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The Middle East Center at Penn sponsors and supports programs and initiatives across the disciplines and professional schools, and runs a dynamic outreach program in the Delaware Valley. Faculty and students at Penn are also active and prominent in the field of Middle East studies, making significant and highly regarded contributions to scholarly output in their areas of interest. We will continue to update news of the Center's activities and highlight the achievements of our faculty and students here.

Mar
27
Film Festival | Middle East Film Festival 2017 Monday, March 27, 2017 - 6:30pm - Friday, March 31, 2017 - 6:30pm Stiteler Hall, B21 | Penn campus NEW MIDDLE EAST CINEMA | 27-31 MARCH 2017 The Cinema and Media Studies Program, the Jewish Studies Program, the Middle East Center, and the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department at the University of Pennsylvania, are pleased to present the 2017 edition of NEW MIDDLE EAST CINEMA. Recently released feature films have been selected to represent Middle Eastern societies and cultures through cinema. Each film will be introduced by a presenter with special knowledge of the country, culture, and issues addressed in the film.  Our festival is free-admission and open to all! Monday, 27 March @ 6:30pm |  Introduction: Inbal B. Lessner A Tale of Love and Darkness The story of Amos Oz's youth. The film details a young man's relationship with his mother and his beginnings as a writer. Tuesday, 28 March @ 6:30pm | Introduction: Mayhar Entezari Taxi  Jafar Panahi is banned from making movies by the Iranian government, he poses as a taxi driver and makes a movie about social challenges   Wednesday, 29 March @ 6:30pm | Introduction: Ezgi Cakmak Mustang When five orphan girls are seen innocently playing with boys on a beach, their scandalized conservative guardians confine them while forced marriages are arranged.  Thursday, 30 March @ 6:30pm | Introduction by Rabih Moussawi Go Home Nada is going home but she is a foreigner in her own country. Friday, 31 March @ 6:30pm | Introduction: Huda Fakhreddine  Idol Mohammed Assaf, an aspring musician living in Gaza, sets a seemingly impossible goal: to compete on the program Arab Idol.
6:30pm
Stiteler Hall B21, 208 South 37th Street, Philadelphia PA, 19104
Mar
29
Dr. Ian Lustick, University of Pennsylvania For at least three and a half decades US foreign policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict has been organized around “the peace process.” Originally the idea was that the process, guided and helped along by American diplomats and their “good offices,” would enable Arab and Israeli negotiators to follow a path from conflict to peace. The idea was that the process would lead to somewhere different, somewhere better than the place where it began. But instead of a road leading from here to there, the peace process has been a carousel, in constant movement, but never moving. Fruitless negotiations stagger on, end, then restart under a slightly different name, and with a slowly changing cast of characters. This lecture will offer specific illustrations of this pattern and offer an explanation for why it continues, despite its failures, but, in a very real sense, because of the knowledge of those involved in each go-round, that they, too, will fail.    For more information please review the PDF attached below. Sponsored by the Middle East Center and the Center for Civic Leadership and Responsibility
7:00pm
Camden County College, Center for Civic Leadership and Responsibility
Mar
30
Conference (March 30 - April 1) Conference Overview American and Muslim Worlds: Ca. 1500-1900 Long before the age of twentieth-century geopolitics, the American and Muslim worlds informed, interacted, perplexed, inspired, confounded, and imagined each other in ways far more numerous than is frequently thought. Whether through the sale of American commodities in Central Asia, Ottoman consuls in Washington, orientalist themes in American fiction, the uprisings of enslaved Muslims in Brazil, or the travels of American missionaries to the Middle East there was no shortage of opportunities for Muslims and the inhabitants of the Americas to meet, interact, and shape one another from an early period. The opening keynote by Denise Spellberg will take place at the Perry World House. Friday’s panels will be held at the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, and the final day’s panels on research in progress will be held at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. The program will close with a keynote by Sylviane Diouf, award-winning historian of the African diaspora, and author of Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas. Conference papers will be circulated to all registered attendees prior to the conference and will only be briefly summarized by the presenters. The conference is free and open to the public but registration is required. Please click here for conference website, registration, and program. The conference is made possible by the generous support of University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ Thomas Sovereign Gates Library Lecture Fund. Conference presented by the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and the Penn Libraries, co-sponsored by the Penn Humanities Forum, Perry World House, the Middle East Center at Penn, the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, and the Asian American Studies Program. Program American and Muslim Worlds: Ca. 1500-1900 Thursday, 30 March Perry World House (3803 Locust Walk)   5.00-6.30pm – Opening keynote “Islam and the Founders: Documenting Shared Spaces”  Denise Spellberg (University of Texas – Austin) Reception to follow   Friday, 31 March All events at the Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts (6th floor Van Pelt-Dietrich Library)   8.30-9.00am – Registration & coffee    9.00-10.30am – Opening plenary  “American and Muslim Worlds” Karoline Cook (Royal Holloway, University of London)Kambiz GhaneaBassiri (Reed College)Paul Lovejoy (York University, Toronto)Bethel Saler (Haverford College)Karine Walther (Georgetown University – Qatar)Chair: John Ghazvinian (Independent Scholar/McNeil Center)   10.45am-12.15pm – Panel 1 – The American Oriental Gaze  Mona Hassan (Duke University), “Visions of Empire: Muslim Women in the Cultural Imagination of the Late Nineteenth-Century United States” David D. Grafton (Hartford Seminary), “Exotic Images of Late Ottoman Palestine: The Beginnings of an American Biblical Orientalism”  Eleanor Finnegan (University of Alabama), “Orienting America in Place Names” Nerina Rustomji (St John’s University), “Byron's Houris in America: Visual Depictions of Muslim Heroines in the Gallery of Byron Beauties” Chair/Commenter: Christine Heyrman (University of Delaware)    12.15-1.30pm – Lunch on your own   1.30-3pm – Panel 2 – Captivity and Freedom in Barbary narratives Anna Diamantouli (Kings College London), “Barbary Renegades: Converts to Islam in American Barbary Captivity Narratives of the Late Eighteenth Century” Brett Goodin (Smithsonian Institution), “Our Man in Algiers: Captain Richard O’Brien’s captivity diary and correspondence” Neval Avci (Northeastern University), “The Importance of Feeling Captive: Colonial American Responses to the Barbary Captivity Crisis” Chair/Commenter: Malini Johar Schueller (University of Florida)    3.15-4.45pm – Panel 3 –Reading and Writing in Muslim America Ira Dworkin (Texas A&M University), “Nicholas Said, the Civil War, and the Emergence of African American Narrative” Michel Kabalan (Freie Universität, Berlin), “The Qur'an in my notebook: Slavery, revolt and the teaching of Arabic in 1830s Bahia, Brazil” David Babaian (Harvard University), “‘Those Who Believed: an Arabic Manuscript of 'Umar ibn Sayyid, as Translated for Charles Sumner” Chair/Commenter: Paul Lovejoy (York University)    Saturday, 1 April All events to be held at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies (3355 Woodland Walk, 34th and Sansom Streets)   8.00-8.45am – Coffee    8.45-10.15am – Panel 4 – Americans abroad Bill Hunt (Virginia Commonwealth University), “The Caliph and The General: Simulation and Simulacra in the Unlikely Friendship of Lew Wallace and Sultan Abdul Hamid II” Tarık Tansu Yiğit (Bilkent University), “Strangers in the Stranger Lands”: The “Rebs and Yanks” in the Khedival Citadel Henry Gorman (Vanderbilt University), “American Ottomans, or, How American Missionaries in Beirut Learned to Stop Worrying and Love an Islamic State, 1820-1919” Brahim Jadla (Université de la Manouba, Tunisia), “Amos Perry in Tunis, (1862-1867)” Chair/Commenter: Heather Sharkey (University of Pennsylvania)    10.30-12.00pm – Panel 5 – America and Islam in the Philippines  Oliver Charbonneau (Western University), “Staging Grounds: US Precolonial Visions of the Islamic Philippines” Joshua Gedacht (University of Wisconsin-Madison), “From South Dakota to the Sublime Porte: Colonial Discourses of Race, Religion and Progress in the Southern Philippines” William Gervase Clarence-Smith (SOAS, University of London), “Sayyid Wajih al-Kilani, Palestinian shaykh al-Islam of the Philippines: Mission to America, 1915-16” Chair: Timothy Marr (University of North Carolina)Commenter: Michael Hawkins (Creighton University)    12-1.30pm – Lunch on your own   1.30-3pm – Panel 6 – America and Islam in South and Central Asia Jacqueline Fewkes (Florida Atlantic University), “How the American West won Central Asia: Silver, Synthetic Dyes, and other American Commodities along the Silk Road” Susan Ryan (University of Louisville), “Islamic India in the Nineteenth-Century U.S. Imaginary” William Sherman (Stanford University), “The Lost Tribes of the Afghans: Mobility and Apocalypse in the Entangled History of Christians and Muslims in Nineteenth-Century South Asia” Chair/Commenter: Mitch Fraas (University of Pennsylvania)    3.15-4.45pm – Panel 7 – Islam in Early American Literature and Culture Omar Siddiqi (Indiana University), “Playing for Prophet: The Figure of Mahomet in Early American Drama” Matthew Pangborn (Briar Cliff University), “Bombo’s America: An Energy-Humanities View of the Early American Oriental Tale” Zeinab McHeimech (Western University), “Transcending Transcendentalism: An Exoteric Reading of African Muslim Slave Narratives in Antebellum America”  Chair/Commenter: Jacob Berman (Louisiana State University)    5.15pm – Closing keynote Sylviane Diouf  Reception to follow
5:00pm
Multiple Locations (click for details)
Apr
3
Middle East Center Staff Our Modern Middle East Studies Major or Minor offers many exciting opportunities to satisfy your curiosity and deepen your knowledge about this fascinating yet understudied region called the Middle East. Our interdisciplinary program, which comprises language courses as well as social science and humanities courses is well rounded and will provide you with valuable tools to analyze the region both from a historic, cultural, political and contemporary perspective. These are all necessary parts in order to gain an understanding both of the rich history of the Middle East and the current political, military and socio-economic evolution in the region. Does this sound interesting? If so, please join us for a convivial and informational lunch on April 3. Members of the Middle East Center staff will host the lunch and be available to answer all your questions. If you have friends who are interested in studying the Modern Middle East, please feel free to invite them as well. We very much look forward to seeing you there! 
12:00pm
Houston Hall 313, Morris Seitz Meeting Room, 3417 Spruce Street, 19104
Apr
5
Dr. Samuel Helfont, University of Pennsylvania Iraq has been at the center of American foreign policy for over a quarter century. Will it continue to play such a pivotal role? This talk will discuss the future of Iraq and what that means for the United States. For more information please review the attached PDF below. Sponsored by the Middle East Center and the Center for Civic Leadership and Responsibility.
7:00pm
Civic Hall, Connector Building, Blackwood Campus, Camden County College
Apr
8
The Choices Program, Brown University Please join the the Middle East Center, the Penn Museum and the South Asia Center for the Brown Choices Program teacher training, which will take place on Saturday, April 8, 2017 8:30 am-3:00 pm at the Penn Museum, 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 Cost: $145 per person. Fee includes two Choices curriculum units, six Act 48 credits, lunch, and all workshop materials. Partial scholarships are available for preservice teachers.  Target Audience: History, civics, geography, government and other social studies teachers, as well as humanities teachers.  Materials are appropriate for grades 7-12.  During the workshop, you will: Be introduced to the Choices Program’s award-winning resources and approach to teaching about contested international issues;  Examine and work with the Choices units The Middle East in Transition: Questions for U.S. Policy and Indian Independence and the Question of Partition (provided); Attend a special talk by Dr. Salam Al Kuntar, Associate Faculty and Co-Curator of the exhibit at Penn Museum. Participants will view the new exhibition, Protecting Cultural Heritage in Syria and Iraq, highlighting cultural heritage protection. To sign up for this participatoty workshop, please click here      
8:30am
Penn Museum, 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Apr
12
Dr. Narges Bajoughli Please join us for a screening of "The Skin That Burns". The film tells the story of Iran's volunteer soldiers who were exposed to chemical bombs during the Iran-Iraq War. It follows veteran Ahmed, who is legally blind and suffers from the exposure to chemical weapons 20 years ago. "The Skin That Burns" explores the controversial issues of chemical warfare, disability and illness, and the will to overcome these issues. Director Nargues Bajoughli will be present during the secreening and will be answering questions during the following discussion. About the Director: Nargues Bajoughli is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Watson Institute at Brown University. She received her PhD in socio-cultural anthropology from New York University where she was also trained as a documentary filmmaker.       
5:30pm
Stiteler Hall B21, 208 South 37th Street, Philadelphia PA, 19104
Apr
12
James Ryan, PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania Since the parliamentary elections of June 2015, which dealt a minor setback to Justice and Development Party, Turkey has experienced two of the most tumultuous years in its history. Turkey has become increasingly involved in the Syrian conflict, suffered several of the worst terror attacks the country has ever endured, re-ignited a decades-old conflict with Kurdish separatists in the country’s southeast region, and, most recently, survived an attempted coup on July 15, 2016. As the country undergoes a serious transformation in the wake of the coup attempt and with a constitutional referendum on the horizon, this talk will recap the last two years of current events, and offer some preliminary analysis of the ongoing transformation occurring in Turkey.  For more information please review the attached PDF below. Sponsored by the Midde East Center and the Center for Civic Leadership and Responsibility.
7:00pm
Civic Hall, Connector Building, Blackwood Campus, Camden County College
Apr
18
Dr. Joyce Pittman, Associate Clinical Professor at Drexel University, School of Education Please join us for a lecture with Dr. Joyce Pittman (Drexel University, School of Education). Dr. Pittman's lecture will examine the unique partnership between a prominent U.S. based consulting firm led by corporate and educational researchers and high level United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education leaders to reform the educational infrastructure of the UAE using Information Technology in Support of the Ministry of Education’s Educational Change/Reform Vision. Dr. Pittman, will use the lens of intersectionality to explain how the project emerged, was implemented and what she learned about this 21st century global partnership by sharing the various factors that fostered its triumph. Dr. Joyce Pittman is an associate clinical professor at Drexel University, School of Education. She is the Principal Investigator for the-sub-grant, U-Penn-Drexel Global-Teach Connect, Title VI funded project at the University of Pennsylvania, the Middle East Center and the South Asia Center.
12:00pm
CHEM Building 514, 231 South 34th Street
Apr
19
Dr. Hassan Farhang Ansari, The Institute for Advance Study Dr. Hassan Farhang Ansari is the Elizabeth and J. Richardson Dilworth Fellow at the Institute for Advanced  Studies at Princeton University. Dr. Ansari earned his doctorate at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE) of the Sorbonne, Paris. He also studied at the Ḥawza ʿIlmiyya, Tehran and Qum, where his work focused on the study of philosophy, theology, canon law, and legal theory. He is currently a Member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. His publications include Accusations of Unbelief in Islam: A Diachronic Perspective on Takfīr, eds. Camilla Adang, Hassan Ansari, Maribel Fierro, and Sabine Schmidtke, Islamic History and Civilization series (Leiden: Brill [in press]; L’imamat et l’Occultation selon l’imamisme: Étude bibliographique et histoire des textes (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming); and a critical edition of Ibn al-Malāḥimī’s Tuḥfat al-mutakallimīn fī l-radd ʿalā l-falāsifa (Tehran 2008, with Wilferd Madelung). Dr. Ansari's talk focuses on  Sunnīsm in Rayy during the Saljuq period. A work in point during this period is  Kitāb al-Naqḍ by ʿAbdu-l Jalīl al-Qazwīnī al-Rāzī.During the Seljuq period Rayy was a Ḥanafī /Muʿtazilī, Shīʿī, and Shāfiʿī/Ashʿarī city. The intellectual life of the Sunni scholars of Rayy in the Saljūqid period, be they of Ḥanafī or Shāfiʿī Schools, is interconnected with their coreligionists’ situation in other parts of Iran – especially Nayshābūr and Iṣfahān – which is, as a whole, a reflection of the vacillatory, and occasionally paradoxical, policies of Saljūq kings and viziers vis-à-vis these two Schools. There are very rare independent and documentary evidence of the intellectual tradition in Rayy. According to Dr. Ansari, we are thus left with a handful of sources for the activities of the Sunni scholars of Rayy at this time and their relationships with each other and also with the Zaydīs and the Imāmīs.        
4:30pm
Stiteler Hall B26, 208 S. 37th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104
Apr
19
Dr. Brian Spooner, University of Pennsylvania The Middle East as we know it today was formed by Western intervention, resulting from competition between the British and Russian Empires in the 19th century at the eastern end of the region and by the British and French division of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War at the Western end. The “national” boundaries drawn by the Western powers, and the new governments that they supported, are not working any more. The Afghan and Persian governments were overthrown by revolutions in 1978 and 1979; America terminated the Iraqi regime in 2003, and Syria has been in conflict since 2011 as a result of what came to be known as The Arab Spring. The results of Western intervention are being transformed into new social and political currents that derive from the earlier history of the region. For more information please review the PDF posted below. Sponsored by the Middle East Center and the Center for Civic Leadership and Responsibility.
7:00pm
Civic Hall, Connector Building, Blackwood Campus, Camden County College
Apr
26
Dr. Anna Viden, International Relations Program. University of Pennsylvania The talk will shed light on Saudi Arabia’s new more assertive foreign policy and how it affects current and future relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. It will address the conflict in Syria, the ongoing war in Yemen, arms transfers, and the relationship between the members of OPEC on the one hand, and between OPEC and the West on the other. The talk will also focus on the internal political situation in Saudi Arabia, which of course significantly may impact Saudi Arabia’s ability to carry out its ambitious foreign policy and new economic global compact which was announced by the Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman last April. For more information about the event please open the attached PDF below. Sponsored ByCenter for Civic Leadership and Responsibility (Camden County College) and the Middle East Center (University of Pennsylvania)
7:00pm
Civic Hall, Connector Building, Blackwood Campus, Camden County College