Two Hitherto Unknown Texts on the Formation of Islamic Legal Theory

Tuesday, December 15

Time: 4:10pm - 6:00pm

Location: Room 208 Knox Hall Columbia Univeristy

New York, NY 10027

By invitation only

Ahmed El-Shamsy, University of Chicago

The Middle East Institute at Columbia University would like to invite you to the inaugural session of its new Sharīʿa Workshop.  The workshop will regularly feature leading scholars of Islamic Law from across periods and regions for detailed discussions of their current research. 

The workshop will be devoted to a discussion of the paper "Two Hitherto Unknown Texts on the Formation ofIslamic Legal Theory.

Participation in the workshop is open to faculty and graduate students at Columbia and beyond. Please contact if you wish to attend.

NaTakallam Project

Sponsored by NaTakallam

Need to practice your Arabic conversation skills?  Started by graduates from Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, NaTakallam is a social venture that pairs Arabic learners worldwide with Syrian refugees (mostly in Lebanon, but also in other countries) for conversation focused sessions over the web. The platform caters to students in need of affordable Arabic dialect practice and direct access to native speakers on the one hand, all while providing displaced Syrians with a source of income and feeling of self worth, especially given the restrictions they face in the workforce as refugees.

For more information click here

2nd Muestra de Cine Palestino

Sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies

December 10 - 13

Location:  Santiago, Chile

The Center for Palestine Studies (CPS) at Columbia University in collobration with the Center for Arab Studies at the Unviersity of Chile are proud to present the second Palestinian Film Festival in Santiago, Chile at Cineteca Nacional (Centro Cultural La Moneda). This four-day festival will feature iconic works from Palestinian cinema, which has emerged as a globally influential artistic force. This festival is sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies, Columbia University, the Center for Arab Studies at the University of Chile, Muestra De Cine Palestino, and the Cineteca Nacional.

With special guest director Amer Shomali,

Co-Director of The Wanted 18, Visiting Artist in Residence at Columbia University

2nd Annual Palestinian Film Festival in Santiago, Chile
Muestra de Cine Palestino de Santiago
Cineteca Nacional de Chile

Organizada por el Centro de Estudios de Palestina (The Center for Palestine Studies) de la Universidad de Columbia, en colaboración con elCentro de Estudios Árabes, Universidad de Chile la Muestra De Cine Palestino celebrará su segunda edición entre el 10 y el 13 de diciembre de 2015, en la Cineteca Nacional, Santiago de Chile.

Con el invitado especial, el directór Amer Shomali, co-directór de "The Wanted 18," Artista Visitante en Residencia en la Universidad de Columbia

Click here for tickets and full program. 

Yemen in the Midst of Civil and Regional War: Is There a Way Out?

Wednesday, December 9

Time: 12:10pm - 1:10pm

Location: Room 103 Jerome Greene Hall, Columbia Law School

New York, NY 10027

A discussion with Farea Al-Muslimi, Sanaa Center For Strategic Studies & Carnegie Middle East Center

What went wrong in Yemen and where is it heading? The internationally backed political transition following the 2011 uprising was cited as a successful peaceful transition model, but in September 2014 the Houthis armed militas  took over the capital by force and the  country descended to full-scale civil war with frequent human rights violations by all sides. Saudi Arabia has also intervened heavily, and has often been accused of committing war crimes with its airstrikes. The Saudi intervention has been supported by the United States. What happened to the 2011 peaceful "Arab Spring"? Is there a way out in Yemen and what should and shouldn't the world (especially western powers) do to help get Yemen out of the current turmoil?

This event is sponsored by the Human Rights Institute, Rightslink, the Human Rights Law Review,  Institute for the Study of Human Rights and the Middle East Institute

Minorities in a Turbulent Middle East: From Authoritarianism to Revolution and Civil War

Wednesday, December 9

Time: 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Location: Room 207 Knox Hall

606 West 122nd Street

New York, NY 10027

A discussion with Harout Ekmanian

Were minorities really safe under authoritarian dictatorships after Colonial mandates left the Near East region as the official narratives claim? How and at what expense did they did sustain their cultural, religious, and civic rights under these regimes? How are they surviving in the midst of the sectarian storms sweeping the region more recently? 

Raised in Syria, Harout Ekmanian is a journalist and lawyer currently based in Armenia. He reports on Turkey and the Middle East, focusing on regional dialogue and the conflict in Syria.

This event is sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Human Rights and the Middle East Institute

Towards a New Regime Type: Competitive Authoritarianism of Political Islam in Turkey

Tuesday, December 8

Time: 4:15pm

Location: Room 208 Knox Hall

606 West 122nd Street

New York, NY 10027

Koray Caliskan

Bogazici University, Department of Political Science and International Relations

Working on Middle East politics and political parties, Caliskan worked as a columnist with Radikal and BirGün newspapers and as a program host for HaberturkTV and +1 News in Istanbul. He received his Ph.D. with distinction from New York University with which he won the Malcolm Kerr Social Science Award from MESA. His book Market Threads came out from Princeton University Press and focused on Egypt, Turkey and the US. Caliskan also owns a production company and made three documentary films on the illegal oil trade, Turkish peasants and Turkish TV series, and wrote and produced a popular feature on the Kurdish question that opened in 200 theatres in Europe and Turkey.

This event is sponsored by the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society and the Middle East Institute

"They Can Live in the Desert But Nowhere Else:" Explaining the Armenian Genocide 100 Years Later

Monday, December 7

Time: 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Location: Room 509 Knox Hall

606 West 122nd Street

New York, NY 10027

Ron Suny, Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History at the University of Michigan and Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago.

Introduction by Karen Barkey, Professor of Sociology and History and Director of the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University.

Ron Suny will speak about the controversies over whether the deportations and massacres of Armenians and Assyrians in the late Ottoman Empire constitute a genocide by the Young Turk government. Reviewing the massive documentation of the events, and the recent findings of scholars on the subject, Suny considers the conflicting narratives on 1915 and develops his own analysis of why a government turned to a policy of eliminating several of its subject peoples. 

This event is sponsored by the  Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life and the Middle East Institute

Upheaval: Views of the Arab World

Sponsored by the Museum of the Moving Image and Alwan for the Arts

Friday, Dec 4 - Saturday, Dec 5

Time: 7:30pm

Location: 36-01 35 Avenue (at 37 Street) 
Astoria, NY 11106

In collaboration with Alwan for the Arts, the Museum will screen three recent films from Tunisia and Egypt as part of the series, Upheaval: Views of the Arab World. These films seek to offer three distinct views of today's Arab world and highlight the intense and profound cultural realities facing its people. 

Tickets to each film are $12 for the general public / $9 for students and senior citizens and include Museum admission. You can find more information on the series and order tickets online at the link here.

The civil strife and upheaval of today's Arab world are depicted in these outstanding recent films from Tunisia and Egypt. These dramatic and documentary features highlight the intense and profound cultural reality and visceral artistic representations of a people defined by geography, language and culture. The works express contemporary debates on identity, political injustice, economic inequality, and debates on traditions and social norms.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement

Sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies

Friday, December 4

Time: 6:30pm

Location: Room 106 Jerome Greene Hall

Columbia University 435 West 116th Street New York, NY 10027

The Center for Palestine Studies is proud to host Robin Kelleyrenowned scholar and Gary B. Nash Professor of American History at UCLA on a discussion around the Palestinian boycott, divestment, sanctions movement (BDS) with Abdul Rahim Al-Shaikh, Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies at Birzeit University and CPS Visiting Scholar, moderated by Nadia Abu El-Haj, Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University, Barnard College, and CPS Co-Director. 

Free and open to the public. 

A Gypsy Language in Medieval Islamdom

Thursday, December 3

Time: 7-8pm 

Location: Faculty House, 64 Morningside Drive, New York, NY 10027

Kristina Richardson
Assistant Professor of History
Queens College, CUNY

In 10th-century Arabic sources produced in Buyid Iraq and Iran, non-speakers named this language lughat al-mukaddīn (the language of the beggars). However, speakers of this language called it lughat Bani Sasan (the language of the Sasan clan) or lughat Shaykh Sasan (the language of Shaykh Sasan). The language, in name and application, was not identified with a territory or an ethnicity, but rather with a peripatetic tribal group, the Banu Sasan, whose members worked as beggars and entertainers. 

These details about the language of the Sasan clan are well established. However, it is largely unknown that as early as the 13th century, speakers of this language (such as al-Jawbarī) referred to it as al-sīn and outsiders (such as Ṣafī al-Dīn al-Ḥillī) termed it lughat/lisān al-ghurabā'. The seminar will discuss the significance of the medieval ethnonym ghurabā' and to collectively examine snippets of sīn prose and poetry that survive in medieval Arabic texts. Today, sīn, as it is still known, is a living language, whose speakers are chiefly peripatetics and commercial nomads along the Nile River.

If you would like to join us for dinner at 6pm, please RSVP to the seminar's rapporteur Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah ( no later than Thursday, November 26, 2015. Please note that the cost of dinner is $25, payable by check made out to "Columbia University".

A listing of upcoming Seminars in Arabic Studies this Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 is available here.

This event is sponsored by the University Seminar in Arabic Studies


"Whatever Happened to the Arab Spring"

Sponsored by the MIT Club of New York

Thursday, December 3

Time: 6:30pm-8:00pm

Location: CUNY Graduate Center, 

365 Fifth Avenue, Kelly Skylight 

Conference Room 9th Floor

New York, NY 10016

A lecture by Philip Khoury, Ford International Professor of History and Associate Provost at MIT.

Experts and non-experts alike were surprised by the Arab Spring's eruption five years ago. How can we explain the origins of the Arab Spring and the way it has unfolded? And is the Arab World as we know it today dying or is it being reborn?

Philip S. Khoury, Ford International Professor of History and Associate Provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will draw on his unique knowledge of Middle Eastern politics and history to discuss the Arab Spring. He will delve into the economic pressures, demographics, and rivalries that led to this event, and will discuss its potential long-term ramifications. This talk will be followed by a short question and answer session.

Event Pricing: $30 for Club Members, $50 for non-members, and free for Club Patrons. Members can register three non-member guests at $50 each. 

Limited seats available - register here.

Modernities: Discontent and Alliances

Thursday, December 3

Time: 6pm 

Location: Room 612, Schermerhorn Hall, 1190 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027

Nada Shabout, University of North Texas, with discussant Zainab Bahrani, Columbia University.

'Islamic' Art:  Disrupting Unity and Discerning Ruptures

A series of lectures to address the historiography of the field 'Islamic Art' by scoring the particular moments of ruptures that fractured its foundations.

This event is organized by Avinoam Shalem, Riggio Professor, Arts of Islam, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University, in collaboration with the Middle East Institute.

Nomad Crossroads: Algerian Poetry Now

Sponsored by the Maison Francaise

Wednesday, December 2

Time: 6:00-8:00pm

Location: East Gallery, Buell Hall, Columbia University, Main Campus Entrance at Broadway and 116th Street

A poetry reading and discussion with Samira Negrouche, Pierre Joris and Omar Berrada

Standing at the crossroads of several languages and literary traditions, contemporary North African poetry is little known in the U.S. despite its vitality, as was illustrated by the recently published University of California Book of North African Literature (ed. Pierre Joris and Habib Tengour). This event will provide a taste of this rich poetic tradition in the company of one of its most brilliant practitioners. Visiting from Algiers, Samira Negrouche will read a selection of her poems in French, with English translations read by Anna Moschovakis. The readings will be followed by a conversation with Pierre Joris and Omar Berrada, on her work and on the contemporary poetic landscape in Algeria and the Maghreb.

Samira Negrouche is an Algerian poet who writes in French. Trained as a doctor, she lives in Algiers where she is now devoting herself exclusively to writing. Anna Moschovakis is a writer, translator, and educator who also edits books with Ugly Duckling Press. Pierre Joris' recent publications include Barzakh: Poems 2000-2012 (Black Widow Press) & Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry of Paul Celan (FSG). Omar Berrada is a writer and translator, and the director of Dar al-Ma'mûn, a library and artists' residency in Marrakech. 

Event provided with the support of the arts organization Tamaas.

A Discussion with Irene Gendzier and Rashid Khalidi - Dying to Forget: Oil, Power, Palestine & the Foundations of U.S. Policy in the Middle East

Thursday, November 19

Time: 3pm 

Location: Book Culture, 536 W. 112th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue)

Irene L. Gendzier presents incontrovertible evidence that oil politics played a significant role in the founding of Israel, the policy then adopted by the United States toward Palestinians, and subsequent U.S. involvement in the region. Consulting declassified U.S. government sources, as well as papers in the H.S. Truman Library, she uncovers little-known features of U.S. involvement in the region, including significant exchanges in the winter and spring of 1948 between the director of the Oil and Gas Division of the Interior Department and the representative of the Jewish Agency in the United States, months before Israel's independence and recognition by President Truman.

Gendzier also shows that U.S. consuls and representatives abroad informed State Department officials, including the Secretary of State and the President, of the deleterious consequences of partition in Palestine. Yet the attempt to reconsider partition and replace it with a UN trusteeship for Palestine failed, jettisoned by Israel's declaration of independence. The results altered the regional balance of power and Washington's calculations of policy toward the new state. Prior to that, Gendzier reveals the U.S. endorsed the repatriation of Palestinian refugees in accord with UNGA Res 194 of Dec. 11, 1948, in addition to the resolution of territorial claims, the definition of boundaries, and the internationalization of Jerusalem. But U.S. interests in the Middle East, notably the protection of American oil interests, led U.S. officials to rethink Israel's military potential as a strategic ally. Washington then deferred to Israel with respect to the repatriation of Palestinian refugees, the question of boundaries, and the fate of Jerusalem--issues that U.S. officials have come to realize are central to the 1948 conflict and its aftermath.

Irene L. Gendzier is professor emerita in the Department of Political Science at Boston University. She is also the author of Notes from the Minefield: United States Intervention in Lebanon and the Middle East, 1945-1958 and Frantz Fanon: A Critical Study, and she is a co-editor, with Richard Falk and Robert Lifton, of Crimes of War: Iraq.

Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University and Co-Director of the Center for Palestine Studies.

This event is free and open to the public. RSVP on Facebook.

This event is sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies.

Criminal Codes, Crime, and the Transformation of Punishment in the Late Ottoman Empire

Thursday, November 19

Time: 1:30-3:30pm 

Location: Faculty House,

Columbia University

64 Morningside Drive, NY, NY 10027

Kent Schull

Associate Professor, Binghamton University

This presentation investigates the transformation of criminal law, practice, and punishment within the late Ottoman Empire.  It focuses closely on five intertwined aspects of the empire's extensively restructured criminal justice system, namely the concrete links between new penal codes, the extensive delineation of crimes, the adoption of incarceration as the primary form of criminal punishment, incarceration rates for particular crimes, and the deployment of Islamic legal norms and mores to legitimate these reforms.  

This event is sponsored by the University Seminar in Ottoman and Turkish Studies.

The State Of Israel: Messianism Without a Messiah?

Wednesday, November 18

Time: 7:30pm

Location: The Jewish Theological Seminary, 3080 Broadway (at 122ndf Street)

Dr. Hillel Ben Sasson, Visiting Assistant Professor of Israel Studies, JTS and Dr. Benjamin Gampel, Dina and Eli Field Family Chair in Jewish History, JTS

Moderator: Dr. Barbara Mann, Simon H. Fabian Chair in Hebrew Literature, JTS

What has the messianic idea meant for Jews throughout the ages - and in modern Israel? What role does it play in contemporary Israeli politics on both the right and left? What are the dramatic and even revolutionary implications of messianic thinking in shaping the future and fate of the Jewish state?

Tickets: $10; free for students with valid ID. All students can order two free tickets. Tickets and photo ID are required for admission.

Register for the event here. RSVP for the event here.

This program will be livestreamed here.

Arabic Language Circle

Wednesday, November 18

Time: 6:00-7:30pm 

Location: Room 707, Knox Hall

606 West 122 Street NY, NY

The Arabic Circle invites you to its weekly meeting, moderated by Ghada Jerfel.

Free & Open to all Columbia University students. All levels of Arabic are welcome. Refreshments will be served. 

This Arabic Language Circle is facilitated by a native speaker and is designed to provide students with opportunities to improve and practice the language outside the classroom setting through film, music, art and other mediums.

This event is co-sponsored by the Middle East Institute and Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

Israel - Militarily Strong, Diplomatically Vulnerable: The Reporter's Perspective

Tuesday, November 17

Time: 8pm

Location: The Kraft Center, 5th Floor,

606 West 115th St, New York, NY 10025

Yaakov Lappin, military analyst for the Jerusalem Post and Amir Tibon, diplomatic correspondent for Walla News, will share their experiences as journalists covering Israel's military and diplomatic efforts. This event will be moderated by Professor Ari Goldman, Columbia School of Journalism. 

Food will be served.

This event is sponsored by Aryeh, the Columbia Students Association for Israel.

Arab Contemporary Political Thought: Secularist or Theologist?

Tuesday, November 17

Time: 6:30pm 

Location: Wood Auditorium, 1172 Amsterdam Avenue

George Corm's recent publication Pensée et politique dans le monde arabe is a fascinating and important archive which reconstitutes two centuries of Arab intellectual engagement with modernity through literature, art, architecture and political thought. The lecture follows on the themes of last fall's Architecture and Representation: the Arab City.

Response by Fadi Bardiwel, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This even is co-sponsored by the Columbia Global Centers; Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies; and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.