March 9, 2016 at 7:06 pm

Ohio University Faculty Well-Represented at State-wide Symposium on Middle East Studies

Oriental mosaic decoration in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) studies faculty from across the state will gather for the Ohio Symposium on Middle East Studies on April 9, with Ohio University faculty well-represented.

The symposium is co-convened by Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish, Assistant Professor of History at Ohio University, and Dr. Ellen Fleischmann of the University of Dayton History Department. They aim for the event to “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 began planning the symposium in November 2014. After receiving the support of their home institutions, they put out a  state-wide call for papers and subsequently selected participants. The symposium is being held as a free and open to the public event. It is co-sponsored by the Alumni Chair in Humanities (which Fleischmann currently holds) and the Dayton College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Dayton, the History Department and Center for International Studies (CIS) at Ohio University, and the Arab Studies Institute. Asked about Ohio University’s support for the project, Abu-Rish said that History Department Chair Dr. Katherine Jellison and CIS Director Dr. Steve Howard showed immediate appreciation for the effort to bring together stage-wide faculty, and were committed to making sure Ohio University faculty could participate.

The complete symposium program is available below. The symposium is being held at the University of Dayton. It features presentations by 20 faculty from across Ohio institutions of higher education. In addition to Abu-Rish’s role as co-convener,  Dr. Loren Lybarger, Associate Professor of Classics & World Religions, and Dr. Nukhet Sandal, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Director of War and Peace Studies, will both be presenting papers.

Beyond the Margins: Researching and Teaching the Middle East in Ohio

An Ohio Symposium on Middle East Studies

April 9, 2016
University of Dayton

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 region (MENA) region. Some have created minors, majors, and/or public events programs that center on the topic.

This symposium brings together faculty from a variety of Ohio colleges and universities to meet one another, introduce their research agendas, and provide an opportunity for public education about the Middle East.

Symposium Agenda

8:30 a.m.  Registration

9-9:30 a.m.  Introductions

  • Ellen Fleischmann, University of Dayton
  • Ziad Abu-Rish, Ohio University and Arab Studies Institute
  • Dean Jason Pierce, College of Arts & Sciences, University of Dayton

9:30-11 a.m.  Panel 1: Critical Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Practices

Chair: Christopher Hemmig, Ohio State University

  • “The Decline of the Private Estate and the Rise of the Public Ribat in Early Islamic Transoxania”
    Robert Haug, Cincinnati University
  • “Epistemology and Authority in Shiite Philosophy”
    Sayeh Meisami, University of Dayton
  • “Intersections and Transformations of Traditions: Islamic Tradition and the Laws of the Economy”
    Nada Moumtaz, Ohio State University
  • “Exegetical Trends in Contemporary Turkey”
    Susan Gunasti, Ohio Wesleyan University
  • “Islamic Interreligious Covenants: Pathways to Peace and Prosperity”
    Anas Malik, Xavier University

11-11:15 a.m.  Coffee Break

11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.  Panel 2: Thinking Pedagogy

Chair: Indira Falk Gesink, Baldwin Wallace University

  • “Critical Information Literacy in Middle East Studies: Opportunities for Collaboration”
    Johanna Selman, Ohio State University
  • “Comparative Approaches to Teaching the Arabic Novel”
    Michal Raizen, Ohio Wesleyan
  • “Active Learning and Empathy: Teaching the Middle East to the Midwest”
    Vaughn Shannon, Wright State University
  • “Decolonial Challenges in Teaching about Women and Gender in the Middle East and North Africa”
    Isis Nusair, Denison University

12:45-2 p.m.  Lunch Break

2:00-3:30 p.m.  Panel 3: Palestine in the World

Chair: Abed el-Rahman Tayyar, Cleveland State University

  • “From Palestine to Ohio: The Collection of Arab Flags at the Garst Museum in Greenville, Ohio”
    Awad Halabi, Wright State University
  • “Economies of War: Aid and the Liberal Encounter in Palestine”
    Lisa Bhungalia, Ohio State University
  • “The Fifth Branch: Palestinian Literature in Chile”
    Heba El Attar, Cleveland State University
  • “Secularism in Exile: The Dialectics of Disenchantment and Religious Return among Palestinians in Chicago”
    Loren Lybarger, Ohio University

3:30-3:45 p.m.  Coffee Break 

3:45-5:15 p.m.  Panel 4: Contemporary Politics in the Region

Chair: Jane Hathaway, Ohio State University

  • “Jordan’s Longest War”
    Pete Moore, Case Western University
  • “(Re)Definition of Ethno-Religious Kinship and Solidarities: The Case of Turkey’s Alevis and Syrian Alawites”
    Nukhet Sandal, Ohio University
  • “Military Inc. & Dividing the Spoils: A Political Economy of Egypt’s Uprising”
    Joshua Stacher, Kent State University

5:15-5:45 p.m.  Closing Remarks

  • Ellen Fleischmann, University of Dayton
  • Ziad Abu-Rish, Ohio University and Arab Studies Institute

Symposium Location

Kennedy Union Building, Room 222
University of Dayton
Dayton, Ohio

Free parking is available in B Lot.

For driving directions, once on Stewart Street heading east, cross Brown Street and Alberta Street (at a traffic light) continuing past the entrance to University of Dayton, past Alberta Street (at a traffic light). Turn right on Zehler Street (at a traffic light), then left at the roundabout and then into B Lot. To get to Kennedy Union, walk through the arch at the southeast corner of the parking lot and Kennedy Union is the building in front and slightly to the left.

Attendance Details

This event is free and open to the public.

A complimentary lunch meal will be provided to those attendees that RSVP by no later than March 15, 2016. To RSVP, please send an email containing your full name, institutional affiliation (if any), and email address to

The University of Dayton strives to provide equal and easy access to programs and services for individuals with disabilities. Individuals requiring accommodations to attend this symposium are encouraged to contact the LTC’s Office of Learning Resources (OLR) with their request by (April 1) in order to ensure adequate processing time. Contact OLR by telephone at 937-229-2066 (TTY 937-229-2059 for deaf/hard of hearing) or by email at


  • Alumni Chair in Humanities at the University of Dayton
  • College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Dayton
  • Department of History at Ohio University
  • Center for International Studies at Ohio University
  • Arab Studies Institute (ASI)

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