Skip to main content

Sa'ed Atshan ’06

Associate Professor

Department Chair, Peace & Conflict Studies

Peace & Conflict Studies

Sociology & Anthropology


  2. Phone: (610) 328-7365
  3. Parrish Hall W237B
Sa'ed Atshan

Dr. Sa’ed Atshan is Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Anthropology and Chair of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College.

He previously served as an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Emory University, as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Senior Research Scholar in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

Atshan earned a joint PhD in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies (2013) and MA in Social Anthropology (2010) from Harvard University, a Master in Public Policy (MPP) (2008) from the Harvard Kennedy School, and BA (2006) from Swarthmore College. 

His areas of research include: a) contemporary Palestinian society and politics, b) global LGBTQ social movements, and c) Christian minorities in the Middle East.

Atshan is the author of Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique (Stanford University Press, 2020). He is also the coauthor, with Katharina Galor (Judaic Studies, Brown University), of The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, Palestinians (Duke University Press, 2020). The German translation of The Moral Triangle is entitled Israelis, Palästinenser und Deutsche in Berlin: Geschichten einer komplexen Beziehung (De Gruyter, 2021). Atshan and Galor also coedited the volume, Reel Gender: Palestinian and Israeli Cinema (Bloomsbury, 2022). 

His forthcoming book, Paradoxes of Humanitarianism: The Social Life of Aid in the Palestinian Territories, is under contract with Stanford University Press in their Anthropology of Policy Series.

Atshan has recently embarked on two new projects. One is researching the convergent and divergent experiences of African-American and Palestinian Quakers, with an emphasis on the intersection of race and Christianity in the United States and Israel/Palestine. This project is entitled, “Can the Subaltern Quaker Speak?: Alienation and Belonging among Black and Palestinian Friends.” The other, “Queer Imaginaries and the Re-Making of the Modern Middle East,” is in collaboration with Phillip Ayoub (Political Science, University College London). Atshan and Ayoub are researching LGBTQ activism across the Middle East and North Africa region.

He has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships, including from the Carter Center, Open Society Foundations, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council, Woodrow Wilson National Foundation, Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. He is also the recipient of a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans and a Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace. In 2022, Dr. Atshan was inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Collegium of Scholars at Morehouse College.

He is currently President of the Association of Middle East Anthropology (AMEA) of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). Atshan has previously served as the policy and law book reviews editor for the International Journal of Middle East Studies (IJMES), on the board of the Palestinian American Research Center (PARC), and on the editorial committee of the Journal of Palestine Studies (JPS). He was also an elected board member for the Middle East Section (MES) of the American Anthropological Association (AAA).

Dr. Atshan’s community-based volunteer work is primarily with Quaker civil society organizations (also known as the Religious Society of Friends). He has served as an advisor to Quaker institutions including the Ramallah Friends School, on the multicultural board of Westtown School, on the Corporation of Haverford College, as a spiritual nurturer for the Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS), and on the Board of Pendle Hill. He also served as a board member for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) where he was Clerk of the Standing Nominating Committee and Clerk of AFSC's Community, Equity, and Justice Board Committee.