'Where Awesome Never Ends': Security, Play and Convergence in the Gulf.

  • “Playing with the World: The Politics of Miniaturization in the Gulf.”  Forthcoming in Salter M. and S. Yao (eds.) How to do Popular Culture in International Relations. Routledge.  
  • (upcoming) "Virtuous Control: Intellectual Security, Smart Games, and Countermeasure in the Making of a New Gulf".  Western Political Science Association, 2018.
  • (upcoming) “Criminality, Simulation, and the Performative Politics of Policing in Dubai.” International Studies Association Annual Conference (San Francisco), April 7, 2018. 
  • “Emergent Infrastructures of Security and Surveillance in the Middle East.” Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting (Washington D.C.), November 19, 2017. 

In 2017, I completed six months of fieldwork divided between the UAE and Qatar for my second major research project, which was funded by the 2016-2017 Fulbright Award in the Middle East and North Africa Regional Research Program. This research considers the spatial and scalar politics of global and local surveillance and securitization as part of the Gulf States’ massive existing and anticipatory entertainment and leisure infrastructures.

Rather than read practices and technics of security in these spaces as overdetermined by ‘authoritarian’ governments or as simply a form of national power projection, I consider the increasing influence of entertainment and leisure on incipient biopolitical orders in the Gulf, and the asymmetrical effects of technologies of control on the management of life, norms, bureaucratic bodies, national narratives, and in the rescaling of sociality and mobility in these complex, artificial worlds. 

The project draws on original research and interviews conducted at dozens of theme parks, entertainment complexes, fun zones, convention centers, gaming  

hubs, parks, and heritage sites, theproject explores how 'fun' organizes geopolitics in the Gulf at multiple spatial and temporal scales, as well as the politics of play within highly-variegated spaces of consumerism, elite mobility, and cultural governance.  

I consider how fun and play systematically suture together everything from the management of bodies in the kafala system, to cloud seeding before international conventions, to the subversive maneuvering of gender protocols, to the tracking of RFID chips, into a densely-woven biopolitical fabric. These systems require new forms of understanding and analysis, where the investment in entertainment technologies, technologies of security, and the proliferation of artificial landscapes for leisure and living are not simply about creating ‘playgrounds’ for tourists and mobile residents, nor can they be explained simply as the subordination of government to the market, but rather reflect novel and and unrestrained attempts at creating totalizing conditions for material, technical, geological, social and political convergence.