From the Director

Dear students, colleagues, and members of the Kevorkian Center community,

It is a pleasure to welcome our incoming cohort of MA students (the Class of 2018) and welcome back our second-years (the Class of 2017) for what is another exciting academic year.

For students embarking on coursework, we encourage you to work with our own brilliant faculty. In Fall 2016, Professor Begum Adelet will be teaching a seminar on Critical Theories of Power, and Professor Marc Michael is offering a seminar on Neo-Liberal Conquests. There are ample courses offered through our partner department MEIS, as well as a wealth of faculty in a variety of schools and departments across the university that can enrich your inter-disciplinary learning – one way to start navigating those possibilities is to browse through our People pages.

Our incoming Director of Graduate Studies is economic sociologist Marc Michael. Professor Michael's research looks at banks as disciplinary institutions, their effects on socio-political organization, on individual behaviors, as well as their theoretical and institutional contribution to the emergence of capitalism. Combining qualitative and quantitative research methods with a historical comparative approach, he focuses on the case study of microfinance in Egypt from the perspective of global financial inclusion. Beyond banking, Professor Michael also has developed a keen interest in the sociology of gender, political economy, post-colonial theory, public health, and the history of social and economic ideas.

The Practitioner-in-Residence program exemplifies our commitment to bring together real-world experience to our pedagogy and our events. This Fall, artists Jackie Salloum and Suhel Nafar, join us for an exciting program. Suhel is perhaps best known for his role in the first Palestinian hip hop group, DAM (Da Arabian MC’s), and Jackie for her films Slingshot Hip Hop (2008) and Planet of the Arabs (2005). Together they have worked on various projects, including feature length documentary, short documentaries, music videos, and multimedia art. Their workshop, Memory Metamorphosis, will have students explore, execute and preserve diasporic memory through various art forms (e.g. painting, photography, performance). Students will interview diasporic Palestinians and share their findings with an artist who will transform those memories into pieces of art. The outcome of the workshop will be exihibited and shared at a launch/party on December 9 – in combination with the end-of-semester party traditionally held with MEIS. We are also delighted to announce that prominent voice of the Arab world and especially the Gulf, blogger, writer, art supporter and founder Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi will be our Practitioner-in-Residence in Spring 2017.

Our academic seminars, workshops, conferences, and other educational programs foster a vibrant environment for students, faculty, and the general public. Our events program provides a forum through which we can question and share a deeper understanding of the Middle East. As always, our events balance current events, faculty and student interests, the latest scholarship and special topics. You will notice in our events line-up for the Fall that we are trying to streamline events by holding fewer every week, yet have more visitors involved. Of special note for this semester is the conference on REFUGEES, MIGRANTS, AND THE POLITICS OF HUMANITARIANISM, on November 4, which will host six leading scholars. 

Our partnership with the CUNY Graduate Center’s Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center (MEMEAC) launches with a series of events this academic year, Dissections, which aims to showcase research in progress on the MENA region in a supportive and constructive environment.

The Center continues to provide and improve its teacher training to local middle- and high- school educators and professional development to faculty from under-served institutions. Our outreach program, under the leadership of Diana Shin, will host a number of Saturday Seminars this Fall and Spring, an enriched Teacher Fellows program, and an intensive Summer Institute.

The Center would not be what it is without the dedication of its incredible staff and student workers. The indefatigable Associate Director Greta Scharnweber, Outreach Administrator Diana Shin, and Administrative Aide Tandi Budhram, are joined by our new MA Program Coordinator, Joshua Anderson. Josh completed his MA at Harvard in Journalism earlier this year, where he was also the Program Coordinator at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He got his BA at the University of Iowa in Political Science and International Studies.

2016 marks our fiftieth anniversary – a milestone which we began honoring in Spring and will continue celebrating in the months ahead. We hope you will join us for our anniversary celebration at MESA, also celebrating 50 years, this November in Boston.

— Dr. Helga Tawil-Souri,
    Director of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies