Helga Tawil-Souri

Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication

Helga Tawil-Souri

Phone: 212-992-9437
Office Hours: Spring 2014: Tues 2:30-3:30; and by appointment

Associated Faculty, Department of Middle East and Islamic Studies


Helga’s work focuses on issues spatiality, technology, and politics in the Middle East.

The bulk of Helga’s scholarship analyzes culture and technology in everyday life in Palestine-Israel, theorizing how media technologies and infrastructures function as bordering mechanisms, and how territorial/physical boundaries function as cultural spaces. Her publications have analyzed different aspects of contemporary cultural politics, including the internet, telecommunications, television, film, and videogames, as well as physical markers such as ID cards and checkpoints. Her work analyzes how each of these technologies is shaped, used, negotiated and sometimes resisted in their historical-political specificities.

Helga also researches and writes about the larger landscape of Arab media, and in particular new technologies and their relationship to political and economic transformations.

Helga previously worked as a researcher and strategic analyst at a multinational media conglomerate, and, later, as an internet consultant. She has lived in various parts of North America, Europe, and the Middle East, which has resulted in border-crossings of various kinds and the ability to fluently communicate in six languages. When not wearing her academic hat, Helga is behind the camera as a photographer and documentary film-maker, and trying to learn her seventh language.



Research Interests

  • Globalization, 'development'
  • Critical geography, borders, spatiality, mobility
  • Media and hi-tech infrastructure and materiality
  • Arab media and culture
  • Palestinian politics and culture
  • Israel-Palestine



  • Global Honors Seminar: Borders, Barriers, and Buffers 
  • Cultural Geography and Media of Commodities
  • Mediating Israel/Palestine
  • Communication and International Development
  • Middle East Media (formerly Islam, Media, and the West)
  • Introduction to Media Studies
  • Media and Globalization


  • Middle East Media and Cultural Politics 
  • Middle East Media and Cultural Politics: Israel/Palestine 
  • Topics in Globalization: International Development
  • Media, Culture, and Communication Core Seminar (MA Theory Core)
  • Dissertation Proposal Seminar
  • Doctoral Core Seminar 1 (PhD Theory Core)


Teaching in Fall 2013: 

Borders, Barriers, and Buffers (+ travel to Israel-Palestine). MCC UE 1416 /
LIBAR-UE 594 (http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/global/global_honors_seminars/Israel2014)

Doctoral Core Seminar. MCC GE 3100


Teaching in Spring 2014:

Middle East Media and Cultural Politics (grad). MCC GE 2275 (Tuesdays)

Selected Articles

Tawil-Souri, H. (in press). Cinema as the Space to Transgress Palestine’s Territorial Trap. Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, Special Issue on Palestinian Cinema.

Tawil-Souri, H. and M. Aouragh (in press). Intifada 3.0? Cyber Colonialism and Palestinian Resistance. Arab Studies Quarterly, Special Issue on Palestinian Resistance.

Tawil-Souri, H. (in press). My Aunt’s Mamilla. Jerusalem Quarterly.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2014). الاحتلال الرقمي الإسرائيلي لغزة Omran, Special Edition on Surveillance.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2013). The (Hollowed) Politics of Assaf's Idolatry. CounterPunch.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2013). Networking Palestine, Creating and Limiting Media and Technology Flows: Television  and Telecommunications since 1993. In Petter Bauck and Mohammed Omer Moghayyer, Eds. The Oslo Accords 1993- 2013: Twenty Years with what Results? AUC Press / I.B. Tauris. 

Tawil-Souri, H. (2013). The Hi-Tech Occupation of Palestine. In Philip Howard and Muzammil Hussain, Eds. State Power and Information Infrastructure. Ashgate. 

Tawil-Souri, H. (2012). Egypt’s Uprising and the Shifting Spatiality of Politics. Cinema Journal 52(1): 160-166.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2012). It’s Still About the Power of Place. Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication 5(1): 88-97.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2012). Digital Occupation: The High-Tech Enclosure of Gaza. Journal of Palestine Studies 41(2): 27-43.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2012). Review Essay: Mapping Israel-Palestine. Political Geography 30(8): 57-60. 

Tawil-Souri, H. (2012).  Uneven Borders, Coloured (Im)mobilities: ID Cards in Palestine/Israel. Geopolitics 17(1).

Tawil-Souri, H. (2012). Al-Jazeera. In George Ritzer, Ed., Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization. New York: Wiley-Blackwell. 

Tawil-Souri, H. (2011). Where is the Political in Cultural Studies? In Palestine. International Journal of Cultural Studies 16(1), 1-16.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2011). Colored Identity: The Politics and Materiality of ID Cards in Palestine/Israel. Social Text 107, 67-97.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2011). The ‘War on Terror’ in Arab Media. In Daya Thussu and Des Freedman, Eds., Media and Terrorism: Global Perspectives (241-254). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2011). The Necessary Politics of Palestinian Cultural Studies. In Tarik Sabry, Ed., Conceptualising Cultural Studies and Media Studies in the Arab World: Mapping the Field (150-176). London: I.B. Tauris.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2011). Qalandia: An Autopsy. Jerusalem Quarterly 45, 73-81.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2011). Qalandia Checkpoint as Space and Non-Place. Space and Culture 14(1), 4-26.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2011). Orange, Green, and Blue: Colour-Coded Paperwork for Palestinian Population Control. In Elia Zureik, David Lyon, and Yasmeen Abu-Laban, Eds., Surveillance and Control in Israel/Palestine: Population, Territory, and Power (219-238). London: Routledge.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2010). Palestinian and Israeli Cinema (various entries). In Terri Ginsberg and Chris Lippard, Eds., Historical Dictionary of Middle East Cinema. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2010). Walking Nicosia, Imagining Jerusalem. Re-Public 4.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2009). Towards a Palestinian Cultural Studies. Middle East Journal of Communication and Culture 2(2), 181-185.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2009). New Palestinian Centers: An Ethnography of the ‘Checkpoint Economy.’ International Journal of Cultural Studies 12(3), 217-235.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2008). Arab Television in Academic Scholarship. Sociology COMPASS 2(5), 1400-1415.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2008). Americanizing Palestine through Internet Development. In Gerard Goggin and Mark McLelland, Eds., Internationalizing Internet Studies (32-47). London: Routledge. 

Tawil Souri, H. (2007). The Political Battlefield of Pro-Arab Videogames on Palestinian Streets. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East 27(3), 536-551.

Tawil-Souri, H. (2007). Global and National Forces for a Nation-State Yet to Be Born: The Paradoxes of Palestinian Television Policies. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture 4(3), 4-25.

Tawil Souri, H. (2007). Move Over Bangalore. Here Comes… Palestine? Western Funding and ‘Internet Development’ in the Shrinking Palestinian State. In Paula Chakravartty and Yuezhi Zhao, Eds., Global Communications: Toward a Transcultural Political Economy (263-284). Boulder: Rowman & Littlefield. 

Souri, H.T. (2006). Marginalizing Palestinian Development: Lessons Against Peace. Development 49(2), 75-80.

Tawil, H. (2005). Coming Into Being and Flowing Into Exile: History and Trends in Palestinian Film-Making. Nebula 2(2), 113-140.

Selected Presentations


Cinema, Mobility, and Palestine’s Territorial Trap. Transnational Cinema/Media Studies. NYU-AD, UAE.

Before the Digital: Zionism, Capitalism and Techno-Colonialism. Workshop on Infrastructures of Empire: Mediated Activism and (Counter) Revolutions. Social Science Research Council, NY.

Digital Occupation. Society for Humanities, Cornell University, NY.

Firewalling Gaza. Borders, Walls and Security, Association for Borderland Studies. Montreal, Canada.

Hi-Tech Infrastructural Borders. East Bordnet. Berlin, Germany.

Digital Occupation: Hi-Tech Borders in Palestine-Israel. New York Public Library.

Palestinian Screens of Struggle. Palestine Film Festival. London, UK.

Digital Occupation: Cellular Im/Mobilities in Palestine/ Israel. American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Contradictory Space(s) of Resistance: Hizballah’s Mleeta Museum. MESA. Denver, CO.

Territorial Borders of Hi-Tech Networks: Migron – Ramallah – Qalandia – Jerusalem Phonecalls. Borderscapes III, Trieste, Italy.

Terror in the Promised Land. Post-Film Discussion with Jack Shaheen and Zachary Lockman. MESA, Denver, CO. 

From Digital Occupation to Digital Revolution? Keynote Speaker. Global Fusion: A Global Media and Communication Conference, Philadelphia, PA.

Media Infrastructures in the Middle East: From Digital Occupation to Digital Revolution? New Marxist Perspectives on Communication and Social Transformation, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

The Political-Economy Behind Arab Media Revolutions. The Dubai Initiative and The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, The John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Going Home: Israeli and Palestinian Homeland Narratives. The Public Theater, New York, NY.

Exploring Identity and Social History Through a Palestinian Lens. Dreams of A Nation: A Palestinian Film Festival, Columbia University, NY.

Queer/Palestinian: Critical Strategies in Palestinian Queer/Women's Filmmaking. Discussant. Co-sponsors: Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies; DMCC; Yale University; The Center for Media, Culture and History, NYU

Spaces of Palestinian New Media Activism. Symposium on New Media and Technology in the Arab World, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.

The Media(tion) of Palestinian ID Cards. Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London, London, UK.

The Media(tion) of Palestinian ID Cards. London Middle East Institute and School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, London, UK.

Alternative Palestinian Media. Communication and Media Research Institute & Centre for Research in Education, Art and Media, Westminster University, London, UK.

Israeli Air Power: Media Technologies in Times of War. Middle East Centre, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

The Hi-Tech Enclosure of Gaza. Gaza: Out of the Margins, Birzeit University, Birzeit, Palestinian Territories.

Preserving and Creating a Digital Palestine? World Congress for Middle East Studies, Barcelona, Spain.

Virtually Mapping Palestinian Dis-/Re-Appearances. AAG, Washington, DC.