Steve Niva

Steve Niva teaches International Politics and Middle East Studies at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. His primary areas of research and writing include contemporary Middle East politics; U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East; asymmetric warfare and political violence; and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  He has written for and served on the editorial board of Middle East Report magazine (, and his recent writings have also appeared in Security Dialogue, Middle East Policy, Foreign Policy in Focus (, Peace Review, Middle East International, Al-Ahram Weekly, The Seattle Times and Counterpunch, among others.

He teaches classes and programs that address the relationship between politics, violence and history, with a particular focus on the Middle East, but also on broader international political topics, including globalization and the transformation of war.  Every three years he teaches a program that includes a study abroad component (Spring Quarter) to Egypt and Turkey.

Upcoming Programs

Spring 2017.  Globalization and the Politics of Walls. This global politics program will examine the proliferation of walls in contemporary global society through detailed case studies and theoretical writings in order to understand why wall-building is on the rise today, how these walls affects various populations and why many people are resisting these walls.

Fall, Winter 2016-17:  The Social Transformation of War.  This program will explore how the nature and practice of warfare typically reflect the sociological conditions, technologies, and strategies of power and resistance within societies of a particular era. For example, today social media, such as Twitter and YouTube, are employed as weapons of war by increasingly transnational and networked actors who operate in a global environment through the tools of information-age society.

Summer 2016.  Arabic for Beginners.  An introduction to basic written and conversational Arabic.

Spring 2016:  U.S. Foreign Policy and the Roots of Terrorism.  This program examines debates over the nature and causes of terrorism in the Middle East and examines the policies adopted in the current “war on terror.”

Current and Past Teaching

Fall, Winter 2015-16:  Culture and Violence:  The Middle East and Latin America.  This program examines how violence both unmakes and makes culture, and how cultural actors respond to violence through writing, the arts and other interventions, looking at cases from both Latin America and the Middle East.

Fall, Winter with Spring 2014-15 Landscapes of Faith and Power in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Middle East Studies program with Spring Study Abroad to Turkey and Egypt.

Fall/Winter 2013-14:   Alternatives to Capitalist Globalization.  This program will explore and critically analyze the diverse social movements and alternative visions for creating more just global and national institutions and societies.

Spring, 2013:  Beyond Protest:  New Theories and Practices of Political Action.   This program will explore the theory and practice of new forms of oppositional political action that go beyond familiar modes of public protest.

Fall/Winter 2012.   Transforming the Art of War.   This program will explore how war is changing today, from counterinsurgency warfare, asymmetric warfare, robotic warfare to postmodern warfare, among other topics.

Summer 2012:  Arabic for Beginners.  An introduction to basic written and conversational Arabic.

Spring 2012.  US Foreign Policy and the Roots of Terrorism.  This program examined debates over the nature and causes of terrorism in the Middle East and considered alternatives to the policies adopted in the  “war on terror.”

Summer 2011.  Arabic for Beginners.  An introduction to basic written and conversational Arabic.

Fall/Winter/Spring 2010-11.  Memory and Conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean (co-taught with Ulrike Krotschek).  Drawing primarily upon the fields of archaeology and political science, the program examined ways in which the historical past (objects, interpretations and memories) is intertwined with contemporary political conflicts over nation, state, identity and land in Egypt, Turkey and Israel-Palestine.  Included study abroad to Turkey for 40 days (the Egypt trip was cancelled due to political developments).

Summer 2010.  Arabic for Beginners.  An introduction to basic written and conversational Arabic.

Fall/Winter 2009-2010.  Transforming the Art of War:  From Clausewitz to Al-Qaida and Beyond

Spring 2008.  War:  Consequences and Alternatives (co-taught with Dr. Michael Vavrus)

Fall/Winter 2007-2008.  Poetics and Power (co-taught with Leonard Schwartz).  This program examined the ways in which political and social power is created, transmitted and/or resisted through language, paying close attention to different forms and styles of writing, or poetics.  Readings included political philosophy, literature, poetry and political writings.

Fall/Winter/Spring 2006-2007.  From Bosphorus to Suez:  Political and Cultural Exchange in the Eastern Mediterranean (co-taught with Martha Henderson).  This program drew from cultural and political geography to examine how landscapes, cultural processes and political and social institutions have been constructed and transformed over time in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Included Spring study abroad to Egypt and Turkey.

Current Research and Writing

My current research examines the changing nature of warfare in the Middle East today, particularly the American transition to counterinsurgency doctrine in Iraq and Afghanistan, the similarities between recent Israeli and American warfighting strategies and techniques, the rise of networked forms of organization and war-fighting and the evolution of “asymmetrical” tactics such as suicide bombings and car-bombings.  For more information, see Research and Writing Page on this website.



Phone: (360) 867-5612
Fax: (360) 867-5430

Office: Lab 1, Room 1005

Mailing Address:
Lab 1, Room 1005
The Evergreen State College
Olympia, WA 98505