Category Archives: Academe

Berkeley Teach-Ins Against the War: Israel’s War on Lebanon

Video recordings of September’s teach-in regarding the War in Lebanon are now available on Google Video. Because of bandwidth limitations, we cannot offer the original high-quality video and audio recordings to the general public on this host; however, if you would like to download either the video or the consolidated audio, please send your request to and we will respond with more information promptly.  

Part I – Introduction, Saba Mahmood, Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley


Part II – Charles Hirschkind, Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley


Part III – Judith Butler, Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley


Part IV – Zeina Zaatari, Program Officer for the Middle East and North Africa, The Global Fund for Women


Part V – Beshara Doumani, Professor of History, UC Berkeley


Part VI – Question and Answer Session


1 Comment

Filed under Academe, Israel, Lebanon

The Native Informant: A Profile of Fouad Ajami

The Native Informant
by Adam Shatz
The Nation
[from the April 28, 2003 issue]

Late last August, at a reunion of Korean War veterans in San Antonio, Texas, Dick Cheney tried to assuage concerns that a unilateral, pre-emptive war against Iraq might “cause even greater troubles in that part of the world.” He cited a well-known Arab authority: “As for the reaction of the Arab street, the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation in Basra and Baghdad, the streets are sure to erupt in joy.” As the bombs fell over Baghdad, just before American troops began to encounter fierce Iraqi resistance, Ajami could scarcely conceal his glee. “We are now coming into acquisition of Iraq,” he announced on CBS News the morning of March 22. “It’s an amazing performance.”

If Hollywood ever makes a film about Gulf War II, a supporting role should be reserved for Ajami, the director of Middle East Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. His is a classic American success story. Born in 1945 to Shiite parents in the remote southern Lebanese village of Arnoun and now a proud naturalized American, Ajami has become the most politically influential Arab intellectual of his generation in the United States. Condoleezza Rice often summons him to the White House for advice, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, a friend and former colleague, has paid tribute to him in several recent speeches on Iraq. Although he has produced little scholarly work of value, Ajami is a regular guest on CBS News, Charlie Rose and the NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, and a frequent contributor to the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. His ideas are also widely recycled by acolytes like Thomas Friedman and Judith Miller of the Times.

Ajami’s unique role in American political life has been to unpack the unfathomable mysteries of the Arab and Muslim world and to help sell America’s wars in the region. A diminutive, balding man with a dramatic beard, stylish clothes and a charming, almost flirtatious manner, he has played his part brilliantly. On television, he radiates above-the-frayness, speaking with the wry, jaded authority that men in power admire, especially in men who have risen from humble roots. Unlike the other Arabs, he appears to have no ax to grind. He is one of us; he is the good Arab.

Continue reading


Filed under Academe

21 “Best” Books in Middle East Studies, a survey

The survey was compiled at the MES Center at the American University in Cairo using selections sent in by fifty-two professors in the field of Middle East studies. Concerning background information, the goal of the survey was to find the Middle East studies books most highly recommended by professors in the field. All told, fifty-two professors sent their lists to us and from these recommendations the MES Center compiled the following list of the 21 “Best” Books in Middle East studies:

1. Orientalism
Edward Said, 1978

2. The Old Social Classes and the Revoltionary Movements of Iraq
Hanna Batatu, 1978

3. Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age
Albert Hourani, 1962

4. A History of the Arab Peoples
Albert Hourani, 1991

5. The Venture of Islam
Marshall Hodgson, 1975

6. Colonising Egypt
Timothy Mitchell, 1988

7. The Mantle of the Prophet
Roy Mottahedeh, 1986 

8. Contending Visions of the Middle East
Zachary Lockman, 2004

9. Women and Gender in Islam
Leila Ahmed, 1992

10. The Emergence of Modern Turkey
Bernard Lewis, 1961

11. Over-stating the Arab State: Politics and Society in the Middle East
Nazih Ayubi, 1995

12. A Political Economy of the Middle East
Alan Richards & John Waterbury, 1990

13. A History of Islamic Societies
Ira Lapidus, 1988

14. Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity
Timothy Mitchell, 2002

15. Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria
Lisa Wedeen, 1999 

16. The Muqaddimah
Ibn Khaldun, 1377 (Rosenthal transl.)

17. A Peace to End All Peace
David Fromkin, 1989

18. Armed Struggle & the Search for State
Yezid Sayigh, 1997

19. State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East
Roger Owen, 1992

20. Society of the Muslim Brothers
Richard Mitchell, 1969

21. Arab Politics: The Search for Legitimacy
Michael Hudson, 1977

Leave a comment

Filed under Academe, Literature

Arabic Circle at the University of Chicago

Improve your Arabic listening skills through the Arabic Circle program provided by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. (There is also a Persian Circle.)

The Arabic Circle can now also be found at iTunes.

1 Comment

Filed under Academe, Arabic, Media

British Pathe

35,000 hours of video, 90,000 web pages, 75 years of British Pathe

Welcome to Version 3.2 of the world’s first digital news archive.

Now you are here you can preview items from the entire 3500 hour British Pathe Film Archive which covers news, sport, social history and entertainment from 1896 to 1970.

A friend writes:

I just wanted to share this great resource for teaching the history of the modern middle east:

There you can download British newsreels covering 75 years from 1894 onwards – for free. My students love it and I don’t have to talk: long live technology!

Leave a comment

Filed under Academe, History, Media, U.K.

OpenIslampedia: The Open Encyclopedia of Islam

OpenislamlogoIt needs no elaborate definition: OpenIslampedia is the Wikipedia of Islamic knowledge. But where is all the content, you might ask? Because it is a wiki, the whole point is to allow a community of users to write and co-edit the articles. This might sound like a recipe for chaos, but as other wikis have demonstrated, the ability to collaborate on the production of knowledge can yield surprisingly effective results. The point is not to create a definitive encyclopedia, but a live document that reflects the dynamism of the religion. Furthermore, OpenIslampedia is founded on the belief that the online negotiation of religious meaning can have a positive impact on the onsite practice of Islam.

Leave a comment

Filed under Academe

Middle East History and Theory

Middle East History and Theory

The Middle East History and Theory Workshop at the University of Chicago

The Middle East History and Theory Workshop serves as a multidisciplinary platform where University students and faculty in the Humanities and Social Sciences can discuss a wide array of academic questions related to the history, societies, culture, and politics of the Middle East. As an area studies workshop, we accept papers dealing with this broad range of subjects throughout the geography of the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, and over a time span extending from the advent of Islam to the present.

Participants come from a wide range of fields including Middle Eastern Studies, History, Art History, Ethnomusicology, Anthropology, Political Science, Literary Studies, and Religious Studies. By tying in these different fields, one of the workshop’s main concerns is to bridge the existing gap between factual and theoretical approaches to studies of the Middle East. Graduate student presentations usually include dissertation chapters or proposals, works in progress, and discussions of research conducted abroad. Papers are precirculated to encourage attendance and informed academic discussion.

To download papers and learn more about our schedule, click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Academe, History