Middle Eastern Studies



Gershon Shafir, Sociology, gshafir@ucsd.edu

Faculty Group Members:

Michael Provence, History           

Nancy Postero, Anthropology, Director International Institute          

Wael Al-Delaimy, Medicine

Hasan Kayali, History,

Nir Shafir, History,

Gary Fields, Communications

Nina Zhiri, Literature


There is a small but diverse group of faculty studying and teaching Middle East topics from the classical, through the medieval, to the modern era. In addition, we also examine branches of the Muslim diaspora, including, most recently, in the US. The group includes faculty from Anthropology, History, Economics, Political Science, Ethnic Studies, Literature, Sociology, and the School of Medicine.

Our collective efforts have been spent on offering both a minor and running and two part lecture and event series. The Middle East Minor is an interdisciplinary program aimed at a comparative study of both the Middle East and North Africa through a series of core courses and electives. We organized large public discussions on events concerning the Middle East, and smaller, more focused, scholarly lectures aimed at our student and faculty Middle East studies community.

During IICAS’s existence the ME Lecture Series was one of the most prolific series and among the best attended. For example a town hall meeting on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion and war produced an evening event with an audience of 250, a newspaper editorial and a KPBS public radio broadcast interview. The UCSD TV broadcast has been viewed on YouTube over a million times. In the past few years, due to budget cuts and the loss of IICAS’s administrative assistance, the faculty’s ability to offer a lecture series on a wide range of topics has diminished. Even so, we recently staged another town hall meeting jointly with History and IIH as part of the "Challenging Conversations" series titled: "From Japanese Internment to the Muslim Ban: History Forgotten & Remembered.” We also hosted Professor Salim Yaqub (History, UCSB) whose lecture was titled: “Imperfect Strangers: Americans, Arabs, and the US-Middle Eastern Relations in the 1970s.”

Our goal is to offer a series of 6-8 lectures per year that will cover the full historical range of the Middle East, other areas affected by the Middle East, and Muslims around the world, from multiple disciplinary perspectives. We also intend to hold an annual town hall meeting devoted either to a significant anniversary (such as the Sykes-Picot Agreement or the Balfour Declaration in 2017) or to an issue of particular contemporary relevance.

Faculty Groups