The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Announcing NOCMES

Update: You can catch a livestream of Rami Khouri Josh Stacher's appearance tonight here and listen to a WKSU radio interview of Stacher here

There's a new Middle East Studies association in the US, co-founded by former Arabist contributor Josh Stacher, that will be bringing some fantastic speakers to the Cleveland area — starting with the man I consider to be one of the finest commentator on the region, Rami Khouri, tonight and tomorrow night.

Check out the NOCMES website for more info, and here is the Fall speaker schedule. Some events will be streamed or archived (including Khouri's two talks). You can also follow NOCMES on Twitter at @nocmes.

Full info below.

Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University, Oberlin, and Cleveland State University Collaborate:

New Perspectives on Muslim and Middle Eastern Societies 

Like our own communities in Northeast Ohio, the Middle East and the wider Muslim world represent diverse cultures, societies, and politics. To disseminate scholarly research on these societies, engage public discussion, and educate the area community about this region, four faculty members from higher education institutions have launched the Northeast Ohio Consortium for Middle East Studies (NOCMES).  The consortium includes, Pete W. Moore, Department of Political Science, Case Western Reserve University; Neda A.  Zawahri, Department of Political Science Cleveland State University, Joshua Stacher, Department of Political Science, Kent State University; and Zeinab Abul-Magd, Department of History, Oberlin College.

With financial support from the Social Science Research Council, and in partnership with Civic Commons, Ideastream, and the City Club of Cleveland NOUCMES will be hosting a series of public addresses and community discussion events entitled, “New Perspectives on Muslim and Middle Eastern Societies.”  The goal is to bring promising scholars from top research universities in the U.S. as well as established intellectuals to Northeast Ohio to address several themes: “Muslim Voices and Publics,” “Women in the Muslim World” and “Muslim Societies in Transition.”

The consortium’s outreach also has community support from The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Cleveland, Cleveland Council on World Affairs, Cuyahoga Public Libraries, InterAct Cleveland, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Cleveland, and The First Church in Oberlin. 

Unlike standard talks on college campuses steeped in academic language, these speakers have been given the charge to present their research in an accessible manner to help the general public understand the issues.

Each speaker will give a general address at the City Club of Cleveland, followed by a second public townhall or conversation with students, faculty and members of the public at venues around the area.


The Consortium’s fall speakers are: 

Rami Khouri, directs the Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs at American University of Beirut and is the editor-at-large for Daily Star, a Beirut-based newspaper.  An internationally syndicated political columnist and author, Mr. Khouri graduated from Syracuse University and has written extensively on political change in the Middle East and US policy.  He will speak Oct. 4 at Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and on 5 Oct. he will deliver a City Club sponsored address.

Sherine Hafez, is Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of California at Riverside.  A rising star among Anthropologists studying the role of women in Muslim societies, Professor Hafez’s second book, An Islam of Her Own: Reconsidering Religion And Secularism In Women's Islamic Movements was published by New York University Press in 2011.  Professor Hafez’s work challenges simplistic portrayals of the role of Muslim women in political movements, and more specifically how women participated in the 2011 Egyptian uprisings.  Professor Hafez will speak at the City Club and at one of the Cuyahoga Library system branches on November 14 and 15.     


Toby C. Jones, is a historian of the modern Middle East at  Rutgers University.  He has held positions at Swathmore College and Princeton University and was an analyst for Gulf affairs for the International Crisis Group.  His first book published by Harvard University Press, Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia, is widely praised as one of the best new books on that important country.  His current project, America’s Oil Wars, will also be published by Harvard.  Professor Jones will speak at the City Club on 16 Dec. 


Spring 2012 speakers include:

Amaney Jamal is an associate professor of politics and director of the Workshop on Arab Political Development at Princeton University.  Professor Jamal studies how Arab and Muslim Americans become engaged in civic life in the U.S., and has expanded that research interest to patterns of citizenship in the Arab world. She is the author of Barriers to Democracy which explored the relationship between professional associations and democratization in the Middle East and she is co-author of Citizenship and Crisis: Arab Detroit after 9-11.  Her current project is entitled, Living Poverty: The Urban and Rural Poor in Comparative Development.  Professor Jamal will speak at the City Club on February 10.

Anthony Shadid is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at the New York Times.  Widely recognized as the best American journalist reporting from the Middle East, Mr. Shadid is author of Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War and is currently completing a book on his family’s ancestral home in Lebanon.  He will speak in Cleveland in early March 2012. 

Jillian Schwedler is an associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Professor Schwedler studies political culture, protest and policing in Jordan as well as neoliberalism and identity politics. She is the author of Faith in Moderation: Islamist Parties in Jordan and Yemen, which explores the relationships between political inclusion and group ideological change. She is also co-editor of Understanding the Contemporary Middle East as well as Policing and Prisons in the Middle East: Formations of Coercion. She earned her Ph.D. at New York University and was formerly the Chair of the Board of Directors (2001-2009) and member of the Editorial Committee (1995-2001) of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), publishers of the quarterly magazine, Middle East Report. Professor Schwedler will speak at Nocmes events in April 2012.