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Nabil Al-Tikriti - University of Mary Washington. Fredericksburg, VA, US

Nabil Al-Tikriti

Associate Professor of History & American Studies | University of Mary Washington

Fredericksburg, VA, UNITED STATES

Dr. Al-Tikriti has firsthand experience with Middle Eastern affairs, as a researcher, humanitarian and election monitor.








Nabil Al-Tikriti doesn’t just teach Middle Eastern history, he lives it.

Aboard the Bourbon Argos rescue ship in May 2015, the University of Mary Washington professor witnessed the desperation of refugees making the perilous Mediterranean crossing from North Africa to Greece and Italy. As a relief worker in Somalia, he saw how famine ravaged millions in the country during the ’90s. As an official observer, he viewed the emotional 2014 presidential election in Ukraine in the aftermath of the country’s violent revolution.

A native of New Orleans, Dr. Al-Tikriti has been a member of Médecins sans Frontières (MSF-Doctors Without Borders) since 1992. He’s traveled with the international humanitarian aid organization to Somalia, Iran, Albania, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Ethiopia, where he negotiated with community leaders, served as liaison with United Nations, nongovernmental organizations and local government personnel; dealt with personnel issues in a war zone, analyzed host government policies and leaders; and conducted an exploratory mission to determine potential MSF activity in Iraq. He joined an MSF team on a humanitarian mission to Syria in 2013 and served as a cultural facilitator on the organization’s ship that rescued thousands of immigrants in the Mediterranean. He served on the MSF-USA Board of Directors from 2011 to 2017, finishing his second term as the 2016-17 Vice President.

Dr. Al-Tikriti has served as a polling station supervisor or election monitor on numerous occasions since 1997, in Bosnia, Kosovo, Ukraine, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Montenegro and Albania, for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

A faculty member at UMW since 2004, the associate professor of history and American studies was awarded a 2018 Fulbright Scholar Fellowship to teach and conduct research in Azerbaijan; and a 2007 Jennings Randolph Fellowship at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., where he researched the effects on Iraqi civil society of the 2003 Anglo-American invasion. He also was recipient of a 2000 Fulbright DDRA Fellowship and a 2011 National Endowment for the Humanities grant. He has delivered conference lectures and presentations in more than a dozen countries, including a keynote lecture on “The State of the Middle East Studies in the American Academy,” for the 5th Joint International Workshop in Tokyo, organized by Kyoto University and the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies."

Areas of Expertise (11)

Humanitarian Affairs

Forced Migration (Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons)

The Modern Middle East

Cultural Patrimony

Modern Iraq

Islamic History

Conflict Studies

History of the Ottoman Empire


Higher Education

Modern Turkey

Accomplishments (13)

Al-Tikriti Joins Middle East Book Prize Committee (professional)


Associate Professor of Middle Eastern History Nabil Al-Tikriti agreed to join the 2018 Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Book Prize Committee. For this service, the five committee members must review a total of approximately 125 books for three prizes: the Albert Hourani Book Award; the Nikki Keddie Book Award; and the The Fatima Mernissi Book Award.

Al-Tikriti Chairs MSF Panel in NYC General Assembly (professional)


On June 24, 2017, in his final capacity as MSF/Doctors Without Border USA’s 2016-17 Vice President, Nabil Al-Tikriti chaired a panel which he had co-organized, titled "Navigating in a New Political Environment." The panel was aimed at NGO stakeholders and held at the annual MSF USA General Assembly in New York City, an annual gathering where MSF field staff debate pressing issues in contexts where they operate as well as elect new members to the MSF USA Board of Directors.

Al-Tikriti Monitors Montenegro Parliamentary Elections (professional)


Nabil Al-Tikriti, associate professor of Middle Eastern history, served as an election monitor for the Montenegro parliamentary elections. Joining eight other Americans in the U.S. delegation, Al-Tikriti worked as an OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) STO (Short Term Observer) in several rural villages and a provincial capital in the mountains, Mojkovac. His observation partner was a Russian diplomat based in Slovenia.

Al-Tikriti Serves in Iraq and Ethiopia, Leads International Migration Workshop (professional)


In the summer of 2016, Associate Professor of History and American Studies Nabil Al-Tikriti carried out several activities while continuing to actively serve as a member of the Board of Directors of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders USA. Read more: https://eagleeye.umw.edu/2016/09/06/al-tikriti-serves-iraq-ethiopia-leads-international-migration-workshop/

Faculty Research Grant (professional)


Awarded by the American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT).

Research Grant (professional)


Awarded by the Georg-Eckert-Institut für internationale Schulbuchforschung.

Faculty Achievement Award (professional)


Awarded by the University of Mary Washington.

Jennings Randolph Fellowship (professional)


Awarded by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

Faculty Development Grant (professional)


Awarded by the University of Mary Washington.

University of Chicago Humanities Division Overseas Research Grant (professional)


Carried out dissertation-related archival research in the National Library of Malta

Dissertation Writing Grant (professional)


Awarded by Institute for Turkish Studies

Charlotte W. Newcombe Dissertation Writing Grant (professional)


Finalist for Charlotte W. Newcombe Dissertation Writing Grant for Ethics and Theology

Fulbright-Institute for International Education Turkey Fellowship (professional)


Examined and collected manuscript and archival materials at the Süleymaniye, Topkapı Palace, Istanbul University and Millet Library collections in Istanbul with official Turkish government research permission. Conducted research visits to manuscript collections in Ankara, Diyarbekir, Elmalı, Erzerum, Konya, Sivas and Damascus.

Education (6)

University of Chicago: Ph.D., Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations 2004

Dissertation Title: “Şehzade Korkud (ca. 1468-1513) and the Articulation of 16th Century Ottoman Religious Identity”

University of Chicago: M.A., Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations 1996

Thesis Title: “Philology of al-Jahiz’s (d. 869) Prose Works”

Boğaziçi Üniversitesi: Certificates, Intermediate, Advanced Turkish Language & Literature 1995

American University of Cairo, Center for Arabic Studies Abroad: Advanced Certificate, Arabic Language 1991

Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs: M.I.A., Economic and Political Development, International Policy Analysis and Management 1990

Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service: B.S.F.S., Development Economics 1988

Affiliations (5)

  • MSF/Doctors Without Borders USA: Member, Board of Directors, 2011-2017
  • American Association of University Professors : Member
  • American Civil Liberties Union : Member
  • American Historical Association : Member
  • Middle East Studies Association : Member

Media Appearances (8)

Civilians in Mosul’s Battle of Annihilation

Middle East Report  print


Abstract: "Understanding the course of events and identifying the participants in the battle of Mosul is a difficult task. What is certain is that all parties neglected the fate of civilians and were unable to provide proper emergency medical relief. An examination of the battle is crucial to understanding the evolution of international humanitarian law in conflict zones."

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Suffering and the Limits of Relief

Middle East Report  print


Interview Abstract: “European policies on refugees and asylum seekers are increasingly restrictive. Borders are effectively being pushed off-shore, extending the problems of border management as far south as possible. Aurélie Ponthieu explains the effects of these measures, including crowded refugee centers on the Italian and Greek borders, deplorable conditions in Libyan detention centers and fewer rescues at sea. Ponthieu, the Coordinator of the Forced Migration Team in the analysis department of Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Belgium, was interviewed by Nabil Al-Tikriti.” MER Issue #286

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Fauquier schools consider Turkish language courses

FauquierNow.com  online


University of Mary Washington Associate Professor Nabil Al-Tikriti, whose children took the STARTALK program in Fauquier last summer, suggested a high school course would benefit students.

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"Up All Night radio program, BBC Radio 5 Live

BBC Radio 5 Live  radio


On Friday, April 29, UMW Associate Professor of Middle Eastern History and MSF/Doctors Without Borders USA Board Member Nabil Al-Tikriti spoke on BBC's "Up All Night" radio program on BBC Radio 5 Live about the bombing of hospitals and other health facilities in Syria and other conflict zones. In the course of his interview with BBC, Al-Tikriti addressed the difficulty of serving as a relief worker in conflict zones such as Syria, the dangers springing from multiple violations to International Humanitarian Law, and the potential breakdown of a partial ceasefire in Syria. The interview can be accessed through Saturday, May 28, at the following link by listening to minutes 23:00-30:15: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07848m6.

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Local professor caught up in Turkey tensions

The Free Lance-Star  print


As the world watched an attempted coup unfold in Turkey last Friday, University of Mary Washington history professor Nabil Al-Tikriti watched with them—but he had more at stake than most.

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Facts Behind the Rhetoric: An In-Depth Analysis of Obama's Speech on ISIS

Uprising  online


President Obama made his case for striking the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) yesterday evening, to the American public, essentially saying he would apply the model of targeted drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia to Northern Iraq and Syria...

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BREAKING: Sunni Militants Capture Cities as Baghdad Braces for an Invasion

Uprising  online


President Obama has said he would not rule out military action against a militant group in the North of Iraq which has taken over several cities and is currently marching toward the capital Baghdad. The group, calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has a broad plan to build a pan-Islamic Sunni state encompassing Iraq and Syria...

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Al-Tikriti Participates in NGO Debate, Speaks at Stafford Rotary Club

Eagle Eye  online


In his capacity as a board member of the United States section of MSF/Doctors Without Borders, Nabil Al-Tikriti, associate professor of history and American studies, participated in the annual Field Associative Debate (FAD) for MSF staff serving throughout Afghanistan, in Kabul on March 10 – 11...

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Event Appearances (18)

Global Security

Impact of a Global Humanitarian System on the Middle East and Other Crisis Areas  Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs, Alexandria, Virginia


Fulbright Programs

Fulbright Scholar Liaison Workshop  Institute for International Education, Washington, DC


Relief Work and Medical Humanitarianism

Relief Work, Medical Humanitarianism and Challenges of Medical NGOs  University of California-San Diego and Soka University in Los Angeles


Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me: Panels on Course Selection, Career Planning and Ethical Professional Practices  LaGuardia Community College, New York


Usurpation: The Untold Stories of the Iraq War, 2003 to the Present

Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Conference  Washington, DC


Northern Iraq

The Academic Research Institute in Iraq Panel  Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC


The Situation in Mosul

Council for American Overseas Research Centers Panel  Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC


Refugees and Displaced Persons Exhibit Guide

MSF/Doctors Without Borders USA Forced From Home Exhibit  Portland, Oregan


Migration and Human Rights

Estoril Conference  Lisbon, Portugal


Istanbul and Athens Debate

Field Associative Debate  Istanbul, Turkey


Forced Migration

Field Associative Debate for MSF/Doctors Without Borders  Athens, Greece


MSF/Doctors Without Borders Association Event

MSF Association open board meeting, hub gathering and Association retreat  Portland, Oregon


Ottoman Seas

Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Conference  Boston


Integrating Humanitarian Response and Cultural Heritage in Disasters

Smithsonian Institution’s Cultural Rescue Initiative  National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.


The Iraq Crisis Today

National Security Lecture Series  Fredericksburg, Virginia


Global Migration

MSF/Doctors Without Borders Global Migration Panel  Philadelphia


Living (with)out Walls: The Korean, Palestinian, Mexican Experience

25th Anniversary Fall of the Berlin Wall Event  Fredericksburg, Virginia


Greatness Denied: Firdevsi-yi Rumi on the Cusp of Ottoman Sunnism

Middle East Studies Association Conference  Washington, D.C.


Articles (12)

Turkish Voters Upset Erdogan’s Competitive Authoritarianism

Middle East Research and Information Project

Nabil Al-Tikriti

2019 Turkish voters sent a strong message to its long-standing ruling party and its leader on March 31,2019 that the government’s authoritarian turn has not fully succeeded. In nationwide municipalelections, for the first time in a quarter century, the political movement largely associated with Turkey’sPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan lost control over both the country’s economic and political capitals, as well as numerous other districts throughout the country

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Civilians in Mosul's Battle of Annihilation

Middle East Report

Nabil Al-Tikriti

2018 Understanding the course of events and identifying the participants in the battle of Mosul is a difficult task. What is certain is that all parties neglected the fate of civilians and were unable to provide proper emergency medical relief.

view more

Extending the Borders of Europe: An Interview with Aurélie Ponthieu

Middle East Report

Nabil Al-Tikriti

2018 European policies on refugees and asylum seekers are increasingly restrictive. Borders are effectively being pushed off-shore, extending the problems of border management as far south as possible. Aurélie Ponthieu explains the effects of these measures, including crowded refugee centers on the Italian and Greek borders, deplorable conditions in Libyan detention centers and fewer rescues at sea. Ponthieu, the coordinator of the Forced Migration Team in the analysis department of Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Belgium, was interviewed by Nabil Al-Tikriti.

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Confronting the New Turkey

Middle East Report

Nabil Al-Tikriti, Elif Babul, Ayca Alemdaroglu, Steve Niva

2018 Middle East Report: Confronting the New Turkey.

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Syrian and Iraqi Conflicts Move Turkey to the Heart of Europe's Refugee Crisis

Turkish Review

Nabil Al-Tikriti, Ahmad Al Rousan

2018 As the intertwined conflicts of Iraq and Syria continue to evolve and the regional state system devolves, efforts to regionalize the turmoil continues to fail.

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An Ottoman View of World History: Kātip Çelebi’s Takvīmü’t-tevārīẖ

Research Symposium Proceeding

Nabil Al-Tikriti

2017 Katip Çelebi, or Hajji Khalifa (d. 1657), is often portrayed as a paragon of rationalist and scientific methodology writing on the eve of European enlightenment,” with his three historical works amongst the proofs for this perception.

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The Limits of Soft Power: Why Kurdish Nationalism Failed in the French Mandate of Syria

The First World War and its Aftermath: The Shaping of the Middle East

Nabil Al-Tikriti, Laila McQuade

2015 By 1943 and 1946, Lebanon and Syria, respectively, had gained their independence from the French Mandate of Syria. However, this split of the original mandatory state into two sovereign states had been mapped out well before their official independence.

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Addressing Iraqi Forced Migration: U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Testimony

Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Nabil Al-Tikriti

2009 Mr. Chairman, I wish to thank the Committee for this opportunity to testify for the record on the issue of Iraqi sectarianism and forced migration, and its effects on Iraq, the Middle East, and the United States.

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Was there an Iraq before there was an Iraq?

International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies

Nabil Al-Tikriti

2009 It is frequently stated that ‘Iraq’ did not exist until the British Empire created it in the wake of the Great War. In the sense of a discreet nation-state entity with its current borders, this statement is accurate.

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"Stuff Happens": A Brief Overview of the 2003 Destruction of Iraqi Manuscript Collections, Archives, and Libraries

Library Trends

Nabil Al-Tikriti

2007 On March 20, 2003, military forces of the United States, UnitedKingdom, and Australia invaded Iraq. In the course of this invasion and subsequent occupation, Iraq’s cultural infrastructure suffered a great deal of destruction.

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Kalam in the Service of State: Apostasy and the Defining of Ottoman Islamic Identity


Nabil Al-Tikriti

2005 What does it mean to say that one is a “Muslim?” What defines iman [a state of faith] and kufr [a state of non-faith], how does an individual move from one state to another, can an individual be judged to be in either state based on external signs alone, and what role can a government legitimately play in setting these boundaries of belief?

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War, State Collapse and the Predicament of Education in Iraq

The Predicament of Education in Iraq

Nabil Al-Tikriti

Te venerable saying above has come to apply less in recent years, at least as far as Iraq is concerned. Iraqi writers have published a great deal of new work in the course of the country’s post-2003 dislocation; Iraqi textbooks have mostly been published in Jordan since the early 1990s; and Iraqi literacy rates have fallen to levels unseen since the 1960s.

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