The Sijal Scholar program is a fellowship for advanced graduate students. It is a competitive, funded opportunity for a full academic year, during which Sijal provides mentorship, Arabic language support, institutional affiliation, and a home base for a scholar-in-residence. In addition, the Sijal Scholar will receive a stipend to cover living expenses in Amman. In addition to individual research and language training, the Sijal Scholar will design and teach a seminar at Sijal. This is a research/scholarly position, and not a work-study scheme.


Scholars are selected based on merit; financial need or status has no bearing on one’s application. The ideal candidate is a PhD student in good academic standing, usually in their fieldwork year or with ABD status. The Scholar should already have a strong background in the Arabic language, preferably at the advanced level, and their research should include a focus on the Middle East, particularly the Levantine region.  The Scholar’s research does not have to pertain to Jordan specifically, but there should be a strong case for Jordan being the home base for one’s research. Preference will be given for scholars of the humanities or social sciences, especially in the fields of history, anthropology, literature, geography, political science, or interdisciplinary area studies. However, students of other disciplines are still encouraged to apply.


While conducting academic research in Jordan, the Sijal Scholar will teach a full semester-long course each semester. The course will be designed completely by the Scholar, in consultation with Sijal. While the course theme and content should broadly relate to the Middle East, the specific focus or discipline is not limited. Scholars can design courses to meet weekly for a 3-hour seminar or twice a week for 1.5-hour seminars.  The Scholar will also deliver a public lecture/presentation for a wider audience once each semester. 

What the position includes:

  • 4 hours per week of private Arabic instruction during the academic semester

  • A stipend to cover room and board for the academic year

  • Institutional affiliation with Sijal

  • Access to Sijal’s network of professionals and academics

  • Support for academic research and fieldwork requirements

  • Access to the library and other academic resources at Sijal Institute

  • Assistance with visa-renewal and other in-country processes

What the position does not include:

  • Airfare

  • Visa fees/visa extension fees

  • Funding for personal expenses or travel

  • Funding for research/fieldwork costs

  • Funding for attending conferences

To apply, please fill out the application below. For any inquires, contact us at



Susan MacDougall

Susan MacDougall is a social anthropologist specializing in gender and ethics in the Middle East. Her work focuses on the social and embodied dimensions of self-cultivation in the Arab world. Her doctoral thesis, Domestic Interiors: Gender, Ethics, and Friendship in Jordan, based on nearly three years of fieldwork in East Amman, Jordan, looked at the role of moral ambiguity in shaping women’s approach to everyday practices of visiting, cooking, self care, and friendship.

Her current research looks at the role of self-management techniques in localization efforts in the Arab Gulf. She is interested in the way work is changing in the Gulf Cooperation Council as educated people, especially young people, are prepared to take on leadership roles, and to see how nationality, class, and gender are enacted through everyday workplace tasks, and how institutions, including companies and governments, intervene in that enactment.

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Ali Hamdan

Ali Hamdan is a graduate student specializing in political and cultural geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. His work focuses on political violence and the transnational dynamics of civil war in the Middle East.

His current research project is a comparative study of how specific hubs for Syrian politics in exile emerged in Turkey and Jordan. By studying the emergence and evolution of Syria's opposition in exile, his research aims to show how the spatial practice of power (and resistance) in the Middle East has changed over time; link these practices to people in specific contexts; and do so through ethnographic fieldwork, to show that these dynamics are not complicated beyond understanding.

He has conducted fieldwork in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq, and maintains an active interest in ethnographic methods, the politics of water, and science and technology studies.


Ronald Y. Chen

Ronald Y. Chen is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. He graduated from Yale-NUS College with Honors in Anthropology. His current research is about martyrdom and self-immolations in the Middle East, as well as state-level semiotics and the poetics of power.

Broadly, his work revolves around the histories, cultures, and politics of the Islamic world, with a focus on death and ritual, semiotics and the state, and the politicization of religion. In his ethnography on Muath al-Kasasbeh, he investigated rituals of mourning and memory in Jordan. He has also worked on Buddhism, violence and self-determination in the India-Nepal-Tibet nexus, and rituals and religious syncretism of an Indonesian seafaring tribe in the Riau Archipelago.

He has conducted fieldwork in Jordan, India, Indonesia, and Nepal, and maintains an active interest in the Arabic, Hindi, and Indonesian languages.