Dr Sarah Irving

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Department of English, History & Creative Writing


I work primarily on the social and intellectual history of Late Ottoman and British Mandate-ruled Palestine, particularly amongst Palestinian Arabs themselves. My main areas of interest are subaltern involvement in the history and archaeology of the region (ranging from female manual labourers on archaeological excavations to Palestinian writers on local history), and the relationship of Palestinian society and intellectual production with non-human actors such as natural disasters and disease. I also have an ongoing research interest in contemporary Arabic literature, particularly the ways in which it depicts Arab-Jewish/Muslim-Jewish relations and its engagement with historical themes and motifs.

My main research project at the moment is a social history of the 1927 Jericho Earthquake, considering the ways in which natural disasters act as a lens through which aspects of society – in this case, a complex colonial society – are magnified. This is a three-year project funded by the Leverhulme Trust. [link https://www.leverhulme.ac.uk/]

I am also part of the Crossroads research network [link: https://crossroadsproject.net/], based at Leiden University, which focuses on the connected histories of Christian communities in Palestine and the wider Levant in the period up to 1948. As part of this, I am currently editing an annotated translation of the memoirs of the Palestinian Greek Orthodox priest Niqula Khoury (1885-1954), as well as collaborating with my Leiden colleagues on several edited volumes. This aspect of my research is an extension of my PhD and previous postdoctoral work, which engages mainly with the activities of Palestinian scholars, mainly but not exclusively Christians, who wrote on the ethnography and history of the region during the Mandate period. More details of this research can be found on my Publications page.

I am also editor-in-chief of Contemporary Levant, [link https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/ycol20/current] one of the academic journals of the Council for British Research in the Levant, a British Academy-affiliated international research institute linking British and Levantine scholars. Contemporary Levant is a multidisciplinary journal publishing peer-reviewed scholarship on Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus from the Nineteenth Century to the present day.

My academic career is based on training in Archaeology and Anthropology (BA Hons Cambridge, 1994-97), International Political Economic (MA(Econ) Manchester, 1999-2001), Arabic (MSc with Distinction Edinburgh, 2011-13) and Middle Eastern History (PhD Edinburgh, 2013-17). Before rejoining Edge Hill University (where I taught in 2016-17) as a research fellow, I taught at King’s College London and the University of Edinburgh and held postdoctoral research fellowships at Linnaeus University in Sweden and Leiden University in the Netherlands. I have also worked as a staff and freelance journalist and writer in the UK, Australia and the Middle East, a tour guide and fairtrade goods purchaser in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel and Jordan, and in other research and writing roles over more than a decade.


  • PhD Islamic and Middle East History, University of Edinburgh 2018
  • MSc Arab World Studies, University of Edinburgh 2013
  • MA(Econ) International Political Economy, University of Manchester 2002
  • BA(Hons) Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Cambridge 1997



Cultural Entanglement in the Pre-Independence Arab World, edited volume with Dr Anthony Gorman (London: IB Tauris, forthcoming 2020/21)

A Bird is Not a Stone: Contemporary Palestinian Poetry in the Languages of Scotland (co-editor with Henry Bell, co-translator) (Glasgow: Freight Books, 2014)

[link: https://www.plutobooks.com/9781849646741/leila-khaled/] Leila Khaled: Icon of Palestinian Liberation (London: Pluto Press, 2012; Danish edition 2013, Turkish and Arabic editions 2014, Bahasa Indonesia edition 2016)

[link https://www.bradtguides.com/shop/middle-east/palestine.html] Bradt Guide to Palestine (Chalfont St Giles: Bradt Guides, 2011)

Articles and book chapters:

“Translator, ‘native informant,’ fixer: activism and translation in Mandate Palestine.” In Routledge Handbook of Translation and Activism, ed. Rebecca Gould and Kayvan Tahmesabian. Abingdon: Routledge, 2020 [link https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Handbook-of-Translation-and-Activism-1st-Edition/Gould-Tahmasebian/p/book/9781138555686]

“’This is Palestine’:  history and modernity in guidebooks to Mandate Palestine.” Contemporary Levant 4,1 (spring 2019) [https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/20581831.2019.1594613]

“Nathan der Weise in Jerusalem: the re-appropriation of tolerance in Mandate Palestine.” In Transferring Christianity: Crossing Cultural Boundaries, ed. Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz. Baden-Baden, Collectanea Instituti Anthropos, 2019 [link http://www.anthropos.eu/anthropos/publications/collectanea/books/51-collectanea.php]

“An ‘honorary man’ in the Holy Land? Mary Eliza Rogers, gender, and British Protestant imperialism.” In British Women Travellers: Empire and Beyond, 1770-1870, ed. Sutapa Dutta. Abingdon: Routledge, 2019 [link https://www.routledge.com/British-Women-Travellers-Empire-and-Beyond-1770-1870/Dutta/p/book/9780367343347]

“’A Young Man of Promise’: Finding a place for Stephan Hanna Stephan in the history of Mandate Palestine.” Jerusalem Quarterly 73 (Spring 2018) [https://www.palestine-studies.org/en/node/229472]

“A Tale of Two Yusifs: recovering Arab agency in Palestine Exploration Fund excavations 1890-1924.” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 149,3 (September 2017) [https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00310328.2017.1323294]

“Arabs/Jews, Palestinians/Israelis: politics and romance in literature by Palestinian writers.” Commonwealth Essays and Studies, 39, 2 (Summer 2017 special issue: The Anglo-Arab Literary World in Comparison) [http://www.univ-paris3.fr/39-2-spring-2017-anglo-arab-literatures-460176.kjsp?RH=1226586296353]

Routledge Encyclopaedia of Modernism entries on Qasim Amin, Salma al-Khadra al-Jayyusi and Anton Shammas (ed. Simon Rees, 2017) [https://www.rem.routledge.com/]

“Gender, conflict and Muslim-Jewish romance in Two Arabic Novels.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 12:3 (November 2016) [https://read.dukeupress.edu/jmews/article-abstract/12/3/343/42920/Gender-Conflict-and-Muslim-Jewish-RomanceReading?redirectedFrom=fulltext]

“Copts, Islamists and Jews: gender, minorities, hybridity (and its limits) in two novellas by Bahaa Abdelmegid.” New Middle Eastern Studies (May 2016)  [https://journals.le.ac.uk/ojs1/index.php/nmes/article/view/2669]

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