When I was in Spy School, I became interested in the Christian communities of the Middle East. People tend to think of Arab countries as being uniformly Muslim, forgetting that these places are often home to quite large non-Muslim minorities, many of whom are Christian. Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq all have significant communities of indigenous Christians, which have managed to co-exist with their Muslim neighbours.
I began to think about writing my thesis on Middle Eastern Christians, with a particular focus on the Christian Palestinian community (or communities). I was interested in how they relate to the wider Palestinian community, in a time when the Palestinian struggle is increasingly cast not in nationalist but in (Muslim) religious terms. I was curious as to whether that kind of narrative effectively excludes Christians from the Palestinian struggle, or whether the likes of Hamas have been able to seriously engage with their Christian co-nationals.
I left behind that potential topic partly because I was unable to narrow it down into a question that could be easily answered. Instead, I wrote about the fascinating subject of Palestinian semi-presidentialism. I nevertheless remain interested in the Middle East's religious minorities, and hope to eventually read myself into the subject.
One often recommended book on Middle Eastern Christians is From The Holy Mountain, by William Dalrymple. I have not read it myself, and I get the impression that this is more travel-writey than more scholarly works of his such as The Last Mughal or The White Mughals, but I gather it is nevertheless a fascinating portrait of Christian communities whose continued existence has become increasingly problematic.
Dalrymple himself is coming to Dublin to speak on the subject of Eastern Christians. He will be at the Royal Irish Academy, on evening of the 9th June. Admission is free, but I gather you need to mail them to reserve a place.