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Former Exeter student has been named joint winner for the best UK PhD on the Middle East and North Africa.

Perla Issa, who completed her PhD at Exeter last year, has been named joint winner of the 2015 Leigh Douglas Memorial Award from the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES), awarded annually to the best UK PhD on the Middle East and North Africa.

The Awards Committee said that Perla's work was:

"A seriously interesting dissertation of considerable originality in conception and execution. It has a strong argument that is theoretically informed with an approach well suited to the support of the thesis. The ethnographic method is well thought out and justified and, most importantly, provides outstanding insights in ways that allow the writer to advance and develop the larger themes that emerge from this….It is one of the most impressive pieces of work that I have read concerning the ways in which imagined structures come to take on a reality, despite their mythic origins, through the practices of those who help to create them, even while opposing what it is that ‘they’ are supposed to be doing. This does two things of considerable significance for wider political arguments: it places thought in context, demonstrating how ideas of practices, and practices as the embodiment of ideas can bring new institutions and networks into being as mediators of power; it can be used as a way of developing critical reappraisals of other structures that appear to frame and bound political life, such as the state itself…..The rich and original research provides a clear setting and a substantial backing for a complex and multi-faceted argument."

Perla is currently revising her thesis for publication while undertaking a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut, Lebanon.

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