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Wendy Pearlman

Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence; Crown Professor of Middle East Studies; Director of Undergraduate Studies

B.A.: Brown University, 1996; Ph.D.: Harvard University, 2007
Curriculum Vitae


Research Interest(s): Comparative Politics of the Middle East, Social Movements, Conflict Processes, Emotions, Migration and Refugee Studies, and The Arab-Israeli Conflict

Program Area(s): Comparative Politics

Regional Specialization(s): Middle East

Subfield Specialties: Comparative Historical Analysis; Conflict Studies


Wendy Pearlman has studied or conducted research in Spain, Germany, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Israel, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Wendy is the author of four books. The first, Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada (Nation Books, 2003), was a Boston Globe and Washington Post bestseller. The second, Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement (Cambridge University Press, 2011), was named one of Foreign Policy’s best books on the Middle East in 2011.

Wendy’s third book, We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled: Voices from Syria (Custom House, 2017) is based on interviews that she has conducted from 2012 to the present with more than 500 displaced Syrians on five continents. The book is a collection of first-hand testimonials that chronicles the Syrian rebellion, war, and refugee crisis exclusively through the stories and reflections of people who have lived it. Wendy has also pulled on this interview material to write articles on a range of topics, including political fear, protest cascades, transnational diffusion, and rebel fragmentation, among other topics.

Wendy fourth book, co-authored with Boaz Atzili (American University), is Triadic Coercion: Israel’s Targeting of States That Host Nonstate Actors (Columbia University Press, 2018). It examines the causes and consequences of 70 years of Israel’s use of “triadic coercion”: the situation when a state uses violence and/or threats against another state to deter it from supporting a nonstate actor on its territory, or to compel that state to stop that nonstate actor.

Wendy’s current book project is a second collection of interviews with displaced Syrians reflecting on the meaning of home. It is under contract with Liveright Books (W.W. Norton)

Beyond these books, Wendy also shares her research in the form of creative writing. On behalf of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan, she authored the middle grade memoir Muzoon: A Syrian Refugee Speaks Out (Knopf Books for Young Readers, March 2023).  Her long-form narrative essays on Syria include “Love in the Syrian Revolution” (Huffington Post) and “Fathers of Revolution” (Guernica).

As a recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, Wendy was a fellow at EUME at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin during the summers 2016-2018 and 2021-2022. Previously, Wendy was a Fulbright Scholar in Spain, a Starr Foundation Fellow at the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad at the American University in Cairo, a Junior Peace Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, and a postdoctoral Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Wendy has published articles in Arab Studies Journal, International Migration Review, International Security, Journal of Conflict ResolutionJournal of Palestine Studies, Middle East Law and Governance, Perspectives on Politics, Politics & SocietySecurity Studies, and Studies of Comparative International Development. She has been awarded the Weinberg College Distinguished Teaching Award and R. Barry Farrell Award for Excellence in Teaching, and has been elected to the Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll three times. She has won “best article” awards from the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies and the Syrian Studies Association, as well as the 2011 Deborah Gerner Grant for Professional Development.


  • Triadic Coercion: Israel’s Targeting of States That Host Nonstate Actors (with Boaz Atzili) Columbia University Press, 2018

  • We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled: Voices from Syria (HarperCollins, 2017)
    • Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellencebridge
  • Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
    • 2011 Foreign Policy Runner-up, Best Book on the Middle East; 2012 Choice Outstanding Academic Title
  • Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada (Nation Books, 2003)
    • Washington Post Bestseller, Boston Globe Bestseller

Select RECENT Publications

  • “Emotional Sensibility: Exploring the Methodological and Ethical Implications of Research Participants’ Emotions,” American Political Science Review, first published online, December 14, 2022.
  • Putting Palestinian Agency First,” Introduction to the Special Issue: Recentering the Palestinian People in the Study of Politics, Middle East Law and Governance, Vol. 14, No. 3 (October 2022).
  • “How Homeland Experiences Shape Refugee Belonging: Rethinking Exile, Home, and Integration in the Syrian Case,” International Migration Review, first published online, April 14, 2022.
  • “Mobilization from scratch: Large-scale collective action without preexisting organization in the Syrian uprising,” Journal of Comparative Political Studies Vol. 54, No. 10 (September 2021), pp. 1786-1817
  • “Host state policy, socio-economic stratification, and Syrian refugees in Germany and Turkey,” Comparative Politics Vol. 52, No. 2 (January 2020), pp. 241-272.
  • “Syrian Views on Obama’s Red Line and the Case for Limited Strikes against Assad,” Ethics & International Affairs, Vol. 34, No. 2 (July 2020), pp. 189-200.
  • “Civil Action in the Syrian Conflict,” in Deborah Avant et. al, eds. Civil Action and Dynamics of Violence in Conflict (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 35-63.
  • Moral Identity and Protest Cascades in Syria,” British Journal of Political Science, 48, no. 4 (October 2018), pp. 877-901.
  • “Becoming a Refugee: Reflections on Self-Understandings of Displacement from the Syrian Case,” Review of Middle East Studies Vol. 52, No. 2 (November 2018), pp. 299-309.
  • “Memory as a field site: interviewing displaced persons,” International Journal of Middle East Studies Vol. 49, No. 3 (August 2017), pp. 501-505.
  • Narratives of Fear in Syria,” Perspectives on Politics 14, no. 1 (March 2016), pp. 21-37.
  • “Palestinians and the Arab Spring,” in Adam Roberts, Michael J. Willis, Rory McCarthy, and Timothy Garton Ash, eds., Civil Resistance in the Arab Spring: Triumphs and Disasters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 248-269.

Courses taught

  • Poli Sci 350: Social Movements, undergraduate lecture course
  • Poli Sci 351: Middle East Politics, undergraduate lecture course
  • Poli Sci 395: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, undergraduate seminar
  • Poli Sci 390: Power and Resistance, undergraduate seminar
  • Poli Sci 454: Social Movements and Mobilization, graduate seminar
  • Poli Sci 486: Advanced Topics in Middle East Politics, graduate seminar
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