Institute for Middle East Studies

Founded in 2007, the Institute for Middle East Studies aims to foster research, dialogue and the creation of an intellectual community focused on the modern Middle East, geographically defined as the Arab world, Turkey, Israel, and Iran. To this end, IMES encourages intellectual collaboration among members of the GW community interested in the Middle East, between GW research institutes, and with other organizations in the Washington area. In promoting and publicizing new work on the Middle East, IMES aims to deepen understanding of this critical region among scholars, students, and the broader public. We hope you will join our efforts to examine the forces that have shaped this critical region, how they operate today, and how they may unfold in the future.
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In Memoriam: A Tribute to Benjamin Cumbo

The Institute for Middle East Studies grieves the loss of a Middle East Studies MA student, Ben Cumbo, who passed away at the age of 27. In addition to being a tireless advocate for funding muscular dystrophy research, Ben was an intelligent and committed scholar who was greatly admired by his faculty advisors and fellow students. In 2011, he presented his M.A. capstone research on the equitable distribution of water in the West Bank, under the direction of then-International Crisis Group director Robert Malley and program director Marc Lynch. Ben excelled in his chosen field of global energy and security policy, and was most recently an intern at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). He will be dearly missed by all. 

FLAS Awardees

Congratulations to the 2015-2016 recipients of the prestigious Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Academic Year fellowships:

Nicole Bailey: Global Communication (Arabic)

Mischa Benoit-Lavelle: Middle East Studies (Arabic)

Kelsey Fish: Global Communication (Arabic)

Alissa Fromkin: Middle East Studies (Arabic)

Liliana Martinez: International Affairs (Arabic)

Marintha Miles: Anthropology (Persian)

Amanda Sass: Middle East Studies (Hebrew)

Carter Starling: Middle East Studies (Arabic)

The FLAS fellowship awards cover full tuition and a living stipend for one academic year. For more information visit the website of the Office of Graduate Student Assistantships and Fellowships.

IMES 2015 Annual Conference

Art in a Time of Violence: Cultural Production in the Contemporary Middle East

The IMES Annual conference will take place on Friday, April 17th from 8:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The IMES annual conference is a multidisciplinary event that brings together top scholars and practitioners from across the US. The organizing theme for this year’s meeting is cultural production and critique (broadly conceived) with the aim of examining the political, social and cultural role of art in the midst of repression and violent conflict.

8:45 a.m. - Coffee and Registration

9:00 a.m. - Introductory Remarks
Marc Lynch, George Washington University

9:15 a.m. - Panel I: The Slow Burn - Art and Expression in Occupied Palestine
Ted Swedenburg, University of Arkansas
Rebecca Stein, Duke University
David McDonald, Indiana University

11:00 a.m. - Panel II: Telling Others' Stories - Collecting, Translating, and Interpreting the Art of the Revolutions 
Hisham Aidi, Columbia University
Max Weiss, Princeton University
Donatella Della Ratta, Copenhagen University

12:30 p.m. - Lunch and Keynote: "A Momentary Erasure of Millennia: The Cultural Heritage Crises in Syria & Iraq"
Michael Danti, Boston University

2:00 p.m. - Panel III: War as Backdrop - Iraqi Film and Literature 
Oday Rasheed, Writer and Director
Elliott Colla, Georgetown University
Ali Bader, Writer and Director
Kevin Jones, University of Georgia

Friday, April 17th, 2015
8:45 AM to 3:30 PM
Lindner Family Commons, Room 602
1957 E St. NW, 6th Floor

Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS)

George Washington University is pleased to announce the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) competition for Summer 2015 and Academic Year 2015-2016. FLAS provides tuition remission and living stipends to full-time graduate students (U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents) studying the Arabic, Persian, Turkish, or Hebrew at the intermediate or advanced level. The summer fellowship is also open to undergraduates at the intermediate or advanced level of a target language. Deadline for consideration for both the Summer and Academic Year Fellowship is January 15. To find out fellowship specifics and to access the application, please visit (Academic Year) and (Summer.)

Crisis in the Middle East: IMES Faculty Respond

To orient yourself in a constantly changing region, you can always turn to IMES faculty. Find their opinions on recent events in the Middle East here.

2014 Capstone Projects now posted

The excellent Capstone Projects that IMES students completed in 2014 are now posted on the IMES website and are available for reading. To see the projects, and those from years past, please click here. Congratulations to the authors on this wonderful accomplishment -- all the hard work has certainly paid off!

IMES 2014 Conference Video

Video of the introductory remarks and panels at the IMES 2014 Annual Conference is now available here thanks to the great video work of the Project on Middle East Political Science!

Egypt in crisis

To find out what IMES Faculty Associates are saying about the recent events in Egypt, please visit this link which is a compiled list of articles and interviews.

Don't forget about the IMES Resource Library!

Have some free time this fall? Check out a book or film from the IMES library! You can view a list of all of the library resources here, or click on the image below to see the new Film Guide which contains synopses of the films, and has classroom usage ideas for educators. Enjoy!

IMES in the News

Middle East Studies MA Student Alissa Fromkin publised parts one and two of a series on the UAE's foreign policy in the Elliott School International Affairs Review.

GW PhD student Scott Weiner published an article in the Monkey Cage blog on variation in Gulf responses to oil price decline.

IMES Faculty Associate Shira Robinson's recent book, Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel's Liberal Settler State, received the honor of being named as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2014, as part of a list composed by Choice magazine. Citizen Strangers was also listed as one of the top 25 books of the year by the magazine. Choice had reviewed the book in September.

Director of the Persian Program Pardis Minuchehr was interviewed for an article in Medium on war in Iranian cinema.

Associate Professor Dina Khoury was featured on the Ottoman History Podcast, where she spoke on society and politics in Ottoman Iraq.

Professor Nathan Brown defended area studies on the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog.

Associate Professor Ilana Feldman wrote an article, "Isolating Gaza," that was published in the Stanford University Press blog and Jadaliyya.

In the spring semester, IMES Professorial Lecturer Judith Yaphe was interviewed for the Washington Post, published articles in The Majalla and the Prism Syria Supplement, and received the Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award, highest award given to civilians in the Department of Defense. Congratulations Professor Yaphe!

IMES Faculty Associate Shira Robinson wrote two articles for the Middle East Research and Information Project, and is conducting talks for her new book at UMD - College Park, the Palestine Center, and Towson University. She also gave an extended interview with the news website Mondoweiss.

Between December 2013 and Feburary 2014, IMES Faculty Associate Nathan Brown wrote articles for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Foreign Policy, and New Republic. He has also been featured on NPR and interviewed for The New York Times and the Carnegie Endowment.

Recent MA graduate Sam Khazai (2013) co-wrote a report (with Anthony Cordesman) for the Center for Strategic & International Studies that has been cited in articles in the Huffington Post and Bloomberg.

IMES Associate Director Shana Marshall was interviewed by several publications regarding the United States' military aid to Egypt. You can read the articles from Voice of Russia, Duetsche Welle Radio, AP, and Al Jazeera America.

IMES Faculty Associate Shira Robinson's book, Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of the Liberal Settler State, was reviewed in The National, an Abu Dhabi-based newspaper. Read the review here.

IMES Faculty Associate Edward Gnehm gave an interview to a reporter from Vocativ who was working on a story about how the overtures between Iran and Washington have also shined a spotlight on the shared policy goals of Israel and many Arab states. The story, entitled "Public enemies, private frenemies: Why Israel and the Arab gulf states both hate Iran" and which quotes Ambassador Gnehm at length, can be found here.

IMES Faculty Associate Robert Eisen was invited by the US State Department to give a keynote address to a group of Egyptian educators from Al-Azhar who were visiting the United States in August as part of the State Department's International Visitors Leadership Program. Professor Eisen's topic was "The Impact of Religion on Relations between the West and the Islamic World."
Professor Eisen gave the keynote address at Temple University in Philadelphia to a group of visiting Saudi academics on the topic of "Methods in Religious Studies in Western Universities."
Additionally, Professor Eisen notes that the recently launched MA program in Islam in the Religion Department has six students enrolled this fall, which he calls a "remarkably high number given the fact that the program was announced only in April" of this year. Congratulations!

To read more IMES news, please click on this link!

IMES welcomes new faculty member

The Institute for Middle East Studies is excited to have Professor Attiya Ahmad on the IMES faculty team!

Attiya Ahmad is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at GW. She received her PhD in Cultural Anthropology at Duke University, MA degrees in Anthropology from Duke University and the University of Toronto, and a BA Hons in International Development Studies from the University of Toronto. In 2009-2010 she was a postdoctoral fellow at Georgetown University's Center for International and Regional Studies in Doha, Qatar. Prior to joining GWU, Professor Ahmad taught at Wesleyan University, and worked with social justice movements and NGOs in Toronto, Pakistan and Palestine. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Gulf Cooperation Council States, South Asia, the Middle East and more recently, Central Asia.

Prof. Ahmad's monograph 'Limits of Conversation: Islamic Da'wa, Domestic Work and South Asian Foreign Resident Women in Kuwait,' currently under revision for publication, is based on 29 months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Kuwait, Pakistan and Nepal. Her research focuses on female South Asian migrant domestic worker in Kuwait City who are converting to Islam and the controversies that surround their newfound pieties. By tracing the experiences of these women, most notably their work within Kuwaiti households and their participation in classes organized by Kuwait's Islamic da'wa movement, her research foregrounds the importance of the household as a site through which globalizing Islamic movements and the increasing feminization of transnational labor migration in the region are reshaping subjectivities, social belonging and political possibilities in our contemporary world. Her work brings together scholarship on transnationalism, globalization and cosmopolitanism; diaspora and migration studies; religion, secularism, and ethics; Islamic studies; economic and anthropology and political economy; Middle East and South Asia studies; and an array of feminist, marxist and critical theories reexamining the household as a site of biopolitics, affective and immaterial labor, and the production and reproduction of gendered subjects.

Aramex Partnership Continues to Grow

Established in 2011, The Aramex Student Fund is an Elliott School of International Affairs program that combines language training and social entrepreneurship. Provided by a generous gift of $50,000 donated by Aramex International, a global transportation and logistics services company, this fund allows students to study Arabic abroad while simultaneously interning for a local NGO. Through their internship, students are able to invest in the development of their host country and support the activities of local NGOs, help them build relationships and gain experience in the NGO sector, and give them a deeper exposure to the local culture beyond the academic realm. Each grantee is funded up to $3000 to defray tuition, housing, and food costs.This summer, 8 students are participating in the program, traveling to Egypt, Jordan and the West Bank.

In its inaugural year, during the summer of 2011, the program had 7 Aramex/GW students who went to Lebanon, the West Bank and Jordan. They reported a tremendously positive experience. One student, who interned in Jordan, calls the Aramex program a "life-changing opportunity." Another student volunteered with the Sustainable Democracy Center in Beirut while studying at the Lebanese American University, and assisted with their youth club activities. Another student spent some 80 hours teaching English in Nablus and Ramallah through the Sharek Youth Forum while studying Arabic at Birzeit University. Yet another student, who interned with the Ruwwad Foundation in Amman, describes becoming close to many of the students and families she met there. She also learned a tremendous amount about the realities of sustainable development, incorporating her experience into an independent research project at the Elliott School. A selection of pictures from summer 2011 are below:


West Bank

IMES Designated Title VI National Resource Center

The U.S. Department of Education has designated The Institute for Middle East Studies a Title VI National Resource Center, awarding IMES nearly $1 million over four years to enrich its programs in research and teaching on the Middle East.

The grant will enable IMES to build its Persian, Arabic and Turkish language programs, support faculty and student research, and offer a wider variety of events. It will provide funds to significantly expand the University's Middle East and North Africa Resource Center within Gelman Library. It will also help support the Project on Middle East Political Science, a major national network successfully launched last year to strengthen the impact of Middle East specialists on public discourse and the academic field. It will also allow GW to launch three innovative outreach initiatives, including an Iraq War veteran's outreach initiative, a journalist training initiative, and a K-12 teacher training initiative.
» Read more.

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Upcoming Events

The Institute for Middle East Studies will resume our events in the Fall semester. Have a great summer!

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Contact Us

Phone: 202.994.9249
Fax: 202.994.4055
Twitter: @IMESatGWU

Institute for Middle East Studies
1957 E Street, N.W., Suite 512
Washington, D.C. 20052