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As a three-year initiative distinct from the broader Middle East Collaborative, the Middle East, North Africa and Islamic Studies (MENAIS) group is a research collective composed of University of Minnesota faculty who specialize in the study of the Middle East. MENAIS was awarded funding from the Dean’s Office in the College of Liberal Arts for the 2017-2020 period.

MENAIS’ annual programming includes talks by visiting lecturers, public events with community members in the Twin Cities, academic workshops, and writing retreats for faculty and graduate students:


Book Talks and Paper Workshops

During MENAIS workshops, Middle East Studies faculty and graduate students share their works in progress for discussion and feedback from colleagues. Faculty and graduate students interested in joining these workshops, which are held during the Fall and Spring semesters, are invited to contact Sonali Pahwa.  


Upcoming talks and workshops for Fall 2019: 

Thursday September 19, 2019

4:00 - 5:30 pm

Book talk: Danielle Haque, PhD, "Interrogating Secularism: Race and Religion in Arab Transnational Art and Literature" (Minnesota State University - Mankato) 

Folwell Hall 112

Thursday October 3, 2019

4:00 - 5:30 pm

Working paper: Joseph Farag, PhD (Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies)

Folwell 112


Thursday October 31, 2019

4:00 - 5:30 pm

Working paper: Aisha Ghani, PhD (Department of Anthropology)

Social Sciences 710


Thursday November 21, 2019

4:00 - 5:30 pm

Working paper: Adey Almohsen (graduate student in the Department of History)

Social Sciences 710


Thursday December 12, 2019

4:00 - 5:30 pm

Book talk: Sima Shakhsari, PhD, "Politics of Rightful Killing: Civil Society, Gender, and Sexuality in Weblogistan" (Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies)

Social Sciences 710


Previous workshops:

Friday November 9, 2018

Sonali Pahwa, PhD, “#Hijababes: Performing Muslim Feminism on Instagram and Facebook” (Department of Theater Arts and Dance)

Emily Sumner, “"In Our Sea Their Sins Must Drive Them": The Righteousness of the Hūthi Zāmil” (graduate student in the Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies)


Friday March 30, 2018

Sima Shakhsari, PhD, "Trespassing Queer Kinship: Temporality and the Geopolitics of Attachment" (Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies)

Qais Munhazim, "Double Lives: Diasporic Feminism and Politics of Resistance and Solidarity" (graduate student in the Department of Political Science)


Monday May 14, 2018

Sara Musaifer, "Aestheticizing Citizenship Education: Colonial Entanglements of Development and the Struggle over Aesthetic Texts in Bahrain" (graduate student in Comparative and International Development Education, CEHD)

Katayoun Amjadi, "Mind the Gap" (graduate student in the Department of Art)


Guest Speakers, 2017-2019

Guest speakers for the 2017-2018 academic year have included Jeffrey Sacks and Nadine Naber, and for the 2018-2019 academic year Kamran Rastegar and Neha Vora. Details about these guest lectures can be found on the News and Events page. 





MENAIS is spearheaded by Sonali Pahwa and managed with support of the Institute for Global Studies. Contact Prof. Pahwa to join the MENAIS mailing list ([email protected]). 

"Medina "(old city), Tangier." Cropped photo. Original by flckd // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0