Research on Southern Oman


Houseways in Southern Oman. Routledge, forthcoming

This book explains how modern, middle-class houses are sited, designed, built, decorated and lived in with an emphasis on how room-usage is determined by age, gender, time of day and the presence of guests. Combing ethnography and architectural studies, the author draws on over sixteen years of living in the Dhofar region to analyze the cultural perceptions regarding houses and how residential areas fit within the urban areas in southern Oman. Dhofari houses are also compared to houses in other Arabian Peninsula countries and positioned within the theoretical frameworks of the “Islamic city” and the “Islamic house.”

Foodways in Southern Oman. Routledge, 2021

This book examines the objects, practices and beliefs relating to producing, obtaining, cooking, eating and disposing of food in the Dhofar region of southern Oman. The chapters consider food preparation, who makes what kind of food, and how and when meals are eaten. Foodways connects what is consumed to themes such as land usage, gender, age, purity, privacy and generosity. It also discusses how foodways are related to issues of morality, safety, religion, and tourism. The volume is a result of fourteen years of collecting data and insights in Dhofar, covering topics such as catching fish, herding camels, growing fruits, designing kitchens, cooking meals and setting leftovers out for animals.

Community and Autonomy in Southern Oman. Palgrave Macmillan, 2019

This book explores how, in cultures which prize conformity, there is latitude for people who choose not to conform either for a short time and how the chances to assert independence change over time. The main focus is on how the traits of self-control and self-respect are manifested in the everyday actions of several groups of tribes whose first language is Gibali (Jebbali/ Jebali, also referred to as Shari/ Shahri), a non-written, Modern South Arabian language. Although no work can express the totality of a culture, this text describes how Gibalis are constantly shifting between preserving autonomy and signaling membership in family, tribal and national communities.

PUBLICATIONS – scholarly articles – travel writing/ culture/ anthropology

“Lifeways of Traditional Fishermen in Dhofar, Oman,” in Fish as Food: Lifestyle and a Sustainable Future. Helen Macbeth, ed. International Commission on the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition – Alimenta Populorum series. forthcoming

“An Ethnographic Discussion of Fairy Tales from Southern Oman,” Fabula: Zeitschrift für Erzählforschung / Journal of Folktale Studies / Revue d’Etudes sur le Conte Populaire 60.3-4 (De Gruyter, Berlin) 2019: 318–335.

“Understanding Communication in Southern Oman,” North Dakota Quarterly – Special Issue on Transnationalism. 84.1 (2017): 174-184 .

“Generosity, Gift-giving and Gift-avoiding in Southern Oman,” Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies (Oxford: Archeopress) 45 (2015): 289-296. Available on-line at{EE6A77A7-C282-4872-A17D-070CAEF2FDDF}

Verstehen/ Einfühlen in Arabian Sands (1959): Wilfred Thesiger as Traveler and Anthropologist,”  Journeys: The International Journal of Travel & Travel Writing, 14.1 (2013): 23-39.

“Understanding the Impact of Culture on the TESOL Classroom: An Outsider’s Perspective,” TESOL Arabia’s Perspective 18.2 (2011): 15-19.

“Cultural Refraction: Using Travel Writing, Anthropology and Fiction to Understand the Culture of Southern Arabia,” Interdisciplinary Humanities 26:1 (2009): 63-78.

PUBLICATIONS – scholarly articles and chapters – literature/ pedagogy

“Teaching Paired Middle Eastern and Western Literary Texts,” in Advancing English Language Education. Wafa Zoghbor and Thomaï Alexiou, eds. Dubai: Zayed University Press, 2020: 221-223.

“Teaching Literature on the Arabian Peninsula,” Anthropology News website, October 7 2019.

“Writing Prompts to Facilitate Creativity and Interesting Texts,” Proceedings of the 15th Oman International ELT Conferences. Muscat: Sultan Qaboos University Press, 2016: 46-52.

“Selecting the Right Literary Texts for Middle Eastern Students: Challenges and Reactions,” in Focusing on EFL Reading: Theory and Practice. Rahma Al-Mahrooqi, ed. Muscat: Sultan Qaboos University Press, 2014: 165-188.

“Frosty Cliffs, Frosty Aunt and Sandy Beaches: Teaching Aurora Leigh in Oman,” Ariel: A Review of International English Literature 43.4, 2013: 123-145.

“Who Are You Calling ‘Coddled’?: ‘Cloistered Virtue’ and Choosing Literary Texts in a Middle Eastern University,” Pedagogy 13.3, 2013: 415-427.

“Do You know a Creon?: Making Literature Relevant in an Omani University,” in Literature Teaching in EFL/ESL: New Perspectives. Rahma Al-Mahrooqi, ed. Muscat: Sultan Qaboos University Press, 2012: 302-314.

“Reader’s Guide” for the English version of Khadija bint Alawi al-Thahab’s My Grandmother’s Stories: Folk Tales from Dhofar (Translated by W. Scott Chahanovich, U.S. Fulbright Scholar at Dhofar University, 2009-2010). Washington, D.C: Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, 2012: 17-23.

“Using Local Voices in Literature Classrooms,” Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Gulf Perspectives 9.1, 2012.

“John Clare Looks Good in a Dishdash: Linking John Clare to Middle Eastern Poetry,” John Clare Society Journal 30, 2011: 53-63.

PUBLICATIONS – non-fiction essays

“Questions About Food and Ethics,” in Emanations: When a Planet was a Planet. Brookline, MA: International Authors, 2021: 403-408.

“Ok Kilito, I Won’t Speak Your Language: Reflections after Reading Thou Shalt Not Speak My Language,” in Octo-Emanations. Carter Kaplan, ed. Brookline, MA: International Authors, 2020: 233-236.

“Predator Anthropologists, Anthropologist Predators: Anthropological Metaphors in Popular Movies,” Open Anthropology Research Repository. Aug. 25, 2020.

“What’s in Your Bag?” Anthropology News. American Anthropological Association. Oct. 30, 2019.

“Living Expat,” in Emanations: Chorus Pleiades. Carter Kaplan, ed. Brookline, MA: International Authors, 2018: 308-318.

“Research in Foreign Cultures,” Emanations: Foray into Forever. Carter Kaplan, ed. Brookline, MA: International Authors, 2014: 355-358.

“Learning Arabic without Arabic Culture,” Center for International Living, 2014.

“Throwing Children in the Street: Explaining Western Culture to Omanis,” Emanations: Third Eye. Carter Kaplan, ed. Brookline, MA: International Authors, 2013: 265-274.

“To Learn Arabic, You Have to Talk the Talk,” The Chronicle of Higher Education. May 31, 2012.

“Bringing Theory Home in Oman,” The Chronicle of Higher Education. July 10, 2011: B24.

“An Open Letter to Alice Walker,” The Chronicle of Higher Education. February 20, 2009: B11.

CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS – travel writing/ culture/ anthropology

“Changing Kitchens in Southern Oman.” Knowing Food: The Association for the Study of Food and Society & The Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society Conference, sponsored by Boston University. Forthcoming, May 31, 2023.

“Explorations in the North-west Indian Ocean: The Research Journeys of the ‘Palinurus’ along the Omani Coast in the mid-1800s.” Research Expeditions to India and the Indian Ocean in Early Modern and Modern Times, sponsored by the German Maritime Museum / Leibniz Institute for Maritime History. Nov. 3, 2022.

“Private Lives in Public Spaces: Perceptions of Space-Usage in Southern Oman.” Middle East Studies Association annual conference. Montreal, Quebec. December 2, 2021.

“The Costs and Benefits of Fishing in Southern Oman.” Fish as Food: Lifestyle and a Sustainable Future, annual conference of the International Commission on the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition, hosted at the University of Liverpool. Sept. 1, 2021.

“Ethical Eating in Southern Oman.” Just Food, virtual conference of the Association for the Study of Food and Society; Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society; Canadian Association for Food Studies and the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition, hosted by the Culinary Institute of America and New York University. June 12, 2021.

“Foodways in Southern Oman.” for the session “Uncovering Truths, Building Responsibility in A Pandemic: Insights from Emerging Monographs at the Nexus of Culture, Food, and Agriculture.” American Anthropological Association, on-line conference. Nov. 9, 2020.

with Keye Tersmette. “Ghurba at Home – Views from Oman.” The Arab World as Ghurba: Citizenship, Identity and Belonging in Literature and Popular Culture, University of Warwick. June 21, 2019.

“Foodways and Society in Southern Oman.” British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Leeds. June 26, 2019.

“Accounts from the Journeys of the Brig ‘Palinurus’ Along the Dhofar Coast in the mid-1800s.” Maritime Exploration and Memory Conference, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England. Sept. 15, 2018.

“‘I Came to You for Good’: An Ethnographic Discussion of Folk Tales from Southern Oman.” Third Joint Seminar of The Folklore Society and the Royal Anthropological Institute;  Royal Anthropological Institute, London. October 26, 2017.

“Recent Views on Oman.” British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh, July 5-6, 2017.

“Female, Femininity, Male and Masculinity in the Gibali-speaking Tribes of Southern Oman” at the Gulf Research Conference, Cambridge University, August 1-4, 2017.

“‘Words Mean Nothing’: Fluency in Language and Fluency in Culture in Anthropology Fieldwork in Southern Oman.” British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Wales, July 14-15, 2016.

“’Why Would I Hurt a Woman?’: Respectful/ Respecting Women in Southern Oman,” Middle Eastern Studies Association Conference, Denver, November 21, 2015.

“Generosity, Gift-giving and Gift-avoiding in Southern Oman,” British Foundation for the Study of Arabia’s Seminar for Arabian Studies, The British Museum, London, July 27, 2014.

“‘I Do Not Need the Night’: The Gibali Conception of Self-Respect in Southern Oman,” Middle Eastern Studies Association Conference, New Orleans, October 12, 2013.

“‘Ya Mabel’ and the Duchess: A Victorian but Modern, Female Traveler and a Modern but Victorian, Female Traveler in Southern Oman,” ‘Navigating Networks: Women, Travel, and Female Communities,’ An Interdisciplinary Conference Hosted by the Travel Cultures Seminar Series, University of Oxford, October 4, 2013.

“They Came, They Saw, They Fought, They Compromised, They Left:  The Foreign Military Presence in the Dhofar War (Oman, 1965-1975),” Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference; Edinburgh. July 3, 2012.

“Understanding Culture as one Key to Quality,” Omani Quality Network Conference; Muscat, Oman. February 21, 2012.

“Waiting for [both] the Barbarians”: Tourism in the Dhofar Region of Oman,” Traditions and Transformations: Tourism, Heritage and Cultural Change in the Middle East and North Africa Region; Amman, Jordan. April 6, 2009. Paper presented by Dr. Sheena Westwood, College of Communication and Media Sciences, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi.

“‘Treachery in the Kitchen’: Traveling Foreign, Eating Familiar,” College English Association Annual Conference; St. Louis, MO. March 28, 2008. Co-authored with Dr. Traci Kelly, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Where are the cute tap-dancing Penguins?: Illustrations in Arctic/ Antarctic Travel Books,” Modern Language Association Annual Conference; Chicago. December 28, 2007.

“Dragon‑spotting: Travelers Making Myths and Myths Making Travelers,” British Comparative Literature Association Annual Conference; University of Lancaster. July, 1998.

“Flying Banknotes and Shuttlecocks: Ford Maddox Ford’s Post‑modern Travels,” Conrad Society Annual Conference. London. July, 1998.

“Misplacing the Map: Post World War II Travelers Lost and Found” Snapshots from Abroad: A Conference on American and British Travel Writers and Writing; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1997.

“White Knee Socks vs. Photojournalist Vests: Distinguishing between Travelers and Tourists,” Popular Culture Association Conference; San Antonio, 1997.

“Seat in a Saddle, Nose in a Book: What Travelers Read,” Linguistic Circle of Manitoba and North Dakota; Winnipeg, 1996.

CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS – literature/ pedagogy

“The Practicalities of Blending Research and Teaching.” Oman 22nd International ELT Conference. Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat. March 8, 2023.

“Bringing Language Teaching into Literature Classrooms.” English Scholars Beyond Borders – Dhofar University International Conference. On-line conference. Dec. 4, 2021.

“Finding the Right Texts for Teaching Literature, Cultures, and Empathy in the Middle East.” American Comparative Literature Association Conference. April 9, 2021.

“‘I Came to You for Good’: An Ethnographic Discussion of Folk Tales from Southern Oman.” Third Joint Seminar of The Folklore Society and the Royal Anthropological Institute, Royal Anthropological Institute, London. Oct. 26, 2017.

“Antigone, Alcestis, Deanira and Philoketes visit the Empty Quarter: The Reception of Greek Drama on the Arabian Peninsula.” American Comparative Literature Association Conference, University of Utrecht. July 8, 2017.

“Teaching Paired Arabian and Western Literary Texts.” TESOL Arabia, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. March 11, 2017.

“‘A Man Was Always Catching Fish’: Fairy Tale Elements in the Ali al-Mahri/ Johnstone/ Rubin Gibali Texts from Southern Oman.” American Comparative Literature Association Conference, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. March 18, 2016.

“Writing Prompts to Facilitate Creativity and Interesting Texts.” Language, Linguistics, Literature and Translation Conference; Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman. April 24, 2015.