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Wendy Pearlman

Associate Professor; Martin and Patricia Koldyke Outstanding Teaching Professor

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, The Political Effects of Emigration, 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 Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Germany, Spain, Israel, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She has written two books and more than a dozen articles or book chapters about the Palestinian national movement, focusing on internal politics and the causes and consequences of political violence.

Wendy’s new book, We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled: Voices from Syria (HarperCollins, June, 2017) is based on interviews that she has conducted from 2012 to the present with more than 300 displaced Syrians in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and the United States. 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. Her long-form narrative essays, Love in the Syrian Revolution and Fathers of Revolution, tell the stories of some of the extraordinary people whose stories she has collected.

Wendy is also co-authoring a second book with Boaz Atzili (American University). It examines “triadic coercion”: the situation when a state uses violence and/or threats against another state to compel it to stop violence from a nonstate actor on its territory. The manuscript offers a critical analysis of sixty-five years of Israel’s experience with this policy.

Wendy has received fellowships from Fulbright, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Northwestern’s Buffett Institute. She has been awarded the Weinberg College Distinguished Teaching Award and has three times been elected to the Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll. Her articles have received prizes from the Syrian Studies Association and the Moise Khayrallah Lebanese Diaspora Studies Center.


Select Publications

  • “Moral Identity and Protest Cascades in Syria.” British Journal of Political Science, published on First View, November 2016.
  • “From Palestine to Syria: Three Intifadas and lessons for popular struggles.” Middle East Law and Governance, 8 (2016), pp. 91-103.
  • “Narratives of Fear in Syria.” Perspectives on Politics 14, no. 1 (March 2016), pp. 21-37.
    • Winner of Syrian Studies Association Prize for best article in 2016
  • “Puzzles, Time, and Ethnographic Sensibilities: Research Methods after the Arab Spring.” Middle East Law and Governance 7 (2015), pp. 132-140.
  • “Competing for Lebanon’s Diaspora: Transnationalism and Domestic Struggles in a Weak State.” International Migration Review, 48, no. 1 (Spring 2014), pp. 34-75.
    • Winner of Moise Khayrallah Lebanese Diaspora Studies Prize for best article by an established scholar in 2014 
  • “Emotions and the Microfoundations of the Arab Uprisings.” Perspectives on Politics, 11, no. 2 (June 2013), pp. 387-409.
    • Chosen by Foreign Policy as one of the best journal articles on the Middle East in 2013
  • “Emigration and Power: A Study of Sects in Lebanon, 1860-2010.” Politics & Society, 41, no. 1 (March 2013), pp. 102-133.
  • “Triadic Deterrence” (with Boaz Atzili). Security Studies, 21, no. 2 (April-June 2012), pp. 301-335.
  • “Precluding Nonviolence, Propelling Violence: The Effect of Internal Fragmentation on Movement Behavior.” Studies in Comparative International Development, 47, no. 1 (March 2012), pp. 23-46.
  • “Nonstate actors, fragmentation, and conflict processes” (with Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham). Introduction to special issue. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 56, no. 1 (February 2012), pp. 3-15.
  • “The Palestinian national movement and the 1967 War” in Wm Roger Louis and Avi Shlaim, eds., The 1967 Arab-Israeli War: Origins and Consequences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 126-148.
  • “Spoiling Inside and Out: Internal Political Contestation and the Middle East Peace Process” International Security, 33, no. 3 (Winter 2008/09), pp. 79-109.
  • “Struggle in a Post-Charisma Transition: Rethinking Palestinian Politics after Arafat” (with Ali Jarbawi). Journal of Palestine Studies, 36, no. 4 (Summer 2007), pp. 6-21.          
    • Simultaneously published in Majallat al-Dirasat al-Filistiniyah 71 (Summer 2007)

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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