Institute for Middle East Studies

Events Archive – Spring 2011

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IMES 4th Annual Conference: April 21, 2011

Presented by The Institute for Middle East Studies with The Project on Middle East Political Science, The Middle East Policy Forum, & The Elliott School of International Affairs

Iran in Transition
Leading academics go deep inside the politics, economy, culture, and society of a rapidly evolving Iran.

Watch the keynote by Shirin Ebadi online here.

Keynote Speaker
Dr. Shirin Ebadi
 , Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Human Rights Lawyer

Conference Panelists
Kaveh Ehsani
, DePaul University
Nader Hashemi, University of Denver 
Elliot Hen-Tov
, Princeton University 
Arang Keshavarzian
, New York University
Azam Khatam, York University
Pardis Minuchehr, University of Pennsylvania
Misagh Parsa, Dartmouth College
Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Virginia Tech, Brookings Institution
Naghmeh Sohrabi, Brandeis University
Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar, George Washington University
Roxanne Varzi, University of California, Irvine

Marc Lynch, GWU
Muriel Atkin, GWU
Nathan Brown, GWU
Ilana Feldman, GWU
Edward W. Gnehm, Jr., GWU

For the full conference program and synopses of the panels, click here.

This event is supported in part by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant for National Resource Centers. The Middle East Policy Forum is presented with the generous support of ExxonMobil.

Institute for Middle East Studies Lecture Series
"America, Oil, and War in the Middle East"


Toby Jones

Assistant Professor of Middle East History, Rutgers University

Launched just a little over two years after the September 11th attacks, the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 seemed to be a response to then pressing strategic and security concerns. Proponents of the push to topple Saddam Hussein's regime offered a number of justifications for urgent action, citing Iraq's likely possession and imminent use of weapons of mass destruction, the regime's complicity in the events of 9/11, and an increasingly bold pattern of "roguish" behavior that flaunted international law, and more importantly, American security. Although many of the reasons proffered for war would ultimately prove flimsy, even contrived, making sense of the big picture has remained a challenge. To do this, and to consider how the 2003 invasion was connected to and the outcome of a longer pattern of American policymaking in the Persian Gulf, it is necessary to consider the various ways that the United States has been engaged in either direct military action or policies that have facilitated perpetual warfare in the Middle East since the late 1970s. Oil has been central to this pattern. Although Middle Eastern oil has been tied directly to American national security since World War II, the conflation of oil and national security with war took shape in the last three decades of the 20th century. From direct military intervention, to the militarization of oil through the sale of billions of dollars of weapons to petro-states in the region, to the propping up of barely stable oil regimes, American policy has abetted war more than it has prevented it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
6:00 p.m. - 7:15 p.m.
Lindner Family Commons
Suite 602, 1957 E Street, NW

The IMES Lecture Series is supported by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant for National Resource Centers.

Institute for Middle East Studies Lecture Series
"Targeting Arab Cities: Military and Architectural Expertise and the Moralization of the Politics of Empire"


Ahmed Kanna
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of the Pacific School of International Studies.
Significant publications: Dubai: The City as Corporation (2011, University of Minnesota Press), "Flexible Citizenship in Dubai: Neoliberal Subjectivity in the Emerging City Corporation," Cultural Anthropology, 2010; Rethinking Cities and Communities in the Global Era, co-edited with Xiangming Chen (forthcoming, Routledge Press).

Dr. Kanna will discuss a contemporary, post-neoliberal and Global War on Terror conjuncture in which the issue of urbanism and, in particular the global south city, is becoming a central object expertise. In particular, cities in the Middle East and South/Central Asia have become central in Western, and particularly U.S., discourses of security, neoliberalism, and cultural representation. The first decade of the 21st century seems to have created two Middle Eastern archetypes in the imaginations of Western military and architectural experts: Dubai and Baghdad/Gaza, or, the urban blank slate/architectural laboratory versus the city as object of military discipline. In this paper, he will look at the ways in which cities, or the image of cities, do "cultural work" in the moralization of the politics of U.S. and neoliberal empire.

Thursday, March 10, 2011
6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Room B17, 1957 E Street, NW

The IMES Lecture Series is supported by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant for National Resource Centers.

The Security Policy Forum and The Institute for Middle East Studies
Egypt: After The Revolution


Michele Dunne
Co-Chair, Bipartisan Working Group of Egypt; Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
12:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.
Lindner Family Commons
Suite 602, 1957 E Street, NW

The Middle East Policy Forum and the Elliott School of International Affairs
The 2011 Annual Kuwait Chair Lecture
The Liberation of Kuwait: Reflections


Ambassador Edward W. "Skip" Gnehm, Jr.

Thursday, February 17, 2011
6:30 p.m. - 7:45 p.m.
Harry Harding Auditorium
Room 213, 1957 E Street, NW

The Middle East Policy Forum and the GW Libraries
A reception and viewing of an exhibit on the Liberation of Kuwait

Thursday, February 17, 2011
5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
The Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library
Second Floor, 2140 H Street, NW

Transportation between the Elliott School and the Gelman Library will be provided from 4:30pm to 6:30pm.

The Middle East Policy Forum is presented with the generous support of ExxonMobil

The Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies and The Institute for Middle East Studies Lecture Series
Russia and the Arab Uprisings of 2011


Mark N. Katz
Professor of Government and Politics, George Mason University

The popular uprisings against long-standing authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt are seen by Moscow as the re-emergence of the "color revolution" nemesis. Moscow would much prefer that Mubarak remain in power, is unhappy about the Obama administration's promoting change, but has limited options for dealing with this situation.

Mark N. Katz is Professor of Government and Politics at George Mason University and a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Policy Council. He has been writing on Moscow's foreign policy toward the Middle East for three decades.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Lindner Family Commons
Suite 602, 1957 E Street, NW

Institute for Middle East Studies Lecture Series
How Did the Lebanese Shi`a Become Sectarian? Law, Institutions, and the Making of Modern Lebanon


Max Weiss
Assistant Professor of History and Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, and a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows

Contrary to the conventional wisdom that sectarianism is intrinsically linked to violence, bloodshed, or social disharmony, this talk will consider some institutional and discursive transformations of Shi`i sectarianism in early twentieth-century Lebanon as a vehicle for discussing how sectarianism can be both productive and destructive at the same time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Lindner Family Commons
Suite 602, 1957 E Street, NW

Institute for Middle East Studies
Special Event
Islamic Charities: Research and Policy Issues


Jonathan Benthall is a consultant to the Geneva-based Islamic Charities Project He is an honorary research fellow in the Department of Anthropology, University College London, and was Director of the Royal Anthropological Institute between 1974 and 2000. His recent publications include: The Charitable Crescent: Politics of Aid in the Muslim World (with J. Bellion-Jourdan), 2003, new paperback edition 2008; and Returning to Religion: Why a Secular Age is Haunted by Faith, 2008 (both London: I.B. Tauris and New York: Palgrave Macmillan).

Islamic charities are the focus of intense scrutiny as a result of alleged links with extremist groups, which has intensified with recent US civil and criminal court decisions relating to 'material support' for terrorism. At the same time, charitable giving is of great importance as one of the 'pillars' of Islam; and many experts on international aid now consider that Faith Based Organizations of all denominations have special practical advantages because of their access to vast civil society networks.

This lecture will give an overview of current empirical research on Islamic charities, with special reference to the Palestinian Territories, and will go on to argue that, if encouraged to develop in line with generally accepted standards of transparency and non-discrimination, Islamic charities could be a protection against terrorism rather than alleged conduits for terrorism. This is arguably the case in the United Kingdom as a result of the policies of the government-appointed Charity Commission. Draconian counter-terrorist measures setting out to purge Islamic charities might actually have the reverse effect to that intended - not only preventing aid from reaching beneficiaries, but also aggravating feelings of resentment in the Muslim world, and leaving a vacuum in humanitarian aid for extremist groups to penetrate.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Lindner Family Commons
Suite 602, 1957 E Street, NW

Project on Middle East Political Science
Tunisia: Protests and Prospects for Change

Protests broke out in Tunisia on December 17 and have only continued to escalate. The demonstrations have captured the attention of the entire Arab world, and raised both fears of and hopes for political change. Why did the demonstrations erupt, and where will they lead? How will they affect the rest of the Arab world? What should the Obama administration do?


Christopher Alexander
Davidson College

John P. Entelis
Fordham University

Moderated by

Marc Lynch
George Washington University

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Lindner Family Commons
Suite 602, 1957 E Street, NW

Institute for Middle East Studies Lecture Series
The Case of Organ Transplantation in Egypt: Reassessing Bioethics and Contemporary Islamic Thought

Sherine Handy is the Kutayba Alghanim Assistant Professor of Social Sciences and AssistantProfessor of Anthropology at Brown University. Her book Our Bodies Belong to God: Bioethics, Islam, and Organ Transplantation is coming out with UCPress, Fall 2011.

Our Bodies Belong to God centers on why Egyptians were largely reluctant to accept transplant medicine. In the print news, on state television, radio, film, and in religious sermons, opinions clashed over this life-saving but death-ridden medical practice.10 Egypt's organ transplant debate immediately presents a number of puzzles. Why did organ transplantation in particular, as opposed to other biotechnological practices, set off such a heated debate? Why was Egypt the "pioneering" Arab Muslim country in the field of transplant medicine, and yet the most resistant to passing a law? If all official religious scholars in Egypt declared that organ transplantation was permissible in Islam, why did patients and family members continue to object out of "religious" sentiment, echoing the words of Shaykh Sha'rawi, who insisted that we cannot donate that which "belongs to God"? Why did doctors talk about the body belonging to God as a commonsensical basis from which to question the prudence of kidney transplants, and yet as "superstitious" and "backward" when it came to transplanting corneas? If Egyptian doctors prided themselves on having worked with cornea grafts as early as the 1960s, why were public eye banks barely operational by the late 1990s? Even more puzzling, people in Egypt agreed that buying and selling organs was in principle wrong, while the majority of transplants occurred in just this way. Why was the commodification of organs perceived as a national outrage and at the same time as inevitable and banal?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Lindner Family Commons
Suite 602, 1957 E Street, NW

Institute for Middle East Studies and America Abroad Media
The Arab World's Demographic Dilemma:
Young, Unemployed, and Searching for a Voice

Arab youth confront daunting challenges, including a lack of economic opportunities, constraints on their freedom of expression, and the complex and shifting nature of their own Arab identity. How the Arab world meets these challenges will have significant ramifications both in the Middle East and throughout the globe.

Join us for a special panel discussion to mark the release of America Abroad's three-part public radio series on youth in the Arab World, The Arab World's Demographic Dilemma.

Moderated by
Deborah Amos
Host, America Abroad
Foreign Correspondent, NPR News

Christine Capacci Carneal
Education Development Officer, USAID Asia and Middle East Bureaus

Lina Khatib
Program Manager, Program on Good Governance and Political Reform in the Arab World
Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law
Stanford University

Diane Singerman
Associate Professor, Department of Government
American University School of Public Affairs

Commentary by
Marc Lynch
Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs
Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies, George Washington University

Tuesday, January 11, 2010
12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Lindner Family Commons
Suite 602, 1957 E Street, NW




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