News & Events
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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.

Sep
24
Dr. Seth Anziska, Associate Professor of Jewish-Muslim Relations, University College London Dr. Seth Anziska, Associate Professor of Jewish-Muslim Relations, University College London, will give a talk based on his recent book Preventing Palestine: A Political History from Camp David to Oslo (2018). In this book based on newly declassified international sources, Dr. Anziska charts the emergence of the peace process and examines how events in the 1970s and 1980s contributed to the persistance of Palestinian statelessness and broader regional upheaval in the Middle East today.   
5:30pm
Arch 108, 3601 Locust Walk, The ARCH Building, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Sep
25
Dr. Keren Friedman-Peleg, Visiting Assistant Professor, Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania Dr. Keren Friedman-Peleg, Visiting Assistant Professor, Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, will address the politics of trauma on the border of Israel and Gaza. Light lunch and refreshments will be served. 
12:00pm
College Hall Rm 209, 3450 Woodland Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Sep
25
Hisham Matar Heather Sharkey and Eileen Ryan Join us for an evening with Hisham Matar, Pulitzer winning Libyan memoirist and novelist. Matar's father, Jaballa Matar, a Libyan businessman who became a prominent critic of the Muammar el-Qaddaffi's dictatorship in the late 1970s, was jailed in Tripoli's Abu Salim prison, a notorious torture site where approximately 1,270 prisoners were massacred in June 1996. Whether Jaballa Matar was among them has never been established as the Libyan regime has refused to disclose his fate. Hisham Matar's autobiography The Return (2017) for which he recieved the Pulitzer Prize deals with this trauma. Hisham Matar will be in conversation with Heather Sharkey, Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages  and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania and Eileen Ryan, Associate Professor of History, Temple University.
4:30pm
College Hall 200
Sep
26
Dr. Ahmad Almallah, Lecturer of Arabic and Arabic Literature, University of Pennsylvania Esraa Al-Shammari, PhD candidate, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania Through finely crafted poems Ahmad Almallah replicates his own verbal and cultural experience of existing between languages and socities. There is a sense of displacement to these poems as Almallah recounts the amusing, sad, and perilous moments of day-to-day living in exile. 
6:00pm
Penn Book Center, 130 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Oct
2
Dr. Ian Hartshorn, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Nevada, Reno Based on more than 150 interviews with trade unionists, activists, politicians, and workers in Tunisia and Egypt, Dr. Ian Hartshorn explores how disgruntled workers broke away from their captured unions to create new, revolutionary movements among the working classes. 
5:30pm
Fisher Bennett Hall Rm 201, 3340 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Oct
3
Judith Katzir Dr. Nili Gold, Professor of Modern Hebrew Language and Literature, University of Pennsylvania The Israeli writer Judith Katzir will be in conversation with Dr. Nili Gold, Professor of Modern Hebrew, Language and Literature, University of Pennsylvania. She will address the literary innovations brought by the wave of female authors in the 1980s and 1990s and women authors as tellers of history in Israeli literature. 
1:30pm
College Hall 209, 3450 Woodland Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Oct
3
Dr. Huda Fakhreddine, Assistant Professor in Arabic Literature, University of Pennsylvania, Chef Osama Herkal Where do We Go Now ? is a comedy from director Nadine Labaki which explores the lives of Christians and Muslims in a small Lebanese village, as the women conspire to avert sectarian strife through a series of plots. The film will be presented by Dr. Huda Fakhreddine, Assistant Professor in Arabic Literature, University of Pennsylvania. Chef Osama Herkal, a Syrian chef recently resettled in Philadelphia will share stories and food from his native country.
5:30pm
Camden County College, College Drive, Blackwood NJ,08012-0200
Oct
10
Dr. Deborah Harrold, Senior Lecturer in Political Science, University of Pennsylvania Since the late 20th century, Algerians have lived through civil war and political uncertainty. While Algeria missed the Arab Uprisings of 2011, waves of demonstrations contributed to the resignation of an ailing president who many believed was a thin front for military rule. Extensive oil and gas resources have enabled Algerian governments to insulate themselves from political pressure, but public focus on the military is high. An educated poulation in contact with the world , an underperforming economy, a diverse civil society - Surely Algeria will be able to make a transition to a more representative and accountable government? 
6:30pm
Camden County College, College Drive, Blackwood NJ,08012-0200
Oct
14
August Thomas Ali Noori, Ph-D.-candidate, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania Join us for a book talk with author August Thomas who will be in conversation with Ali Noori, PhD candiate in religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania about Liar's Candle (2018): a spy-novel set in Ankara, Turkey.     
5:30pm
Penn Book Center, 130 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Oct
17
Dr. Hisham Aidi, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs Please join us for a talk by Dr. Hisham Aidi,Senior Lecturer in International Relations, Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, who will discuss race, music and the Global Andalus.
5:30pm
Fisher Bennett Hall Rm 401, 3340 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
Oct
18
Simcha Gross, Assistant Professor of Ancient Rabbinics, University of Pennsylvania; Reyhan Durmaz, Assistant Professor, Syriac Studies, Byzantine Studies, Christian-Muslim Relations, University of Pennsylvania; George A. Kiraz, Research Associate, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton University Various Program Overview:  9:30-10:00: Introduction and Overview of terms (Jonathan Lahdo)  10:00-10:40: Syriac Language (Dr. Gross)  Break: 10:40-10:50  10:50-11:30: Ancient History and Literature (Dr. Gross)  11:30-12:10: Material Culture (Dr. Durmaz)  12:10-1:00: Lunch (Light Assyrian fare and refreshments) 1:00-1:40: Modern Community (Dr. George Kiraz)  1:40-2:00: Future Directions (Dr. Durmaz/Dr. Gross)
9:30am
English Graduate Student Lounge, Rm 330, Fisher Bennett Hall, 3340, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Oct
22
Dr. Angie Heo, Assistant Professor of the Anthropology and Sociology of Religion, University of Chicago In the wake of the Arab Uprisings and the military coup, Egypt's Copts encounter promises of national unity and perils of sectarian exclusion. Based on fieldwork, this lecture analyzes how religious practices of mediation shape Christian-Muslim belonging under the post-1952 Egyptian state. 
5:30pm
Arch 108, 3601 Locust Walk, The ARCH Building, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Oct
24
Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, Emirati commentator on Arab affairs, founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, a Director's Fellow at MIT Media Lab, UAE-based columnist and Founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation, will give a talk addressing the politics of modern Middle Eastern Art.
5:30pm
Annenberg School of Communication Rm 110,3620 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Oct
29
Amy Hawthorne, Deputy Director for Research at Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) Dr. Nada Matta, Assistant Professor of Global Studies and Modern Languages, Drexel University, PhD candidate Nicholas Foretek, Department of History, University of Pennsylvania Since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power six years ago, he has led the region's most populous country into a new autocratic era. How is al-Sisi's Egypt different from that of Hosni Mubarak, who ruled from 1981 to 2011? What are the major features of politics, economy, and foreign policy? Is Egypt still important to the United States, and what is the U.S. role in its trajectory? These questions will be addressed in this conversation between Amy Hawthorne, Dr. Nada Mattar and PhD candidate Nicholas Foretek.
5:30pm
Claudia Cohen Hall Rm 402, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Nov
4
John Limbert, Foreign Service Officer in Tehran (1978-1981) and US Deputy Secretary of State for Iran (2009-2010 Dr. John Ghazvinian, Associate Director, Middle East Center Forty years to the day since he was taken hostage by student radicals at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, John Limbert reflects on the experiences of that day and the direction U.S.-Iran relations have taken since. During a 34-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service, Limbert has served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran (2009-2010), and as ambassador to Mauritania (2000-2003). From 1979 to 1981, Limbert was among 52 Americans held hostage after the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. John Limbert will be in conversation with Dr. John Ghazvinian, Associate Director, Middle East Center, about the former's experiences as a hostage during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. 
5:30pm
Perry World House, World Forum, 3803 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Nov
6
Faleeha Hassan Rawad Wehbe Born in Iraq, Faleeha Hassan is a poet, teacher, editor, writer, and playwright. For her many awards in Iraq and throughout the Middle East for her poetry and short stories, she has been described by Ophra.com and other as the 'Maya Angelou of Iraq'. A 2019 Pulitzer Prize nominee, Hassan has published tewnty books and has had her poetry translated into over ten languages. Faleeha Hassan will be in conversation with Rawad Wehbe a PhD candidate in the Department for Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania.    
6:00pm
Penn Book Center, 130 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Nov
7
Emily Hammer, Assistant Professor at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania will give a talk discussing the water situation in the Middle East from both a contemporary and historic perspective.  The Middle East is an arid region facing major water problems, but it is also a region that thousands of years ago hosted the world's earliest cities and states. How did the Middle East go from being the "cradle of civilization" to a region on the edge of water crises? This talk discusses archaeological and athropological evidence for how water avilability has changed over the millennia in the Middle East through the interaction of natural systems and human management. 
6:30pm
Camden County College, College Drive, Blackwood NJ,08012-0200
Nov
12
Dr. Ümit Kurt, Polonsky Fellow, Polonsky Academy, Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, Jerusalem Institute Much of the literature on the destruction of the Ottoman Armenians tells the story of a state captured by a radical party that enforced genocidal measures throughout the land. Scholarship about genocidal activity at the local level, however is still in its infancy. The aim of this talk is to examine such activity on the Ottoman periphery, focusing on the district of Aintab (or Anteb) – modern-day Gaziantep. Drawing upon primary sources from Ottoman, Armenian, British and French archives, as well as from memoirs and personal papers, the first part of the talk examines the efforts of some of Aintab’s most prominent citizens to get the central government to expel the district’s Armenians. The second part of the argument focuses on events after the genocide.
5:30pm
TBD
Dec
5
Kaley Keener, Lecturer in Arabic, University of Pennsylvania The Arabo-Islamic empire is known for its many contributions to diverse fields such as philosophy, medicine, literature, and the sciences, yet the role that women played in these fields, as well as their agency in the greater medieval context, remains largely underrepresented and under-researched. By drawing on three roles occupied by Arabo-Islamic women: The Warrior, the Princess, and the Mystic, Kaley Keener will highlight the ways in which women participated in society throughout the medieval period, bearing broader implications for the role of the modern Arabo-Islamic woman.
6:30pm
Camden County College, College Drive, Blackwood NJ,08012-0200