Alia Yunis

Visiting Scholar, AGSIW

Alia Yunis combines teaching and scholarly research with her background in filmmaking, journalism, and creative writing. Her work, which largely focuses on negotiating cultural memory and heritage in the Arab and Muslim worlds, has been translated into 10 languages. She has taught film and heritage studies at NYU Abu Dhabi and Zayed University (United Arab Emirates) for 14 years. 

 Yunis’ most recent feature documentary, “The Golden Harvest,” about the interconnected histories of the olive tree, continues to play in festivals and other venues. It is the inspiration for the research she will be doing at AGSIW on the United States, Gulf, and date palm, a surprising history that predates the discovery of oil by more than 50 years. In addition to publishing the research, she is developing it into the film “Datelines.”  

Yunis is co-editor of Reorienting the Middle East: Film and Digital Media Where the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean Meet (Indiana University Press, 2024) and has written extensively on Gulf heritage and media. In 2010, she co-founded the Zayed University Middle East Film Festival, now the longest-running film festival in the Gulf.  

Yunis is a PEN Emerging Voices fellow, and her novel, The Night Counter (Random House, 2010), has been critically acclaimed by The Washington Post, Boston Entertainment Weekly, and several other publications. 

Yunis began her career as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, working as a reporter for the late, critically acclaimed New York Times journalist David Carr. She received an MA in film from American University and a PhD in heritage and memory studies from the University of Amsterdam. 

The Fluid Gulf: Framing Multicultural Heritage Through Film

On April 11, AGSIW and the Middle East Institute co-hosted a discussion on film in the Gulf.