MEI Annual Report 2016-2017

Middle East Institute Annual Report 2016-17

 

Table of Contents

People

 


 

Brinkley Messick

Brinkley Messick

Brinkley Messick is Professor of Anthropology and of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University. He was the Chair of the Department of Anthropology from 2004-2011; was a founding co-Director of the Center for Palestine Studies (2010-15); and currently is the Director of the Middle East Institute. In 2009, he received the Outstanding Senior Scholar Award from the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association. He is the author of The Calligraphic State, which won the Albert Hourani Award from the Middle East Studies Association. His Sharīʿa Scripts: A Historical Anthropology is forthcoming from Columbia University Press.

Astrid Benedek

Astrid Benedek has been the Associate Director of the Middle East Institute since December 2003. Holder of an M.A. from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and a B.A. in Middle East and African Studies from Georgetown University, she previously spent 12 years in the not-for-profit sector managing international education programs, including teacher-training programs in the Former Soviet Union for the Open Society Institute.

Simone Rutkowitz

Simone Rutkowitz recently earned her MA in Near Eastern Studies from New York University's Hagop Kevorkian Center where her research interests included soft power, visual and printed culture and urbanism. She holds a BA in Photography from Hamilton College. A two time FLAS recipient, Simone is near-fluent in Arabic. She has lived in Cairo, Egypt several times and studied at the Arabic Language Institute at the American University in Cairo. Outside of the MEI, Simone volunteers at the International Refugee Assistance Project as an Arabic Intake Caseworker.

Dahlia El Zein

Dahlia El Zein obtained a Masters in Arab Studies from Georgetown University. A Lebanese national Dahlia was raised in Egypt and currently lives in the United States. She is passionate about teaching about the Middle East. Formerly, she was the Program Director at the Center for Palestine Studies. Prior to that she was the Middle East researcher at the Committee to Protect Journalists. She has travelled widely across the Middle East. Additionally, Dahlia worked as a history teacher in New York charter schools. She teaches an annual summer course for high school students about the Middle East at Princeton University. 

Global Language Project

Global Language Project

The Global Language Project (GLP) supports K-16 world language teachers to strengthen their practice and thus deepen their impact on their students.

The GLP Director writes, 


We have been fortunate to partner with the MEI at Columbia again this year through two of our key teacher training programs: our New York Arabic Teachers’ Council (NYATC) and our summer STARTALK program.

NYATC has served 51 teachers of Arabic through the fall, winter, and fall workshops at MEI that centered on the theme of “Beyond the Classroom Walls” and explored various ways of connecting K-16 Arabic students with the outside world. We also launched a leadership cohort of Arabic teachers at the winter workshop, who are working to be leaders in their schools and the language teaching community in general. 

In July 2016, GLP held their second STARTALK summer program at MEI for teachers of critical needs languages that included 24 teachers of Arabic, Korean, and Mandarin.

 
 

Executive Committee

Executive Committee

 

Dedicated Outreach Consultant

Dahlia El Zein obtained a Masters in Arab Studies from Georgetown University. A Lebanese national Dahlia was raised in Egypt and currently lives in the United States. She is passionate about teaching about the Middle East. Formerly, she was the Program Director at the Center for Palestine Studies. Prior to that she was the Middle East researcher at the Committee to Protect Journalists. She has travelled widely across the Middle East. Additionally, Dahlia worked as a history teacher in New York charter schools. She teaches an annual summer course for high school students about the Middle East at Princeton University. 

Summer Outreach

At MEI we are committed to offering K- 14 teachers robust and useful professional development opportunities on teaching about the Middle East in a nuanced and well-informed manner. 

Reconfiguring Representations of the Middle East and South Asia
The MEI partnered with Teacher’s College at Columbia University to create a workshop for K-12 public school teachers on “Rethinking Representations of the Middle East and South Asia.” Held at Teachers College, the workshop included a diverse group of panelists: 

Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher, Ed.D, Senior Lecturer; Literacy, Culture and International Education Division at the University of Pennsylvania

Maria Hantzopoulos, Ed.D, Associate Professor of Education at Vassar College

Roozbeh Shirazi, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Program in Comparative and International Development Education at the University of Minnesota

Sa'ed Atshan, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College 

Debbie Almontaser, PhD, President Board of Directors and CEO of Bridging Cultures Group and the founding and former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy. 

The Discourse of the Veil
Assistant Professor Nadia Geousous from Colorado College, PhD in Anthropology and graduate of Columbia University gave a full-day teacher’s workshop on Islam and the veil in June 2017 at Columbia. 

Citizenship and Nationality in Israel/Palestine
MEI hosted a teacher’s workshop at Columbia Law School on citizenship and nationality in Israel/Palestine chaired by Columbia law professor Katherine Franke. 

LaGuardia Community College Partnership

We are pleased to announce our ongoing partnership with LaGuardia Community College, a City University of New York (CUNY) school in Queens, New York. 

Guest Lecture Program & Speaker’s Bureau
As part of the partnership, MEI placed PhD students from Columbia as guest lecturers at LaGuardia. Andrew McLaren, PhD candidate in the Department of Religion, lectured on early Islam in Professor Robin Kietlinski's course on World History in May 2017.  Another PhD candidate from the Religion department, Verena Hanna Meyer lectured on the spread of Islam in the Java region in June 2017. Additionally, MEI established the “speaker’s bureau” of Columbia PhD candidates who offer a variety of guests lectures on the Middle East at community colleges and local schools. 

Amazigh/Berber Film Festival
We assisted LaGuardia professor, Habiba Boumlik with the promotion and advertising of an Amazigh/Berber film festival in May 2017. Next year, we plan to officially co-sponsor the festival. 

Faculty Seminar
In April 2017 MEI’s Outreach Coordinator, Dahlia El Zein, participated in a faculty seminar with LaGuardia faculty on teaching about Israel/Palestine. Dahlia also teaches an annual summer course on the Middle East at Princeton University. Additionally, Dahlia took part in a Professional Development series organized by Professors Boumlik and Kietlinski at LaGuardia. The seminar was a success and Dahlia will return next year to give a similar seminar. 

Lila Abu-Lughod 

Lila Abu-Lughod 

Lila Abu-Lughod is the Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science at Columbia University and teaches in the Department of Anthropology and at the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality. A former MEI Director, she is a leading voice in debates about gender, Islam, and global power. Her most recent books include Nakba: Palestine, 1948 and the Claims of Memory (co-edited with Ahmad H. Sa'di), Do Muslim Women Need Saving? and a thirtieth anniversary edition of Veiled Sentiments.

Gil Anidjar 

Gil Anidjar 

Gil Anidjar is Professor in the Departments of Religion and of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS), and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS). He is the author of ‘Our Place in al-Andalus’: Kabbalah, Philosophy, Literature in Arab Jewish LettersThe Jew, the Arab: A History of the Enemy; Semites: Race, Religion, Literature; and Blood.

Katherine Pratt Ewing

Katherine Pratt Ewing

Katherine Pratt Ewing is Professor of Religion, Director of the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life and the Coordinator of the Program in the South Asia Institute. Her books include Arguing Sainthood: Modernity, Psychoanalysis and Islam; Stolen Honor: Stigmatizing Muslim Men in Berlin and the edited volumes Shariat and Ambiguity in South Asian Islam and Being and Belonging: Muslim Communities in the US since 9/11.

Hamid Dabashi

Hamid Dabashi

Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His most recent work includes Shi’ism: A Religion of Protest; The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism; Corpus Anarchicum: Political Protest, Suicidal Violence, and the Making of the Posthuman Body; The World of Persian Literary Humanism; Being A Muslim in the World; and Can Non-Europeans Think?