Faculty News


Professor Anidjar appointed IAS Member for 2010-2011

Gil Anidjar

Gil Anidjar, Associate Professor in MESAAS and in the Department of Religion, has been appointed a Visiting Member of the Institute for Advanced Study for 2010-11. Based in Princeton, N.J, the Institute is a community of scholars devoted to advanced research in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and natural sciences. In the School of Social Science, where Anidjar will be based, the theme for 2010-2011 is Secularism. The topic of his research as a member of the Institute is "A Critique of Christianity."



Sheldon Pollock Honored with India's Padma Shri prize

Sheldon Pollock has been awarded the Padma Shri prize by the Government of India. Padma Awards, the country's highest civilian awards, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The awards are given in all disciplines fields of activities including visual arts, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of high order and Padma Shri, which was conferred upon Professor Pollock, for distinguished service in any field.



Brinkley Messick wins 2009 Distinguished Senior Scholar Award

The Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association has awarded Professor Brinkley Messick, of MESAAS and the Department of Anthropology at Columbia, the Distinguished Senior Scholar Award for 2009. Given once every two years, the award recognizes individuals both for their contributions to scholarship and for their service to Middle Eastern anthropology, including the mentoring of students. Messick, who is currently Chair of the Department of Anthropology, has also served at Director of Graduate Studies in MESAAS.



Partha Chatterjee Receives 2009 Asian Culture Prize

The Fukuoka Asian Culture Academic Prize for 2009 has been awarded to Partha Chatterjee. The Prize recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of Asian studies and contributions to the world's understanding of Asia. Chatterjee is a professor at Columbia University and the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. Among previous winners of the award are Joseph Needham, Donald Keene, Clifford Geertz, and Ashis Nandy. At the award ceremony on September 20, 2009, in the City of Fukuoka, Japan, Chatterjee gave an address on "Voicing the History of the Voiceless."



MEALAC Alumnus Wins Iranian International Book Prize

Robert G. Morrison

Robert G. Morrison, Associate Professor of Religion at Bowdoin College, has been awarded an International Book of the Year prize in Iran for his study of a fourteenth-century Iranian Shiite scholar. Morrison's book, Islam and Science: The Intellectual Career of Nizam al-Din al-Nisaburi, is based on his Ph.D. dissertation, completed at MEALAC in 1998.

Morrison was the only American scholar to receive one of Iran's International Book awards for 2009. He received the prize from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at an award ceremony in Tehran on February 7, 2009. Books by scholars from Britain, Lebanon, India, Afghanistan, South Africa, and Iran also received prizes.

Morrison's study of Nizam al-Din al-Nisaburi examines the cross-fertilization of scientific and religious thought in Islamic civilization. The overlap of science and religion continues to be a rich topic of discussion in Iran, Morrison noted on the Bowdoin College website. "Islamic philosophy is something they take very seriously in Iran," he said.

"One of the judges of the book awards was the chief justice of their Supreme Court, whom I met at the ceremony. He said he was struck by the ways in which al-Nisaburi wrote about Islamic law using concepts that paralleled processes of scientific reasoning. From afar, Islamic law tends to have the reputation that it is harsh and decisive, but in fact, the consideration of what God's will may be requires a great deal of probabilistic reasoning."

Laurel Brown, MEALAC graduate student, wins History of Science Society Award

Laurel Brown

The History of Science Society has awarded the 2008 Reingold Prize to Laurel Brown, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, for her essay "The Transmission of Arabic Astronomy to Europe and East Africa." The prize, established in 1955, is awarded for the best original graduate student essay on the history of science and its cultural influences.

The award committee described Brown's paper as "a promising study of a challenging topic. The research was made using primary sources in the original language (Arabic), which required highly specialized linguistic skills. Importantly, the analysis of Arabic astronomy is not limited to the result of the transmission of data as is often the case, but examines also the modes of the transfer. In so doing, it ventures into the difficult field of comparative history of sciences as it examines the impact of the diffusion of Arabic astronomy both on European and East African cultures. The Committee was impressed by this first essay. It opens new paths and brings a fresh approach to a fascinating topic."

The History of Science Society is the world's largest society dedicated to understanding science, technology, medicine, and their interactions with society in historical context.

Joseph Massad Wins Lionel Trilling Award

Joseph Massad

MEALAC Professor Joseph Massad received the Lionel Trilling Award on April 28, 2008. The Trilling Award honors a book from the past year by a Columbia author that best exhibits the standards of intellect and scholarship found in the work of Lionel Trilling, CC ’27.

Prof. Massad, Associate Professor of Arab politics received the award in recognition of his book Desiring Arabs, published in June 2007. The book, according to the press release, “offers a probing study of representations of Arab sexuality” and is “an important and eloquent work of scholarship that the committee feels will have a lasting impact on the field.”