Hadeel Assali

Hadeel Assali is an anthropologist and former engineer whose work looks at the ongoing colonial legacies of the discipline of geology as well as anti-colonial ways of knowing and relating to the earth in southern Palestine. She received her PhD in Anthropology in 2021 from Columbia University, where her research looked specifically at the development of geology in Britain and how it was exported to the colonies for extraction, mapping, and eventual state-making technologies. More broadly, she examines the narratives deployed to produce space(s) and how they become imbued with the authority to do so. She will be running the “Race, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice” seminar, which was founded by earth science graduate students, with the goal of exploring ways of decolonizing the earth sciences. She is also a filmmaker and writer whose work draws heavily from her family stories based in Gaza, Palestine. Her new research seeks to focus on waterways and the colonial legacies access to, relations with, and knowledge of them.

Prior to her anthropological training, Hadeel was trained as a chemical engineer at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and in a joint MS program with the National University of Singapore. Her nearly ten years of experience with a major oil company, several of which were as a project manager for environmental remediation projects, have largely informed the direction of her research. After receiving her PhD from Columbia, she was an ACLS Emerging Voices Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania (2021-2022), where she worked on developing her dissertation into a book manuscript, which she plan to continue developing while back at Columbia University. 

This postdoctoral position is supported by a grant from the Arts & Sciences’ Graduate Equity Initiative.