Department of History

Joseph Leidy

Ph.D. Candidate
Research Interests Social and cultural history of the modern Middle East, particularly Lebanon and Syria; youth and childhood; migration and diaspora; intellectual history; environmental history.


"My dissertation traces the history of youth as a political category in the nineteenth and twentieth-century Eastern Mediterranean, particularly today’s Lebanon and Syria, and the Syrian-Lebanese diaspora in North and South America. Contemporary commentators on the Middle East have often connected young people's social frustrations to anti-authoritarian demonstrations and terrorism. Such understandings gloss over diversity among youth and explain little about how young people do or do not become political actors. Instead of understanding youth as a universal life-stage characterized by ambition and frustration, a historical approach can illuminate claims to represent youth as a vanguard in Middle Eastern societies. In my dissertation, I contextualize youth-identified figures, groups, and texts in order to illustrate the variety of social and political actors who employed the rhetoric of youth, linking the political significance of this age category to a century-long genealogy of popular politics, social transformation (including mass migration), and cultural projects of modernization."