I am a filmmaker currently enrolled in the MFA Writing for the Performing Arts program at the University of California's Riverside campus, where I am a chancellor's distinguished fellow in screenwriting. I am developing several projects that link my creative interests with my personal experiences and expertise as a researcher on the Middle East.
I co-directed and co-produced the feature-length documentary Eat Your Catfish about my mother's life with ALS. The film premiered at the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam in November 2021 and has since screened at major festivals including Sheffield Docfest, Full Frame, DocPoint Helsinki, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and Taiwan International Documentary Festival. It won Best National Documentary at Istanbul Film Festival and Best Feature Documentary at Antenna International Documentary Festival. Eat Your Catfish received support from Catapult Film Fund, Field of Vision, Cinereach, Sheffield DocFest MeetMarket, and Meetings on the Bridge.
Parallel to my film work, I write about culture, media, and politics in the Turkish-, Persian-, and Kurdish-speaking world. Cambridge University Press published my first book, Fixing Stories: Local Newsmaking and International Media in Turkey and Syria, in 2022. Fixing Stories is an ethnography of the roles and strategies of “fixers” who broker communication between foreign journalists and sources. I show how fixers shape the news and manage their powerful but precarious position between cultural and political worlds.
I studied sociology (PhD) at Columbia University and, before that, public and international affairs (AB) at Princeton University. The National Science Foundation and Institute for Turkish Studies have supported my research. From 2018-2022, I was a postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University.