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Said Chaaya, Postdoctoral Fellow

Said Chaaya holds a Ph.D, Summa cum laude, from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris-Sorbonne in Middle Eastern History. HIs doctoral thesis dealt with intellectual history in Bilad al-Sham, with a focus on how Freemasonry Lodges in the 19th century helped forge new concepts, such as modernity and progress, within early modern Arab society.

His research focuses on the Intellectual and Political History of the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East in the nineteenth century, with a concentration on Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. 

He is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the UCLA History Department. He will be researching Ottoman-Arab elites who were involved in the Masonic lodges in Beirut and Damascus.

He is also a Research Associate at the CNRS-GSRL, French National Center for Scientific Research, Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités, in Paris.


Current Research

Dr. Chaaya has published several academic papers in scholarly journals and is currently preparing a book for publication. He also has participated in numerous international academic conferences. His current research examines the complex relationships between the process of the constitution of the state institutions and confessional representations. The core of the analysis is based on a unicum manuscript from the first half of the 19th century.

In addition to studying early forms of power sharing in the Arab World, especially in Lebanon during the period from 1845 to 1860, Dr. Chaaya also focuses on interactions between political, religious and social dimensions in Ottoman Beirut society. Much of this research is based on many forgotten or unpublished documents from the 19th century.


Current Positions

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UCLA’s History Deparment.
  • Research Associate at CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientique, Paris).



  • Ph.D.   Summa Cum laude

Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, EPHE-Sorbonne, Paris

  • M. Phil. in Middle Eastern History

Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, EHESS, Paris

  • M.A in Middle Eastern History

Université Paris1, Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris

  • M.A. in Philosophy

Université Paris1, Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris


Areas of Interest

  • Middle East History / Political History
  • Intellectual History
  • Contemporary Arab World
  • Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Law and Legal History
  • Digital Humanities