Happening at Columbia

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2:30 PM14:30

TALK | Celebrating the Life of Peter Awn

Please join
President Lee C. Bollinger and Jean Magnano Bollinger
and the School of General Studies
to celebrate the life of


Professor of Religion and Dean Emeritus
of the School of General Studies

Tuesday, May 14, 2019
2:30 p.m.

Roone Arledge Auditorium, Lerner Hall 
2920 Broadway
Columbia University in the City of New York
(Enter on Broadway)

We invite you to register here by May 7.
For any questions, please email 

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to Apr 27

WORKSHOP | Representations of Exile and Migration

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Columbia University Middle East Institute will be hosting a professional development workshop for teachers, grades 8-12.

This two-day course will provide a nuanced portrait of the experience of displacement and the figure of the migrant by focusing on literary, cinematographic, pedagogical, and theoretical materials.

Facilitator Biographies:

Anthony Alessandrini is Professor of English at Kingsborough Community College and in the MA Program in Middle Eastern Studies at The CUNY Graduate Center, where he is also a member of the Committee on Globalization and Social Change. He is the author of Frantz Fanon and the Future of Cultural Politics: Finding Something Different; the editor of Frantz Fanon: Critical Perspectives; the co-editor of “Resistance Everywhere”: The Gezi Protests and Dissident Visions of Turkey; and has recently published a poetry chapbook entitled Children Imitating Cormorants. He is on the faculty of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the MLA West Asian Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Forum, and on the Nominating Committee of the Middle East Studies Association.

Hande Gurses holds a PhD in Literary Studies from University College London, and currently teaches in the English Department at Ryerson University and in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Toronto. She has published her work on Orhan Pamuk in Fear and Fantasy in a Global World, Global Perspectives on Orhan Pamuk, and other academic and non-academic journals. She was previously a Visiting Lecturer in the Comparative Literature Program at UMass Amherst, where she taught courses on the international short story, dystopian literatures, and ecocriticism. Her primary research interests include contemporary world literature, ecocriticism, and critical animal studies. She is interested in inclusive pedagogies and contemplative practices in higher education. At UMass Amherst she was the recipient of a TIDE fellowship (Teaching for Inclusiveness, Diversity, and Equity) and an active member of the Contemplative Pedagogy Working Group. Most recently she co-edited a volume on eco-critical approaches to contemporary Turkish literature titled Animals, Plants, and Landscapes: An Ecology of Turkish Literature and Film (published in 2019 by Routledge). Her current book project examines the relation between animals and sovereignty in the construction of national identity.

Kirsten Helmer, Ed. D., is a lecturer and the Director of Programming for Diversity, Inclusion & Equity with the Institute for Teaching Excellence & Faculty Development (TEFD) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is in charge of developing and overseeing TEFD’s programming for intercultural teaching development with a focus on inclusive course and syllabus design, inclusive and culturally responsive teaching and assessment practices, universal design for learning, anti-oppressive and contemplative pedagogies, intercultural competence, and facilitating difficult dialogues.

She designed and facilitates the TIDE Ambassador (Teaching for Inclusiveness, Diversity, & Equity) program, a year-long faculty fellowship; regularly offers teaching workshops for faculty; and consults with departments and one-on-one with faculty. Kirsten has taught courses on multicultural education, anti-racism, intergroup dialogue, queering the curriculum, exploring gender and sexuality diversity, multicultural children’s literature, and German language in face-to-face and online settings at both UMass Amherst and Mount Holyoke College.

Kirsten holds a Doctorate in Education from the department of Teacher Education & Curriculum Studies; a Master’s Degree in Bilingual/English as a Second Language/Multicultural Education; a Social Justice Education Graduate Certificate in Teaching for Diversity; and a Certificate as Educational Specialist (Ed. S.) from the College of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In addition, she also received a Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies from the department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at UMass Amherst and has a degree as a Diplom-Betriebswirt (Business Administration) from the Berufsakademie Mannheim, Germany. Her publications include “Queer literacies: A multidimensional approach to reading LGBTQI-themed literature” in D. Linville & D. L. Carlson (Eds.). Beyond Borders: Queer Eros and Ethos (Ethics) in LGBTQ Young Adult Literature, 2016; “Reading queer counter-narratives in the high school literature classroom: possibilities and challenges” in Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Special Edition: Queering LGBT-Themed Literature with Teachers and Students. Guest editors: Mollie Blackburn, Caroline Clark, & Wayne Martino; and “Disruptive practices: Enacting critical pedagogy through meditation, community building and explorative spaces in a graduate course for pre-service teachers” in the Journal of Classroom Interaction (2014), 49(2), 33-40.

To learn more, visit here.

Please email Simone with any questions at sr3429@columbia.edu.

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6:00 PM18:00


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An evening with acclaimed Syrian filmmaker Ossama Mohammed presenting Silvered Water: Syria Self-Portrait, “a rare poetic work that powerfully expresses the humanity and perseverance of Syrians, as it explores the topography of their country torn by civil war,” and a selection form an earlier short Step by Step. “A frightening, captivating and insightful portrait of how the Baath regime transformed generations of peasants into citizen-soldiers and sent the poor in droves to provincial cities as migrant laborers.”

Reception to follow.

Sponsored by: Columbia Global Centers, SIPA MENA Forum, Middle East Institute, and ArteEast.

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to Apr 21

CONFERENCE | The Cultural Turn in Arabic Literary Production


The Cultural Turn in Arabic Literary Production

April 19-21

A conference in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Journal of Arabic Literature. Full program details to follow. 

Organized by Muhsin al-Musawi (Columbia), Elizabeth Holt (Bard), Tarek El-Ariss (Dartmouth College), Nizar F. Hermes (University of Virginia) and Anna Ziajka-Stanton (Penn State University). 

Sponsored by the Middle East Institute; the Department of Middle Eastern; South Asian, and African Studies; Society of Fellows, Heyman Center; the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures; Weatherhead East Asian Institute and Center for Chinese Literature and Culture; University Seminars; Division of Humanities in the Arts and Sciences; Dartmouth College; Brill Academic Publishers; Dr. Aziz Shaibani/Arab-American Educational Foundation, Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University.

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to Apr 14

FILM FESTIVAL | Gaza on Screen

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All events are free and open to the public.

Thursday, April 11, 2019
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Location: Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia University 1180 Amsterdam Ave, Room 612

Paper Boat (2017) directed by Mahmoud Abu Ghalwa.

A shelter in Gaza during a bombing. A young couple waits in the small claustrophobic room. She is pregnant, but how can she give life to a human being in these conditions? The future father is lost in the memories of his childhood. A reflection on freedom, slavery and surrender, sustained by a pressing emotional tension. Director in attendance.

Degrade (2015) directed by Ahmad Abu Nasser and Mohammed Abu Nasser.

The Gaza Strip today. Christine’s beauty salon is crowded with female clients: a bitter divorcée, a religious woman, a woman addicted to prescription drugs and a young bride-to-be, among others. However, their leisure is disrupted when gunfire breaks out across the street. A gangland family has stolen the lion from Gaza’s zoo, and Hamas has decided it is time to settle old scores. Imprisoned in the salon, the women begin to unravel.

Friday, April 12, 2019
10:00 AM - Noon
Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia University, 1180 Amsterdam Ave, Room 612

Scenes from the Occupation in Gaza (1973) directed by Mustafa Abu Ali.

A work created from a French news report about the Gaza Strip that Abu Ali re-edited, adding additional footage and a new commentary. This is the only film produced by the Palestinian Cinema Group, a large collective of Palestinian and Arab filmmakers and artists who came together in 1973 for the purposes of creating a vibrant Palestinian revolutionary cinema.

Voices from Gaza (1989) directed by Antonia Caccia and Maysoon Pachachi.

Voices from Gaza is the first full-length documentary produced after the start of the first Palestinian intifada. With minimal commentary, it allows the people of Gaza - 70% of whom are refugees - to tell their seldom-heard story. In the film Palestinian men, women, and children speak frankly about the effect of Israel’s occupation on their lives, but also about their organized and empowering grassroots resistance to the occupation.

Gaza Diary (2001) directed by Taysir Batniji.

Combining still and moving images, Batniji’s short experimental film invites reflection on daily life and violence.

Al-Wafaa (2014) directed by Yassir Murtaja.

Al-Wafaa is the sole hospital in the Gaza Strip that serves the needs of the disabled. This is the story recounted by its staff and patients of their experience being shelled and bombed during the 2014 Israeli attack.

Shuja’iyah: Land of the Brave (2014) Directed by Hadeel Assali.

Shuja’iyah: Land of the Brave represents one filmmaker’s personal reflection on the meaning of “crimes against humanity” in the context of Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ waged in the Gaza Strip in 2014. Juxtaposing footage of her family filmed in the summer of 2013 against audio from the summer of 2014 Assali poses the question, when we say ‘crimes against humanity’, what ‘humanity’ are we talking about?” Director in attendance.

1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Dodge Hall, Columbia University, 2960 Broadway, Room 511

Daggit Gaza (2009) directed by Hadeel Assali and Iman Saqr.

Politics, food, and family are the topics of a phone conversation between Houston and Gaza that serves as voiceover commentary to the preparation of a spicy tomato salad.

Ouroboros (2017) directed by Basma Alsharif.

Ouroboros is acclaimed visual artist Basma Alsharif’s first feature film. This experimental film is an homage to the Gaza Strip and to the possibility of hope based on the eternal return. The film follows a man through five different landscapes, upending mass-mediated representation of trauma. The film is a journey outside of time, marking the end as the beginning and exploring the subject of the eternal return and how we move forward when all is lost.

4:00 PM- 6:00 PM
Dodge Hall, Columbia University 2960 Broadway, Room 511

Masterclass with Abdel Salam Shehada

Abdel Salam Shehada will talk about dreams and reality, images and imagination. He will share stories from his life, his beginnings in film as a cameraman and a visual album of his journey.

7:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia University 1180 Amsterdam Ave, Room 501

Samouni Road (2018) directed by Stefano Savona.

In the rural outskirts of Gaza City a small community of farmers, the Samouni extended family, is about to celebrate a wedding. This will be the first celebration since the latest war. Amal, Fuad, their brothers and cousins have lost their parents, their houses and their olive trees. The neighborhood where they live is being rebuilt. As they replant trees and plow fields, they face their most difficult task: piecing together their own memories. Through these young survivors’ recollections, Samouni Road conveys a deep, multifaceted portrait of a family before, during, and after the tragic event that changed its life forever. Winner of the L’Œil d’or prize for best documentary at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Saturday, April 13, 2019
10:00 AM - Noon
Dodge Hall, Columbia University, 2960 Broadway, Room 511

My 3 Dreams (2018) directed by Mohamed Nayef Ahmed Ali, Birzeit University.

In Gaza, Mohammed Mahani dreams of race cars, playing oud, and karate. 5.03. Director joining via videoconference.

Dema (2015) directed by Amjad M. A. Al Fayoumi. Al-Azhar University.

Too young to be a bride. 3.15.

Seekers for Life (2017) directed by Mahmoud Awad. Al-Aqsa University.

Gaza’s used clothing market. 4.32.

Private Number (2012) directed by Omar Elemawi, Al-Aqsa University.

An unexpected warning. 8.03.

We Love Life (2015) directed by Mohammed S. Ewais. Al-Aqsa University.

A portrait of graffiti artist Bilal Khaled in Gaza. 7.13. Director joining via videoconference.

Moving Dream (2012) directed by Alaa Alaloul. Birzeit University.

Nader dreams of going back to work. 2.00.

The Cage (2016) directed by Khaled Tuaima. Birzeit University.

The hazards of catching birds in Gaza. 6.42.

Parkour on the Rubble of Gaza (2014) directed by Khaled Tuaima. Birzeit University.

A team of athletic daredevils. 2.33.

1:00 PM-3:00 PM
Screening: Two Films by Abdel Salam Shehada
Dodge Hall, Columbia University 2960 Broadway, Room 511

Rainbow (2004) directed by Abdel Salam Shehada.

Of Rainbow, his film essay made in the aftermath of Israel’s 2004 attack on Gaza, Shehada says “These are people who have crossed my path...Some of these rose from among the debris. Carrying their tears, some were looking for answers to worries that haunted them...Others were exhausted by contemplating the reality ...They appeared like me...I used to love the camera and believe in what it could do to transfer the pain...forget sorrows, or may be promise of a better life.”

To My Father (2008) directed by Adel Salam Shehada.

“Those were the days when girls were prettier, when eyes were in all colours, without any colour. What is different now - the camera, or the eyes?” asks Abdel Salam Shehada’s poetic and mesmerizing homage to the studio photographers of the 1950’s - 70’s. Set partly in a refugee camp in Rafah, this is a remarkable look back at fifty years of Palestinian and Arab history, through photographs, reportage and the voices of these photographers today. Director in attendance.

4:00 PM- 6:00 PM
Academic Panel
Avery Hall, Columbia University, 1172 Amsterdam Ave, Room 114

Gaza Film Between the Event and the Everyday

Nadia Yaqub: Nadia Yaqub is Professor of Arab Culture at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ghazza ala bali: Memory, Place and Trauma in Rashid Masharawi’s Haifa

Kamran Rastegar: Kamran Rastegar is Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at Tufts University

Documentary Art Films “About” Gaza

Samirah Alkassim: Samirah Alkassim is Adjunct Associate Professor in the Film and Video Studies at George Mason University. Moderated by Hamid Dabashi: Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Co-sponsored by Studio-X Amman and GSAPP

7:00 PM-9:00 PM
Closing Night
Lenfest Center for the Arts, 615 West 129th Street, Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room

We Will Return (2018) by Ibrahim Ghunayim, Samir al-Burnu, Sami Shahadah, Arkan Gharib, and Faris Abdal-Malik.

A music video by rapper Ibrahim Ghunayim shot at the Great March of Return. Ghunayim has dedicated the song and video to the journalist Yaser Murtaja who was shot and killed by Israeli security forces while reporting on the March in April 2018.

Ambulance (2016) directed by Mohamed Jabaly.

A raw, first-person account of the Israeli war on Gaza in the summer of 2014. The filmmaker joins an ambulance crew as war approaches, looking for his place in a territory blockaded under siege, and films their harrowing and heroic lifesaving work. In response to the dark chaos of war, the filmmaker learns to rely on the ambulance captain and crew, who in turn support him to make a film that expresses both the trauma and hope of the Palestinians of Gaza. Director in attendance. Advisory: Graphic war violence.

9:00 PM-10:00 PM
Jerome L. Greene Science Center 3227 Broadway

Join us for a closing reception at Dear Mama Coffee’s location in the New Manhanttanville campus. It is in the southwest corner of the Jerome L. Greene Science Center’s ground floor, facing the Lenfest Center for the Arts. Copies of Nadia Yaqub’s book “Palestinian Cinema in the Days of Revolution” will be available for sale at the opening screening.

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7:00 PM19:00


Hosted by the School of International and Public Affairs Eurasia Group, the Nayruz Festival will celebrate the Nayruz/Persian New Year/Spring Equinox. A bazaar-style celebration with Central Asian/Middle Eastern food, traditional performances including bellydancing, and collaboration with professional dancers and musicians.

Tickets will be available for purchase (early bird $7 and regular $10).

Co-sponsors: SIPA Eurasia Group, SIPA Food Systems Group, SIPA MENA Forum, Harriman Institute, Columbia University Middle East Institute.

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12:00 PM12:00

TALK | What Are Iranians Dreaming about Today? Reflections on the Islamic Revolution at 40

Kian Tajbakhsh: Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; Fellow, Committee on Global Thought

For more information, please visit the Committee on Global Thought website.

Sponsored by Columbia University Committee on Global Thought

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4:30 PM16:30

TALK | Iraqi Archives in Exile with Rebecca Abby Whiting

“Over the course of the Gulf Wars, vast caches of records were looted from the institutions of the Iraqi state and the Ba’th Party. The archives were shipped to the United States, in part due to the perceived value as evidence of state violence.

This presentation seeks to explore the ways in which displaced archives are engaged, and in particular archives associated with state brutality.”

Presented by Rebecca Abby Whiting, visiting PhD Candidate, Department of History at the University of Glasgow.

Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Muslim Societies and the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy.

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12:00 PM12:00

TALK | The 'Permanent Crisis' of Migration by Sea by Violeta Moreno-Lax

This lecture is organized as part of the course, ‘Mapping Maritime Frontiers in the Eastern Mediterranean’, at Columbia University taught by Nora Akawi and Naor Ben Yahoyada. The event is co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, Studio-X Amman at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and the Columbia Global Centers | Amman, the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, the European Institute, and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.

”The ‘permanent crisis’ narrative employed by destination countries in Europe, North America, and Australia, has allowed them to structuralise ‘exceptional’ measures as part of their domestic apparatuses of border control in their war against irregular migration. This is particularly visible at sea, where ‘pull-backs’ by proxy, ‘privatized’ interdiction by merchant vessels, and instances of non-rescue challenge the core principles of international protection. Many have written on the erosion of non-refoulement in extraterritorial contexts, denouncing the difficulties facing ‘boat migrants’ in reaching safe haven. The extra-territoriality of the oceans, removed from the public eye, creates an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ effect favouring the excesses of power characteristic of Operation Sovereign Borders in Australia, the mare clausum approach followed by the EU, and the ‘wet foot / dry foot’ arbitrariness still guiding the US Caribbean interdiction programme. These initiatives have a well-documented negative impact on the rights of ‘boat migrants’ and fail to address the root causes of displacement. Instead, as several studies corroborate, they divert flows towards ever more perilous routes and contribute to the raise of death tolls. They entrench insecurity, fuelling not only the original causes of flight but creating new dangers impeding access to protection – if not denying plain survival. The question hence arises as for whether ‘policies based on deterrence, militarization and extraterritoriality’, denounced by UN Special Rapporteur Agnès Callamard and others, ‘which implicitly or explicitly tolerate [and perpetuate] the risk of migrant deaths as part of an effective control of entry’ are compatible with international law.*  What is more, the point is to elucidate whether trapping migrants in a vicious circle of more control, more danger, and more displacement, where they can only rely on facilitators to escape life-threatening perils, does not per se amount to a form of ‘persecution’ in the sense of Article 1(A)2 of the 1951 Refugee Convention. This is the question this paper proposes to explore to determine the limits that international (refugee) law should be understood to impose on consolidating practices of ‘remote’ (yet violent) maritime border control that deter entry by endangering human life, whether purposely or inadvertently. The role of knowledge (rather than intent), the foreseeability of lethal consequences of policy measures, and due diligence obligations to protect physical integrity from irreversible harm will be examined in this framework. The final goal is to (re-)define the contours of what constitutes a legitimate exercise of sovereignty when managing maritime migration flows.

*Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Agnès Callamard, A/72/335 (2018), para 10 (emphasis added).

This lecture is organized as part of the course Mapping Maritime Frontiers in the Eastern Mediterranean at Columbia University, taught by Nora Akawi and Naor Ben-Yehoyada. The event is co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, Studio-X Amman at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and Columbia Global Centers | Amman, the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, the European Institute, and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University. 

Click here to go to the Facebook event page.
All events are free and open to the public.”

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6:15 PM18:15

TALK | The Shahnameh: The Persian Epic as World Literature with Hamid Dabashi

  • Heyman Center for the Humanities, Second Floor (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

A panel discussion celebrating the recent work by Hamid Dabashi.

Sponsored by the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, Office of the Divisional Deans in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Middle East Institute, The Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, as well as the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.

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6:00 PM18:00

TALK | Tankers, Tycoons, and the Making of Modern Regimes of Law, Labour, and Finance

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An evening talk with Lelah Khalili, Professor of Middle East Politics SOAS University of London, on the evolution of modern regimes.

Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, Institute of Religion, Culture, and Public Life, The Racial Capitalism Working Group, Department of Middle East, South Asian, and African Studies, and the Middle East Institute.

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9:00 AM09:00

CONFERENCE | Turkey Today

  • International Affairs Building, Room 707 (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Turkey Today, the 3rd Annual Graduate Student Conference

Organized by Columbia PhD students in collaboration with the Northeast Working Group on Turkish Studies

 9AM-10.45AM | Panel I: Gender and Generation
Discussant: Ceren Belge (Associate Professor of Political Science, Concordia University)

  • The Limits and Extent of Gender Reforms in the MENA: Experimental Evidence from Tunisia and Turkey | Tahir Kilavuz (University of Notre Dame) and Youssef Chouhoud (Christopher Newport University)

  • Gendered Influences of Labor Market Policies in Turkey – Elifcan Celebi (University of Cologne)

  • Millenials and Populism: Generational Dimension of Democratic Backsliding – Burcu Kolcak (Rutgers University) and Sevinc Ozturk (Rutgers University)

11:15AM-1PM | Panel II: Partisan Politics and Voting Behavior
Discussant: Lisel Hintz (Assistant Professor of International Relations, Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies)

  • Expressive Partisanship in Turkey: Understanding the Content and Determinants of Partisan Identities | Melis Laebens (Yale University) and Aykut Ozturk (Syracuse University)

  • Informational Role of the Welfare State: Proximity to Healthcare and Votes | Serkant Adiguzel (Duke University), Asli Cansunar (University of Oxford), and Gozde Corekcioglu Ishakoglu (European University Institute)

  • Politics of Nostalgia and Populism: An Experimental Study | Ezgi Elci (Koc University)

2:15PM-4:15PM | Panel III: Democratic Backsliding 
Discussant: Jack Snyder (Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Relations, Columbia University)

  • Who Wants a Coup? A List Experiment of Turkey’s 2016 Coup Attempt | Sharan Grewal (Brookings Institution)

  • Democratic Backsliding in Hybrid Regimes over Time: Internal and External Factors Effect in Turkey and Montenegro Case | Can Zengin (Temple University)

  • Price of Liberal Democracy: The Role of Public Services in Democratic Backsliding | Serkant Adiguzel (Duke University)

  • Leaders, Media, and Regimes: The Logic of Media in Illiberal Regimes | Elizabeth Pertner (The George Washington University)

4:30PM-5:45PM | Keynote Address
Lisel Hintz (Assistant Professor of International Relations, Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies)

 Sponsored by The Sakıp Sabancı Center for Turkish Studies and The Middle East Institute at Columbia University.

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6:10 PM18:10

TALK | "Existence is Resistance: Carceral Capitalism in/an Palestine" with Jasbir Puar

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Jasbir Puar, Rutgers University professor, examines the production of mobility obstacles and restrictions in Palestine through the linked frames of disaster and carceral capitalism, highlighting the logistics of border crossings and movement in the West Bank in relation to disability rights frameworks.

Co-sponsored by the Middle East Institute and the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality.

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6:00 PM18:00

TALK | The Holocaust and the Nakba: A New Grammar of Trauma and Histor

In this groundbreaking book, leading Arab and Jewish intellectuals examine how and why the Holocaust and the Nakba are interlinked without blurring fundamental differences between them. While these two foundational tragedies are often discussed separately and in abstraction from the constitutive historical global contexts of nationalism and colonialism, The Holocaust and the Nakba explores the historical, political, and cultural intersections between them. The majority of the contributors argue that these intersections are embedded in cultural imaginations, colonial and asymmetrical power relations, realities, and structures. Focusing on them paves the way for a new political, historical, and moral grammar that enables a joint Arab-Jewish dwelling and supports historical reconciliation in Israel/Palestine.

Gil Anidjar, Columbia University
Alon Confino, UMass Amherst
Amos Goldberg, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Raef Zreik, Tel Aviv University
Gil Hochberg, Columbia University (Panel Chair)

This event is cosponsored by the Department of Religion, the Middle East Institute, and the Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies.

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4:15 PM16:15

BOOK TALK | Shari'a Scripts: A Historical Anthropology with Professor Brinkley Messick

  • Heyman Center for Humanities, 2nd Floor Common (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Celebrating new books in the Arts & Sciences at Columbia University, the Heyman Center for the Humanities will host a roundtable discussion on Professor Messick’s book, Shari’a Scripts: A Historical Anthropology.

Brinkley Messick, Columbia University
Intisar Rabb, Harvard Law School
Gil Anidjar, Columbia University
Mashal Saif, Clemson University
Guy Burak, New York University
Islam Dayeh, Freie Universitat Berlin
Mahmood Mamdani, Columbia University

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6:10 PM18:10

TALK | Ta'al Bachir (Come Tomorrow): The Politics of Waiting for Citizenship

  • International Affairs Building, Room 1512 (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Join the Columbia SIPA Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Forum for a Voices and Views Speaking Event: Ta'al Bachir (Come Tomorrow): The Politics of Waiting for Citizenship,  TUESDAY DECEMBER 4th, 6:10-7:30pm in Room IAB 1512 with guest speaker Dr. Noora Lori, Assistant Professor of International Relations at Boston University and author of the forthcoming book, Offshore Citizens: Permanent 'Temporary' Status in the Gulf.

Light snacks provided. Moderated by Professor Lisa Anderson.

POST EVENT OPPORTUNITY: Five Columbia University students are invited to attend a post-event intimate dinner conversation with the speaker immediately following the event. The first five students to contact Sarah Stone, MENA Communications Chair (sbs2181@columbia.edu) will receive a spot. Please include "12/4 MENA Dinner" as the subject. 

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3:00 PM15:00

TALK | Deliverance from Commitment: al-Ghazali’s Reconfiguration of Rationalism with Visiting Professor Benham Sadeghi

Deliverance from Commitment: al-Ghazali’s Reconfiguration of Rationalism


William Bartley’s The Retreat to Commitment outlines how Euro-American rationalist traditions have repeatedly faced identity crises when realizing that what they took to be knowledge did not live up to their standards of what counts as rational. Such an internal contradiction could be resolved in different ways: by upholding reason but rejecting beliefs/knowledge (rational skepticism), by having beliefs but rejecting reason (irrationalism, relativism, fideism), or — more significantly for rationalism — by upholding reason and the possibility of knowledge but relaxing the criteria of what counts as rational by no longer requiring that every proposition be justified by reason. In Bartley’s terminology, this is a shift from “pan-rationalism” to “critical rationalism.”


Professor Sadeghi argues that al-Ghazali’s Deliverance from Error represents the kind of shift Bartley described, from pan-rationalism to critical rationalism. As a scholar of Ash’ari kalam, al-Ghazali had been an exponent of the pan-rationalist meta-context governing kalamfalsafa, and Batini thought, which insisted that every proposition be justified by a sequence of logical inferences ultimately rooted in firm foundations. He experienced a crisis when he realized that his cherished beliefs could not be justified in this way. True to the pan-rationalist demand to believe only what is rationally justified, he privately gave up all belief. After two miserable months as a skeptic, an epiphany allowed him to have beliefs: namely, he gave up the requirement that all beliefs be justified by reason. Crucially, though, he did not thereby reject reason; rather, he became a critical rationalist. His faith in Islam was restored, and he set out to determine which approach to Islam is correct — kalamfalsafa, Isma’ilism, or Sufism. He argued for Sufism using a mixture of rational argumentation and rationally unjustified beliefs.

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