Rochelle A. Davis

Associate Professor  

Dr. Davis’ research is on refugees, war, and conflict, particularly Syrian and Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons. Since 2010, her research projects have focused on training refugees and local community members to develop questions and conduct interviews. To date, these projects have amassed over 300 in-depth interviews with refugees and migrants in the region.

She also is also Senior Researcher on Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) and the International Organization for Migration grant conducting a multi-year survey of 4000s Iraqi households displaced since 2014 by ISIS/ISIL/Da’esh.

Her first book, Palestinian Village Histories: Geographies of the Displaced, (Stanford University Press, 2012) was co-winner of the Middle East Studies Association’s Albert Hourani Book Award recognizing outstanding publications in Middle East studies. The book addresses how Palestinian refugees today write histories of their villages that were destroyed in the 1948 war, and the stories and commemorations of village life that are circulated in the diaspora.

Professor Davis is currently writing a book on the role of culture in the U.S. military wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, based on research she has conducted since 2006. Using interviews with US military servicemembers and Iraqis, as well as governmental and military policy and strategy documents, cultural training material, journalists’ reporting, and soldier memoirs, she focuses on the narratives about Iraqis, Afghans, Arabs, and Muslims. Her analysis explicates the conundrums of being being tasked to be culturally sensitive in a military occupation, and the personal and collective experiences of war.

She is also the PrincipaI Investigator on a US Department of Education Title VI grant (2014-2018) for Georgetown’s National Resource Center-Middle East/North Africa, bringing together the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, the Program in Jewish Civilization, and the Alwaleed bin Talal Center in Muslim Christian Understanding. This grant funds less-commonly taught languages (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Swahili, and Turkish) as well as public outreach programs, summer teacher institutes, and K-12 outreach in the community (See

Professor Davis’ teaching interests include Arab society and culture; refugees, migrants and immigrants in and out of the Arab World; and war and conflict. She uses different genres of texts and other forms of media in her classroom to expose students to the wide range of material – both primary and secondary – about the Arab World. Her syllabi include ethnographies, autobiographies, scholarly books and articles from different disciplines, blogs, cartoons, films, novels, poetry, and media. Classroom work has included being part of the Wikimedia Foundation Public Policy Project, curating poster exhibits using the Palestine Poster Project Archive, and writing and publishing editorials. She also works closely with student research assistant and has co-published a number of articles with them.

Areas of Expertise: Refugees, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Arab culture, War, Art, Qualitative methods, Violence, Anthropology, Society

  • Ph.D. (2002) University of Michigan, Anthropology and Near Eastern Studies
  • MA (1993) University of Michigan, Modern Arabic Literature
  • BA (1990) University of California, Davis, Art History



Palestinian Village Histories: Geographies of the Displaced. (Stanford University Press, 2011) Co-Winner of the Middle East Studies Association’s Albert Hourani Book Award.

Articles in Journals

“Sudanese and Somali Refugees in Jordan: Hierarchies of Aid and Protracted Displacement from Protracted Crises.” Middle East Report (MERIP), vol 279, August 2016. Co-authored with Abbie Taylor, Will Todman, and Emma Murphy.

“Gender, conscription and protection, and the war in Syria” Forced Migration Review 47, Sept. 2014. Co-authored with Abbie Taylor and Emma Murphy.

‘What do you miss most? Syrian refugees respond’ (, 12 December 2013).Co-authored Abbie Taylor. Published on same site in Arabic.

Rochelle Davis.Language and Loss, Or How to Bark like a Dog and Other Lessons from al-Jahiz.” Critique Spr (2004).

Rochelle Davis.Commemorating Education: Recollections of the Arab College in Jerusalem, 1918-1948.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 23.1 & 2 (2003).

Articles in Books

“Syria’s Refugee Crisis” in Great Decisions 2015 Briefing Book. Foreign Policy Association, January 2015.

Rochelle Davis.Mapping the Past, Recreating the Homeland: Palestinian Memories of pre-1948 Village Life.” Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory. Ed. Ahmad Sa’adi and Lila Abu-Lughod. NY: Columbia University Press, 2007.

Rochelle Davis.(in Arabic) Village Memorial Books as Collective Autobiographies [al-Kutub al-tadhkariya al-filastiniya wal-siyar al-dhatiya al-jamaa`iya].” Studies in the Social History of Bilad al-Sham: Reading Biography and Autobiography [Dirasaat fil-tarikh al-ijtima`i li-bilad al-sham: qira’aat fil-siyar wal-siyar al-dhatiya]. Ed. Issam Nassar and Salim Tamari . Beirut, Lebanon: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2007.