The Middle East Insitute - Columbia University



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 FALL 2014

  • Friday, September 19
    War on Gaza: Military Strategy and Historical Horizons
    Time: 12:00pm 1:30pm
    Location: Room 501 Schermerhorn Hall

    Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University
    Noura Erakat, Assistant Professor, George Mason University
    Moderated by Nadia Abu El-Haj, Professor, Barnard College

    Sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies and the Middle East Institute

  • Saturday, September 20, 2014
    North American Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (NAAIMS) presents the 43 RD Annual Conference The Concept of Authority in Muslim Societies: Political, Religious, Social and Literary
    Time: 9am 5pm
    Location: Room 1501 International Affairs Building

    Registeration Required
    Conference Program

  • Monday, September 29
    Aijaz Ahmad in conversation with Hamid Dabashi
    Time: 6:30pm
    Location: Room 509 Knox Hall, 606 W 122nd Street NY, NY 10027

    Aijaz Ahmad is a globally celebrated literary and political theorist. He has taught in universities in the U.S., India and Canada. His work appears in a range of journals such as Socialist Register, New Left Review, Race & Class, and Social Scientist.

    His books in English include: Ghazals of Ghalib (1971), In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures (1992), Lineages of The Present (1996), Globalization and Culture: Offensives of the Far Right (2004), and Afghanistan, Iraq, and The Imperialism of Our Time (2004).

    The event is free and open to the public

    Sponsored by Department of Middle East, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS), the Middle East Institute, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society Institute for Religion, the Culture, and Public Life, and the South Asia Institute

  • Wednesday, October 1
    Rached Ghannouchi: Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World
    Time: 2:00pm - 4:00pm
    Location: Teatro, Italian Academy, 1161 Amsterdam Ave New York, NY 10027

    Rached Ghannouchi is the co-founder and president of the Ennahda Movement, an Islamist group that is currently Tunisia's largest political party and the dominant participant in a coalition that has governed the country since the October 2011 elections. After spending more than two decades in exile for his political activism, Ghannouchi returned to Tunisia in January 2011 to participate in the country's democratic transition. Widely recognized as one of the world's most influential Islamic thinkers and a proponent of Islamic democracy and pluralism, he was named one of TIME's one hundred most influential people in the world in 2012. That year, he also was awarded the Chatham House Prize (with Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki) for "the successful compromises each achieved during Tunisia's democratic transition."

    His talk will be followed by an opportunity for audience questions.

    Registration is required.

    This event is sponsored by the World Leaders Forum and the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life, and co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy and the Middle East Institute.

  • Wednesday, October 8
    Around 1948: Human Rights and Global Transformation
    Time: 3:00 PM 5:00 PM
    Location: Pulitzer Hall, Third Floor Lecture Hall

    Leading scholars Rashid Khalidi, Lydia H. Liu, Samuel Moyn, and Deborah Nelson discuss the advent and the global impact of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    Panel Discussion
    • Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University
    • Lydia H. Liu, Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University
    • Samuel Moyn, Professor of Law and History, Harvard University
    • Deborah Nelson, Associate Professor of English, University of Chicago
    • Moderated by Eugenia Lean, Associate Professor of Chinese History, Columbia University
    No registration required.

    Co-sponsored by the Center for International History, Critical Inquiry, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, the Department of History, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Middle East Institute

  • Tuesday, October 21
    Time: 12:10 PM 1:10 PM
    Location: Jerome Greene Hall Room 101

    Omar Shakir will discuss his work with Human Rights Watch in Egypt over the last year, where he was a fellow and the lead researcher and author of "All According to Plan," a 188-page report on the Rab'a massacre and the mass killings of protesters in Egypt in July and August 2013. The report concludes that the methodical killing of at least 817 demonstrators on August 14, 2013 in Rab'a Square ranks as one of the world's largest killings of demonstrators in a single day on par with the Tiananmen Massacre. Over one year later, not a single person has been held accountable.

    Omar will also discuss working as a human rights lawyer on serious abuses amidst a serious crackdown and in a climate of rampant impunity.

    Omar is currently a Bertha Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he works on abuses in the name of national security in the US. He previously was a Fulbright scholar in Syria and is a graduate of Stanford Law School, Georgetown University's School of Foreign Affairs, and Stanford University.

    Co-sponsored by Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Rightslink, Middle Eastern Law Students Association, Columbia Society for International Law, the Human Rights Institute, Social Justice Initiatives and the Columbia Middle East Institute.

    A delicious Dino BBQ lunch will be served!

  • Tuesday, October 21
    Conversation with KIOSK
    Time: 7:45pm
    Location: Room 501 Schermerhorn Hall

    Pioneers of the underground movement of Iran rock music, Kiosk has been praised for their sharp, smart and satirical lyrics that highlight the paradoxes of Iranian society and the incompetent political system. Kiosk's unique sound is accented by flavors of gypsy-style violin, accordion, and mandolin, and the songs are complemented by meaningful lyrics which provide a sharp sociopolitical satire of Iran today.

    Moderated by Ghazzal Dabiri

  • Wednesday, November 12, 2014
    Ultra Revolutionaries: Players in Egyptian Politics?
    Time: 6:30pm
    Location: Schermerhorn Extension, Room 754. Columbia University

    Rabab El-Mahdi's talk will examine the tumultuous path of Egypt's revolutionary process through the lens of the Ultras soccer fan groups. The story of the Ultras represents a microcosm of Egypt's recent travails and poses questions about class, agency and the formulation of politics in a changing moment of history.

    Rabab El-Mahdi is aAssociate Professor of Political Science at the American University in Cairo and a Carnegie Centennial Fellow at Columbia this fall semester. Her work focuses on social movements and mobilization, including women, labor and political Islam. She is a member of a number of opposition groups in Egypt and is a frequent media commentator.

  • Friday, November 14, 2014
    Turkey and the EU: Will the Twain Ever Meet?
    Time: 4:00 to 6:00 PM
    Location: Room 304 Hamilton Hall

    Joost Lagendjik, Former Member of the European Parliament and a columnist for the Zaman newspaper will speak About

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