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Dr Noam Leshem

Associate Professor

Associate Professor in the Department of Geography+44 (0) 191 33 41911
Member of the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies 


In my research and writing I work closely with communities grappling with the impacts of violent conflict, emphasising creative methods and innovative collaborations.

My current research focuses on the ability of displaced communities to determine the fate of cultural heritage collections when they are denied access to ancestral land. We work with communities in Palestine and with Palestinians living in the diaspora to explore cultural sovereignty and self-determination under violent conditions of displacement, exclusion and mobility restrictions. This project, titled Occupation Debris is funded by a multi-year, large grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2024-2026) and includes collaborations with museums and cultural institutions in the UK and in Palestine. This project emerges out of earlier research focused on Arab urban space in Israel after the 1948 War. It was the subject of my first book, 'Life After Ruin: The Struggles over Israel Depopulated Arab Spaces' (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Previously, I've led a large research programme on the political and cultural history of no-man’s land. Our research documented the impact of state abandonment on lives of communities and forms of governance that serve what I describe as the "state of uncaring." This project is based on nearly a decade of research in Cyprus, Colombia, France, Palestine and Sudan, and informs my forthcoming book, 'Edges of Care: Living and Dying in No Man's Land' (University of Chicago Press, 2024).

I am committed to finding ways to make research accessible to wider audiences through creative collaborations with museums, galleries, online creative platforms, NGOs and professional bodies like the Royal Geographical Society. Portraits of No Man's Land, a series of visual storytelling, online resources and immersive documentation (VR), is the first-ever academic research project to partner with Google Arts and Culture and can be freely accessed on any device. Our work has featured in international film festivals including One World and Aesthetica

Station 6, Northern Sudan

Research interests

  • Colonial & Settler Colonial Space
  • Cultural and Political History
  • War and Violent Conflict
  • Cultural heritage
  • State violence
  • Middle East/North Africa History, Politics and Culture

Esteem Indicators

  • 2018: Editorial Board Member, Political Geography:
  • 2015: Board Member, Royal Geographical Society Political Geography Research Group:


Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Journal Article


Other (Digital/Visual Media)

Supervision students