May 26, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Abu-Rish to Co-Convene Ohio Symposium on Middle East Studies

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As more university researchers focus on Middle East Studies, two professors are planning a symposium for fellow professors in the state of Ohio and putting out a call for papers.

Over the past several years, numerous universities, colleges, and community colleges across the state of Ohio have hired new faculty whose research focuses on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Ohio University among them. Many of these schools have subsequently created minors, majors, and/or public events programs that center on the topic. In an effort to introduce these scholars to one another and highlight their research agendas, Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish, Assistant Professor of History at Ohio University, and Dr. Ellen Fleischmann of the University Dayton Department of History are co-convening the Ohio Symposium on Middle East Studies, scheduled to take place April 8-9, 2016, at the University of Dayton.

Abu-Rish and Fleischmann hope the event will “serve as a forum for sharing research, strategizing on ways to draw on each other’s expertise in classroom education and campus programming, and thinking through the challenges of teaching and researching the MENA region in Ohio.” The two scholars have been planning the symposium since they first agreed to pursue  the idea during a conversation this past November 2014 at the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Meeting. It has since developed into an opportunity for co-sponsorship between the Alumni Chair in Humanities (which Fleischmann currently holds) and the Dayton College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Dayton, the Department of History and Center for International Studies at Ohio University, and the Arab Studies Institute.

Ohio-based faculty seeking more information can access the original call for papers here. The deadline for abstract submissions is Sept. 1, 2015. Abu-Rish and Fleischman hope to notify selected presenters by Oct. 15, 2015. Presenters will be provided with hotel accommodations and meals through the duration of the symposium. The event will be open to the public, and broadcast via social media and the internet. The program for the symposium will be announced by the end of the 2015 Fall term. Faculty at Ohio University and across the state who are interested in participating as presenters, attending the symposium, or organizing opportunities for their students to attend should contact Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish via

A Growing Middle East Studies Expertise at OHIO

Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish

Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish

Abu-Rish joined Ohio University’s History Department at the start of the 2014-15 academic year after completing his doctoral studies in Middle East history at the University of California Los Angeles. During the year, he offered a survey course on modern Middle East history (HIST 3371), “Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Middle East History” (HIST 3320), and an experimental course he introduced to the university, titled “The Arab Uprisings in Historical Perspective” (HIST 3372X).  This past spring, Abu-Rish organized the 2015 Middle East and North Africa Film Series and made several media appearances discussing developments in the region. He will be offering his “History of the Middle East, 1500-Present” (HIST 3371) in the Fall 2015 semester.

On the symposium, Abu-Rish said, “Many of us MENA scholars cross paths at national conferences or other professional activities, yet we rarely meet as Ohio-based faculty. This is an opportunity to do just that while casting the net as broadly as possible. I was fortunate to find common cause with Ellen Fleischmann, have access to the generous funding from her institution, and gain the support of mine. I expect a number of Ohio University faculty with interests in the MENA region to attend, if not participate in, the symposium. I also hope we can make arrangements for undergraduate and graduate students interested in attending to be able to do so.”

Abu-Rish has a long record of efforts at creating scholarly community focused on the MENA region, particularly his involvement as Co-Editor of Jadaliyya and Senior Editor of the Arab Studies Journal. Such a record has its reverberations here at Ohio University. Several faculty members have specialized research interests in the MENA region, and/or teach courses that utilize scholarship on the region. These include Dr. Loren Lybarger, Associate Professor of Classics & World Religions; Dr. Nukhet Sandal, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Director of War and Peace Studies: Dr. Steve Howard, Professor of Communications; Dr. John Brobst, Associate Professor of History; Dr. Jennifer Fredette, Assistant Professor of Political Science; Dr. Smoki Musaraj, Assistant Professor of Anthropology; Dr. Miriam Shadis, Associate Professor of History; Dr. Caitlyn Ryan, Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science; and Dr. Areej Ahmed, who teaches Arabic language courses and is based in the Linguistics Department. This newly established interdiscplinary assortment of faculty has led Abu-Rish to draft a proposal for a Middle East and North Africa Studies Certificate program.

“We might not have every aspect of the region covered, and we might not have intentionally created this constellation of scholars, but we have a strong enough core group of faculty that merits giving our students that chance at a concentrated course of study that compliments their major and general requirements,” said Abu-Rish.


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