Esmail Nashif
Associate Professor

Ismail Nashif is associate professor of anthropology at the Sociology and Anthropology program. He is also an art critic and curator and has published several collections of short stories. He has initiated different cultural projects and institutions that cater for art and literature in the Palestinian context, in order to build institutional infrastructures for advancing knowledge production, art, and literature.​ 

His main research fields are materiality, language, ideology, plasticity, and aesthetics. He addresses the theoretical discourses on these fields and their history. In order to examine the manners of operation of these fields, he looks at colonial contexts, especially the Arab-Islamic and the Palestinian ones. 

Of his important publications is Palestinian Political Prisoners: Identity and community (Routledge, 2008). As part of his ongoing research on the possibility of knowledge production via the particularity of the Palestinian tragic history, he has published Gradus for Opening the Episteme (Al Farabi, 2014, 2th ed.). His comprehensive book on contemporary Palestinian culture came out in 2012:  The Architecture of Loss: The question of contemporary Palestinian culture (Al Farabi). In this book, he addresses the major transformation of Palestinian culture in the last two decades. He has published several studies on the plastic art field in Palestine. The latest book on this subject is On Palestinian Abstraction: Zohdy Qadry and the geometric melody of Late Modernism (Raya Publication, 2014). In this book, he tries to trace the major constitutive intersections in the history of the Palestinian abstract art since the mid-19th century up to date. 


PhD Linguistic and Cultural Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin


Arabic, English, Hebrew.​

​Research Interests

Esmail Nashif's research focuses on the meaning of production and its political economy. From this perspective, language ideology and plasticity are specific apparatuses in these processes. He explores these apparatuses theoretically and empirically. Specifically, he addresses the manner in which these processes operate in the Arab-Islamic and Palestinian contexts.

Current Research

Nashif's current research is built from three tracks: the social history of Arab modern art; Arabic and its literary genres in colonial contexts; knowledge production in the contemporary Arab context. These tracks are realized in the following research projects: Text and image in Arab children's literature; the position of literary criticism in Arabic in the Zionist regime; the Palestinian plastic art until 1948. ​

Teaching Interests

Nashif works on creating a dialogic and critical thinking space among the next generation of intellectuals and researchers in the Arab-Islamic contexts; he works on developing a critical pedagogy that stems from the socio-economic and political contexts in the Arab-Islamic world.

A representative selection of MPhil and PhD supervision includes:

  • TARAB and the construction of national identity in modern Egypt

  • The Circus: An event

  • Mahmoud Darwish and his stances on Modernity

  • Cafes and Men in the Colonial Context: The case of Al-Lid

  • The Architecture of Colonia Space in Palestine: The case of Al-Rawabi

  • The Feminist Discourse: A colonial perspective

  • The Social Dimension in Kanfani's Literary Corpus

  • Political Imprisonment after the Oslo Accords

  • Feminism among Islamic Political Movements

Taught Courses 

  1. Anthropological Theories

  2. Advanced Theories in the Social Sciences

  3. Qualitative Research Methods

  4. Material Culture

  5. Modern Arab Thought

  6. Modern European Thought

  7. Art and Society

  8. Art Criticism

  9. Aesthetics

  10. Social Theories on Literature

  11. Sociology of Knowledge

  12. Critical Thinking​


The position of Arabic in the Zionist Regime. Jerusalem: Van Leer Institute, (in press, 2016).  

Palestinian Ways of Death. Beirut: Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, 2015.

On Palestinian Abstraction: Zohdy Qadry and the Geometric Melody of Late Modernism. Haifa: Raya Publication, 2014.  

Gradus for Opening the Episteme. Beirut: Dar Al Farabi, 2014, 2th edition.   

The Architecture of Loss: The question of contemporary Palestinian Culture. Beirut: Dar al Farabi, 2012.

Immigration and Memory in Modern Palestinian Art. Um el Fahimm: Umm el Fahimm Art Gallery, 2012.

Palestinian Political Prisoners: Identity and community. London: Routledge, 2008.

The Unraveling of Zionism: The ideological framework of the Israeli City. Ramallah: Ibrahim Abu Lughod Institute of International Studies 2005.

Edited Books

(Un)Writing Israel. Ramallah: Madar-The Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies, 2011. 


Holes. Haifa: Raya Publications, 2012.

Conversations. Jerusalem, 1999.

Fragmentation. Jerusalem, 1996.


Tel: +974 40356923

Mail Address

Esmail Nashif

Doha Institute for Graduate Studies

School of Social Sciences and Humanities 

P.O.Box: 200592 

Doha, Qatar