Mark Andrew Le Vine

Picture of Mark Andrew Le Vine
Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History, History
School of Humanities
Professor and Chair, Program in Global Middle East Studies
School of Humanities
Ph.D., New York University, 1999
Phone: History Department: (949) 824-6521
Fax: (949) 824 2865
University of California, Irvine
220 Krieger Hall
Mail Code: 3275
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Cultures and histories of the modern Middle East and Africa, Critical Theory, Islamic studies, Indigenous theories and Methodologies, Globalization, the role of music in political struggles, culture jamming
Research Abstract
I completed my Ph.D. at NYU's Dept. of Middle Eastern Studies in 1999, after which I held postdoctoral positions at Cornell University's Society for the Humanities and the European University Institute's Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, in Florence, Italy before coming to UCI.

My research and teaching focus on the social, cultural and urban histories of the Middle East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, globalization and culture, African and Middle musics, migration and refugee studies, critical theory, decolonial and Indigenous theories and methodologies, and popular cultures and theologies of Islam. My dissertation and first book, Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv and the Struggle for Palestine, published by the University of California Press in 2005, focused on the deeply implicate but conflictual histories of Jaffa and Tel Aviv, the cultural and economic capitals of Palestinian and Zionist communities in pre-1948 Palestine. My second book, Why They Don't Hate Us: Lifting the Veil on the Axis of Evil, was published by Oneworld Publications, also in 2005, was the first scholarly volume to offer a detailed, documentary as well as ethnographic exploration of neoliberal globalization in the Middle East and Africa, its cultural as well as political and economic components. This book also was the first where I focused on youth musical cultures across the region, a theme that became the center piece of my third single-authored book, Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance and the Soul of Islam, published by Random House in 2008 and reissued with a new Preface by UC Press in 2022. A NY Times Editor’s Pick, it was the first book ever to explore what I term “Extreme Youth Music” – extreme heavy metal but also hip hop, hardcore and other forms of intense and often political youth music – across the Middle East, North Africa and wider Muslim world. Heavy Metal Islam led my producing the first ever compilation of extreme music in the region, Flowers in the Desert, released by EMI in 2009, and an award-winning theatrical as well as PBS documentary, Before the Spring, After the Fall, which began filming in 2008 and continued throughout the Arab uprisings era till 2013.

Continuing with my focus on Palestine/Israel, in 2009 I published my fourth single-authored book, Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989, with Zed Books, which offered an exhaustive account of the Oslo peace process and the underlying dynamics of the Occupation and settler colonialism utilizing previously unused sources in both Arabic and Hebrew. In the years before and since Impossible Peace, I have co-edited three other books on Palestine/Israel, including Reapproaching Borders: New Perspectives on the Study of Israel/Palestine (Rowman Littlefield, 2007, with Sandra Sufian), Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel (UC Press, 2012, with Gershon Shafir), and One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States (UC Press, 2014, with Amb. Mathias Mossberg).

In 2009 I began collaborating with the Center for Middle East Studies at Lund University, Sweden, and was a visiting researcher and Distinguished Visiting Professor there until 2022. During this period I also was awarded major visiting professorship and grants from the NEH, Swedish Research Council, several other European foundations, and the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Bologna, building on work original begun at the École des hautes études in Paris, and continued at the International Research Center for Cultural Studies in Vienna. As part of my ongoing research on globalization in the Muslim world I co-edited the volume Islam and Popular Culture (University of Texas Press, 2016, with Karin van Nieuwkerk and Martin Stokes).

This period also coincided with the eruption, spread and brutal repression of protests and uprisings across the Arab world, Türkiye and Iran. As a reporter and columnist for al-Jazeera’s flagship news portal and channel, I traveled across the region throughout this period, writing over 200 columns in the period of 2009-2019, while also doing fieldwork on the role of music in the emergence, growth and revolutionary potential of resistance sub- and counter-cultures in the Arab/Muslim world. As part of that work I co-produced an international project bringing together revolutionary artists from the Arab world and Iran to record covers of Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti's most political songs. Our first production, of his seminal hit, “Zombie”, was released in May 2015 and features Fela’s son Seun Kuti, as well as Egyptian revolutionary singer Ramy Essam, Moroccan rapper El Haqed, Egyptian rapper Karim Rush from Arabian Knightz, Palestinian rap duo Refugees of Rap, from Yarmouk Camp in Syria, and Iran's first female (and best) rapper, Salomé MC. It was released through the Copenhagen-based international anti-music censorship organization Freemuse, and is available here.

This coincided with the beginning of my research into the history of funk music in sub-Sharan Africa across what I term the Funk Belt – the line of countries stretching from Senegal to Somalia between the Sahel and the Equator, with its fulcrum along the Bight of Benin between Ghana and Cameroon. This began with my work with Ghanaian highlife and Afrobeat legend Ebo Taylor, and developed more with my long-term collaboration with Nigerian artists in Lagos and Port Harcourt, in particular Chicoco and the Community Media and Advocacy Platform (CMAP) in the waterfront shanties of Nigeria’s oil capital and in the Niger Delta. So far our work has produced significant music and several appearances at Felebration in Lagos, where we were named the “best new band in Africa.”

My research in Africa, as in the Middle East, has focused on the production of culture in areas of war and other forms of intense social and political conflict, and environmental degradation. As part of this work, I also have worked in Mali, Togo, Ethiopia and Kenya, where in 2018 along with Kenyan music producer and videographer Treynor Tumwa I co-founded the organization Kakuma Sound, which brings traditional instruments to refugee musicians in the second largest refugee camp in Africa, Kakuma Refugee Camp. I was awarded a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship, an our project has received significant funding and collaboration with UNESCO, UNHCR, Africa Express, the Roskilde Foundation and Amnesty International.

This work is part of a larger project with my colleague at UCI, Drama professor and theater maker Bryan Reynolds, with whom I'm collaborating on a long-term, multi-country project titled Art Beyond the Edge: Creativity and Conflict in the Anthropocene, currently under contract with UC Press. Our project both studies how cultural is produced, circulated and experienced/consumed in societies in the midst of intense social and political stress and, as important, involves our collaboration with local artists, particularly musicians and theater makers, in the production of local, grass-roots inspired art, in the countries where we are engaged in research. Our research encompasses fieldwork and collaborations in Baghdad, Chiapas, Palestine (with the Jenin Freedom Theater), Lagos, Port Harcourt, Cairo, Islamabad and Lahore, and Kabul.

During the last dozen years, while much of my research has been focused on music and other forms of cultural production in Africa and the Middle East, with Lund University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut I have also led the largest ever study the evolution of human rights discourses in the Arab world, “Research, Advocacy and Public Policy: Human Rights in the Arab World,” among whose publications has been the first comprehensive annotated bibliography of human rights literature in Arabic, Turkish and Persian, in press, and most recently, Altered States: the Remaking of the Political in the Arab World, co-edited with Sune Haugbolle. This volume was a capstone for research that first resulted in two co-edited volumes in 2005: Religion, Social Practice and Contested Hegemonies (Palgrave) and Twilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation, co-edited with Viggo Mortensen, Pilar Perez and Jodie Evans (Perceval Press).

My research on globalization and its foundations in colonial modernity, as well as on music and on human rights has led me to engage in an in-depth study of both decolonial and more so, Indigenous theories and methodologies, first in my dissertation and most recently in We’ll Play till We Die: Journeys Across a Decade of Revolutionary Music in the Muslim World (UC Press, 2022). Picking up literally the day Heavy Metal Islam ends, We’ll Play till We Die explores the political power of extreme youth music scenes from Morocco straight across North Africa and the Middle East and down to Indonesia, and is written collaboratively with leading artists from the region – a reflection of my commitment to collaborative creation with artists and communities with whom I’m work. I did a fascinating interview with the Nietzsche Podcast on metal, Nietzsche, the Frankfurt School and the power of revolutionary art, which is available on Spotify. An interview with Jadaliyya about the book is available here. And with ABC Radio Australia here. A Spotify playlist of music from the artists discussed in the book is available here. More interviews and podcasts will be uploaded shortly.

Since 2017, and particularly since 2022, I have been part of a research group led by Sydney University Chair of Arabic Languages and Cultures Lucia Sorbera focused on Indigenous theories and research methodologies, gender, repressive governance and resistance, for which I was a fellow at the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Center (SSSHARC) and continue working with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Research Portfolio.

My scholarship, activism and music are all tied to my commitment to struggles for social justice in the United States and around the world. I attempt to bring these three fields together through the practice of “culture jamming,” which brings together leading artists, scholars and activists in critical dialog and performance on issues of concern to young people. I have held these culture jams in LA, NYC, Philadelphia, Paris, Rome, Baghdad, Casablanca, Beirut, Cairo, Tunis, Oventic, Prague, Lagos, Kabul and Lahore.

Please note, publication list on this page is out of date. For a full list of publications, awards, and grants, please click here.

For a full list of musical collaborations and awards, please contact me at

Link to this profile

Last updated
April, 2023

Awards and Honors
Abridged list since 2018:
Advanced Research Collaborative Scholar, Graduate Center, City University of New York. 2023-24.
External Engagement Grant, University of Sydney, 2023.
Hannah Grunwald Fund, Human Rights and Community Award, fall 2022.
UCI Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation and UCI School of Humanities collaborative research grant with Yole!Africa (Goma, Congo) and Chicoco Media (Port Harcourt, Nigeria).
UNESCO seed grant for Kakuma Sound, 2022.
Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre, Fellow, 2022.
Distinguished Visiting Professor, Sydney University, 2022.
Guggenheim Fellow, 2020-21.
Istituto Studi Avanzati (Institute for Advanced Studies), University of Bologna, International Distinguished Fellowship Award, 2018.
Swedish Research Council, FORMAS Collaborative Research Grant, Project leader, 2018-22.
National Endowment for the Humanities, 2017-18, Collaborative Research Grant.
UK Commonwealth Foundation, 2017-18, Arts and Society Grant.
Short Biography
Mark LeVine is Professor of Middle Eastern and African Histories and Cultures at UC Irvine and the founding Director of its Program in Global Middle East Studies. A 2020-21 Guggenheim Fellow for his work as co-creator of Kakuma Sound and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University, Sweden and a Sydney University among other places, he's the author and editor of a dozen books, including most recently We'll Play till We Die: Journeys Across a Decade of Revolutionary Music in the Muslim World (UC Press, 2022), Altered States: The Remaking of the Political in the Arab World (Routledge), Heavy Metal Islam (New Edition, UC Press, 2022, original edition, Random House, 2008), Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel (UC Press 2013), and the forthcoming Marginalia of a Revolution (UC Press) and Art Beyond the Edge: Creativity and Conflict in a World on Fire (UC Press). From 2008-2018 he was a senior columnist at al-Jazeera English, and is the longest-serving Contributing Editor at Tikkun magazine. As a world musician and producer he has collaborated with groups globally, From Latin rock artist Ozomatli (Grammy Award, 2005) to Femi and Seun Kuti (Fela's Revolution: From Bamako to Tehran, Knitting Factory Records, in production), and produced several documentaries for National Public Radio's Afropop Worldwide
Art Beyond the Edge: Creativity and Conflict in a World on Fire, with Bryan Reynolds (UC Press, forthcoming)
Marginalia of a Revolution: Decolonial Debris from a Decade of Uprisings Across the MENA (UC Press, under contract.)
"'Collaborative Ontologies' and the Future of Critical Theory," with Lucia Sorbera, ab-Original, forthcoming.
We’ll Play Till We Die: Journeys Across a Revolutionary Decade of Music in the Muslim World (UC Press, 2022).
Heavy Metal Islam, 10th Anniversary New and Updated Edition (UC Press, 2022).
Altered States: The Remaking of the Political in the Arab World, with Sune Haugbolle (Routledge, 2022).
“Legacies of Colonialism in the MENA Region” in Armando Salvatore, ed., Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of the Middle East (OUP, 2022).
“The Miraculous Love Kids: Grrrl Power, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Rebellion in Afghanistan,” with Bryan Reynolds, in Igor Contreras Zubillaga and Helena Martín- Nieva, eds., Music and Resistance: From 1900 to the Present (Brepols Publishers, 2022).
“An Islamic Interpretive Strategy for Exploring Grassroots Governance in Northern Kenya,” in Farouk Topan et al, eds., Governance and Islam in East Africa: Muslims and the State in Kenya and Tanzania (Edinburgh University Press, 2021).
“‘We Play Heavy Metal because Our Lives Are Heavy Metal’: A Generation of Metal in the Middle East and North Africa,” in Nelson Varas-Díaz, ed., Defiant Sounds: Heavy Metal Music in the Global South (Rowman & Littlefield, 2023).
“Understanding the Materiality of Suspicion: Affective Politics in MENA Cities,” (with Maria Malm-strom), in Haim Yacobi , Mansour Nasasra, eds., Routledge Handbook of Middle East Cities (Routledge, 2019).
“Music in Muslim Contexts: Deep Histories, Shaky Foundations,” with Jonas Otterbeck, in The Handbook of Contemporary Islam and Muslim Lives (Springer Publishing, 2021).
“Muslim Popular Music: An Enchanted Century,” with Jonas Otterbeck, in The Handbook of Contemporary Islam and Muslim Lives (Springer Publishing, 2021).
“Fugitive Pedagogy: Guattari’s Ecosophy in the Mural Discourse of the Zapatistas,” with Bryan Reynolds, in Joff P.N. Bradley and David Cole, eds., Principles of Transversality in Globalisation and Education (Springer, 2018).
Islam and Popular Culture, co-editor with Karin van Nieuwkerk and Martin Stokes, (University of Texas Press, 2016).

Before the Spring, After the Fall, writer, co-producer; directed by Jed Rothstein, Global Voices, PBS, summer 2014, theatrical release, fall 2013.

One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States, co-edited with Ambassador Mathias Mossberg, UC Press, 2014.

“Theory and Praxis of the Arab Uprisings,” special issue of Middle East Critique, Editor, Winter Fall 2013.

“Theorizing Revolutionary Practice: Agendas for Research on the Arab Uprisings,” Middle East Critique, Winter 2014.

“Rap and the Stages of Revolution: From Subculture to the Lonely Grind in the Arab World,” Cyber Orient, Fall 2013.

Ghana and Afrobeat, the History of a Music and a Continent, documentary co-produced/directed for NPR's Afropop, NEH Award, 2013.

“Music and the Aura of Revolution,” International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, #44 (2012).

Heavy Metal: Controversies and Countercultures, co-edited with Keith Kahn-Harris and Titus Hjelm, London: Equinox Books, 2013.

“Music and Resistance in the Arab Spring,” in Larbi Sadiki, ed., Resistance Cultures and Politics in the Arab World (Routledge, 2013).

“Culture Jamming and the Return of the Aura in the Arab Uprisings,” Marilyn DeLaure, ed., The Culture Jamming Reader (NYU Press, 2018).

“Immediacy, Emurgency, and Revolutionary Praxis,” in Performance Studies: Key Words, Concepts, and Theories, edited by Bryan Reynolds (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013).

“How a music about death affirms life: Middle Eastern metal and the return of music's aura,” in Ian Peddie, ed. Popular Music and Human Rights, Vol. II (Ashgate, 2011).

Struggle and Survival in Israel/Palestine, co-editor with Gershon Shafir (University of California Press, 2012).

Manshurat, 2nd album of Egyptian revolutionary singer Ramy Essam, guitarist, 2012.

“New Hybridities of Arab Musical Intifadas,” Jadaliyya, October 16, 2011.

Headbanging Against Repressive Regimes: Censorship of Heavy Metal in the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia and China, Freemuse, Report #9, 2010.

“Doing the Devil’s Work: Heavy Metal and the Threat to Public Order in the Muslim World,” Social Compass, December 2009 56: 564-576.

Flowers in the Desert, producer and composer, released by EMI Records internationally, November 2009.

“Rock, Resistance and the Rise of New Muslim Public Spheres,” in Olivier Roy and Amel Boubekeur, eds., Beyond Islamism (Columbia University Press, 2009).

Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books, 2009).

“Heavy metal Muslims: the rise of a post-Islamist public sphere,” Contemporary Islam, Vol. 2, #3, 2009, pp. 229 - 249

Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam (Random House, 2008).

Reapproaching Borders: New Perspectives on the Study of Israel/Palestine, co-editor (Rowman Littlefield, 2007).

Why They Don't Hate Us: Lifting the Veil on the Axis of Evil (Oneworld Publications, 2005).
"Chaos, Globalization and the Public Sphere: Political Struggles in Weak-State Countries," in Vali Nasr, ed. Political Islam, the State and Globalization, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Submitted
"Islam and Urban Politics in Israel: The Muslim Association and the struggle for autonomy in Jaffa," in Dan Rabinowtiz and Daniel Monterescu, eds., Mixed Towns/Trapped Communities: Historical Narratives, Spatial Dynamics Gender Relations and Cultural Encounters in Palestinian-Israeli Mixed Towns (Ashgate Publishing, 2011).
"Fateful Triangles: Modernity and its Antinomies in a Mediterranean Port City," in Thomas Bender and Alev Cinar, eds., Locating the City: Urban Imaginaries and the Practice of Modernity, University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming
"Reforming Muslim Public Spheres: A methodological Genealogy," in Seteney Shami, ed., Approachig Public Spheres: Theory, History, Gender, Conflict, manuscript under review.
"Crossing the Borders: Labor, Community and Colonialism in the Jaffa-Tel-Aviv Region during the Mandate Period," in Gil Gonzalez and Gil Gonzalez, et al, eds., Labor and Empire (Routledge, 2004).
"Popularizing the Public and Publicizing the Popular: Contesting Popular Cultures in Mandatory Jaffa and Tel Aviv," in Ted Swedenburg and Rebecca Stein, eds., Popular Palestine: Palestine, Israel and the Politics of Popular Culture, Ralley Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.
"Planning to Conquer: Modernity and its Antinomies in the New-Old Jaffa," in Haim Yacobi, ed., Constructing a Sense of Place: Architecture and the Zionist Discourse (London: Ashgate, 2004).
"Land, Law, and the Planning of Empire," in Huri Islamoglu, ed., Constitutions of Property in Comparative Perspective (I.B.Tauris, 2004).
"'Human Nationalisms' versus 'Inhuman Globalisms': Cultural Economies of Globalization and the Re-Imagining of Muslim Identities in Europe and the Middle East," in Stefano Allievi and Jorgen Nielsen, eds., Muslim Networks and Transnational Communities in and Across Europe, Leiden: Brill, 2003.
"Locating Home: Overthrowing Geography, Misreading Modernity and Other Adventures in the Search for the Routes that Divide Us," in Bo Strath, ed. Homeland, Brussels (Peter Lang, 2003).
"The 'New-Old Jaffa': Tourism, Gentrification, and the Battle for Tel Aviv's 'Arab Neighborhood," in Nezar AlSayyad, ed., Global Norms/Urban Forms: On the Manufacture and Consumption of Traditions in the Built Environment (Spon/Routledge, 2000).
» "A Diplomatic History of the El Salvador Peace Process," in Johnstone & Doyle, Eds., The Future of UN Peace-keeping: El Salvador and Cambodia and the Secretary-General's Agenda for Peace, London, Cambridge University Press, 1997.
"Socio-Religious Movements and the Transformation of 'Common Sense' into a Politics of 'Common Good'," in Religion, Social Practice, and Contested Hegemonies: Reconstructing Muslim Public Spheres, ed. by Armando Salvatore and Mark LeVine, NY: Palgrave, 2005.
Other Experience
Senior Columnist, al-Jazeera English - 2007-2019

Contributing Editor, Tikkun Magazine - 1994-present

Documentary film/series creator, producer, writer - 2013-2023

Last updated