MESP Symposiums and Conferences
MESP Hosts Inaugural Conference on U.S. Foreign Relations with Iran and China
On September 14 and 15, 2017, the Middle Eastern Studies Program held a lecture and workshop series on the United States
and the World. The first part of the conference was a lecture by Dr. Ervand Abrahamian, Professor Emeritus of Iranian and
Middle Eastern History and Politics at Baruch College, The City University of New York. His lecture expanded on his book, The
Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations, which examines Washington’s involvement in the 1953
coup in Iran.
The second day of the event focused on the past, present, and future of Sino-American and U.S.-Iranian relations. The workshop
was developed in conjunction with the State Department’s Office of the Historian and co-sponsored by the Maxwell Dean’s Office, the Moynihan Institute, the East Asia Program, and the Departments of History and International Relations.
It featured a keynote address by Dr. Richard Immerman, Professor Emeritus, Temple University, History Department and former
Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analytic Integrity and Standards, Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Dr. Immerman discussed the role and responsibilities of historians in analyzing current events and making predictions
about the future.
The workshop was divided into two parts, “The United States and China: Toward Normalization” and “The United States and
Iran: Toward Confrontation.” The first panel featured:
• David Nickles, U.S. State Department, Office of the Historian, “The United States, China, and the Foreign Relations of the
United States Series.”
• Terry Lautz, Visiting Professor, Syracuse University, “Normalizing U.S.-China Relations: Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable
• Dimitar Gueorguiev, Assistant Professor, Political Science, “Authoritarian Resilience and the False Hope of Peaceful Evolution.”
• Yingyi Ma, Associate Professor, Sociology, “The United States and China: In the Eyes of Chinese International Students.”
• Erik French, PhD Candidate, Political Science, “Pouring Oil on Troubled Waters: US Alliance Strategy and Sino-Japanese Territorial Disputes in the Post-Cold War Era.”
The second panel featured:
• Malcolm Byrne, Deputy Director and Director of Research, National Security Archive, George Washington University, “When
History Meets Politics: The Challenging Case of the 1953 Coup in Iran.”
• Ervand Abrahamian, Distinguished Professor of Iranian and Middle Eastern History and Politics, Baruch College, The City
University of New York, “Why did Washington Refuse to Declassify the 1953 Coup Documents?”
• David Collier, Lecturer, Boston University-Washington, “An Event so Inevitable, Yet so Completely Unforeseen: The United
States and the Iranian Revolution.”
• Adam Howard, Gen. Editor, U.S. State Department, Office of the Historian, “Building Security in the ‘Arc of Crisis’: The Carter
Administration’s Approach to Southwest Asia and the Persian Gulf Region.”
• Pedram Maghsoud-Nia, PhD Candidate, Political Science, “The Rise of the Iranian Leviathan: US-Iranian Relations and the
Evolution of the Post-Revolutionary State.”
• Abolghasem Bayyenat, PhD Candidate, Political Science, “Explaining Iran’s Nuclear Policy Shift, 2013-15.”
The two-day workshop was well-attended by students, faculty, and the broader Syracuse community. The Middle Eastern Studies Program looks forward to executing another workshop in Spring 2019.
MES Spring Symposium: The Politics of Gender, Islam, and Islamophobia
In March and April 2018, the Middle Eastern Studies Program sponsored a two-part, interdisciplinary symposium that explored the politics of Gender, Islam, and Islamophobia. The symposium engaged with and challenged preexisting notions and
perceptions of gender and Islam. The symposium also encouraged fresh insights and approaches into the issue of Islamophobia, which has become increasingly pronounced in the United States since the 2016 election. It was co-sponsored by the
Maxwell Dean’s Office, the Moynihan Institute, the Humanities Center, the South Asia Center, Newhouse’s Center for Global
Engagement, and the Departments of History, International Relations, Religion, Sociology, and Women’s and Gender Studies.
The first symposium, held on March 30, examined the “Invention of the Muslim World and Islamophobia.” It featured Cemil Aydin (Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and Deepa Kumar (Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies, Rutgers University, New Brunswick). Aydin is the author of The Idea of the Muslim
World and he presented on “Islamophobia as Geopolitics: The Idea of the Muslim World from the Era of Empires to the PostColonial Period.” Kumar is the author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and her talk explored “Women, Islam, and
Empire From Gendered Orientalism to Imperial Feminism.”
The second part of the Spring Symposium, “The Politics of Gender and Islam,” was held on April 20. It featured an interdisciplinary group of scholars from the United States and Canada. Begüm Adalet (Visiting Assistant Professor, Government,
Cornell University) presented on “Hotels and Highways: Modernizing Cold War Turkey,” which drew on her 2018 book published by Stanford University Press. Natalie Khazaal (Assistant Professor, International Studies and Middle East Studies, Texas A&M University) discussed “Pretty Liar: The Politics of Television, Language, and Gender in Wartime Lebanon,” based on
her forthcoming monograph with Syracuse University Press. Katherine Lemons, (Assistant Professor, Anthropology, McGill
University) presented on “The Politics of Divorce: Islamic Law and the Making of Indian Secularism,” which was based on her
forthcoming book with Cornell University Press. Fareen Parvez (Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of Massachusetts
at Amherst) discussed “Politicizing Islam: The Islamic Revival in France and India,” which drew on her 2017 monograph published by Oxford University Press.
Both parts of the symposium featured engaging discussions between the participants and the audience. The Spring Symposium demonstrated the program’s ability to explore timely issues in a thoughtful manner and offers a model for future events.
MESP Sends Faculty, Students to Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA) Conference
The 2017 Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA) Annual Conference took place November 18-21, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Faculty members and doctoral students received travel grants from the Middle Eastern Studies Program to attend
the conference. Professors Amy Kallander (Associate Professor, History), Natalie Koch (Associate Professor, Geography),
and Nazanin Shahrokni (Assistant Professor, Sociology) represented the Moynihan Institute and Middle Eastern Studies Program with doctoral students Aykut Ozturk (Political Science) and Marwa Moaz (Sociology) at the conference.
Highlights of the conference included:
Amy Kallander presented at a panel that explored feminist and queer studies in Middle East studies.
Osamah F. Khalil organized and chaired an interdisciplinary, transnational panel on Energy, Security, and Expertise.
Natalie Koch organized, chaired, and presented at the session on Politics, Space, and Subjectivity in the Arabian Peninsula on
the topic of Sporting cities: Geopolitical encounters and elite sport initiatives in the Arabian Peninsula.
Aykut Ozturk is a 4th year PhD student in Political Science. He presented on “The Democratizing Potential of Islamic Social
Organizations: The case of Hak-Is in Turkey,” at the Islamism, Liberalism, and Beyond in Turkish Politics session.
The Middle Eastern Studies Program is proud to have professors and graduate students represent Syracuse and engage with
other scholars in the Middle Eastern Studies field.