Faculty News

3/3/16: Modern Islamophobia: Muslims in Europe and the U.S.

Mehnaz Afridi
Mehnaz Afridi, Assistant Professor of Religion, Manhattan College

UConn and the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut invite you to a community conversation featuring:

Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi

When: Thursday, March 3, 2016 from 3 – 5 pm
Where: UConn School of Social Work, Zachs Community Room
1798 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford

Light refreshments will be served.

The event is free, but RSVP is required: SSWEvents@uconn.edu

Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi is an assistant professor of religion at Manhattan College, she teaches courses about Islam and the Holocaust, and is director of the college’s Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center. Dr. Afridi is a Pakistani-born Muslim who devotes her energies to documenting the Nazi decimation of European Jewry and how it relates to other faiths, especially her own. She is a member of the ethics and religion committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, and her first book Shoah Through Muslim Eyes was published in December 2015 (Academic Studies Press).

For more on Dr. Alfridi’s journey, hear her tell her story in this video.

Sponsored by UConn Global AffairsJFactUConn School of Social Work.

Generous funding provided by the UConn Zachs Fund for Holocaust Education. 

3/12 – 3/14/16: International Conference on Cross Cultural Encounters (ICCCE 2016)

12-14 March, 2016, in Cairo, Egypt

Under the patronage of: English Language & Literature Department, Faculty of Arts, Alexnadria University, Egypt

Important Dates
Submission: 15 January, 2016 (possible extension)
Notification: Within 4 weeks
Camera Ready: 01 March, 2016
Registration: 01 Feb, 2016

Venue: Intercontinental CityStars Hotel

We seek novel paper submissions to be presented or posted (as a poster paper) in ICCCE’2016 with topics broadly including, but not limited to (themes sorted alphabetically):

  •  Coercion and exploitation
  •  Comparative analyses of humanitarian responses
  •  Comparative imagology and representations of the Other in literature, film, song and other media
  •  Cultural identity
  •  Cultures and Sub-cultures
  •  Empire, contact and mobility
  •  English-language translations of literature
  •  Family, children, and migrant mobility
  •  Fiction, film, or nonfictional texts in the study of cross-cultures
  •  Gender identity
  •  Gender, migration, and cross-cultural encounters
  •  History and present of mass mobility
  •  Human rights rhetoric
  •  Identity and Critical theory
  •  Identity and Identifications: theory and methodology
  •  Identity and Memory
  •  Identity and Nationalism
  •  Influences on music, literature or popular culture
  •  Issues of immigration and emigration
  •  Labour, migration and cross-cultural encounters
  •  Literary presentations of culture, politics or literature
  •  Literature and Empowerment
  •  Literature: Space for the Marginalized
  •  Media and Identity
  •  Metaphors of crisis and disaster
  •  Migration, borders, and border securitization
  •  Migration, health, and disability
  •  Minorities and Literature
  •  National and regional governmental responses
  •  Nationality, citizenship, statelessness, documentation, and identity
  •  Public Responses to human mobility
  •  Race, ethnicity and citizenship
  •  Role of imagery, media, social media of mobility and crisis
  •  Role of NGOs and other non-state agents in migration management
  •  Teaching Literature to the Underprivileged
  •  The arts, literature and Identity
  •  The Margin and the Canon
  •  The Margin vs. the Mainstream
  •  The Margin: Negotiating Spaces
  •  The Margin: Spaces within Spaces
  •  The Marginalized in Translation
  •  Ties between literary and political relations in cross-cultures
  •  Voices of the Marginalized
  •  War, migration and cross-cultural contact

Humanities, Cultural Studies, Study of the Language, Poetic Studies, and Literary representation studies are welcomed.
Submission could be in the form of:
1- Abstract (paper not exceeding 300-400 words)
2- Full papers: Prepare your manuscript (maximum 15 pages)
3- Film/Media (needs abstract submission)

Presentation Type: Paper, Abstract. The actual presentation should not exceed 20 minutes, but there is no word limit on the paper to be published.

Submission link : http://edas.info/N21773

Reviewing Process: Each submitted paper will be blindly reviewed by at least two members of an international program committee with appropriate expertise.

31st Annual Middle East History and Theory Conference: THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

19524-580x481May 6–7, 2016

We invite graduate students, affiliated faculty, and independent scholars from a broad range of disciplines to submit proposals on any topic concerning the Middle East and Islamic world from the advent of Islam to the present day. Disciplinary focuses include but are not limited to: history, sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, literature, philosophy, art history, cinema and media studies, gender studies, and diaspora studies. If you are unsure about the suitability of your topic, feel free to email us (see address below). Approximately 50 papers will be selected and arranged into themed panels of three or four.

Individual submissions and preformed panels are both welcome, though the latter is especially encouraged. Participants should be prepared to deliver a maximum twenty-minute presentation and respond to questions or comments from an assigned discussant. Written papers should be circulated to panel members at least two weeks before the conference.

Application. Please send submissions electronically to mehat.conference@uchicago.edu by no later than Friday, February 12, 2016. Please include each presenter’s name, institution, and position (graduate student, professor, independent scholar, etc.), and attach a 250-word abstract with a tentative title. The best abstracts will summarize the paper’s topic, its relationship and contribution to existing scholarship and specific conclusions. Abstracts will be collated by an assistant and evaluated anonymously by the coordinators; therefore, please do not include names or any identifying information in the abstract. Selection results will be announced in the middle of March 2016.

Sponsored panels. As in previous years, two of our sponsors are offering limited funding to support special panels in the following fields: (1) modern Arabic literature and (2) Central Eurasian studies. Participants chosen for one of these panels may be eligible for a modest travel subsidy. Those interested should submit their abstracts according to the process outlined above, with a note indicating their interest in being a part of one of these sponsored panels. Applicants not placed on a special panel will still receive full consideration for the general conference. Please circulate widely. Updates and announcements will be shared on the MEHAT website and Facebook page.

For all inquiries, please write to mehat.conference@uchicago.edu.

Conference Coordinators:

Mariam Sheibani PhD Student, NELC University of Chicago

Amir Toft PhD Student, NELC University of Chicago

11/12/15: The Syrian Refugee Emergency: Humanitarian and Human Rights Perspectives

A pile of children shoes captured during refugees crisis. Refugee crisis. Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe, 6 September 2015.

Hear from:

Dr. Zaid Eyadat
Political Science and Human Rights Institute
University of Connecticut

Dr. Jeff Crisp
Refugee Studies Center
University of Oxford

Dr. M. Anne Sa’adeh
Joel Parker Professor of Law and Political Science
Dartmouth College

When: Thurs., November 12th at 7pm
Where: Konover Auditorium Dodd Center

Co-sponsored by Middle East Studies, UConn Global, Global House, and the Human Rights Institute.

10/22/15: Arab-Jewish Coexistence Panel

Beit Hagefen at UConn eventHear from Arab and Jewish teens about coexistence in Israel

Date:  Thursday, October 22nd
Time: 5:00pm
Location:  Castleman Building, Room 212

Guest speakers from Beit Hagefen Center in Haifa, Israel:

– Mr. Asaf Ron, CEO
– Ella Chernyak, high school student
– May Ayoub, high school student

Beit Hagefen is an Arab-Jewish cultural center “which strives for the creation of common and equal spaces that encompass the variety of identities and cultures in Haifa in particular and in Israel in general.”

Ella, a 17-year-old Russian Jew, and May, a 16-year-old Christian Arab, will share their stories with us in order to prove that coexistence is possible and actually exists in Israel.

For more information on Beit Hagefen, visit: here

October 28-29: “Reinventing Israel” conference at American University

American University logo

“Reinventing Israel: Transformations of Israeli Society in the 21st Century”

American University,
Washington, DC
October 28-29, 2015

Travel Subsidies for Junior Faculty Available


Scholars are invited to attend “Reinventing Israel: Transformations of Israeli Society in the 21st Century,” an international academic conference on October 28-29, 2015 at American University in Washington, DC. The conference is sponsored by American University’s Center for Israel Studies and Jewish Studies Program. A limited number of travel subsidies are available for junior faculty and advanced graduate students. Applications for travel subsidies are due September 25, 2015. Notifications will be made on a rolling basis by October 1, 2015.

Conference Chairs:

Michael Brenner, Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies, American University and Chair of Jewish History and Culture, Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich
Pamela Nadell, Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender Studies, American University

Conference Summary:
The 1967 Six-Day War, with its resulting control of significant new territory, compelled profound changes in Israel’s self-definition. Demographically, Israel’s society has become more religious. Politically, it has gradually moved to the right. The transformation of Israeli society has been ongoing ever since.

This conference will examine the more recent aspects of the transformation of Israeli society in the 21st century, including the birth of the start-up nation and the growing economic inequality, changes in Holocaust memory and in Israel-diaspora relations. Scholars from the United States and Israel will present new insights in the fields of politics, law, economy, art, and literature. They turn our attention to the immigrants from unexpected destinations like Nigeria and Burma, who claim to derive from “the lost tribes,” as well as to the growing Israeli diaspora in America and Europe, and to the changing self-definition of Israeli Arabs who regard themselves increasingly as Palestinians. A concluding panel addresses the question of how Israel will look twenty years from now.

Link to application, with program:

Questions: American University Center for Israel Studies, israelstudies@american.edu, 202-885-3780

1/25-1/27/16: Call for Papers: Political Parties in the Middle East: Past, Present and Future Perspectives


Convened by the Subject Areas of History and Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies

University of Manchester, in Association with the Centre for Advanced Study of the Arab World.

Dates: January 25-27, 2016

Location: University of Manchester

Please complete the paper submission form on the conference website by no later than 5 October 2015. Selected participants will be contacted towards the publication of an edited volume.


Co-organised by Dr. Siavush Randjbar-Daemi and Dr. Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi

Political parties have long been considered the staple of any modern political system. In the Western political tradition, parties have featured as the locus of organised activity by elites and politically conscious sectors of society, coalescing around the defining issues of the day, as well as shared socio-economic interests, demanding representation and a stake in the political order. Over time, political parties came to be seen as the sine qua non of assuming government and the exercise of power in any self-avowed parliamentary democracy.

In the aftermath of World War I the states comprising the MENA region began to increasingly witness the emergence political forms that resembled those found in the metropole, and the imperial powers which had overseen its incorporation into the world economy and subjugation to Europe’s competing global empires. Where people and social groups had previously pursued political activity by means of secret societies, or redress through traditional associations such as guilds, village elders, town notables, and the clergy, with the advent of the modern era, the political party came to be seen as an ever-more appropriate and efficacious means of organising and directing political action and expressing political demands. By the end of the British and French mandate a whole host of political parties had emerged, with some acting as the voice of traditional landed elites and urban notables, while others were born in response to the arrival of the new class of urban intellectuals, salaried professionals and civil servants under the sway of modern ideologies such as liberalism, fascism and communism.

Following WWII, with the onset of the Cold War this trend gathered pace and radical projects such as Nasserism and Baʿathism, whose chief concern was Arab unity and the overturning of the old sources of social power and elite rule, the region was transformed irrevocably in what became an epoch of decolonization and calls for non-alignment. Authoritarian presidencies forged off the back of military coups in Egypt, Syria and Iraq, had at their inception sought popular mandates and thereby attempted to build a single-party state order to mobilize a host of groups including recent urban migrants, the intelligentsia, members of the new professional classes and state bureaucracies and the peasantry. New genres of political literature were created and consumed, and novel ways of engaging an increasingly literate public, receptive to the ideas and discourses of the newly-minted anti-colonial elites, came into being.

In the aftermath of the defeat of the leading Arab nationalist states in June 1967 the Palestinian cause for national liberation assumed a more independent line as evident in the early politics of Fatah, while Israel’s party system found itself increasingly forced to come to terms with a rapidly shifting demography and a fragile PR system under the shadow of military occupation. One of the main features of Iranian politics, post-1941, has been the dichotomy between the Marxist, pro-Moscow Tudeh Party, widely considered to be Iran’s only mass political party of the 20th century, and its adversaries’ scorn and indirect emulation. In 1975, Iran would become what was possibly the only one-party monarchy in modern world history. Many of these political parties which endeavoured to fundamentally challenge the status quo in their societies were also often vehicles for social mobility, progressive gender norms and the promise of wealth redistributions, changing the nature of their societies in an unprecedented fashion.

Political parties also partook in the construction of new constitutional configurations, where until 2011 the prospect of dynastic presidencies in Libya, Iraq, Syria and Egypt backed by the one-party state held the promise of becoming a generalizable regional trend. By contrast, Iran following the Revolution of 1979 witnessed the birth of a factional order labouring under the imprimatur of theocratic rule, and has subsequently struggled to institute a stable party political system.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in MENA Islamist parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood, despite their longevity, sought to persevere in debilitating authoritarian contexts through the cultivation of welfare regimes and networks so as to reach the wider population.

The wave of upheavals and euphoria which swept the Middle East following January 2011, has led to serious queries regarding the role and importance of political parties. A question remains as to whether the repression of organised political activity in several parts of the Middle East has led to their irrelevance, as social movements, both informal and highly integrated, take centre stage in this highly networked, information age. While the post-2011 Arab Uprisings may well have spoken to the bankruptcy of the traditional political party form, the counter-revolutions which almost invariably followed reaffirmed the importance of highly organized, hierarchical and more often than not, militarised, organizations to political outcomes in evolving social conflicts. The Green Movement of Iran and the Tahrir Square revolt werecommonly seen as shunning structured political organisation, which made them all the more unpredictable, while sceptics pointed to their inherent limitations and ultimate unsustainability going forward.

Moreover, the apparent sectarianization of several conflicts in the region has also been strongly linked to political groupings and mobilizations along sectarian lines, posing the question whether the “sectarian party” is with us to stay?

This international conference aims to make sense of past, present and future perspectives on political party organization in the Middle East and North Africa. It will seek to understand whether political parties in MENA should still be considered an integral part to the creation of resilient democratic states or the enactment of radical social transformation, as well as chart the evolution of the single party system and the challenges it has faced over the past decade. It will aim to bring together a wide range of scholars studying topics ranging from the social bases of marginalized political organizations to mainstream parties which have held power for decades. It is the conference’s intention to contribute to extant international scholarship on political parties in the fields of history, political science, international relations, sociology and anthropology and the literature concerned with political parties in the post-colonial world.

Proposals might choose to focus on the following themes:

  • Nationalism and Political Parties
  • Ethnicity and Political Parties
  • Imperialism and Political Parties in the Middle East
  • State formation and Political Parties in the Middle East
  • Political Parties and Democratization in the Middle East
  • Political Parties and Class Politics
  • Modernization Theory and the Legacy of Political Parties
  • Political Parties in the Arab Spring
  • Does Political Pluralism in the MENA Require a Multi-Party System?
  • Political Parties in the Age of Social Media
  • Political Parties and the Legacy of the Left in the Middle East
  • Official Co-opted Political Parties in the Middle East
  • Loyal Oppositions in the Middle East
  • Political Parties and Welfare Networks
  • Political Parties and Sectarianism
  • Factionalism or Multi-Party System?
  • Political Parties and Revolutionary Elites
  • Political Parties and Arab Armies
  • Political Parties in the Middle East: A Spent Force?
  • The validity of the Western political party theory and conceptualization in the modern Middle East.

Limited funding is available to cover select travel and accommodation expenses of accepted panellists.

Please complete the paper submission form on the conference website by no later than 5 October 2015. Selected participants will be contacted towards the publication of an edited volume.


International Conference on the Geo-Politics of the Middle East: Call for Papers

Geo Politics of the Middle East

The Middle East Studies Forum (MESF) at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADICG), in partnership with the Middle East Institute (National University of Singapore) and the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (ANU) are pleased to issue this Call for Papers for the forthcoming symposium ‘Making Sense of Geo-Politics in the Middle East’.
Deakin University (Melbourne, Australia), October 28-29, 2015

The rise of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, which claims to revive the historic Islamic Caliphate, has brought to the fore intense state rivalries. This is most notable between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which appear to be locked in a number of theatres of conflict from Syria to Yemen. But other enmities have also intensified as a result of growing tensions and states’ self-perception of their regional weight. These include frictions between Qatar and Egypt, Iran and Turkey, and Egypt and Turkey. Compounding each of these is the emergence of the self-declared Islamic State and the prospects of a future Kurdish state.

This conference welcomes informed and robust discussion of the following key questions:

  • Do recent events suggest a reassertion of state-centric politics over ideological considerations?
  • Are we witnessing the demise of ideology as a normative tool for change?
  • To what extent can the reassertion of geo-politics in the Middle East be seen as a vindication of the neo-realist paradigm in International Relations?
  • What is the trajectory of future developments in the region?
  • What are the key factors driving geo-politics in the Middle East

Keynote Speakers:

  • Prof. Mehran Kamrava, Center for International and Regional Studies, Georgetown University
  • Prof. Amin Saikal, Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (the Middle East and Central Asia), ANU
  • Prof. Gareth Stansfield, Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University

Abstract Submission:

If you would like to present a paper as part of this conference, please submit the following to Dr. James Barry (james.barry@deakin.edu.au) by Friday 31 July 2015:

– A title and 250 word abstract addressing one of the key questions outlined above, and a 100 word biography

Hosted by:

The Middle East Studies Forum at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, in partnership with the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore and the ANU Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (the Middle East and Central Asia).

Contact: Gemma Ross McGlynn, g.rossmcglynn@deakin.edu.au