The Sociologist Has Left the Building

by Kevan Harris
published in MER270

“Here in Iran, Professor Wallerstein, you are a dangerous man.” So an adviser of President Hassan Rouhani counseled the 83-year old sociologist, and he was correct. It was March, and Immanuel Wallerstein had just arrived for a three-city lecture tour. It was as if the Islamic Republic had granted a visa to Elvis Presley.

China's Strategic Middle Eastern Languages

by Haiyun Ma , I-wei Jennifer Chang
published in MER270

Though the People’s Republic of China has extensive commercial ties in the Middle East, its three strategic partners in the region are Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. It is not surprising, therefore, that the major Middle Eastern language programs in China today are Arabic, Persian and Turkish. The growth of Middle Eastern language and area studies in China has tracked with the changes in the political ties of the People’s Republic to the region.

Muslim Activist Encounters in Meiji Japan

by Shuang Wen
published in MER270

As one of the political, commercial and intellectual centers of Asia, Japan at the turn of the twentieth century was an important arena for the intersection of ideas about modernism, nationalism and anti-colonial politics. Though Cairo, Istanbul and Mecca had long been the capitals of scholarship and cross-cultural interaction in the Islamic world, Meiji-era Japan was a site of key encounters between Muslims from China, South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. Drawn together by a common interest in Islamic revival and nation building that transcended linguistic and cultural differences, these activists established various Muslim organizations in Japan and saw Islam as a way to unify Asian peoples.

The Battle Over Higher Education in Iran

by Mohammad Ali Kadivar | published February 20, 2014

The educated middle class that played an influential role in electing Hassan Rouhani to the Iranian presidency in June 2013 is anxious to see his promises of “prudence and hope” fulfilled. One area that Rouhani’s administration is expected to reform is higher education, which was targeted for political and intellectual purges under the hardline conservative administrations of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Memories of a Sentimental Education

by Michael Gilsenan
published in MER130

I was supposed to set an example. Voluntary Service Overseas was in its second year in 1959 and two of us were here on a pound a week plus keep, to be examples. Nineteen-year-old examples. A year before university, you’ll have a wonderful experience. It was, too.

The students in Form 2A were not what I expected. To start with, half of them were my age or older, one or two were married and had children back in the protectorates, some were even taller than I -- six feet, two inches from Eastbourne, Sussex. From Eastbourne Grammar School to Aden College.

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Breaking Point

The Crisis of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

by Omar S. Dahi | published September 25, 2013

One of the many plot lines lost in the summertime discussions of a US strike on Syria is the pace of refugee movement out of the country. As it stands, the refugee crisis is overwhelming and likely to stay that way. Another external military intervention would further accelerate the mass flight and exacerbate what is already a humanitarian emergency.

Graham-Brown, Education, Repression and Liberation

by Munir Fasheh
published in MER136

Sarah Graham-Brown, Education, Repression and Liberation: Palestinians (London: World University Service, 1984).

“Whenever I hear the word culture,” said an occupying officer during the Spanish conquest of South America, “I pull out my gun.” Foreign invaders are often quick on the trigger, and quick to assert their “superior” culture. Indigenous culture, after all, is a rallying point for popular resistance. What the invaders cannot suppress outright, they try to ignore, belittle, distort and dehumanize.

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A Separation at Iranian Universities

by Nazanin Shahrokni , Parastou Dokouhaki | published October 18, 2012

On August 6, with the new academic year approaching, the government-backed Mehr News Agency in Iran posted a bulletin that 36 universities in the country had excluded women from 77 fields of study. The reported restrictions aroused something of an international uproar.

The National Islamic Front and the Politics of Education

by Ali Abdalla Abbas
published in MER172

In a country like Sudan, those with access to education become the object of intense competition on the part of political parties of all stripes, especially those with no traditional base of support. Secondary schools and especially universities become the hunting ground -- and sometimes the killing ground -- for groups whose success on campus represents a shortcut to political hegemony in the country. Whatever the nature of their rhetoric about “the people,” these parties rely on elites, recalling the crucial role that the Graduates Congress played in Sudan’s struggle for independence. Sections of the elite were again instrumental in toppling military regimes in October 1964 and April 1985. [1]

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

What Is Wrong with What Went Wrong?

by Adam Sabra | published August 2003

It is no exaggeration to say that Bernard Lewis is the most influential writer on Middle Eastern history and politics in the United States today. Not only has he authored more than two dozen books on the Middle East, he trained large numbers of two subsequent generations of historians of the region. Lewis is a public figure of the first order, publishing widely read articles on Middle Eastern politics. He is perhaps the only scholar of the Middle East to be well-known outside the field -- most academics would be hard pressed to name another historian of the Middle East or the Islamic world, excepting colleagues at their own university. This is ironic, since, as we will see, his interpretation of Islamic history is essentialist and ahistorical. Furthermore, Lewis is greatly respected in US policymaking circles. His opinions on policy matters have been sought by governments run by both major American political parties, and by all reports have been especially heeded by the administration of George W. Bush. An August 29 op-ed by Lewis in the Wall Street Journal concisely states positions which are articles of faith for the Bush administration’s neo-conservatives -- notably that the problems of post-war Iraq are caused by anti-American fascist or Islamist forces seeking to defeat Western Christendom, and that the Westernized former banker Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress are the best candidates to govern a stable Iraq in the future.