Wilson Center Experts

Asher Kaufman


Contact Information:
T 202/691-4064 // F 202/691-4001
Assistant Professor of History and Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies
Wilson Center Project(s):
"Contested Frontiers: Conflict and Potential Resolution in the Syria, Lebanon, Israel Tri-Border Region"
Sep 01, 2009
May 01, 2010

For the last nine years, I have been engaged in several research projects, all related to the modern history of Lebanon, Syria and Israel. My book Reviving Phoenicia (I.B. Tauris, 2004) discusses the social, political and intellectual roots of the Phoenician myth of origin in modern Lebanon. In it I examine the birth and evolution of this myth from the middle of the 19th century to the late 20th century. The second research theme I am engaged in is a study of social processes of silence, memory and forgetfulness as they relate to the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. I was a member of an international group of scholars that researched social silence in the context of 20th century wars. This project is culminating in a forthcoming book entitled Shadows of War: The Social History of Silence in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2009) edited by Jay Winter, Efrat Ben Zeev and Ruth Ginio.The third research theme, which brings me to the Woodrow Wilson Center, deals with border dynamics between Syria, Lebanon and Israel. I have published several articles on the historical roots of border conflicts and dynamics between the three states and on prospects of resolving these disputes. "Contested Frontiers" is the culmination of this work. This book, that I am currently writing, will bring together my interests in the colonial legacy of the Middle East, group identities -- be they ideological or spatial, and the place of Israel in the Middle East.


B.A., Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; M.A., Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Ph.D., Middle Eastern Studies, Brandeis University


Assistant Professor, University of Notre Dame, Indiana.
Research Fellow, The Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Young Truman Post-Doctorate Fellow, The Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Middle East

Project Summary

"Contested Frontiers" analyzes the historical and geo-political root causes as well as prospects of resolving border and territorial disputes in the tri-border region between Syria, Lebanon and Israel, an area that since the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000 has become one of the major flashpoints in the contemporary Middle East.

The project is highly relevant for the Arab-Israeli conflict, for inter-Arab relationship, for border disputes worldwide and for UN involvement in trying to resolve territorial conflicts throughout the globe. The first section of the project analyzes cartographic anomalies and the politics of mapping of the region from 1920 to the present. The second section studies the political and social changes the region has experienced until the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000. The third section focuses on the contemporary conflicts in region, analyzing their political contexts and UN growing involvement in the region. This section will offers possible ways to ameliorate, possibly resolve, these conflict.

Major Publications

  • Reviving Phoenicia: The Search for Identity in Lebanon (London: I. B. Tauris, 2004). (Book)
  • Who Owns the Shebaa Farms? Chronicles of a Territorial Dispute Middle East Journal (Fall 2002)
  • "Between Palestine and Lebanon: Seven Shi‘i Villages as a Case Study of Boundaries, Identities and Conflict," Middle East Journal (Fall 2006)

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