Kristin Diwan

Assistant Professor
School of International Service

  • Additional Positions at AU

    Coordinator for Middle East Studies, SIS-CRS
    Faculty Advisory Committee, Center for Democracy and Election Management
    Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council
  • Kristin Smith Diwan is Assistant Professor of Comparative and Regional Studies at the American University School of International Service. She holds regional expertise in the politics and policies of the Arab Gulf, and functional expertise in Islamic finance and the politics surrounding it. Her current projects concern Gulf political economy, the politics of sectarianism, youth movements and the evolution of Islamism in the GCC.
  • Degrees

    PhD, Political Science, Harvard University; MA, International Affairs, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS); BA, Biology and Foreign Service, Baylor University
  • Favorite Spot on Campus:


    Book Currently Reading:

    Raphael Lefevre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford, 2013).

    Languages Spoken:

    Arabic; some French

  • SIS - School of International Service
  • SIS - 345
  • M 10AM- 1PM

  • (202) 885-1640
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  • To request an interview for a
    news story, call AU Communications
    at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

  • "Royal Factions, Ruling Strategies, and Sectarianism in Bahrain", Sectarian Politics in the Persian Gulf; ed, Lawrence G Potter (2013).
  • "Municipal Councils in the Gulf: Stepping Stones to Democracy?", Sciences-Po Kuwait Program (August 2011).
  • "The Gulf Comes Down to Earth," with Fareed Mohamedi, Middle East Report, No. 252 (Fall 2009).
  • "A Tale of Two Kuwaits," Middle East Report, No. 252 (Fall 2009).
  • "Sovereign Dilemmas: Sovereign Wealth Funds in Saudi Arabia," Geopoliltics, Volume 14, Number 2, April 2009, pp. 345-359.



Professional Presentations

  • "Management, Media and the post-Islamist trend in the Gulf", Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (joint conference with School of Foreign Service,Qatar, and AlWaleed Center for Muslim Christian Understanding), Georgetown University, Washington DC, October 2013.
  • "The Gulf States and the Arab Spring: Policy responses and consequences", Middle East Studies Association, 47th Annual meeting, New Orleans, October 2013.
  • "A House Divided:  Political factionalism in the (quasi) parliamentary monarchies of Kuwait and Bahrain," Middle East Studies Association, 47th Annual meeting, New Orleans, October 2013.
  • "The Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab Spring:  Kuwait," The Muslim brotherhood and the Arab Spring, IISS-Dartmouth, London, UK, September 2013.
  • "New Trends in Activism:  Youth, Women, Islamists," Dynamic Gulf:  Forces of Change in a Strategic Region, Carnegie Endowment, 14 June, 2013.
  • Plenary on Gender, POMEPS 4th Annual Conference, May 2013.
  • "The Arab Awakening and the New Sectarian Divide," Brookings Institute, 10 April, 2013.
  • "Youth Movements and post-Islamism in the Arab Gulf," International Studies Associatoin (ISA) Annual Conference, San Francisco, April 2013.


Work In Progress

  • From Petrodollars to Islamic Dollars:  Islamic Finance in the Arab Gulf,  book manuscript.    

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Advisory Board, CET Language and Cultural Immersion Program, Aleppo, Syria.
  • Advisory Board, Islam in Focus Dialogues, Social Science Research Center (SSRC).
  • Research Grant, Middle-East Mediterranean Program, Sciences Po, Paris, France, 2010-2011.
  • American University Faculty Research Support Award, 2008-2011.
  • Qatar Post Doctoral Fellowship, Georgetown Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, 2004-2005.
  • Social Science Research Council NMERTA Grant, 2000-2001.
  • Fulbright-IIE Fellowship, 1999-2000.
  • Center for Arabic Study Abroad Fellowship, Egypt, 1991-92.  

AU Expert

Area of Expertise: Middle East politics, Arab politics, Gulf politics, Islamist politics, politics of Islamic finance

Additional Information: Kristin Smith Diwan
is an assistant professor in comparative and regional studies at the American University School of International Service. She works in both comparative politics and international relations and specializes in Arab and Islamist politics. Diwan has written many publications on the politics and political economy of the Arab Gulf, among them "Sovereign Dilemmas: Sovereign Wealth Funds in Saudi Arabia," Geopolitics, (April 2009); “The Gulf Comes Back to Earth" (with Fareed Mohamedi) Middle East Report (Fall 2009); “Bahrain’s Shia Question,” Foreign Affairs (March 2011); and “Kuwait’s Impatient Youth Movement,” Foreign Policy (July 2011). She is currently completing a book manuscript on the emergence of Islamic banking in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states entitled From Petrodollars to Islamic Dollars: Islamic Finance in the Arab Gulf. Diwan previously held the Qatar Post Doctoral Fellowship at Georgetown University. She received her PhD in political science from Harvard University and holds an MA in international affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Media Relations
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