MENA Director Brian Edwards in the News


Brian Edwards, Crown Professor in Middle East Studies, Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies, and Director of the MENA Program, has been in the media of late — giving radio interviews, recording podcasts, writing articles, and being profiled:

MENA Faculty Respond to Trump's Executive Order of January 27

Several MENA faculty members have published articles and given interviews in response to the Executive Order that President Trump signed on January 27, which instituted a 90-day ban on entry into the United States for all nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen; the indefinite suspension of entry into the United States of all Syrian nationals as refugees; the suspension of all refugee processing for 120 days; the introduction of new screening procedures for all visa applicants; and the suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program. Bringing their scholarly expertise to bear on these dramatic developments, political scientists Wendy Pearlman and Elizabeth Shakman Hurd and film scholar Hamid Naficy have made critical interventions in public policy debates and helped inform the current cultural conversation. Read their interventions here:

Wendy Pearlman, "I interviewed 300 Syrian refugees. They are far from a security threat." The Monkey Cage (Washington Post blog), January 30, 2017

Over nearly five years, I have interviewed more than 300 displaced Syrians in the Middle East and Europe. My forthcoming book, a collection of testimonials in which Syrians explain their country’s conflict in their own words, shows that these men, women and children are far from security threats.

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, "The Myth of the Muslim Country," Boston Review, January 31, 2017

Describing the nations subjected to Trump's ban as Muslim is sociologically sloppy, historically misguided, and politically dangerous. The government does not have the authority to determine who counts as Muslim or Christian. How is it that today so few of us are ready to contest the claim that this authority belongs to the state?

Hamid Naficy interviewed in "Nominated for an Oscar, Barred From America," The Atlantic, February 1, 2017

The Iranian film The Salesman is shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. But because of Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, the movie’s director won’t be attending the ceremony. To get a better sense of the cultural and geopolitical context of Farhadi’s recognition by the Oscars and his eventual boycott, I spoke with Hamid Naficy...

Chicago Arabic Teachers Council connects Arabic teachers from across Chicago

We are excited to announce the Chicago Arabic Teachers Council, a new partnership between MENA and the Qatar Foundation International (QFI) that will connect university-level educators with K-12 and private school Arabic teachers through a network of support and collaboration. On December 17, 2016 MENA convened a daylong symposium on Northwestern's Evanston campus exploring Classroom Practices and Teaching Strategies. It was a spirited event full of thought-provoking presentations and workshops, stimulating conversations and valuable networking!

From Damascus to Chicago: MENA Students Produce Documentary on Syrian Refugee Children

MENA is proud to announce that a short documentary by two of our undergraduates, Colleen Cassingham and Alex Lederman, was published by The Atlantic. The film, From Damascus to Chicago, follows a Syrian refugee family as it transitions to life in Chicago. We follow Akram and Retaj, who are 7 and 10 years old, through a dance class that helps them flourish in their new environment, as well as their parents' journey to find inner resilience to start a new life.

MENA Inaugural Conference, "Theorizing Current Transformations in the Middle East and North Africa"

Date: 10-21-2015 to 10-24-2015

The Program in Middle East and North African Studies (MENA) will be holding its inaugural conference, “Theorizing Current Transformations in the Middle East and North Africa,” from October 21-24, 2015. During conference proceedings, national and international scholars will discuss scholarship of the modern Middle East, critiquing and expanding upon existing models in addition to proposing new approaches for understanding the rich and complex region through a wide variety of lenses and methodologies.

MENA Faculty Teaching Awards!

Date: 10-14-2014

MENA is thrilled to share the great news that four MENA faculty have been named to the Associated Student Government (ASG) Faculty and Administration Honor Roll for superlative teaching performance in 2013-14.  They are Professors Brannon Ingram, Rebecca Johnson, Fatima Khan, and Wendy Pearlman. This recognition honors their work in the classroom and with students.  MENA celebrates our colleagues and is so proud to have them teaching for our program! Congratulations!