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.
Director, Middle East Institute
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. Read more.
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.