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2016 vol. 38


Letter from the Chair

05 New Faculty 05 New Staff 06 Meet the Advisory Committee 07 Faculty Affiliate News and Events 08 CMES Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens Program 09 10 Summer Outreach Travel 13 The Arts 14 Visiting Scholars 15 Student Perspective 16 Alumni Profiles 18 Fall 2016 Programming Highlights 19 Big Give/Big Thanks 20 Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens Gala 21 ORIAS Speakers Bureau 22 Resources for Educators Karen Barkey and Asma Kazmi

Neil Gali and Michael Lukas


Global Ambassadors

Uzbekistan 2016

Arab Film Festival and Genera#ion

Kfir Cohen, Ozlem Ezer, Sofia Shwayri Lana Ramadan


Prof. Emily Gottreich, CMES Chair The 2016 CMES Annual Newsletter arrives in the wake of a presidential election season that began in the realm of the absurd and ended in tragedy, at least for many of us. Domestic issues were the main focus of both parties’ campaigns, but US foreign policy, particularly toward the MENA region, was not ignored. At least for those who know “what” Aleppo is. For those who don’t know, suffice it to say that Aleppo is a humanitarian disaster. In the twilight of his administration Obama finally agreed to allow 10,000 refugees into the US. But even that contested amount is but a tiny fraction of the 6.5 million Syrians who have been displaced internally and the 5 million who have been driven abroad. Many of these lack the proper papers, making the bureaucratic struggle of obtaining refugee status almost impossible.

After WWII, when refugees of the Holocaust also had no papers, the US government acted ethically and allowed in hundreds of thousands of Jews. There seems to be little room in the xenophobic rhetoric we are hearing these days for similar gestures toward Americans of Middle Eastern origin, let alone those in dire straits looking to immigrate from abroad. Other matters of keen interest to the CMES community, such as the fragile US-Iranian rapprochement, the fight against ISIS, the status of Jerusalem, and support for burgeoning democratic movements in the MENA are likewise matters of growing concern. I have spent much of my career as a social historian of the Middle East arguing for a view of the region that does not revolve exclusively around contemporary politics, especially vicious ones. No other part of

the world is so deeply and consistently associated in the popular mind with violence, war, and terror. At the CMES the MENA is so much more than that. We pride ourselves on our multivalenced programming, which always includes a deep commitment to art, film, literature and music. Middle Eastern Studies for us is expansive, encompassing topics ranging from Mongol women, Iranian psychiatry, and Moroccan literature. (Just to cite a few topics from the current semester’s program.) When we do broach the political, be it ISIS, Asad, or the Israeli settlements, we do so in a holistic way, with careful attention to context and history. Our approach goes well beyond the call for “balanced” or “civil” discourse, two highly charged code words that have emerged in the academy in recent years and that have proven, in both intent and practice, to be anything but. Earlier this semester a minor drama unfolded on our campus regarding the temporary suspension of a de-cal course on the topic of “Settler Colonialism in Palestine” prompted by complaints by a number of off-campus organizations. (De-cal courses are taught by undergraduates with minimal faculty supervision.) This was neither the first nor the last time outside pressure has been brought to bear on the university by groups looking to further a particular political agenda. In the current instance, I witnessed our students navigate the choppy waters day by day, allowing themselves full exposure to challenging ideas and feeling sufficiently empowered to refute those that seemed false to them. I watched them participate in the messy Socratic method of learning that we have chosen to embrace. While fairness and respect are always tantamount, it is insulting to these bright

young people to think they need someone else to articulate any concerns they might have about how complex, politicallycharged issues are studied on campus. Thoughtful, concerned students from all points on the political spectrum (believe me, there are not simply two sides to this issue) have shared their hopes and concerns with me over the semester. I can only hope that their access to Middle Eastern Studies, and to the MENA region itself, will continue unfettered in the new year. Let me conclude by assuring you, friends and supporters of the CMES, of our continued commitment to creating a thriving hub for Middle Eastern Studies on the Berkeley campus and beyond, where visiting scholars from different countries (currently Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey) share the small back room, where aspiring undergraduates work with us as research apprentices (one even designed this newsletter), where the legacy of the fallen US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens is meticulously preserved, and where learning takes pride of place. I wish you all a happy and healthy new year.

NEW STAFF Michael David Lukas

Michael David Lukas is the Program Coordinator for the J. Christopher Stevens Global Ambassadors Program (see Page 9). He is the author of The Oracle of Stamboul, and his sophomore novel, a multigenerational tale about the Jews of Cairo, was recently accepted for publication.

Neil (Nebil) Gali Neil (Nebil) Gali also joined CMES this summer as Administrative Assistant, and brings with him a wealth of knowledge of University systems as well as native fluency inTurkish and Arabic.

NEW FACULTY Asma Kazmi Asma Kazmi joins Art Practice as an Assistant Professor. She creates transdisciplinary, performative, relational works where people, media, and objects come together. She is the recipient of many awards including the Fulbright Research Award, (CIES) to India; the Faculty Research Grant, CalArts; the Great Rivers Biennial by the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; Rocket Grant, the Charlotte Street Foundation and the Spencer Museum of Art at Kansas University; At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago Award, the University of Illinois in Chicago; and the Creative Stimulus Award, Critical Mass for the Visual Arts, St. Louis.

Karen Barkey Karen Barkey is now an Associate Professor of Sociology and Haas Distinguished Chair in Religious Diversity. Her work focuses on comparative and historical study of the state, with special focus on its transformation over time. She has written several books including Empire of Difference (Cambridge UP, 2008), a comparative study of the flexibility and longevity of imperial systems, and Choreography of Sacred Spaces: State, Religion and Conflict Resolution (with Elazar Barkan) (Columbia UP, 2014) that explores the history of shared religious spaces in the Balkans, Anatolia and Palestine/Israel. Karen Barkey is now engaged in different projects on religion and toleration. She has written on the early centuries of Ottoman state toleration and is now exploring different ways of understanding how religious coexistence, toleration and sharing occurred in different historical sites under Ottoman rule.

MEET THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE In Spring 2016, the CMES faculty advisory committee was newly reconstituted and convened in an effort to bring together colleagues and viewpoints from a range of disciplines represented on campus. Together with Chair Gottreich and Vice Chair Choucair-Vizoso, its members provide feedback on CMES programming, discuss long-range goals, and speak on behalf of the larger MES-related faculty. Learn more about them here:

Mia Fuller (Committee Chair) Mia Fuller is Associate Professor of Italian Studies. She is a cultural anthropologist who has combined fieldwork and archival research in her studies of architecture and city planning in the Italian colonies between 1869 and 1943, with a particular focus on Libya.

Asad Q. Ahmed

Asad Q. Ahmed is Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies. He specializes in early Islamic social history and pre-modern Islamic intellectual history, with special attention to the rationalist disciplines, such as philosophy, logic, and astronomy.

Charles Hirschkind

Charles Hirschkind is Associate Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology. His research interests concern religious practice, media technologies, and emergent forms of political community in the Middle East, North America, and Europe. Taking contemporary developments within the traditions of Islam as his primary focus, he has explored how various religious practices and institutions have been revised and renewed both by modern norms of social and political life, and by the styles of consumption and culture linked to global mass media practices.

Anneka Lenssen Anneka Lenssen is Assistant Professor of Global Modern Art in the History of Art department. A specialist in visual practices and cultural politics in the modern Middle East, her research and teaching interests include modernism and global mass culture, Islamic art (historical and contemporary), theories of representation, and translational practices.

Maria Mavroudi Maria Mavroudi is Professor of History and Classics. She is a philologist whose more recent work examines a broad range of texts, showing the pervasive impact of Byzantine-Arab exchanges, and continues to fill in crucial gaps in the history of knowledge shared throughout the Mediterranean world’s dominant civilizations.

Christine Philliou

Christine Philliou is Associate Professor of History. She specializes in the political and social history of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey and Greece as parts of the post-Ottoman world. She examines comparative empires across Eurasia, various levels of transitions from an “Ottoman” to a “post-Ottoman” world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and political and cultural interfaces in the eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, and Balkans in the early modern and modern eras.

FACULTY AFFILIATE EVENTS & NEWS Organized by Samera Esmeir (Rhetoric)

November 10-11, 2016

THUR Sulta 9:30 - 10:00 am

Between the World and the International: Thinking with Ottoman and Islamic Pasts

Welc Emily

Intro Same

Chai Wilso 10:00 - 12:00 pm

Organized by Minoo Moallem (Gender & Women’s Studies)

Resp Baki


To attend the workshop and to receive the pre-circulated papers, email For more information and to view the paper abstracts, visit:

Benjamin Porter (Near Eastern Studies)

Benjamin Porter has achieved the rank of Associate Professor, while continuing to serve as Director of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

Jason Vivrette (Turkish Language Coordinator)

Jason Vivrette is the recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award to conduct research in Turkey during the 2016-2017 academic year. He is affiliated with Bogazici University in Istanbul, where he is exploring representations of Turkish space and identity in museum spaces devoted to Turkish literature.

1:30 - 4:30 pm

Chai Selim

Resp Aime

Resp Umu

Resp 5:00 - 6:30 pm

This interdisciplinary workshop considers Ottoman/ Islamic visions of the world that preceded or contended with our globalized notion of the international comprised of discrete, sovereign nation-states connected by seas. The objective is to both historicize and pluralize visions of the world, so as to grapple with our contemporary predicaments. We focus on Ottoman and Islamic visions and practices not because they are privileged sites but because they are some of the traditions of an area (the Middle East) that is currently crumbling under the weight of world order. Discussion will be based around pre-circulated papers to allow for sustained engagement and for the development of meaningful, collective insights across disciplines.

CME Alex

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH APPRENTICE PROGRAM (URAP) Initiated in Fall 2015, the CMES URAP brings together a cohort of undergraduate students who meet weekly at the Center to help plan upcoming programming, work on research projects, and provide invaluable insight into what Berkeley students need to pursue their academic and career goals in MES. Now completing their second semester at CMES, these students are responsible for articulating professional development initiatives for undergraduates, in-house graphic design (including this newsletter!) and developing curriculum materials for use in Bay Area middle school classrooms on such diverse topics as the Syrian refugee crisis, the hijab in history and popular media, the Cold War in Afghanistan, and more. Yasmine El-Hage

Yasmine is a second-year student at Cal, studying Public Health, with an interest in international relations and foreign policy. Her current focus is the refugee crisis and its health implications on both refugee and host populations, and she was involved in developing the Spring 2017 virtual exchange course on Public Health and Forced Migration in the Middle East. This is her second semester interning at CMES, after spending the summer in Jordan, Greece, and Germany to better understand the refugee crisis itself. She volunteered at a refugee camp in Piraeus and made connections with NGOs and tech startups, learning how those providing aid on the ground and others from afar began merging their efforts. She hopes to return to Berlin this summer to work with NGOs involved in the Syrian refugee crisis and to improve her German.

Julia Malakiman

Julia is a senior at UC Berkeley majoring in Peace and Conflict studies with a concentration in Identity and Human Security. Her research interests include gendered violence affecting refugees, religion, and the rise of Islamophobia in western society. She aspires to become fluent in multiple languages, including Arabic.

Josie Ygnatowiz

Josie studies the Middle East and Political Economy, with a specific focus on Turkish culture, politics and strategy post-WWI. She spent this summer in Azerbaijan, learning Turkish and Azerbaijani through the Critical Language Scholarship Program. She is External VP for Berkeley’s Delta Phi Epsilon fraternity for foreign service, and active in organizations like the Euphrates Institute and Interfaith Action Initiative, and is excited to be a member of UC Berkeley’s first Kurdish language (Kurmanji) class.

Chris Seeley

Chris is a third-year student at Cal studying Political Economy. His interests of study include contemporary Persian history and the interaction (and lackthereof) between the West and Middle Eastern cultures in globalizing markets. Chris thoroughly enjoys his time at the CMES and acts as the in-house graphic designer.

THE J. CHRISTOPHER STEVENS GLOBAL AMBASSADORS PROGRAM Every Monday and Wednesday morning this fall, a group of UC Berkeley undergraduates trickle into the Sultan Conference Room at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. They get out their notebooks and pens, send off a last text message or two and, at precisely 11:40 am, their professor appears. It’s a class much like any other. The only difference is that the professor and the other half of the class are at Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. Through the wonder of video conferencing, these

connect online with students in the Middle East and North Africa who are learning English. And this spring we will be launching a project-based virtual exchange course on the public health implications of conflict and forced migration in the region. Although the exchange with Al-Akhawayn University is still in its first weeks, the students are enjoying the course very much, learning about the experiences of Muslim women in Muslim-majority countries and the West, while exchanging their own personal perspectives on faith, gender, society,

UC Berkeley students are able to participate fully in this vibrant class on Gender in Islam, asking questions about the reading, sharing their perspectives, and engaging in discussions with students halfway around the world. The class is part of a larger virtual exchange program that CMES launched this fall: the J. Christopher Stevens’ Global Ambassadors Project. Funded through a generous grant from the Stevens Initiative at the Aspen Institute, the program also includes an Arabic and Kurdish language exchange through which UC Berkeley students studying Arabic and Kurdish can

and various relationships between the three. “I think it will be a great learning experience for everyone,” said one student, adding that it will “certainly lead to deep discussions regarding the issues happening in Morocco related to women and how the world perceives Muslim women.” Another student was especially excited for the chance for interact with students from a different culture and to learn “how to manage this difference and how to get the best outcome from collaborating with foreign perspectives.” That, at its heart, is the aim of the class and the Stevens Program in general.

SUMMER OUTREACH TRAVEL Contributed by Amber Zambelli, CMES Outreach Director Late in the afternoon of July 25, I sat on an uncomfortable metal chair in the Tashkent International Airport. As wave after wave of visitors and workers coming from elsewhere in the post-USSR Commonwealth of Independent States rushed past me, I tugged at the hems of my sleeves and compulsively locked and unlocked my phone, counting hours back to Pacific Standard Time and guessing whether Lydia Kiesling, my predecessor as CMES Outreach Director and the only Uzbek-speaker I know, might possibly be awake to play translator. I was having trouble with visa officials: the freckled, sweaty visage that stood before Passport Control did not sufficiently resemble the coiffed, pale, professional woman pictured on my visa. I was to wait until they sorted out who I was and why I had come there. I was beginning to wonder the same thing. Perhaps not the most auspicious start to an outreach tour, but I had arrived in Tashkent to join a group of educators for a tour of Uzbekistan, and provide additional context for the historical, archaeological, and cultural experiences that awaited us. In total, we were seven, half supplied from the agency that contracted the tour, Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO), the rest via Berkeley’s Office for Resources for International and Area Studies (ORIAS). Together, we would think about ways to bring this experience into the classroom upon return to the States. For California public school students, Uzbekistan is most likely to appear in the curriculum in sixth grade, when students learn about ancient history up through the zenith of the Roman Empire, and in seventh grade, when they focus on world history and geography from 300 CE through the early modern period. Whether it is Alexander’s push east, Genghis Khan’s push west, or the spread of Islam through Central Asia, there

are a multitude of the state History-Social Science Framework’s “sites of encounter” into which students might sink their teeth and explore in detail. Hours later, I joined our small group in the lobby of the state-owned Hotel Uzbekistan along with our tour guide, Timur, a man about my age with a history degree and a namesake in Amir Timur, the 14th century Turco-Mongol founder of the Timurid dynasty and Uzbek national hero. Over dinner of grilled meat, non bread, and pilsner, Timur gave us our first Uzbek lesson-rahmat means “thank you,” salom means “hi”- and we formally embarked on our weeklong adventure through the heart of the Silk Road. En route to Samarkand, our minibus drove through the narrow pass known as the Timur Darvoza (Tamerlane’s Gates), a critical pass along the ancient Silk Road. Despite modern construction to widen the road and Soviet graffiti etched into the rock face, it was still easy to understand how it was a dangerous bottleneck for those seeking commerce or power in lands on either side. My heart fluttered as I thought back to my undergraduate Classics days and Arrian’s Anabasis of Alexander, and the campaign that brought Alexander the Great through these gates to Sogdiana and to his legendary wife, Roxana. At Afrasiyab in Samarkand, extant paintings dating to the 7th century CE provide a rare example of Sogdian art. Winding through its archaeology museum, I shared the ways in which we use the archaeological record to confirm or dispel narratives put forward by historical sources, using examples excavated from the site from the mid-1st millennium BCE through the site’s abandonment in the 12th century CE. Despite Afrasiyab’s proximity to Samarkand’s far more imposing architectural feats of the Timurid dynasty, including the madrassa complex at Registan, the potsherds and

UZBEKISTAN 2016 burial jars spoke volumes about the people that lived there in the past and how shifting empires had (and, more fascinatingly, had not) affected their lives. Later, our group squeezed in next to a birthday party in a favorite local lunch spot, where we witnessed the universal ritual of tweens reluctantly dancing to tacky pop music in broad daylight as we munched on the freshest, most succulent melons any of us had ever eaten. That was the first of countless opportunities our group had to meet their middle schoolers’ Uzbek counterparts, eager to practice their English with Americans, giggling over their love of Justin Bieber and Hollywood blockbusters. From Samarkand, we made our way to another UNESCO World Heritage site, Bukhara. Crossing Uzbekistan at times felt a series of interminable bus rides across the steppe, stopping off to see petroglyphs or get shashlik at a roadside restaurant in the Kyzylkum (Red Sand) Desert. We spent a night in a yurt camp, where we had a chance to ride a Bactrian camel (from Bactria, no less!) and enjoy a cooking demo under the stars from our accommodating hosts, who humbly accepted our enthusiastic enjoyment of what she assured us were her mother’s recipes. We arrived in Bukhara sandy and desiccated, my compatriots in the ideal condition to enjoy an authentic hammam experience in the heart of the historic city center. Afterward, we

had the opportunity to wander the meticulously preserved streets and stalls, the Jewish quarter (home of the sizable population of Bukharan Jews that emigrated to Queens at the fall of the Soviet Union), and rifle through scores of hand-woven rugs in a cavernous workshop. The shop’s proprietor mellifluously described each carpet as she poured tea and led us through the sheaves of textiles to the back, where she introduced us to the women that tirelessly-but legally, she assured us-- produced them with pride. We trudged up the Ark of Bukhara, a massive fortress constructed atop the ruins of its previous iterations. It was from there that the Emir ruled through the climactic conclusion of the Great Game between the imperial powers of Russia and Britain, and we stood in the spot where British intelligence offices Arthur Conolly and Charles Stoddart were beheaded in 1842. Later, on the most memorable evening of

the trip, we dined at the home of a renowned Sufi miniaturist, described by our guide as a man whose home is often visited by angels. Our host listened as Timur translated his explanation of how he can read the hadith and represent it either literally, with gorgeous, gold-laced figures dancing off the page, or abstractly, through a series of lines and curves that somehow still convey the same emotions. It was a moving and fitting end to a day on which we had learned about the Sahih al-Bukhari and the historical significance of Bukhara in the history of Islam. Our penultimate destination was Khiva, close to the border with Turkmenistan on the edge of the Karakum (Black Sand) Desert, the old city (Itchan Kala) a UNESCO world heritage site, heart of the Khwarazmian empire that fell to the Mongols, and final stopping point for caravans bound for Iran. Khiva’s contemporary remoteness relative to our previous stops stood in contrast to its wealthy history not only in economic and political matters, but also its claims to such notable figures in science and religion as Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi, the father of algebra, and Zoroaster, founder of the eponymous religion that served as the state religion of preIslamic Iranian empires and still survives today. In meeting our guide’s family and friends, we were fortunate to see a more authentic lens into life there, beyond the photo ops and museum placards. Consequently, Khiva afforded us a more intimate view onto the resilience and metamorphosis of Uzbek, and more specifically Khwarezmian, history and culture through centuries of exogenous political, social, and religious transformations. After a 600-mile overnight journey by train in a refurbished Soviet sleeper car, our trip ended where it began: at the Hotel Uzbekistan, on Amir Temur Square. Tourists streamed past and clambered up the bronze statue of Tamerlane for photos, and I thought back to my rocky arrival less than a fortnight before. Now I understood him as more than a national hero depicted with a sassy raised eyebrow, just as

I understood their president, Islom Karimov, to be something more than an autocrat whose domestic perception differs significantly from his international reputation, and whose motorcade blocked my path while exploring in Tashkent just weeks before his fatal stroke. By speaking with people instead of merely about people, our group worked towards challenging stereotypes and essentializing tropes from the earliest phases of ancient history up through our current social and political climate. Through sparking curiosity and lending nuance, we were ultimately able to bring the other side of the world a little closer to home.

THE ARTS SAN FRANCISCO ARAB FILM FESTIVAL CMES hosted the premiere of the film 3000 Nights by Mai Masri during the Arab Film Festival’s 20th anniversary on Monday, October 10.

GENERA#ION: CONTEMPORARY ART FROM SAUDI ARABIAl After the overwhelmingly positive reception of last semester’s exhibition of Arab Cartoons, the CMES continues to serve as a popup gallery for works of art that otherwise wouldn’t be seen on the UC Berkeley campus. This semester, visitors to our Sultan Conference Room can see the work of three contemporary Saudi artists-Abdulnasser Gharem, Saeed Salem, and Dhafer Al Shehri-- whose work we are fortunate enough to share with you through a partnership with the Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco, and the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture. These works are part of a multi-city US tour, initiated by the Gharem Studio in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


Kfir Cohen’s work advances an inquiry into the aesthetic and political significance of neoliberalism and globalization in Israel, Palestine and France in the period between 1945 and 2015. This inquiry engages critically with the fields of postcolonial studies, post-Zionism and world literature and proposes a new relationship between literary worlds and the conjuncture of state formation, nationalism and capitalism. Kfir is currently completing a book for Verso, entitled Subjects of the Global: Political and Aesthetic Forms of Neoliberal Change in Israel and Palestine. The book critiques inter alia the historical and analytical categories of post-Zionist literary criticism, and argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is insufficient to understand literary form and its political import. The book then suggests a new conceptual model, rooted in globalization, with which to understand the historical development of Israeli and Palestinian literature post-1948.

Ozlem Ezer

Ozlem Ezer studied English Language and Literature at Bogazici University in Istanbul, and received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Women’s and Gender Studies at METU (Ankara) and York University (Toronto), respectively. She completed her postdoctoral studies at Linkoping University in Sweden. Through her archival work, she uses marginalized texts as tools to criticize and contextualize canon formation in both English and Turkish literature and social sciences. She is particularly interested in recording the oral histories of women in underprivileged regions of Turkey, Northern Cyprus, and Syria. Outside academia, she has volunteered and worked in a professional capacity with women’s shelters in Turkey and the United States. Between January and July 2016, she collaborated with the Human Development Resource Foundation in Istanbul for the initial stages of her oral history project with Syrian refugee women. During her residency at CMES, she is working on a book on Syrian activists’ life stories.

Sofia T. Shwayri

Sofia T. Shwayri is at work on a manuscript, “The Spaces of the Syrian War (2011-present),” a study of Syria’s military conflict and its emerging urbanism. Prior to her arrival at Berkeley, Sofia was an Associate Professor in International Planning and Development at Seoul National University in South Korea, a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University, and an Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow at the John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program at New York University. Sofia earned both her M.S. and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, where she was also an Instructor in Peace and Conflict Studies and the Department of City and Regional Planning. Her research on conflict, cities, and post-conflict reconstruction springs from her early life in wartime Beirut, where she witnessed more than 15 years of simultaneous destruction and reconstruction.

STUDENT PERSPECTIVE A Gendered Perspective to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

by Lana Ramadan, CMES Staff and Graduating Senior in MES and Political Science Scattered across the Middle East, 7.6 million refugees suffer from the consequences of the Syrian civil war. Women make up over half of this population, yet their needs remain unaccounted for. Female refugees lack basic access to essential health items and nonessential food items, and face the threat of physical assault, sexual harassment, and exploitation. Women like Samaa, who fled the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo with her family more than two years ago, have been forced to work in the informal economy to make ends meet. Stigmatized and regarded as a burden by her host government, Samaa is given differential access to resources such as income and health services. In my time at UC Berkeley, I have grappled with making sense of the Syrian refugee crisis and its gender dimensions. CMES staff have consistently encouraged me to pursue this interest, providing a healthy mix of theory and practice to explore concepts of ideology, postcolonial conflict, and cross-cultural understanding. Being Syrian myself, I relied on the staff’s guidance and support to research and write on a topic that is so close to my heart. Berkeley’s diverse student body, cultivated by our renowned professors, has also offered me endless opportunities to challenge myself and grow. At CAL I learned that intersections of identity exist within all of us, and that these identities play a role in how we analyze the international community and respond to crisis. In my senior thesis, I argue that female refugees suffer through one-size fits all approaches that do not sufficiently consider gendered factors. Using a Gender Studies

lens to analyze the response to the Syrian Refugee crisis in Turkey, I find that women’s psychological care continues to be ignored by local and international health care operations. Many scholars and practitioners focus on the traumatic effects of torture or the physical disabilities that accompany battle, and much less so on issues such as the intersection of shame and rape. The legal status of refugees in Turkey exacerbates this situation, as economic burdens pressure women into marriages for money or protection. I was able to apply this knowledge to my summer 2016 internship at International Relief and Development in Washington, DC, where I worked on programs that considered these disparities and established community organizations that helped women cope and support each other. The CMES helped me envision and execute a research project, and then apply this knowledge to programmatic work in a nonprofit. I look forward to bringing these skills with me through all of my future endeavors.

ALUMNI NEWS Anna Cruz (Near Eastern Studies)

Anna received her PhD in May 2016, and is currently a Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow at Tufts University. Her focus is on Medieval and Modern Arabic poetry, and she is working on a manuscript tentatively titled In Memory of al-Andalus: The Poetics of Affect in Medieval and Modern Arab Literary and Material Culture.

Shoaib Ghias (Jurisprudence and Social Policy)

Shoaib won the American Political Science Association’s 2016 Aaron Wildavsky Award for the Best Dissertation in Religion and Politics. The dissertation, “Defining Shari’a: The Politics of Islamic Judicial Review,” was completed in 2015 under Malcolm Feeley (Law/JSP), Martin Shapiro (Law/JSP) and Asad Ahmed (Near Eastern Studies), and with with invaluable support from Hatem Bazian (Near Eastern Studies).

Alan Elbaum

2016 Mellon Research Grant Recipient

Three months ago, having just finished my first year of medical school, I boarded a plane to Cairo for the first leg of a summer of research into the social history of medicine among the Jews of Egypt in the time of Maimonides. I have the very good fortune of being a student in the UC Berkeley-UC San Francisco Joint Medical Program (JMP), where students write masters theses at UC Berkeley in any discipline of their choosing before moving on to UCSF to earn their medical degrees. This is, in fact, the only medical school in the country that would be wildly enthusiastic about a project on the history of Judeo-Arabic medicine. So, with generous moral and financial support from the JMP’s Schoeneman fellowship and from

UC Berkeley’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Center for Jewish Studies, I have had an extraordinarily productive, even transformative, summer of master’s research in Egypt, Israel, NewYork, and Cambridge (UK). The documents that I am using are from the Cairo Genizah—a trove of some 350,000 scraps of paper and vellum, mostly in Judeo-Arabic (i.e., the Arabic language written in Hebrew characters), mostly spanning the years 1000-1250 CE. There are several thousand fragments that can be loosely defined as ‘medical’ in nature, and these have been studied extensively for their pharmaceutical aspects. But there is practically no scholarship on the social history of medicine: What was the experience of illness? How did people receive medical care? How did communal and professional ethics and ideals of charity influence the provision of medical care to

the chronically ill or indigent? I took a risk by diving into completely uncharted territory, but I am very happy to report that each phase of my summer paid off with progress and new insights into my questions— insights that I could not have gotten anywhere but in the places where I traveled. My week in Cairo was a week of immersion in the topography, architecture, and physical remains of the city as it existed in medieval times. As the city has never been destroyed by conquerors or by fire, it is possible to enter hospitals built over 700 years ago and to walk the same streets walked by the people of Genizah times. I devoted substantial energy to locating the Jewish past of the city, visiting most of the standing synagogues and Jewish schools, and the Jewish cemetery. (Though not directly related to my thesis project: I also spoke with Muslim goldsmiths in Cairo, who communicate with one another to this day in a trade argot based on Hebrew.) I then stayed in Jerusalem for a week and a half, where I took advantage of the stellar resources of the National Library of Israel, met with three scholars of the Genizah, and met some dozen members of the Egyptian (Karaite) community in Israel. The last three weeks of my summer in New York were similar: continuing to work on my thesis research, taking advantage of the resources of the Princeton Geniza Lab, and speaking with scholars who shed light on my project from their own specialties. By far the most powerful and productive part of the summer was my five-week stay at the Cambridge University Library, where the bulk of the Genizah documents were transferred when Solomon Schechter removed them from Cairo in 1896. Up until now, I have had to rely on the digitized versions of Genizah fragments to conduct my research. But there is truly nothing like holding the original fragments in my own hands: it is a humbling and exhilarating feeling that reminded me of why I was passionate about

this research to begin with. In more practical terms, this month was essential for me to acquire the necessary skills for deciphering and interpreting Genizah fragments. Though my Judeo-Arabic has been quite good for years, two months ago I could not have picked up and read, say, a letter sent by a Jewish silk merchant in India to his business partner in Cairo in 1100 CE, in which he describes his wife’s chronic illness and all the things they’ve tried doing to treat her. After my month in Cambridge, I can read such a letter without much trouble at all. I could write another ten pages about the treasures of the Genizah that I held and leafed through (including dozens of pages written in the hand of Maimonides himself) and all the medicine-related fragments that will form part of my master’s thesis.I began my summer still not knowing if there was anything to be found in the Genizah that could answer my research questions about the social history of medicine in Old Cairo. I have been rewarded by finding a huge amount of material that has never before been studied: now, the challenge is not how to write a master’s thesis but how not to write a dissertation. Finally, perhaps the most valuable take-away from my month in Cambridge (and my time in Egypt, Israel, and New York), is my renewed sense of awe at the unplumbed contents of the Genizah and a renewed conviction that my chosen subject is worthwhile and important. To all funders who supported this project: I express my deepest, sincerest gratitude.

Are you an alum with news to share? Please write to Outreach Director Amber Zambelli at


BIG THANKS On November 17, the CMES participated in the campus-wide fundraising effort known as the “Big Give.” To all those who donated: thank you for making a difference in Middle Eastern Studies on campus and beyond. Pictured here (left-right) are Vice Chair Julia Choucair Vizoso, Chair Emily Gottreich, and Outreach Director Amber Zambelli

Your support allows us to remain a thriving hub for students, faculty, and the public looking for a nuanced understanding of the Middle East and its connection to the global issues that affect us all. As we ponder the stubborn persistence of authoritarianism both at home and abroad, the CMES needs your support more than ever. We must meet the call to develop a knowledgeable, competent, and empathetic citizenry at the same time we face ever-diminishing funding from our traditional mainstays—the Department of Education and the State of California. Please consider donating to one of the CMES funds. We are grateful for your support at any level.

Thanks are also due to our student assistants and URAPs who voiced their support on social media throughout the day of the Big Give.

Suher Adi Berkeley has showed me that whatever my passion is, I can find others who feel the same way. Being a huge nerd my entire life, Cal has given me a home at the CMES. I have found colleagues and friends who push me to be my very best and inspire me to make the world honestly a better place. From their eclectic speaker series to their MENA salons, students are able to engage with material and academics on a variety of topics and try to grasp the complexity that is the Middle East. I have felt constantly discouraged academically for following my passion in studying the Middle East but it was here, at UC Berkeley’s CMES, and through their staff and programming that my passion was reignited and I am able to study what I love.

Yasmine El-Hage The CMES has opened so many doors for me and been an elemental part of my time at Cal. Through their support and network, I was able to go to Jordan, Greece, and Germany to witness the refugee crisis with my own eyes - to formulate an understanding beyond headlines and detached posts. The issues refugees and humanitarian aids dealt with on a day-to-day basis became tangible and deeply engrained within me. These experiences have ignited a lifelong passion, and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity and community CMES has given me. Berkeley’s CMES is at the forefront of Middle Eastern education and outreach for not just our campus community, but for our local communities and beyond.

STEVENS PROGRAM INAUGURAL GALA Friday, January 27, 2017 7-10pm University Club, California Memorial Stadium 2227 Piedmont Ave., Berkeley, CA Program of events 7:00 PM Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres 8:00 PM Welcome and introduction to Stevens Program by Emily Gottreich, Chair of CMES Meet the Stevens Scholars: Hear from some of the inspiring students supported by the program while enjoying mezze served family-style. Introduced by Peter Bartu, Lecturer in International and Area Studies at UC Berkeley and friend of Ambassador Stevens. Stevens Global Ambassadors Project: Hear about our exciting partnership with the Aspen Institute from Michael Lukas, CMES Program Coordinator. Keynote address by Diederick J. Vandewalle, Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, world-renowned scholar of political economy and history of Libya, and friend of Ambassador Stevens. Introduced by Professor Mia Fuller, Associate Professor of Italian Studies at UC Berkeley and specialist of colonial Libya. 9:00 PM Gala hosts and the Stevens family will lead a champagne toast to the life and legacy of Ambassador Stevens, and raise a glass to the future of the Stevens Program for Middle Eastern Studies and the young scholars that will carry on in his memory. The festivities continue with dessert, drinks, and dancing, with live North African music.

Tickets available at $200: Individual Ticket $200: Sponsor a student to attend Name printed in program, website, & newsletter. $2,000: Table Host Table for 10; Name printed in program, website, & newsletter. $5,000: Table Captain Premium location table for 10; Select faculty seated at table; Name printed in program, website, & newsletter. $10,000: Gala Sponsor Invitation to special CMES events; Premium location table for 10; Select faculty seated at table; Sponsor’s name printed in program, website, & newsletter. $15,000: Gala Sponsor Membership in CMES Director’s Circle; Premium location table for 10; Keynote seated at table; Sponsor’s name printed in program, website, & newsletter.

Your support will help ensure that the Ambassador’s legacy is maintained by giving current and future UC Berkeley students th chance to travel to the region for language training and engaged

ORIAS SPEAKERS BUREAU The Office for Resources for International and Area Studies (ORIAS) Speakers Bureau is a cohort of graduate students who offer 45-minute presentations specifically geared to students from middle school to community college. Each talk models important Common Core Social Studies skills, such as analysis of texts and use of evidence to build an argument. All talks offer opportunities for inquirybased student engagement, as outlined in the new History-Social Science Framework. The CMES collaborated with ORIAS to provide the following Middle East-related talks. To book these or other speakers, visit

JOURNEY THROUGH A REFUGEE CAMP Speaker: Nader Abdelrazik (Grades 7+) Who are refugees and where do they come from? What is a refugee camp? What happens inside these camps and what sorts of questions do international agencies wrestle with in constructing and situating camps? This talk draws on the speaker’s personal experiences visiting and working in refugee camps in the Middle East to introduce topics that are applicable both internationally and locally. Photographs from Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring and in refugee camps following that period will help personalize and contextualize the current Mediterranean crisis. Students will be invited to wrestle with questions about basic human rights, funding, and the challenge of balancing temporary needs with long-term goals.

A POSSIBLE HISTORY OF MAD LOVE Speaker: Anna Levett (Grades 11+) When we teach history, we often situate pivotal ideas firmly within the history of a particular region or group of people. Is this a simple matter, or can ideas travel and have contested origins, just like material objects? This talk explores the artistic and literary concept of “mad love” within surrealism, and then traces its origin backwards in time. While most people assume that “mad love” is a European idea, the speaker proposes an alternative history for this concept, wherein it began in the Middle East and traveled westward with the expansion of Islam. Students will be introduced to the idea of intellectual history and gain insight into intercultural contact between Europe and the Middle East. In the process, they will get a taste of how scholars both construct and challenge historical narratives.

‘THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY’: THE 1923 POPULATION EXCHANGE BETWEEN GREECE AND TURKEY Speaker: Christin Zurbach (Grades 9+) In 1923, Greece and Turkey engaged in a population exchange. Orthodox Christians from the newly-founded Turkish Republic were forcibly deported to Greece and Muslims from Greece were likewise forced to emigrate to Turkey. This process, which effectively created 2 million refugees, was legally sanctioned by both states, written out in the Lausanne Treaty, and supervised by international law. This talk showcases the effects of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of nationalist thinking. Students will be invited to consider the impact of nationalism – usually a huge, impersonal concept - on individual people’s day-to-day lives. At the same time, the talk is an opportunity to explore the dynamics of refugee crises and draw parallels with the Syrian refugee crisis today.


ISLAMIC WORLD PAPERMAKING Saturday, February 11, 9:30 AM–12:30 PM Asian Art Museum, San Francisco $10, free for teacher members, pre-registration required Join artist Radha Pandey for a short lecture and demonstration of traditional papermaking from the Islamic world. Then, tour the museum’s collection with a special focus on works on paper. This workshop includes the demonstration, gallery tour, curriculum resources and a light breakfast. Presented in partnership with UC Berkeley Office of Resources for International and Area Studies.

CLEOPATRA: THE LAST PHAROAH Friday, May 5, 7:30 – 9:30 pm Saturday, May 6, 10:00 am – noon and 1:30 – 4:00 pm Marines’ Memorial Theatre, San Francisco More than two millennia after her death, Cleopatra VII remains an enigma and an object of fascination. The last Ptolemaic ruler of Hellenistic Egypt and the most influential woman of her times, Cleopatra amassed enormous wealth and power. She lived dangerously and died sensationally. Ever since, she has been an iconic figure, continually re-imagined through the cultural prisms of successive ages.

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad 2017 Summer Program in Morocco Jews and Muslims Middle and High School Teachers June 24-July 25, 2017 APPLICATION DEADLINE: January 3, 2017 “Jews and Muslims” is a month-long program dedicated to the study of the ethnic, cultural, and religious complexity of Morocco through study of darija (the local Arabic dialect) and Moroccan Jewish civilization with renowned specialists Emily Gottreich (UC Berkeley) and Aomar Boum (UCLA). The program leaders are UC Berkeley’s Amber Zambelli, Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) Outreach Director and Project Coordinator, and Shane Carter, Office of Resources for International and Areas Studies (ORIAS) Coordinator and Project Evaluator. In addition to extensive pre-departure and post-return programming, participants will learn techniques for recording and analyzing information systematically, based on ethnographic research techniques used by anthropologists and other qualitative researchers, in order to develop concrete lesson plans. This opportunity is open to California middle and high school teachers in the humanities, social sciences, and/or area studies. For more information, eligibility requirements, and to apply, visit:

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CMES Newsletter - 2016 Review  
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