Center News

PACIE-Penn Middle East Center "Educating the Educator" Workshop, Nationalism and Identity in the Era of Colonialism

On February 24th, 2018, the Penn Middle East Center and the Pennsylvania Council for International Education (PACIE) collaborated to host the "PACIE-Penn Middle East Center "Educating the Educator" Workshop, Nationalism and Identity in the Era of Colonialism" Teacher Training Workshop. The objective of the workshop was to facilitate the teaching at the high school level of complex issues such as Colonialism, Nationalism and identity. By offering lectures and hands-on interactive modules which incorporate both maps and facilitated discussions on nationalism and identity the hope is that the teachers will find useful tools that they can incorporate in their teaching. 

Curricula generated from this workshop was be posted on the PA Department of Education’s SAS portal and tagged as meeting global education goals and skills. ACT-48 Credit was available to educators.

Congratulations Gareth Smail! This former FLAS recipient has received a well-earned spotlight on our FLAS page. We wish you all the best.

Read his bio by going to, where you can also learn about the FLAS fellowship and how to apply.

Palumbo Program

On Friday, February 7th, 134 students and 15 teachers from Academy at Palumbo High School ventured to the Penn Museum to take part in the International Classroom Program, a collaboration with the UPenn South Asia Center, the Middle East Center, and other university centers and globally focused non-profit organizations. The workshop, which teaches students about world cultures both past and present, incorporated key 21st Century Skills such as world languages, intercultural communication, and appreciation for cultural diversity. After a presentation and museum tour, students from Palumbo had a chance to see a performance by and hear from the International Classroom program presenter, Madhu Bora, a classically trained Indian dancer. Despite a snowy morning and Eagles Parade preparations, the event was a huge success.

The Daily Pennsylvanian, Penn's student newspaper, welcomes Dr. John Ghazvinian as the Middle East Center's new Associate Director.

Among continuing the new, exciting programming of the Center, Dr. Ghazvinian is particularly looking forward to encouraging more Penn students to major or minor in Modern Middle Eastern Studies, one of the "most relevant majors you could have in the current atmosphere." 

Read the full article below!

Ancient Middle East: Using STEM to Analyze the Past

On January 27th, 2018, the Middle East Center partnered with the Penn Museum to put on a teacher training workshop entitled "Ancient Middle East: Using STEM to Analyze the Past". The goal was to assist teachers in understanding more about how archaeologists use scientific analysis to understand the people of ancient Mesopotamia. It began with an activity to explore unfamiliar objects, then a tour the Artifact Lab with conservator Tessa Alarcan Martin to hear about her preparations for the new Middle East Galleries. Participants heard from Dr. Marie-Claude Boileau of the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM), in a talk about her scientific analysis of ancient Middle East ceramics. The day finished with a STEM-focused interactive workshop that examined ceramic slipper coffins from the Mesopotamian city of Nippur. ACT 48 Credits provided for PA Educators.

Junior Model UN Diplomat Program: January 9, January 29 and February 2, 2018

For decades, the Junior United Nations Program organized by the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia has taught regional middle school students how to act as international diplomats, providing several training sessions throughout the spring to culminate in a mock United Nations summit. Middle East Center teamed up with the Penn Museum to support this effort by providing students and teachers with a global education for the start of the program.

New Films Added to the Media Library! 

The Middle East Center adds Tickling Giants, Clash, The House is Black, Tales of Darkness, Turtles Can Fly, Kedi, Before Your Eyes and the Women's Balcony to its Media Library. Please contact the Middle East Center for more information on borrowing these films. 

On Wednesday Dec. 6, Dr. Rayya El Zein, Post-doctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication, held a lecture at the University of Pennsylvania titled "Neoliberal Orientalism". A response was given by Amy Kaplan, Edward W. Kane Professor of English.

On October 19, 2017 Professor Nili Gold gave a talk at the University of Pennsylvania in the context of the celebration of the publication of her book Haifa: City of Steps.  For more information about Professor Gold's book, please see the information below:

A rich look, from a native daughter, at the evolving relations of people, architecture, and landscape in Haifa over several decades. Nili Gold, who was born in Haifa to German-speaking parents in 1948, the first year of Israeli statehood, here offers a remarkable homage to her native city during its heyday as an international port and cultural center. Spanning the 1920s and ’30s, when Jews and Arabs lived together amicably and buildings were erected that reflected European, modernist, Jewish, and Arab architectural influences, through 1948, when most Arabs left, and into the ’50s and ’60s burgeoning of the young state of Israel, Gold anchors her personal and family history in five landmark clusters.

All in the neighborhood of Hadar HaCarmel, these landmarks define Haifa as a whole. In exquisite detail, Gold describes Memorial Park and its environs, including the border between the largest Jewish and Arab neighborhoods in Haifa; the intersection of Herzl and Balfour Streets, whose highlight is the European/Middle Eastern Technion edifice; Talpiot Market, recalling Haifa as a lively commercial hub; Alliance High School and the Great Synagogue, the former dedicated to instilling a love of intellectual pursuits, while the synagogue was an arm of the dominant Israeli religious establishment; the Ge’ula Elementary School and neighboring buildings that played a historical role, among them, the Struck House, with its Arab-inspired architecture—all against the dramatic backdrop of the mountain, sea, and bay, and their reverberations in memory and literature.

Illustrated with more than thirty-five photographs and six maps, Gold’s astute observations of the changing landscape of her childhood and youth highlight literary works that portray deeply held feelings for Haifa, by such canonical Israeli writers as A. B. Yehoshua, Sami Michael, and Dahlia Ravikovitch.

For more information on Haifa, City of Steps, follow this link to the University Press of New England:





On April 3, 2017 Professor Heather Sharkey published the book A History of Muslims, Christians and Jews in the Contemporary Middle East. Additional information regarding this book is listed below:

Across centuries, the Islamic Middle East hosted large populations of Christians and Jews in addition to Muslims. Today, this diversity is mostly absent. In this book, Heather J. Sharkey examines the history that Muslims, Christians, and Jews once shared against the shifting backdrop of state policies. Focusing on the Ottoman Middle East before World War I, Sharkey offers a vivid and lively analysis of everyday social contacts, dress, music, food, bathing, and more, as they brought people together or pushed them apart. Historically, Islamic traditions of statecraft and law, which the Ottoman Empire maintained and adapted, treated Christians and Jews as protected subordinates to Muslims while prescribing limits to social mixing. Sharkey shows how, amid the pivotal changes of the modern era, efforts to simultaneously preserve and dismantle these hierarchies heightened tensions along religious lines and set the stage for the twentieth-century Middle East.

For more information about this book, including purchasing information, please click here.