New Directions in Middle East & North African Studies

The New Directions in Middle East and North African Studies series invites scholars from a range of disciplines taking new approaches to the study of the region. We have sought out particularly younger and early-mid career scholarsgenerally at the point of completing or having recently completed a first book and working on a second—whose work is not only compelling for what it tells us about its particular area of study, but for implementing or developing new methodologies for scholarly work in area studies. Given that the Northwestern MENA program is itself an interdisciplinary group, we invite scholars from a range of disciplines and who take comparative or transnational approaches to the region.

The project began with two two-day symposia that brought scholars from across the US and abroad to campus. A third symposia was held in Doha at the NU-Q campus and featured Northwestern’s own faculty in MENA studies. The Doha event led to the publication of a volume of collected essays, titled On the Ground: New Directions in Middle East and North African Studies, edited by MENA Director Brian Edwards, and available in both print and electronic editions. Since 2013, we have featured one New Directions speaker per quarter. Their visits feature meetings with graduate students, who have read their work prior to the campus visit (the program purchases and provides copies of the scholar’s book to MENA graduate students), and a public lecture. Future goals for the New Directions series include an edited volume of selected papers.

New Directions Lectures, Fall 2013-Present

2016-2017

Spring:
Ghenwa Hayek
Assistant Professor of Modern Arabic Literature, University of Chicago
"When Abu Salim Went to Africa: Emigrant Anxieties in Lebanese Cinema"

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Winter:
Sherene Seikaly
Associate Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara
"Men of Capital: Scarcity and Economy in Mandate Palestine"

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Fall:
Keith Feldman
Assistant Professor of Comparative Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
"Between June ’67 and Global ’68: A Shadow History of Civil Rights and Decolonization"

2015-2016

Spring:
Lerna Ekmekcioglu
McMillan-Stewart Career Development Associate Professor of History, MIT
"Recovering Armenia: Limits of Belonging in Post-Genocide Turkey"

Winter:
Aomar Boum
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, UCLA
"The Anti-Fascist Alliance: North African Jews and Muslims Partner Against French and Nazi Anti-Semitism, 1936-1940"

Fall: 
Banu Bargu
Associate Professor of Politics, The New School
"Seeking Asylum: Lip-Sewing and Truth-Telling"

2014-2015

Spring:
Talinn Grigor
Associate Professor of Fine Arts, Brandeis University
“'Iranian or Not?' That Might Not Be the Question"

Winter:                      
Ussama Makdisi
Professor of History and the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair of Arab Studies, Rice University
“Sectarianism in the Modern Middle East”

Fall:
On Barak
Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern and African History, Tel Aviv University
“Coalolialism: Energy and Empire Before the Age of Oil”

2013-2014

Spring:
Orit Bashkin
Associate Professor of Modern Middle East History, University of Chicago
“Keeping the Hyphen Alive: Emile Habibi and Iraqi Jews in Israel”

Winter:
Tarek El-Ariss
Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas- Austin
“‘Hashtag Raid Leg by the Forces of Darkness:’ An Arab-Spring Tale”

Fall:   
Samuli Schielke
Research Fellow, Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin
“Consequences of Writing Literature in Alexandria”