Leila Fawaz

Leila Fawaz

Mugar 252-C
160 Packard Avenue, Medford, MA 02155
Research/Areas of Interest:

Social and political history of the modern Middle East; Late Ottoman Arab history; Wars and civil wars; Relations of city and state, culture and society from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean circa 1890-1920; Read Leila Fawaz's complete Research Profile.


  • B.A., American University of Beirut
  • M.A., American University of Beirut
  • M.A., History, Harvard University
  • Ph.D., History, Harvard University


Leila Fawaz is the Issam M. Fares Professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University. Her research interests span modern Middle Eastern history, specializing in Lebanon, Greater Syria, and the end of the Ottoman Empire. Among her publications are Merchants and Migrants in Nineteenth Century Beirut (Harvard University Press, 1983); An Occasion for War (University of California Press, 1994); Modernity and Culture (with C. A. Bayly, Columbia University Press, 2002); and A Land of Aching Hearts: the Middle East in the Great War (Harvard University Press, November 2014), selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2015. In 2012, Professor Fawaz was awarded the title of Chevalier in the French National Order of the Legion of Honor. She also served as the founding director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University and as president of Harvard University’s Board of Overseers. Fawaz is a Carnegie Scholar and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is currently researching the changing nature of collective memory and the evolving legacy of World War I in Lebanon and Syria. Fawaz received her Ph.D. in History from Harvard University.

Areas of expertise

History & Diplomacy
International Politics

Professional Activities

  • Harvard Medal, Harvard Alumni Association, 2020
  • Harvard Alumni Association Award Recipient, 2017
  • The Fletcher School Faculty Research Award, inaugural recipient, 2015
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Harvard Arab Alumni Association, 2014
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, American University of Beirut, 2014
  • Chevalier, French National Order of the Legion of Honor, 2012
  • President, Harvard Board of Overseers, 2011-2012
  • Carnegie Scholar, 2008-2010
  • Awarded a Visiting Fellowship at All Souls College at Oxford University in the fall of 2006, to work on her new research project on the social history of the Levant in the late Ottoman period.
  • Overseer, Harvard University, 2006-2012
  • Member, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Member, Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), 2005-2008
  • Member, Comité Scientifique of the Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme, Université de Provence, 2005-2018
  • Member, Editorial Board, American Historical Review
  • European Science Foundation, Strasbourg, France, Member, Steering Committee for the Program on Individual and Society in the Mediterranean Muslim World, 1994-1999
  • Member, Planning Committee, 1993, Publications Committee, 1996-1999
  • Member, Professional Division, American Historical Association
  • Delegate, American Council of Learned Societies
  • Past President, Middle East Studies Association of North America
  • Past President, American University of Beirut Alumni Association of North America
  • Past Editor-in-Chief, The International Journal of Middle East Studies, 1989-1994
  • Visiting Professor, Université de Provence (spring 1994)
  • Past recipient of Lillian Leibner Award for Distinguished Teaching and Advising, Tufts University

Other Affiliations

  • Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies
  • Program for Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization


  • 2020 Harvard Medal recipient

Courses taught

Selected Publications and Presentations


Fawaz, Leila. A Land of Aching Hearts: The Middle East in the Great War. Harvard University Press, 2014.

Fawaz, Leila. Transformed Landscapes: Essays on Palestine and the Middle East in Honor of Walid Khalidi. Co-editor Camille Mansour. Cairo: the American University in Cairo Press, 2009.

Fawaz, Leila and C A Bayly. Modernity and Culture From the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. Columbia University Press, 2002.

Fawaz, Leila. An Occasion for War: Ethnic Conflict in Lebanon and Damascus in 1860. University of California Press, 1994.

Fawaz, Leila. State and Society in Lebanon. Oxford Center for Lebanese Studies and Tufts University, 1991.

Fawaz, Leila. Merchants and Migrants in Nineteenth-Century Beirut. Harvard University Press, 1983.


"Family and Famine in Beirut and Mount Lebanon in World War I," chapter in (tentative title) Studies in Memory of Kamal Salibi, Abdul-Rahim Abu-Husayn, Tarif Khalidi, and Suleiman Mourad (eds.), Beirut: American University of Beirut Press, forthcoming 2015.

"Globalisation, imperialism, and the perspectives of foreign soldiers in the Middle East during the First World War," in The Routledge Handbook of the History of the Middle Eastern Mandates, Cyrus Schayegh and Andrew Arsan (eds.), Routledge Press, 2015.

"The Memoirs of a French Woman Traveller to the Levant in 1853-1855," Syria and Bilad al-Sham under Ottoman Rule: Essays in Honour of Abdul-Karim Rafeq, Peter Sluglett, (ed.), with Stefan Weber, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2010.

"Exchanges in Times of War: Coping with War," Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the Course of History: Exchange and Conflicts, Lothar Gall and Dietmar Willoweit (eds.), Munich: Oldenbourg, 2010.


Endowed Chair Lecture: "A Coastal Affair: Life in Ottoman Beirut"

Workshop: "Jerusalem: Conflict and Resolution"