The Middle East Insitute - Columbia University



The Middle East Institute
Columbia University
Phone: 212-854-2584
Fax: 212-854-1413
606 West 122 Street
Knox Hall - Third Floor
New York, New York 10027
Mail Code 9640

The Middle East Institute of Columbia University, founded in 1954, has helped to set the national pace in developing an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the present, with a primary focus on the 19th and 20th centuries. Fostering an inter-regional and multi-disciplinary approach to the region, the Institute focuses on the Arab countries, Armenia, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Central Asia, and Muslim Diaspora communities.

The Institute sponsors approximately 30 lunch-time talks per year on topics ranging from art and literature to current events, hosts conferences, and provides a neutral atmosphere for scholarly and student exchanges of views on issues concerning the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. It offers courses and outreach seminars to teachers and adult education groups, briefs journalists, and generally acts as a clearing-house for requests for information on the region and its peoples by the media, educational professionals, and the interested public, drawing upon the expertise of its own staff and the faculty of the School of International and Public Affairs and Columbia University.

Events – SPRING 2016

  • Thursday, January 21
    The Arab World and the West: A History
    In conversation with Jean-Pierre Filiu and Rashid Khalidi
    Time: 6:00pm-7:30pm
    Location: Room 1501, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

    JEAN-PIERRE FILIU, Historian and professor of Middle East Studies at Sciences Po Paris

    RASHID KHALIDI, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies and Literature, Chair of the Department of History,Columbia University

    moderated by MADELEINE DOBIE, Associate Professor of French, Columbia University

    Jean-Pierre Filiu discusses his book, Les Arabes, leur destin et le nôtre, which aims to shed light on struggles in the Arab world today by exploring the entwined histories of the Arab world and the West, starting with Bonaparte’s expedition to Egypt in 1798, through military expeditions and brutal colonial regimes, broken promises and diplomatic maneuvers, support for dictatorial regimes, and the discovery of oil riches. He also discusses the “Arab Enlightenment” of the 19th Century and the history of democratic struggles and social revolts in the Arab world, often repressed.

    This event is co-sponsored by the sponsored by the Columbia Maison Française, Alliance Program and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.

  • Wednesday, February 10
    The Middle East and the Arab Spring; Where are we now and why?
    Time: 12:10-1:10pm
    Location: Room 105, Jerome Greene Hall

    with Ambassador Ahmed Fathalla.

    Please join the Human Rights Institute, Rightslink, the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and the Middle East Institute for a discussion with Ambassador Ahmed Fathalla regarding the current prospects for the Arab Spring and the future of human rights.

    A national of Egypt, Ambassador Fathalla is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and Ambassador of the League of Arab States to the United Nations. He previously served as First Undersecretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo, and Assistant Foreign Minister responsible for European Affairs from 2010-2011 and for Asian Affairs from 2009-2010.

  • Thursday, March 3
    Patriarchy Takes a Back Seat in Kurdish Syria: Implications for Gender Theory, the Middle East, and the Midwest
    Time: 6-8pm
    Location: Heyman Center for the Humanities, East Campus, Second Floor Common Room

    Turkish and American sociologists and anthropologists discuss "Patriarchy on the Block in Kurdish Syria: Implications for Gender Theory, the Middle East, and the Midwest."

    Free and open to the public. No registration necessary - first come, first seated.

    This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, Department of History, Department of Religion, Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia Law School, the Program in Hellenic Studies and the Middle East Institute.

  • Wednesday, March 9
    "Why Human Rights Watch Is Calling on Businesses to Pull Out of Israeli Settlements"
    Time: 12:10 – 1:10 pm
    Location: Jerome Greene Jall Room 105

    Sarah Saadoun, Human Rights Watch

    There are now more than half a million Israeli settlers living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem. Successive Israeli governments have facilitated this process, even though settlements are unlawful under international humanitarian law and are part and parcel of Israeli policies that dispossess, discriminate against, and abuse the human rights of Palestinians. But the system is not just propagated by the Israeli government; it also depends on the involvement of a multitude of businesses that operate in the settlements.

    A new Human Rights Watch report, Occupation, Inc., examines the human rights impact of these businesses and calls on them to end their settlement-related activities. Using a series of case studies, it describes how such businesses facilitate and sustain unlawful settlements and thereby contribute to a system whose existence and expansion is contingent on the unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land and resources. It also describes how such businesses benefit from a two-tiered system of laws, rules, and services that Israel has imposed in the area of West Bank under its exclusive control that encourages the growth of settlements and the settlement economy while stymying Palestinian economic development.

    This event is co-sponsored by the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.

  • Tuesday, March 22
    Orientental Neighbors: Middle Eastern Jews and Arabs in Mandatory Palestine
    Time: 12:30 pm - 20:00 pm
    Location: Room 207, Knox Hall 606 West 122 Street btwn Broadway & Claremont Ave

    Abigail is lecturer at the Department of History at MIT, and will be moving back to Israel soon to become the director of the "Neighbors in the Mediterranean" Department at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. She is also the chief editor of the Journal of Levantine Studies.

    Abigail Jacobson is a historian working on social and urban history of late Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean. Her main research interest is the history of ethnically and nationally mixed spaces and communities, especially during times of war and conflict. Her first book is entitled From Empire to Empire: Jerusalem between Ottoman and British Rule (Syracuse UP, 2011). She recently finished a second book manuscript, written together with Dr. Moshe Naor, entitled Oriental Neighbors: Middle Eastern Jews and Arabs in Mandatory Palestine.

    This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies and the Middle East Institute.

  • Thursday, April 7
    An Education of the Senses: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Male Desire in early modern Isfahan
    Time: 4:00pm - 6:00pm
    Location: 754 Schermerhorn Ext

    Kathryn Babayan, Associate Professor of History, Director of Armenian Studies Program, University of Michigan

    The talk will employ the poetic form of the shahrashub, literally the “city disturbance,” to visualize seventeenth Isfahan. Isfahan is both the city where the author, Aqa Mansur, composes his guidebook as well as the site through which he represents a masculine space for a lover-friend to learn about the urban rules and etiquette of love. Forlorn men are the audience invited to travel, observe and discover a cityscape of masculine sensual pleasures. Our guide simultaneously configures the rituals of urbane masculinity to fashion a spectatorship of refined male gazers, just as he creates Isfahan the city discursively. I will walk you through the travelogue to see how Aqa Mansur’s knowledge of sexuality, gender, and community are conceptualized and woven together to picture Isfahan. This event is co-sponsored by MESAAS and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.

  • Friday, April 15
    Rethinking Arabic Canons: Critical Conversations
    Time: 2:00 - 5:00pm
    Location: Room 208, Knox Hall

    This workshop series will revisit the historical construction of a classical Arabic canon and heritage (turath). It initiates a multidisciplinary conversation between established and emerging scholars of the Arabic humanities about how to read the refractions of canons across the pre-modern and modern, the pre-colonial and postcolonial, and the historical and the historicizing. All are welcome to attend.

    Speakers and commentators in this first workshop include Ahmed Abdel Meguid (Religion, Syracuse University), Bachir Diagne (Philosophy and French, Columbia University), Angela Giordani (History, Columbia University), Muhsin al-Musawi (MESAAS, Columbia University), Marwa Elshakry (History, Columbia University), and Murad Idris (Politics, University of Virginia).

  • Monday, April 18
    Gender & Sex Since the Arab Spring: Human Rights, LGBT Rights, and U.S. Responsibility
    Time: 4:30pm
    Location: Jerome Greene Jall Room 701

    Scott Long, Human Rights Watch

    Since the 2013 coup, Egypt has seen massive and spreading human rights violations, part of a counterrevolution stretching across the Middle East. LGBT Egyptians have been among the victims. Egypt today keeps more people imprisoned for their gender expression or for same-sex sexual conduct than any other country in the World.

    This talk will give a direct account of the crackdown in Egypt, and will critically examine how U.S. LGBT movements have engaged with American diplomacy, and will address the contradictions in the Obama administration's much-touted support for LGBT rights globally.

    This event is is free and open to the public.

    This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality, and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.

  • Thursday, April 21
    The Politics of Life and Death
    Time: 10:00am - 4:00pm
    Location: Lecture Hall, Columbia Journalism School

    The symposium engages intersecting imaginaries and histories that impact Palestinians, Kashmiris, and Tamils. Complex modes of power and history structure conquest, appropriation, and occupation across shifting colonial, (post)colonial, and decolonial moments. Peoples and landscapes are witness to monumental partitions, erasures, and Nakbas (catastrophes), producing states of exception organized through securitization, majoritarianism, and militarism.

    The symposium is concerned with issues of subjugation, minoritization, and racialization; and persistent efforts to articulate/silence truth and practice resistance, freedom, and self-determination. We draw on the efforts of native-local and allied intellectuals, activists, artists, and scholars of colonized peoples and geographies to decolonize knowledge and facilitate counter-memory.

    This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.

  • Thursday, April 21
    Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War
    Time: 6:00-8:00pm
    Book launch with authors Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila al-Shami

    Burning Country could have been titled A People's History of the Syrian Revolution and War: it provides a view from below that constitutes the perfect antidote to geopolitical reductionism. This book is unique in its combination of first-hand material derived from fieldwork, factual and analytical rigour, and unshakable faith in the Syrian people's struggle for justice and dignity. —Thomas Pierret, Lecturer in Contemporary Islam at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World

    This event is co-sponsored by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Students Organize for Syria, the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies and the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association at Columbia University.

  • Past MEI Events

    CNN Custom News
    BBC Online Network
    The NY Times Middle East
    Washington Post Middle East

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