Mark LeVine is Professor of modern Middle Eastern History at UC irvine and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Lund University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He has spent the last twenty years living, researching, reporting from and performing in the Middle East, North and sub-Saharan Africa as well as throughout Europe, including Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and the Persian Gulf. His research involves over half a dozen languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, French, Italian, Turkish, Persian and German, and is known for its pioneering inter-disciplinary and transregional approach, combining the latest theoretical and methodological advances in fields such as history, anthropology, sociology, political science, comparative literature and cultural studies with a strong grounding in classical texts and the European intellectual history.
LeVine received his BA in comparative religion and biblical studies from Hunter College. His MA and Ph.D. were done at New York University's prestigious Department of Middle Eastern Studies. Beginning his career as a specialist in the modern history of Palestine and Israel, he also worked as a journalist since the mid-1990s, reporting from Israel and the Occupied Territories for Tikkun magazine and several newspapers, before becoming a regular guest on leading news and interview programs on Fox, CNN and then al-Jazeera English and Arabic after the September 11, 2001 attacks and subsequent US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (where he was one of the first independent and unembedded scholars to visit the country after the US invasion). From the start he has studied the history, politics, religions and most important, the peoples of the region as a friend, but with a highly critical eye.
His work in post-invasion Iraq led him to focus particularly on the role of culture in globalization and the war on terror, which was the subject of his 2005 book Why They Don't Hate Us. For his third single-authored book, Heavy Metal Islam, he wrote one of the first in depth studies of the role of originally "Western" forms of extreme pop music, such as metal, rock and hiphop, in the emergence of youth movements, subcultures, countercultures and finally revolutionary cultures across the Arab and larger Muslim world. The book, an editor's pick at the New York Times Book Review, literally predicted the Arab Spring that erupted two years after its publication in 2008. Details of the book can be found at http://heavymetalislam.net, including the 2009 compilation album of the best music from the region he produced for EMI, Flowers in the Desert. In 2013 LeVine released, with Emmy-winning and Oscar-niminated film maker Jed Rothstein, the award-winning documentary Before the Spring, After the Fall, which aired nationally on PBS.
LeVine's other books, both single-authored, edited and co-edited, all attempt to bring together the insights of historical, cultural and political-economic analysis as well as his experiences as a practicing artist and critical theorist, focusing on the deep histories of present day problems and conflicts from a global perspective and places the Muslim world firmly within the larger interactions between Europe, Africa and Asia during the last half millennium. With books such as Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel and One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States, he continues to bring the voices of often silenced or marginalized people in the midst of struggling for a better future to the public's view.
LeVine is presently working on several book projects about the Arab uprisings and the Israeli occupation, as well as continuing his work as a musician with a project bringing together leading musicians, singers and rappers from around the Arab world and sub-Saharan Africa to recreate anew the classic music of Fela Kuti. This continues the cross-cultural collaborations he first became known for with his arranging and performance on the Grammy-winning 2005 album Street Signs by Latin rock pioneers Ozomatli.