Pelle Valentin Olsen

Visiting Doctoral Fellow

Visiting Doctoral Fellow, February – June 2019

Pelle Valentin Olsen joined the University of Chicago as a PhD student in 2014. He holds degrees in Modern Middle Eastern History from the University of Oxford (MPhil) and the University of Copenhagen (BA).

Pelle works on 20th century Iraqi history and literature. His dissertation examines the history of leisure, education, gender, and sexuality in Hashemite Iraq (1921-1958). His dissertation argues that leisure both defined and expressed key aspects of Iraqi modernity. By critically evaluating the social life of “leisure” the dissertation problematizes how Iraq, until recently, has been studied through limited lenses such as dictatorship, sectarianism, and foreign occupation, state governance, British colonial rule, nationalism, and authoritarianism. Offering a more inclusive analysis, his dissertation shows how leisure played a growing and important role in Iraqi society, shaping both collective and individual identities and the built environment of the urban spaces that Iraqi leisure subjects inhabited.

 In addition to several book reviews, Pelle has published in the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies and regularly presents at conferences in Europe and North America. His research has been supported by the Fulbright Commission, The Danish Institute in Damascus, The Danish Institute in Rome, and The German Orient Institut in Beirut, among others. In 2018, Pelle was awarded a two-year Hanna Holborn Gray Mellon Advanced Fellowship.