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Waleed Mahdi

Waleed Mahdi

Waleed F. Mahdi

Farzaneh Hall, Room 326
Phone: 405-325-3726


PhD in American Studies, University of Minnesota, 2015

MA in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, University of New Mexico, 2008

BA in English Literature, Taiz University (Yemen), 2003


Waleed F. Mahdi is an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma with expertise in US-Arab cultural politics. His research examines cultural representation and identity politics in American, Arab, and Arab American contexts. Waleed is a recipient of several national and international awards. His peer-reviewed work appears in top-tiered journals, including American QuarterlyJournal of American Ethnic History, and Journal of Cinema and Media Studies.

Waleed’s current book project, “Seeing Yemen: Visual Modes of Imperial Security and Yemeni Agency,” offers a multi-faceted analysis of competing visual modes in seeing Yemen from a US-securitized lens characterized by violence and imperial amnesia to a Yemeni lens marked by witnessing, grieving, and defying erasure. He is also currently co-editing a book project, “Reimagining the Field of Arab American Studies,” which reconceptualizes the field of Arab American Studies by providing a theoretical, historical, and geographic reframing that decenters whiteness and emphasizes peripheral communities and experiences.

Waleed’s first book, Arab Americans in Film: From Hollywood and Egyptian Stereotypes to Self-Representation (Syracuse University Press, 2020), examines how Arab American belonging is constructed, defined, and redefined across Hollywood, Egyptian, and Arab American cinemas. He also guest-edited two special issues and completed a multi-institutional research collaboration with Columbia University, the University of Jordan, and the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies about the 2011 Arab revolutionary public spheres.

Waleed is now the President of the Arab American Studies Association (AASA).


IAS 5940 US-Arab Relations

IAS 5493 Global Islamophobia

IAS 3783 US-Arab Cultural Encounters 

IAS 3123 Arab Visual Cultures

MLLL 3413 Arabic Literature and Culture

MLLL 3443 Islamic Culture in the United States

Selected Awards

Arts and Humanities Faculty Fellowship Award, Humanities Forum, University of Oklahoma, 2023

Arab America Foundation Award, “40 Under 40” List of Most Accomplished Arab Americans for their contributions to professions and communities, 2021

Faculty Investment Program Grant, University of Oklahoma, 2020

Multi-institutional Research Collaboration Grant, Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), 2016-19

Humanities Forum Grant, Humanities Forum, University of Oklahoma, 2017-18

Exemplary Diversity Scholar Award, National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID), University of Michigan, 2015

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Summer Institute, 2015

Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, University of Minnesota, 2012-13

ICGC-MacArthur Scholarship, Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change, University of Minnesota, 2008-09

Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship, University of New Mexico, 2007-08

Recent Publications


Arab Americans in Film: From Hollywood and Egyptian Stereotypes to Self-Representation, Syracuse University Press (2020)

Special issues

MENA Migrants and Diasporas in Twenty-First-Century Media, edited by Waleed F. Mahdi for Mashriq and Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies, vol 9, no. 1, 2022, pp. 1-193.

The Aesthetics of Dissent: Culture and Politics of Transformation in the Arab World, co-edited by Eid Mohamed, Waleed F. Mahdi, and Hamid Dabashi for the International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 23, issue 2, March 2020, pp. 141-281. 

Peer-reviewed articles and chapters

“Filmmaking Shadows: The Pitfall of Morocco as Hollywood of Africa,” in Routledge Handbook on Arab Cinema, editor Noha Mellor. Routledge, June 2024 (Forthcoming)

Contemporary Modes of Yemeni American Agency Between Urgency and Emergence” in Journal of American Ethnic History, vol. 43, no. 1, 2023, 43-66.

Sovereignty for Security: The Paradox of Urgency and Intervention in Yemen,” in The Struggle to Reshape the Middle East in the 21st Century, editor Samer S. Shehata. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2023, pp. 174-192.

Echoes of a Scream: US Drones and Articulations of the Houthi Sarkha Slogan in Yemen,” in Cultural Production and Social Movements After the Arab Spring: Nationalism, Politics and Transnational Identity, editors Eid Mohamed and Ayman El Desouky. London: I. B. Tauris, pp. 205-221, 2021.

"Transmilitainment: Morocco’s Role in Hollywood’s War on Terror Films" in American Quarterly, vol. 73, no. 4, 2021, 767-791.

Representation without Recognition: A Survey of Arab American Images in Egyptian Cinema” in Journal of Cinema and Media Studies (Cinema Journal formerly), vol. 59, no. 1, 2019, 89-111.

Post-Oriental Otherness: Hollywood’s Moral Geography of Arab Americans,” in Mashriq and Mahjar: Journal of Middle East Migration Studies, 3, no. 2, 35-61, 2016.

Youth and Revolution: A Call to Reform Higher Education in Yemen,” (co-edited chapter with Abulghani Al-Hattami) in Education and the Arab Spring: Resistance, Reform, and Democracy, editors Eid Mohamed, Hannah Gerber, and Slimane Aboulkacem. Netherlands: Sense Publishers, 83-94, 2016.

Liberal or Imperial: U.S. Discursive Formations of the Muslim Image,” in Transformation of the Muslim World in the 21st Century, editor Muhammed Huseyin Mercan, Cambridge Scholar Publishing, 49-62, 2016.

Marked off: Hollywood’s Untold Story of Arabs/Muslims and Camels,” in Muslims and American Popular Culture, editors Anne R. Richards and Iraj Omidvar. Praeger, 196-223, 2014.

Selected Invited Talks

“Yemeni Diasporic Artivism Between Urgency and Emergence,” Global Teacher Seminar, Ohio State University, Columbus, 2023

“From Aliens to Patriots: Representations of Arab and Muslim Americans in Hollywood,” Keynote Address, the KFLC: The Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Conference, University of Kentucky, 2022

“Publishing Experience from Dissertation to Book,” University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, 2020

“From Drones to DNA Tests: The Ethics of Using Technology against Yemenis and the Aesthetics of Resistance,” University of Michigan-Dearborn, 2019

“Yemeni Lives at the Intersection of War and Discrimination,” University of Illinois-Chicago, 2019

"The Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen," University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, 2018

"Images of Arabs and Muslims in Hollywood," University of North Carolina-Charlotte, 2018

“Images of Arab Americans in Egyptian Films,” Cairo University and American University in Cairo, 2018

“Yemen: Then and Now,” University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, 2017

"Hollywood's Cartographies of Arabness," Graduate Research Seminar Series, Qatar