We are pleased to announce the creation of the Middle East Study Group at Syracuse University this semester. The group provides a monthly forum for those interested in the Middle East to learn from one another, share ideas, and discuss personal experiences that they have had in the region. Students from a variety of fields with an array of research interests have joined, making the group a truly interdisciplinary endeavor. Those involved in the group are excited about its success, as even the initial discussions have been both critical and thought-provoking.

The overwhelmingly positive response to the group is a testament to the intellectual curiosity among students at Syracuse, and those involved have set a number of goals for the year. First, the reading group seeks to provide students with sound empirical knowledge of the Middle East. More generally, however, we tie these empirical observations into theoretical debates in the social sci- ences. Social movement theory as well as political economy and authoritarianism theories will each receive attention in the near future. This semester the reading group has chosen to study the role of political culture in the Middle East. By reading work from authors such as Timothy Mitchell, Lisa Wedeen, and Edward Said, those involved will examine the ways in which scholars have utilized this concept when studying the Middle East as well as critique its various applications. We welcome all who are interested in participating and look forward to expanding the group in the coming months. Please contact Mike Makara at if you would like additional information.