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.

Apr
1
Bill Figueroa The Middle East Film Festival has been CANCELLED due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. It is important to the Middle East Center that we respect and prioritize the health and safety of our community. See here for Penn's COVID-19 response guidelines. The last decade has seen a great deal of attention on the relationship between China and the Middle East. New economic and trade initiatives, a flurry of Chinese goods and construction services throughout the region, and a growing Chinese appetite for natural resources have had a significant impact on existing relationships and geopolitical calculations. Whether these changes are disruptive and exploitative, or stabilizing and mutually beneficial is a hotly debated question, but there is no denying that China is becoming a major player in the Middle East. Historian Bill Figueroa will provide a historical perspective on these debates, and on China's contemporary involvement in the Middle East. ... Bill Figueroa is a graduate student currently pursuing a PhD in the history department at University of Pennsylvania, with a focus on global Cold War history, and in particular the relationship between Iran and China. He completed his undergraduate degree at Rice University, where he studied social science methodology and modern Chinese society, and received a dual Bachelors degree in Anthropology and Asian Studies in 2010. In 2012, he broadened his focus to the modern Middle East and its interactions with China upon the beginning of his graduate career at Penn. He has studied Farsi in Dushanbe, Tajikistan as well as the UT-Austin's intensive summer language program, and Mandarin in Beijing at Peking University and Central University for Nationalities. Currently, he is working on completing his dissertation on the impact of Chinese political thought on the Iranian revolution and the rise of explicitly Maoist Iranian communist organizations in the aftermath of the Sino-Soviet split.
6:30pm
The Center, Camden County College Blackwood Campus | 200 College Dr, Blackwood, NJ
Apr
2
Amr Al-Azm The Middle East Film Festival has been CANCELLED due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. It is important to the Middle East Center that we respect and prioritize the health and safety of our community. See here for Penn's COVID-19 response guidelines.     Join us for a talk with Dr. Amr Al-Azm, Professor of Middle East History and Anthropology at Shawnee State University in Ohio. Whilst working in Syria, Amr Al- Azm was a first hand observer and sometime participant of the reform processes instigated by Bashar Al-Assad, thus gaining insights into how they were enacted and why more often than not they failed. Furthermore, he is a keen follower and commentator on current events in Syria and the Middle East in general and has written articles in numerous journals, and major media outlets including guest editorials for the New York Times, Time Magazine and Foreign Policy. ... Syria today is going through a traumatic and destabilizing conflict that has strained the ethnic, sectarian and social fabric of the country - almost all that makes Syria a single unified state - to beyond breaking point. Much of the country lies in ruins today, and its cultural heritage a casualty of the war from its earliest days through systematic looting and deliberate destruction. The greatest burden to protect Syria’s cultural heritage during this conflict has fallen on local stakeholders and non-state actors. The majority of these non-state actors are centred on networks of local heritage professionals, civil society activists and NGO’s. These local networks often work under desperate conditions to protect museums and heritage sites, finding creative and simple solutions to overcome daunting challenges. They are also at the forefront in promoting awareness and strengthening local communities’ sense of ownership of their cultural heritage, in order to mobilize them against looters and trafficking in antiquities. Yet, because they are non- state actors, they are often denied any financial or technical support from international organisations and donors who traditionally deal only with member states and their institutions. Given the appalling carnage and unprecedented levels of human suffering sweeping the country, there is the danger of an emerging binary that you either care about ancient stones, monuments and artefacts or you care about current humanitarian issues and the people affected. Despite that danger, heritage professionals and everyday people on both sides of the divide have rejected this binary by recognizing that culture and people are inextricably linked with a role to play in post conflict stabilization and reconciliation.
5:30pm
Annenberg School for Communications Room 111 | 3620 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA
Apr
8
Hadi Jorati The Middle East Film Festival has been CANCELLED due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. It is important to the Middle East Center that we respect and prioritize the health and safety of our community. See here for Penn's COVID-19 response guidelines. In this talk we will put the narratives of the Mongol Campaigns in the West and the establishment of the Ilkhanate under scrutiny, with a focus on the career of the thirteenth century mathematician, Nasir al-Din Tusi. By re-examining the role of Tusi in high scholarly circles and their relationship to high administration of the Mongol campaign and the early Ilkhanate, we aim to arrive at a more nuanced understanding of the establishment of the Maragheh observatory complex.
12:00pm
Annenberg School for Communications Room 111 | 3620 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA
Apr
9
Aimee Genell The Middle East Film Festival has been CANCELLED due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. It is important to the Middle East Center that we respect and prioritize the health and safety of our community. See here for Penn's COVID-19 response guidelines. Join Professor Aimee Genell for a discussion of her research on late Ottoman history. In this talk, she argues against a dominant historical narrative that views 1919 as the decisive break in the Middle East. Instead her work shows that Ottoman autonomous provinces, Egypt above all, provided one of the main models for the League of Nations mandates in the post-Ottoman Middle East. More broadly, the Ottoman Empire contributed to and was among the key testing grounds for enduring political and administrative experiments in the post-imperial international order. Aimee Genell received her Ph.D. from the Department of History at Columbia University and held a Postdoctoral Fellowship in International Security Studies at Yale University. She is currently an assistant professor of history at the University of West Georgia.
12:00pm
College Hall 209 | University of Pennsylavania Campus
Apr
10
Deanna Cachoian, Christopher Sheklian, Ararat Şekeryan, Rachel Goshgarian, Raffi Wartanian The Middle East Film Festival has been CANCELLED due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. It is important to the Middle East Center that we respect and prioritize the health and safety of our community. See here for Penn's COVID-19 response guidelines. SPACE IS LIMITED: RSVP to bakrii@sas.upenn.edu REQUIRED Join us for a workshop on the historical, cultural, and practical context of the Armenian Language. Workshop runs from 9:30 to 3:45, with lunch provided.   FRIDAY, APRIL 10   9:30 – 9:45              Pari Yegak: Welcome/Introductions Deanna Cachoian-Schanz, Comp Lit, Penn John Ghazvinian, Interim Director, MEC, Penn   9:45 – 10:30            Secularization and the Emergence of Ethnic Minorities in the Ottoman Empire Christopher Sheklian, Director, Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, NY, NY; Visiting Assistant Professor, Wesleyan University.            10:45 – 12:15          Armenian Language Workshop, Part I: the ԱԲԳs Ararat Şekeryan, Slavic Department, Columbia University -       A Brief History -       Easte՞rn v. Weste՞rn -       Intro to Alphabet -       Reading & Writing -       Greetings/Group Practice                    12:15 – 1:00           Lunch, prepared by the Penn Armenian Club                                                                                                   1:00 – 1:45             Armenians and the Turkish Language: from Medieval Mystical Poetry to the Ottoman Novel to Language Reform under Mustafa Kemal Rachel Goshgarian, Associate Professor, Department of History, Lafayette College                                  2:00 – 3:00             The Armenian Musical Tradition from Anatolia to the Diaspora: Key Themes Talk and Oud Performance Raffi Joe Wartanian, Musician; Undergraduate Writing Instructor, Columbia University                      3:00 – 3:45             Language Workshop, Part II Şekeryan, Sheklian, Goshgarian & Cachoian-Schanz -       Language Practice -       Research discussion
9:30am
Fisher-Bennett Hall, Rm 202 | 3340 Walnut Street
Apr
13
Orkideh Behrouzan, Devin Atallah, Keren Friedman-Peleg Moderated by Behdad Bozorgnia The Middle East Film Festival has been CANCELLED due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. It is important to the Middle East Center that we respect and prioritize the health and safety of our community. See here for Penn's COVID-19 response guidelines.       Join us for a panel discussion on issues of mental health, trauma, and resilience in the Middle East.   Devin Atallah is a Clinical Assistant Professor of counseling psychology at Boston University. He engages in decolonizing, qualitative, and community-based participatory approaches to critical inquiry in clinical and community psychology. Professor Atallah aims to contribute to understandings of intergenerational trauma and resilience, and pathways for supporting resistance to oppression, healing justice, and decolonization. Atallah strives to honor and anchor his work in knowledges of communities in struggle contesting racism and colonialism, primarily within his long-term partnerships with grassroots organizations in Boston; refugee camps in Palestine; and Mapuche Indigenous communities in Chile. Keren Friedman-Peleg is a senior lecturer and dean of students at the College of Management Academic Studies. A medical and psychological anthropologist, her research combines clinical questions of security-related trauma diagnosis, treatment, and prevention with socio-political questions of national belonging and inequality. At the Katz Center, she will focus on the national home and the private home in the context of threatened security. Friedman-Peleg received her PhD from Tel-Aviv University. She was previously a visiting scholar at the Katz Center and a visiting assistant professor at UC Berkeley’s department of anthropology and Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies   Orkideh Behrouzan is a physician, medical anthropologist, and the author of Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran (2016, Stanford University Press). Before joining the department in 2017, she taught at the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine (GHSM) at King’s College London. Prior to that, she was assistant professor of Medical Anthropology at the Institute for the Medical Humanities (IMH) at University of Texas. Behrouzan received her PhD in History and Anthropology of Science and Technology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is a 2015-16 fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and the winner of the 2011 Kerr Award from the Middle Eastern Studies Association. For more please visit orkidehbehrouzan.   Behdad Bozorgnia is a board-certified, adult psychiatrist in private practice in Center City, Philadelphia.  He specializes in the biopsychosocial approach to patient care, combining individually tailored medications, life-style changes, and insight-oriented talk therapy to reduce symptoms, expand self-understanding, and enhance well-being.    He is on faculty at the University of Pennsylvania where he teaches residents about Psychoanalysis and Positive Psychology. He also teaches at the Philadelphia Center of Psychoanalysis where is candidate  psychoanalyst.
5:30pm
The ARCH Rm 108 | 3601 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA
Apr
21
Sa'ed Atshan, Katharina Galor The Middle East Film Festival has been CANCELLED due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. It is important to the Middle East Center that we respect and prioritize the health and safety of our community. See here for Penn's COVID-19 response guidelines. Berlin is home to Europe’s largest Palestinian diaspora community and one of the world’s largest Israeli diaspora communities. Germany’s guilt about the Nazi Holocaust has led to a public disavowal of anti-Semitism and strong support for the Israeli state. Meanwhile, Palestinians in Berlin report experiencing increasing levels of racism and Islamophobia. In The Moral Triangle, Sa’ed Atshan and Katharina Galor draw on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with Israelis, Palestinians, and Germans in Berlin to explore these asymmetric relationships in the context of official German policies, public discourse, and the private sphere. They show how these relationships stem from narratives surrounding moral responsibility, the Holocaust, the Israel/Palestine conflict, and Germany’s recent welcoming of Middle Eastern refugees. They also point to spaces for activism and solidarity among Germans, Israelis, and Palestinians in Berlin that can help foster restorative justice and account for multiple forms of trauma. Highlighting their interlocutors’ experiences, memories, and hopes, Atshan and Galor demonstrate the myriad ways in which migration, trauma, and contemporary state politics are inextricably linked.    
5:30pm
Annenberg School for Communication, Rm 111 | 3620 Walnut St
Apr
22
John Ghazvinian The Middle East Film Festival has been CANCELLED due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. It is important to the Middle East Center that we respect and prioritize the health and safety of our community. See here for Penn's COVID-19 response guidelines.       As tensions between the United States and Iran continue to escalate, the controversy about the Iranian nuclear program is frequently cited as a central area of disagreement between the two countries. But is this, in fact, the core of the issue? Historian John Ghazvinian explores the broader story of Iran’s nuclear program, and discusses the history of US-Iran relations — situating the nuclear disagreement within the context of 40 years of US-Iran tensions.
6:30pm
The Center, Camden County College Blackwood Campus | 200 College Dr, Blackwood, NJ
Apr
28
Rawad Webhe Kislak Center The Middle East Film Festival has been CANCELLED due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. It is important to the Middle East Center that we respect and prioritize the health and safety of our community. See here for Penn's COVID-19 response guidelines. Part of the Egyptian Cinema Collection at the University of Pennsylvania, these masterfully designed posters and ephemera embody the burgeoning Egyptian film industry in the twentieth century. The exhibit features three themes: New Egyptian Woman, Night, and Tradition. Each theme illustrates unique cinematic representations of tension between tradition and modernity. Rawad Wehbe, PhD candidate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations will be on hand to provide context and commentary.
5:30pm
Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts in Van Pelt Library | 3420 Walnut St