Dr. Shira Pinhas

Areas of specialization:

Palestinian Studies, Israel Studies, Modern Middle Eastern History

Areas of competence:

Science and Technology Studies; Energy and Infrastructure History; Political Economy; History of Colonialism; Labor History


Personal website

I am a historian of the social and material history of Israel/Palestine and the broader Levant region. My research focuses on understanding how new infrastructures and technologies, along with transnational flows of energy, materials, capital, and labor, shaped political hierarchies and social subjectivities during the twentieth century.

My dissertation, titled The Moment of Oil: Technology and Mobility in Mandate Palestine” traces the ways in which the construction of oil infrastructures – the Kirkuk-Haifa-Tripoli pipelines, the Haifa refinery, asphalt-roads, and the cars that traveled on them – dramatically reconfigured the Zionist-Palestinian struggle for the control of the land. It demonstrates how these infrastructures, which both physically and socially connected Palestine to Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Transjordan, also created spatial segregation between Arabs and Jews and laid the groundwork for the plan for the partition of Palestine.

My new research project, titled “Masters of War: The Making of a Global Arms Empire,” explores how late-imperial economic development co-constituted the emergence of a growing arms industry in the Middle East. It examines how industrial development, and particularly concessions granted by the British government, facilitated—and how their own growth was enhanced by—the manufacture and trafficking of arms.


“Energy”, The Oxford Handbook of the Modern Mediterranean (Edited by Manuel Borutta, Malte Fuhrmann, Nora Lafi, Esther Möller, and Joseph Viscomi), forthcoming

Road, Map: Partition in Palestine from the Local to the Transnational”, Journal of Levantine Studies, Vol. 10, No. 1, Summer 2020