Center News

Qatar Foundation International (QFI) Teacher Fellowship Awards

Qatar Foundation International (QFI) is pleased to announce that it is accepting applications for our Teacher Fellowship Awards.
As part of its overall mission to expand and improve the teaching of K-12 Arabic in the United States, QFI is pleased to offer fellowships for current or prospective K-12 teachers. The program is intended to support:

1)    Teacher candidates who are pursuing certification in Foreign Language Education in World or  Foreign Languages to teach Arabic;
2)    Teachers who already are certified in another discipline and are seeking an endorsement to teach     Arabic
3)    Teachers seeking U.S. certification to teach Arabic through any other recognized means.  

The goal of QFI’s Teacher Fellows program is to develop a strong cohort of highly trained teachers who will be future leaders in the field of K-12 Arabic education. QFI strongly believes that the skill, talent, and commitment of the teacher are key components for the success of any language program and supporting teachers is at the heart of this effort. 

This program will offset participating teachers' tuition and fees for advanced courses in Arabic language and culture needed for certification. In addition some fellows may receive funding for summer study in the Middle East for intensive language study. It will also offset housing fees for summer programs that require staying outside the students normal residence.

The program will also provide teachers with the opportunity to learn best practices in language education, develop a thorough understanding of Arabic and how to teach it, and augment their passion for the study of Arabic language and cultures and their commitment to educating young people about the peoples and cultures of this important area of the world.  

The deadline for submission is March 15, 2013. The official announcement is on QFi's website:

2013 NEH Summer Institute in Turkey

This summer, Primary Source will be running a new NEH Summer Institute for Teachers: Ottoman Cultures: Society, Politics and Trade in the Turkish Empire, 1299-1922. The application deadline is fast approaching (March 4th), and we’re eager to reach a wide and diverse pool of educators who would appreciate and benefit from the institute. We welcome applications from K-12 librarians and teachers of world religions, geography, English language arts, music, and art, as well as social studies teachers.

We would very much appreciate your help in identifying and reaching out to promising applicants to take advantage of this unique opportunity to study in Turkey. We are hoping to receive more applications from beyond the Boston area. I’ve included text (below) and a flyer (attached) that can be used to share information about the institute. Educators who wish to apply should spend some time exploring the institute website for application information and instructions, course details and expectations, a detailed schedule of the institute, and more:

If interested educators have any questions about the application process or the program, we invite them to contact Sameera Anwar, Primary Source Program Coordinator at or (617) 923-9933 ext. 22.

The Middle East Center & Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture host Educator's Workshop

On Saturday, February 2, 2013 The Middle East Center & Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture host Educator's Workshop entitled "Umm Kulthum: Her Life and Legacy".
This workshop guided teachers through a new online curriculum unit about the life and legacy of preeminent Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum. Created by a team of educators, artists, and digital designers with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, the curriculum is designed to align with and incorporate American Common Core Standards, and can be used by literacy, social studies, music, and arabic language educators. Workshop participants will gain an understanding of the historical context of Egypt during her lifetime, explore in some depth two of the ten lesson plans, and experience learning to sing an Egyptian song using the online music education tool. Many thanks to Alon Tam, a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, Hazami Sayed, Eric Lundblade, and Hanna Khoury from Al-Bustan Seeds of Culutre for their work. 

More info about Al-Bustan Digital Education:

Middle East Center hosts Arab Journalists as they cover U.S. elections

Robert I. Williams Professor of History and Director of the Middle East Center, Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet spoke with ten journalists from the Arab world in October as part of the U.S. State Department’s Arabic-language Election 2012 tour. The meeting was well received and covered internationally in places such as Tunisia & Egypt. The journalists also visited the headquarters at the University of Pennsylvania, during the tour.

You find full details here

Attn!: Due to Hurricane Sandy this event has been rescheduled to Wedndesday, November 14, 2012. Venue details will be released soon

Teacher Workshop: Muslims and Islam in the United States

The focus of this workshop will be on Islam and Muslims in America. With immigration from the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, West Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, and growth of the Muslim African-American community in the greater Philadelphia region; the number of students in diverse religious community in growing. This workshop will give educators knowledge and tools for teaching about this community in their classrooms. Space is very limited and the first 15 registrants will be accepted (with others place on a waiting list). This workshop will be best suited for educators in Middle & High Schools. Teaching materials will be provided to those that attend. *This workshop is free of cost!*

For more information/ to register follow this link

Affliated Professor and Chair of the Religious Studies Department Dr. Jamal Elias Presents: Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Perception and Practice in Islam. Thursday, November 6, 2012 at 6pm. Penn Bookstore

Two Exciting New Courses for Fall 2012: Undergraduate & Graduate

We would like to alert you to a new courses available this fall that will be taught by Professor Kashani-Sabet:

HISTORY 188: T/Th, 12-1:20 pm, Undergraduate Course

Revolutionary Ideas, Ideologies of Revolution
in the Middle East

Ideas play an intangible role in defining culture and politics. In the contemporary Middle East, mass movements and revolutions have become a familiar feature of social and political life. This course surveys some of the major revolutions and ideologies that have caused significant change in the Middle East over the last century. We will examine icons of imperialism and consider varying sources of conflict within and between states. Novels, essays, and secondary works will comprise the bulk of the readings. The weekly assignments will focus on particular themes or on works that show the nature of political change in various contexts and geographic settings. Thematic texts will be supplemented with factual information to help the students put the ideas of revolt and protest in the proper historical context.


HISTORY 640: Tuesdays, 1:30-4:20 pm, Graduate Course

From Coffeehouses to Internet Cafes: Consumer Culture in the Middle East

Why does consumer culture matter? Situated at the crossroads of economic, social, and cultural history, the history of consumption considers both the production of goods and patterns of expenditure deriving in part from consumer needs and tastes. Traditional economic historians did not always grapple with the ways in which people’s preferences for goods and services affected commerce and trade. Critics of these ideas have pointed out that, even when large economic processes such as mercantilism and imperialism imposed top-down economic policies, people showed agency in their consumer choices. The readings in this course will help us to identify consumer trends in Middle Eastern societies and to explain their significance in discourses of modernity.

Call for Papers

Ottoman-Persian Exchanges, 16th – 20th Centuries

The Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania is putting out a call for papers on cultural, social, political, economic, and intellectual exchanges between the Ottoman and Persian empires 16th through 20th centuries for a day-long symposium to be held in Friday, April 26, 2013 to be held at the University of Pennsylvania.  Championing different expressions of Islam and sharing a long and turbulent border, the Ottoman and Persian empires rivaled each other since the rise of the Safavid state in Persia in the 16th century until the fall of Qajars and the Ottoman dynasties at the turn of the 20th century. This regular contact produced rich historical encounters between the two states. 

Traditional historiography had portrayed the Ottoman and Persian histories as a narrative of struggle against European encroachment and attempts at “modernization” that derived inspiration from Europe since the early 19th century. Until recently, such a portrayal had overlooked the rich historical interactions between the two empires, including but not limited to trade, smuggling, pilgrimage (or religious tourism), intellectual exchanges, nomadic border tribes, and expatriate communities that inhabited the Ottoman-Iranian territories. 

The symposium hopes to bring together scholars working on issues at the intersection of Ottoman and Persian relations to shift the focus of the debate to the eastern fault line of Middle Eastern history and to shed light on the historical interactions between the two empires, which governed almost the entire Middle East up until the end of World War I. Please submit your abstracts (300 words maximum) by Thursday, November 1, 2012. Selected scholars will be contacted in December 2012, and Penn’s Middle East Center will publish the papers presented in the symposium as an edited volume.

Possible topics may include the following:

  • Territorial claims and counter-claims
  • Ethnic and religious minorities in national boundaries
  • Tribal dynamics and religious tensions
  • Comparative gender issues 
  • Cultural and literary nationalism
  • Great power rivalries in the 19th century (British, Ottoman, Russian, and Persian ambitions)
  • Social and economic consequences of oil
  • Trade patterns and economic development

All communication and abstracts should be submitted ONLY to this email:

*Information flyer is attached*

The Middle East Center would like to congratulate Heather Sharkey, an affiliated Associate Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. She has been chosen to be a Visiting Professor during the 2012-13 year at the Institut d'études de l'islam et des sociétés du monde musulman (IISMM) of the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. There, she will deliver four lectures at various French institutions throughout a one-month period.

University of Pennsylvania alumnus Max Reibman has written an article on the recent elections that took place in Egypt. To read his article in its entirety, click on the attached PDF file.

Max Reibman holds a B.A. in History from the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 2009, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He earned an M.Phil in Historical Studies in 2010 from Cambridge, where he is now completing his PhD as a Gates Scholar. His main research interests are Egypt and the Middle East in the era of the First World War. He spent this past year in Egypt where he worked predominantly in the Egyptian National Archives and where he was an affiliated fellow at the American University in Cairo.