Middle East Expert Profiles

Krista E. Wiegand, President, SERMEISS
Dr. Krista E. Wiegand (Ph.D. Duke University) is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Global Security Program at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee. Wiegand specializes in international conflict management and political violence, specifically conflict resolution, territorial and maritime disputes, mediation, rebel and terrorist group violence, and Middle East  security. She has written two books - Enduring Territorial Disputes: Strategies of Bargaining, Coercive Diplomacy, & Settlement (University of Georgia Press, 2011) and Bombs and Ballots: Governance by Islamic Terrorist and Guerrilla Groups (Routledge, 2010), edited another book - The China-Japan Border Dispute: Islands of Contention in a Multidisciplinary Perspective (Routledge, 2015), is currently writing a third book, and written more than 30 journal articles and book chapters. As Director of the Global Security Program at the Baker Center, she oversees faculty, post-doctoral, and graduate student fellows, coordinates policy based research, hosts speakers from academia and government, and works to engage the center with policy makers in Washington and elsewhere. She can be reached for interviews at kwiegand@utk.edu.

Calvin H. Allen, Jr. (Cal), Executive Director, SERMEISS
Calvin H. Allen, Jr (PhD, History, University of Washington) is Dean Emeritus of the College of Arts and Sciences at Shenandoah University (Winchester, VA), where he was also Professor of Middle Eastern & Islamic History. He previously taught at the University of Memphis. Cal specializes on Oman and the Arabian Peninsula with particular interest in globalization in the 19th century, Indian merchant communities, and contemporary political issues. He is the author of Oman: Modernization of the Sultanate (Westview Press/Croom Helm: Boulder, CO/London, 1987. Reissued Routledge Press: London, 2016); Oman (Chelsea Press: Philadelphia, 2002); and with W. Lynn Rigsbee, Oman under Qaboos, From Coup to Constitution, 1970-1996, (Frank Cass: London and Portland, OR, 2000; paperback edition 2002). In addition, he has written more than 50 articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries and has lectured widely on Oman. He also serves as the Oman country expert for the Varieties of Democracy Project (V-Dem) at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Cal can be reached at callen@su.edu.

Matthew Buehler
Dr. Matt Buehler is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Tennessee and also a global security fellow at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. Dr. Buehler's research area is comparative politics with expertise in the politics of the Middle East and North Africa. He has been traveling regularly to the Arab world since 2006, completing over three years of fieldwork and Arabic training in North Africa, Syria, and the Gulf. In 2017, Dr. Buehler served as a research fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Middle East Initiative in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. Previously, he was a fellow at the Center for International and Regional Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Qatar. He is the author of Why Alliances Fail: Islamist and Leftist Coalitions in North Africa (Syracuse University Press, 2018). His interests include democratization, authoritarianism, the Arab uprisings, public opinion research, migration, Islamist movements, and North African politics. Buehler's research has appeared in generalist political science journals, like Political Research Quarterly, and also journals specialized in Middle East politics. He currently serves as reviews editor of Mediterranean Politics.

Maia Carter Hallward
Dr. Maia Carter Hallward (PhD International Relations, American University) is Professor of Middle East Politics and Editor of the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development at the School for Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development at Kennesaw State University (Kennesaw, GA). She specializes in civil resistance movements in the region, particularly in Israel and Palestine. She has written two books, Transnational Activism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Palgrave Macmillan 2013) and Struggling for a Just Peace: Israeli and Palestinian Activism in the Second Intifada (University of Florida Press, 2011), and has co-authored three others, including Understanding Nonviolence (Polity Press 2015), and Global Responses to Conflict and Crisis in Syria and Yemen (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming). Current projects include women leaders in Arab monarchies and a comparative study of religious and secular human rights groups around the world. Maia has written over twenty peer-reviewed articles and served on the editorial team of the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development for 15 years. She teaches a range of courses on conflict theory and analysis and Middle East politics to undergraduate, masters, and PhD students. She can be reached at mhallwar@kennesaw.edu

Fran Hassencahl
Dr. Fran Hassencahl (Ph.D. Case Western Reserve University) is Associate Professor of Communication and Assoc. Dept. Chair at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. She directs the Minor in Middle Eastern Studies and teaches communication & culture in the Middle East, contemporary Turkish politics, and intercultural communication. Recent publications (book chapters) related to the M.E. are: 2012: “Framing Women’s Issues in The Fountain Magazine” in The Gülen Hizmet Movement and its Transnational Activities Eds. Sophia Pandya and Nancy Gallagher, Brown Walker and “On the Road or between the Pages: Seeking Life’s Answers” in Global Perspectives on Orhan Pamuk: Existentialism and Politics. Eds. Menhaz M. Afridi and David M. Buyze. Palgrave, “Experiencing Hüzün through the Loss of Life, Limb, and Love in Bahman Ghobadi’s Turtles Can Fly” in Never There: Lost and Othered Children in Contemporary Cinema. Eds. Debbie Olson and Andrew Scahill, Lexington; 2016: “A Rhetorical Vision of Tolerance: Teaching Tolerance through Post-9/11 TV Dramas.” (Co-authored with William B. Hart) in Friends, Lovers, Co-Workers and Community: Everything I Know about Relationships I Learned from Television, Eds. Kathleen M. Ryan, et al,Lexington; 2018 :“Fears of Dissolution and Loss: Orhan Pamuk’s Characters in Relation to the Treaty of Sèvres" in Language and Literature in a Global World. Ed. Sandhya Rao Mehta, Springer.

Andrew Kurt
Andrew Kurt is Associate Professor of History at Clayton State University. A specialist in medieval Iberia, he has also written on the intersection of Muslim and European interests in medieval Ethiopia and on US policy on Afghanistan in the late 1970s. His forthcoming book with Amsterdam University Press on the Visigothic monetary system in post-Roman Spain and Portugal incorporates comparison with early Islamic currency, which was likewise rooted in the later Roman monetary dynamics. In Summer of 2018 Dr. Kurt led an 11-day educational trip, “SERMEISS in Medieval Spain: Guided Tour of the Lands of Al-Andalus.”

Curtis R. Ryan
Curtis R. Ryan is a Professor of Political Science at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. He has written extensively on international relations in the Middle East, on inter-Arab relations, alliance politics, and on Jordanian domestic politics and foreign policy. He is the author of three books: Jordan in Transition: From Hussein to Abdullah (Lynne Rienner, 2002), Inter-Arab Alliances: Regime Security and Jordanian Foreign Policy (University Press of Florida, 2009), and most recently, Jordan and the Arab Uprisings: Regime Survival and Politics Beyond the State (Columbia University Press, 2018). Professor Ryan served as a Fulbright scholar at the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He is a past president of SERMEISS and currently serves as the organization’s program director. He is a member of the Executive Board of the Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS) and a member of the Editorial Board of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) and its quarterly journal, Middle East Report. 

Annie Tracy Samuel
Annie Tracy Samuel is an assistant professor of history at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). Prior to joining the UTC faculty, Prof. Tracy Samuel served as a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. (magna cum laude) in history from Tel Aviv University and a B.A. in history and political science from Columbia University. She specializes in the modern history of Iran and the Middle East. Her publications include journal articles in International Security and Diplomatic History; book chapters in edited volumes published by Georgetown and Routledge; and commentary on current events published by Lawfare, The Hill, CNN, and The Atlantic. She is currently completing a book manuscript on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the Iran-Iraq War.