SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Dr Nancy Hawker

  • Teaching
  • Research


HAWKER Nancy NME IMG 485 186 56
Near and Middle East Section, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Senior Teaching Fellow

Dr Nancy Hawker
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Office Hours: Thursdays 11.30-13.30 on campus; Tuesdays 11-12 online by email arrangement (on Teams or Zoom)

Nancy Hawker has been travelling to the Middle East since 1998 and lived there for several years. Her main research has focused on the languages and politics of Palestinians who are in contact with Hebrew.

Besides sociolinguistics, she has studied social and political theory, and Arab and Israeli histories and literatures (BA and MA at SOAS), and has worked for human rights in the region. Her DPhil thesis ‘Hebrew Borrowings in the Arabic Speech of Palestinians in Three Refugee Camps in the West Bank, Occupied Palestinian Territories’ was supervised by Prof Clive Holes (graduated from Oxford in 2013). As a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Oxford (2014-2019), she researched Arabic-Hebrew contact in the speech of Palestinian politicians in the Israeli parliament. Her results examined codeswitching and linguistic borrowing, bilingualism, language acquisition, changes in minority languages and the repercussions of language planning efforts. Related to this, she studies the relationship between language and politics in general as well as in the specific case of the Israeli and Palestinian situation, as an example of the roles of ideology, citizenship, and the links between language, thought and social practices.

In 2019, as a Research Fellow at the Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, she researched the place of translation from and to Arabic in national and international governance structures, and how translators and interpreters use their agency politically. Specifically, Nancy furthered research on translation in human rights organisations. She started working at SOAS in September 2020. She is currently researching communications around the effects of climate change on agriculture in the Jerusalem region. She knows Arabic, Czech, English, French and Hebrew.

Publications (in reverse chronological order):

Keynote lecture: Owning the means of discursive production: A sociolinguistic analysis of class in a Palestinian borderzone. 1 July 2020, the Fourth Arabic Linguistics Forum conference, University of Leeds.

Article: Taha, Hebatalla, and Nancy Hawker. Freedom and peace at the shopping centre: the politics of consumerism in Israel/Palestine, in Journal of Political Ideologies 25:3 (June 2020), pp. 294-315.

Article: Palestine: Olive trees don’t catch coronavirus in Open Democracy, 18 Mar 2020

Seminar presentation: Palestinian multilingualism: A perfectly normal adaptation to colonialism, conflict, and late capitalism. 26 November 2019, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, University of Oxford.

Chapter: Ideologies in language contact situations: The case of Arabic and Hebrew in Palestine, in Handbook of Arabic Sociolinguistics ed. By Enam Al-Wer and Uri Horesh, Routledge (June 2019).

Book: The Politics of Palestinian Multilingualism: Speaking for citizenship, Routledge Politics of Language series (2019).

Article: The journey of Arabic human rights testimonies, from witnesses to audiences via Amnesty International, in Translation Spaces 7:1 (August 2018), pp. 68-94.

Chapter: Arabic borrowing of the Hebrew word menah─ôl ‘manager’: Articulations and ideologies, in Arabic in Contact ed. by Stefano Manfredi and Mauro Tosco, John Benjamins (July 2018), pp. 331-347.

Article: The mirage of ‘Arabrew’: Ideologies for understanding Arabic-Hebrew contact, in Language in Society 47/2 (April 2018), pp. 219-244.

Book review: Yonatan Mendel’s The creation of Israeli Arabic: Lessons for eavesdroppers, in New Left Review 102 Nov/Dec 2016.

Article: Stark symbolism in the Israeli election campaign in Open Democracy, 11 Mar 2015.

Book: Palestinian-Israeli Contact and Linguistic Practices, Routledge (2013).



Sociolinguistics, modern history, political theory, consumerism, human rights, Palestine, Israel