Joshua Donovan

Tandem Visiting Fellow

Pacific Office of the German Historical Institute Washington
Institute of European Studies | University of California, Berkeley | 202 Philosophy Hall | Berkeley, CA 94720-2316

Biographical Summary

Joshua Donovan is an interdisciplinary historian of the modern Middle East whose work situates the region and its people in a wider global perspective. His research explores the intersections of religion, nationalism, migration, and human rights, particularly in colonial and postcolonial contexts.

Joshua is presently a Tandem Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Migration based at the GHI’s Pacific Office in Berkeley, California. Previously, he was a dissertation fellow at the Sakıp Sabancı Center for Turkish Studies (2021-2022) at Columbia University, where he earned his PhD in History (2022). His dissertation examined the Antiochian Greek Orthodox Christian community of Syria, Lebanon, and its diaspora from the late Ottoman period, through the French Mandate, and into the early post-colonial period. It showed how the construction of Orthodox identity was a fluid, historically contingent, and continual process of construction shaped by mobility, empire, and interactions with different communities. Joshua’s peer-reviewed publications include a study comparing religious and national identity within Coptic immigrant communities in the United States to their coreligionists in Egypt (coauthored with Yvonne Haddad, 2013, Studies in World Christianity) and a microhistory examining the religious, gendered, and class dynamics of an American missionary school in Tripoli, Lebanon (2019, Journal of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations). At the beginning of his time as a GHI fellow, Joshua submitted two additional publications for peer review: an article on social identity in the Syro-Lebanese diaspora which examines the literary and artistic production of a Lebanese Christian woman who lived in Egypt and Paris for many years, and a book chapter on Cold War liberalism in the Middle East, both of which should be forthcoming in 2023.

As a GHI fellow, Joshua is primarily working on his first book manuscript, tentatively titled Imagining Antioch: Sectarianism, Nationalism, and Migration in the Greek Orthodox Levant. Building off of his dissertation, the booktells a new history of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian community from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. It conceives of “sect” as an imagined social, political, and religious community forged through a series of overlapping and often conflict projects of identity formation. During his fellowship, Joshua is particularly focused on expanding the book’s scope of analysis to show how migration and mobility across physical borders and inchoate regimes of citizenship indelibly shaped the Middle East. He is also working on an article length project exploring firsthand accounts of forced migration, displacement, and resettlement within the Orthodox community.

Main Areas of Interest

  • Migration
  • Christian-Muslim Relations
  • Sectarianism and Religious Violence
  • The Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean
  • Nationalism
  • Refugees and Displaced Peoples
  • British and French Imperialism
  • The Global Cold War