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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Dr. Zeina Maasri is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and the Course Leader of the interdisciplinary BA degree War and Conflict. She convenes the postgraduate module ‘Global Issues in Graphic Design’ on the MA History of Design and Material Culture and coordinates the undergraduate option pathway Globalisation, History and Identity. Before taking up her post at Brighton, Maasri was both a successful graphic designer and an academic at the American University of Beirut (1999 – 2016) in Lebanon. She relocated to the UK to undertake a fully-funded PhD degree at the University of Brighton (2013–2016). 

Her recent monograph, Cosmopolitan Radicalism: The Visual Politics of Beirut’s Global Sixties (Cambridge University Press 2020), is the co-winner of the 2021 British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize. Among other publications, she is the author of Off the Wall: Political Posters of the Lebanese Civil War (IB Tauris 2009) and curator of related travelling exhibitions and online archival resources (www.signsofconflict.org). She is currently co-editing a volume (with Cathy Bergin and Francesca Burke), Transnational Solidarity: Anticolonialism in the Global Sixties, forthcoming with Manchester University Press in 2022. Maasri is an elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. 

Maasri's earlier art projects and publications include: Mapping Sitting: On Portraiture and Photography co-edited with Karl Bassil, Akram Zaatari and Walid Raad (2002) and Greetings from Beirut co-edited with Anja Lutz (2003). She was art director and member of the editorial board of Zawaya, a periodical on emerging cultural production in the Arab World (Beirut 2001–2007). As a graphic designer, she has worked in publication design and engaged in activist projects. Her creative practice has been widely recognized, published and exhibited in different international venues: for example, she was awarded “Un des plus beaux Livres Suisses 2005” ) for the design of Territoire Méditerranée, with Mathieu Christe (Geneva 2004). 

Research interests

I work across the fields of visual and cultural politics and design history with a particular attention on Lebanon and the Middle East. My investigation is historically focused on post-1945 anticolonial struggles, transnational anti-imperialist solidarities and violent conflicts, as complicated by a global Cold War order. I approach the Middle East less as a discrete area study but rather as a political geography interconnected with global conditions of modernity, (post)coloniality, war and conflict.

I began examining the intersections of visual culture, war and conflict in my first monograph, Off the Wall: Political Posters of the Lebanese Civil War (IB Tauris 2009). Excavating unexplored archives and suppressed narratives of wartime Lebanon, I have argued for an understanding of political posters as discursive sites of a complex hegemonic struggle where imaginaries, desires and anxieties of antagonistic political subjectivities, under formation and transformation during wartime, are visually articulated, contested and battled over. I have also curated the related travelling exhibition, entitled Signs of Conflict (Beirut 2008; Istanbul 2009; Sevilla 2011; Thessaloniki 2011; Umea 2012; San Francisco 2013), and folded the various outputs of this project into a bilingual (Arabic and English) online archival resource http://www.signsofconflict.org. The project has won six funding awards; and the book has been widely recognized by peers as a pioneering study (see book reviews here). 

My new book, Cosmopolitan Radicalism: The Visual Politics of Beirut's Global Sixties (Cambridge University Press 2020), revisits the relations between visual culture and politics from global and postcolonial perspectives. Drawing on uncharted archives of everyday printed matter, my study sheds light on hitherto understudied graphic design practices and modes of translocal visuality attached to print technologies. I critically engage this material beyond nationally circumscribed frameworks of analysis to examine instead the mobility of modernist cultural forms, discourses and practises within the disjunctive flows of Beirut’s long 1960s, from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s. My enquiry reveals key cultural transformations that saw the city develop as a Mediterranean site of tourism and leisure, a nexus between modern art and pan-Arab publishing and, through the rise of the Palestinian Resistance, a node in revolutionary anti-imperialism. 
Cosmopolitan Radicalism was awarded The Design History Society Research Publication Grant in 2019 and is the co-winner of the 2021 British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize for best scholarly work in Middle Eastern Studies published in the UK.

I am currently completing a new book, co-edited with Dr Cathy Bergin and Dr Francesca Burke, entitled Transnational Solidarity: Anticolonialism in the Global Sixties, forthcoming with Manchester University Press. This book excavates forgotten histories of solidarity which were vital to radical political imaginaries during the long sixties. It decentres the conventional Western loci of this critical historical moment by instead foregrounding transnational solidarity with, and across, anticolonial and anti-imperialist liberation struggles. This volume of essays is based on the successful conference ‘The Radical Sixties: Aesthetics, Politics and Histories of Solidarity’ we convened at Brighton (27-29 June 2019).


Supervisory Interests

I am interested in supervising research projects in the following areas and their intersections: Middle Eastern studies; visual politics and cultural studies; global art and design history; art and design activism; cultural histories of war and political conflict; anticolonial and anti-imperialist cultures of resistance and solidarity; the Global Sixties.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Brighton

Award Date: 28 Feb 2017

External positions

Elected Fellow, Royal Historical Society

7 Dec 2021 → …

Associate Professor, American University of Beirut



  • D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
  • Middle East
  • global south
  • N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
  • Visual Culture
  • NE Print media
  • NC Drawing Design Illustration
  • graphic design


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