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Professor Abir Hamdar


MA English Literature (American University of Beirut), PhD Languages and Cultures of the Near and ME (SOAS-University of London)

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Professor in the School of Modern Languages and CulturesA54, Elvet Riverside I+44 (0) 191 33 43034
Member of the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies  


I have an MA in English Literature (American University of Beirut) and a PhD in the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East (SOAS, University of London). Before coming to Durham in 2012, I taught at the American University of Beirut and the University of Manchester and I was also a post-doctoral researcher on the AHRC/ESRC “Islamism in Arab Fiction and Film” project at Lancaster University.

I have a primary research specialism in modern Middle Eastern literatures, film and cultures with a particular interest in questions of health, illness and disability. My monograph The Female Suffering Body: Illness and Disability in Modern Arabic Literature (Syracuse University Press, 2014) is the first major study of female physical illness and disability in contemporary Arabic literature of the Levant and Egypt from 1950 to the present. Please see the following link for further details:

I also have an additional specialism in literature and religion, particularly literary and filmic representations of Islamism from the Middle East and North Africa. I have co-edited a collection of essays (with Lindsey Moore) entitled Islamism and Cultural Expression in the Arab World (Routledge, 2015). I also specialise in gender and postcolonial literatures and film more broadly and have published a number of articles and book chapters that explore my research interests. In more recent years, I have written articles on death and dying in the context of Middle Eastern visual culture. Finally, I am also a short story writer and playwright.

Since 2017, I have been working on a research project that extends my interests in Middle Eastern literatures, film and the medical humanities: a cultural history of cancer in the Arab world. This project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of its Open World Research Initiative. One strand of the project  Performing Arab Cancer , which is grounded in arts-based-research, has been shortlisted for the AHRC / Wellcome Trust 2020 Medical Humanities Awards in the Best International Research category. Based on extensive qualitative fieldwork (in the form of personal interviews) conducted with female cancer patients from the Arab world, Performing Arab Cancer deploys creative, performative, visual and critical practice to generate a ‘living archive’ of Arab female cancer stories and testimonies. As part of my work on this strand, I wrote, produced and curated a series of creative arts outputs – including two ethnodramas, a film and a video installation – in collaboration with international artists, healthcare practitioners and cancer NGOs to highlight women’s subjective experience with the disease. For further details please see: and

Research interests

  • Death and Dying in Literature and Visual Culture
  • Modern Middle Eastern Literatures, Film and Cultures
  • Illness and Disability
  • Religion and Literature/Film
  • Gender
  • Postcolonial Literature and Film

Esteem Indicators


Authored book

  • Hamdar, Abir. (2014). The Female Suffering Body: Illness and Disability in Modern Arabic Literature. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press.

Book review

  • Hamdar, Abir (2012). Media Warfare. Review of Channels of Resistance in Lebanon: Liberation Propaganda, Hezbollah and the Media. By Zahera Harb. Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication 5.
  • Hamdar, Abir (2012). Review of Contemporary Arab Women Writers: Cultural Expression in Context. By Anastasia Valassopoulos. Women: A Cultural Review, Special issue on Transnational Feminisms
  • Abir Hamdar (2000). Review of In the House of Silence: Autobiographical Essays by Arab Women Writers. By Fadia Faqir. Al-Raida XVII(89).

Chapter in book

  • Bradley, A. & Hamdar, A. (2016). Imagining Islamism: Representations of Fundamentalism in the Twenty-First Century Arabic Novel. In The Routledge Companion to Literature and Religion. Knight, Mark Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 446-456.
  • Hamdar, Abir (2015). 'Those Who Cure You Will Kill You':The Doctor and the Terrorist in Arab Fiction and Film. In Islamism and Cultural Expression in the Arab World. Hamdar, Abir & Lindsey Moore Routledge. 123-137.
  • Hamdar, Abir (2003). Exile, Home and Identity: Constructing Alternative Spaces in Hamida Na'na's The Homeland. In Crisis and Memory: The Representation of Space in Modern Levantine Narrative. Seigneury, Ken Wiesbaden: Reichert. 211-222.

Edited book

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Hamdar, Abir. (2020). Hair Talk. Video Installation. Video Concept and Direction by Dima Alansari, Technical Director Suha Choucair. 4-7 February. Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute, AUBMC. Beirut, Lebanon. Video.
  • Hamdar, Abir. (2017). Short Film: Wasafuli al-Sabr. Directed by Soha Choucair & Lina Abyad. Edited by Moonshot Post-Production. Film.


  • Hamdar, Abir. (2020). Hair Talk. Performance Piece Directed by Lina Abyad. Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute - AUBMC. Beirut, Lebanon.
  • Hamdar, Abir. (2018). Hospital Performance: Wasafuli al-Sabr [Eng. Title: I am Waiting For You]. Directed by Lina Abyad. 8 February. Naef K. Basile Cancer Institute -AUBMC, Beirut, Lebanon.
  • Hamdar, Abir. (2018). Hospital Performance: Wasafuli al-Sabr [Eng. Title: I am Waiting For You]. Directed by Lina Abyad. 1 December. Nabih Berri Government University Hospital, South Lebanon.
  • Hamdar, Abir. (2017). Hospital Performance: Wasafuli al-Sabr (Eng. Title: I am Waiting for You). Directed by Lina Abyad. 8 August. Lebanese American University Medical Centre-Rizk Hospital, Beirut.
  • Hamdar, Abir. (2017). Wasafuli al-Sabr (Eng. title: I am Waiting for You). Directed by Lina Abyad. 19 July - 29 July. Madina Theater, Beirut.
  • Hamdar, Abir (2014). Lecture Performance: I Want to Tell You Something. 15th EACLALS TRIENNIAL CONFERENCE 2014, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck.
  • Hamdar, Abir (2010). The Silicone Bomb. Directed by Lina Abyad. 7th Creative Independent Forum in Alexandria; and the Amman International Theatre Festival AITF in Jordan.
  • Hamdar, Abir (2009). The Silicone Bomb. Directed by Lina Abyad. The Lebanese American University of Beirut, Gulbenkian Theatre. Further performances at the Hamana Festival in Lebanon; the 12th International Theatre Festival at the Lebanese American University; and Madina Theater in Beirut.