Center News

Congratulations to Mina E. Khalil and Gareth Smail, the recipients of this year's Janet Lee Stevens Award for Arabic and Islamic Studies!

The Janet Lee Stevens Award is given annually to two graduate students in Arabic and Islamic Studies who, in addition to showing exceptional merit in their academic performance, fulfill the spirit of the Award by working to improve relations with and understanding of the Arab and Islamic world.

You can check out previous years' recipients on our website:https://www.sas.upenn.edu/mec/opportunities/janetleestevens

Congratulations to our 2019-2020 Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship Recipients!

Academic Year FLAS:

Graduates:
Ali Noori..............................Turkish – PhD candidate, Religious Studies
Dahlia El Zein......................Persian – PhD candidate, History
William Figueroa.................Kurdish – PhD candidate, History
James Gross........................Turkish – PhD candidate, AAMW
Katherine Burge..................Kurdish – PhD candidate, AAMW
Nicolas Foretek....................Arabic – PhD candidate, History
Anthony Jreije.......................Arabic – Masters City Planning, Penn Design

Undergraduates:
Zubaida Qaissi...............Persian – Religious Studies/NELC major
Olivia Babski..................Arabic – undeclared, intending MMES
Keira Bokreta.................Arabic – Health and Societies major

Summer FLAS:

Graduates:
Benjamin Notis........................Arabic – PhD candidate, NELC
Nathaniel Shils......................Hebrew – PhD candidate, Political Science
William Figueroa.................Kurdish – PhD candidate, History
Austin Cooper.......................Arabic – PhD candidate, History and Sociology of Science

Undergraduates:
John Mullan.....................Persian – undergrad, History/NELC
Aaron Chen...................Arabic – undergrad, MMES/Religious Studies/International Relations

Find out more information about FLAS Fellowships on our website:
https://www.sas.upenn.edu/mec/opportunities/flas

Star Saudi comedian Hisham Fageeh, best known for his YouTube channel (especially the video No Women No Drive) and for the 2016 film Barakah Meets Barakah, now available on Netflix, came to discuss the state of satire and comedy in Saudi Arabia. In conversation with Dr. Marwan Kraidy, Professor of Communication and the Anthony Shadid Chair in Global Media, Politics and Culture at the Annenberg School for Communication of the University of Pennsylvania, Hisham Fageeh conveyed the complexities of political humor and satire in a country that is increasingly unreceptive to such.

Congratulations to Jonathan Lahdo and Eliana Salmon, who are both minoring in Modern Middle Eastern Studies, on being named Perry World House Student Fellows for the upcoming academic year!

We are beyond proud of your accomplishments and excited to see where these opportunities take you!

Join the Middle East Center next week for our annual Middle East Film Festival! 

Each film will be introduced by a presenter with special knowledge of the country, culture, and issues addressed in the film.

For Friday's film screening (03/29), we will be joined by special guests director Amr Gamal and producer Mohsen Alkhalifi for a unique opportunity to discuss their experiences making the movie. 10 Days Before the Wedding is the first Yemeni submission to the foreign language film category at the Oscars - and is the very first film to be produced, shot, and screened in Yemen. The director and producer are coming all the way from Yemen to join us for the screening.

3 Faces (Iran):
https://www.facebook.com/events/340868083194948/

The Wild Pear Tree (Turkey):
https://www.facebook.com/events/313727572617926/

The Reports on Sarah and Saleem (Palestine):
https://www.facebook.com/events/295268517833768/

A Tramway in Jerusalem (Israel):
https://www.facebook.com/events/2381180131943423/

10 Days Before the Wedding (Yemen):
https://www.facebook.com/events/374457896667804/

Congratulations to Mohammad Salih, a PhD student in Communications, for establishing Penn's first ever Kurdish language course! More information can be found on this news link.

Preservation of culture, language, and heritage of the Middle East is an integral part of education on the region, and the Middle East Center is delighted to see individuals take such initiative.

Congratulations to MMES major Carson Kahoe for being named a Penn 2019 Thouron Scholar! We are extremely proud.

More information on Penn's website

Congratulations to faculty member Mbarek Sryfi for taking first place in The Moonstone Arts Center's Annual Chapbook Contest! 

On Sryfi's collection of poetry, The Trace of a Smile, Margaret Randall said, "In this collection, Mbarek Sryfi returns the reader to the human register. These times evoke a loud response from poets and others, an urge to deal with weighty "end-time" questions and dangers. Too often the result is great emotion in a poetry that is too temporal or obvious to lift off the page. In contrast, Sryfi, brings us back down to daily observation: an old man leaning against a tree stump, a tall red house, a small girl in blue PJs, and the “sounds of bullets, / bombs, / smell of / blood / Under the rubble.” These poems remind us of our human landscape, what is truly at stake. Sryfi's language appears deceptively simple as it captivates in its hidden complexity. Sometimes it takes someone from somewhere else to show us the subtleties of our world. This is a collection to read and reread, savoring the details that make up the larger picture."

The Middle East Center hosts Journalist Reza Sayah

On Thursday Oct. 11 the Middle East Center hosted veteran CNN correspondent and current freelance journalist in Tehran, Reza Sayah for a discussion about his experiences and the current state of reporting in the Middle East, as well as the rising tensions between Washington and Tehran. Reza Sayah provided a more nuanced and more complex perspective of the region and of Iran than the one traditionally projected by the media and US decision-makers. 

Professor Juan Cole visits Penn

On October 16, Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan visited Penn's campus for a talk in conjunction with the publication of his latest book Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires. In his lecture which honed in on specific passages in the Koran, the subject of peace was addressed from different perspectives. Professor Cole argued in favor of the idea of Mecca as a city of peace during during a time fraught with tensions and of the centrality of the concept of peace in original Islam.