News and Events


Students at the University of Minnesota may now minor in Islamic Studies. This new minor allows those in any major to participate in the critical study of Islam and Muslim societies and cultures. It encompasses historical, intellectual, artistic, social, and anthropological approaches to the study of Islam applied through the examination of Islamic texts and other cultural products and through the analysis of social and cultural developments across time and geographic locations.    

The minor in Islamic Studies requires one foundational course in the category of Islamic Origins and Development, along with four other courses selected from the offerings of several CLA departments, including Religious Studies, Anthropology, History, Art History, Sociology, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and others.  

Students interested in the minor should contact the Religious Studies Program at [email protected].



October 17 - 19, 2019: Premodern Food Conference

Middle East/Islamic World-related talks

“How Religious Conflict and Environmental Challenges Created Shared Culinary Traditions of Minority Groups in Lebanon”

Jody H. Eddy and Jad Kossaify (The Pontifical University of Rome and the Propaganda Fide of The Vatican) 

Friday, October 18, 2019

9:00 - 10:30 am

Anderson Library 120


“Regulating Taverns and Alcohol Consumption in Ottoman Galata”

Sultan Toprak Oker (Department of History, University of Minnesota)

Friday October 18, 2019

2:00 - 3:30 pm

Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine (5th floor, Diehl Hall)


“Bread in the Desert: The Politics and Practicalities of Food in Early Egyptian Monasticism”

Benjamin Hansen (Department of History, University of Minnesota 

Saturday, October 19, 2019 

10:45 am - 12:00 pm

Anderson Library 120


View the full conference program.

Registration for the conference is free, but required for all participants. Register here

This event is organized by the Center for Medieval Studies, the James Ford Bell Library and the Wangensteen Biomedical Library. Please contact Michelle M. Hamilton at [email protected] with inquiries. 



April 11 Lecture: "Mediterranean Captivity through Arab Eyes: 1517-1798"

Prof. Nabil Matar (Department of English; Presidential Professor in the President’s Interdisciplinary Initiative on Arts and Humanities)

Thursday April 11, 2019, 4:00 - 5:00 pm

Walter Library 101 

A reception will follow the lecture 

Abstract: "Piracy and captivity were banes of the early modern Mediterranean basin. Thousands of men and women and children were enslaved, bought and sold, ransomed or escaped. However, all the stories of these captives have been told from European and Turkish sources, even though from Syria to Morocco, the language of large numbers of captives was Arabic. This talk will explore Arabic sources and tell the stories of an Iraqi family that was captured by Maltese pirates and of a Moroccan woman whose piety empowered her to liberate coreligionists from her home in Fez."

This event is the 2019 Samuel Russell Endowed Chair Lecture. 


April 5 Lecture: "From Mare Nostrum to The Other Side of Hope: The Syrian Crisis and Clandestine Migration on the Global Screen"

Prof. Nadia Sahely (Baldwin Wallace University)

Friday, April 5th, 2:45 pm 

Nicholson Hall 110

Dr. Nadia Sahely is Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Baldwin Wallace University. She earned her Ph.D. in French Studies at Brown University. Her primary research focus is in 20th and 21st-century French literature and philosophy, and she has published work on Georges Bataille and Colette Peignot. Her secondary research interest is in comparative literature, especially Arabic and Francophone literatures of the Machrek. Her current book project, (Re)Locations of Lebanon, takes into account transnationalism and the politics and aesthetics of postwar Francophone Lebanese literature, film and visual culture.

This event is funded by the Office of the Executive Vice President and the Provost’s Imagine Fund Special Events Grant. Contact Hakim Abderrezak at [email protected] for inquiries.


March 29 Guest Lecture:"Teach for Arabia: American Universities, Liberalism, and Transnational Qatar" 

Prof. Neha Vora (Lafayette College)

Friday March 29, 2019, 1:30 - 3:00 pm 

Blegen Hall 435

Neha Vora is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Lafayette College. She is the author of Impossible Citizens: Dubai's Indian Diaspora (2013) and of Teach for Arabia: American Universities, Liberalism, and Transnational Qatar  (2018). 

This event is sponsored by MENAIS; contact Sonali Pahwa at [email protected] for inquiries.


March 13 Guest Lecture: "'Existence is Resistance': Carceral Capitalism in/and Palestine"

Prof. Jasbir Puar (Rutgers University)

Wednesday March 13, 2019, 6:00 - 7:30 pm

Walter Library 401/402

Jasbir K. Puar is Professor and Graduate Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. Her most recent book is The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability (2017) published with Duke University Press in the series ANIMA: Critical Race Studies Otherwise that she co-edits with Mel Chen. Puar is the author of award-winning Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (2007), which has been translated into Spanish and French and re-issued in an expanded version for its 10th anniversary (December 2017).

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies and MENAIS. Contact Sima Shakhsari at [email protected] for inquiries. 


February 28 Guest Lecture: "Archives, Paper, and the State under the Fatimids"

Prof. Marina Rustow (Princeton University)

Thursday February 28, 7:00 - 8:30 pm

Anderson Library 120

A reception will follow the lecture

Abstract: "An old consensus maintains that until the advent of the Ottomans, the medieval Middle East produced few documents and preserved even fewer. That consensus has given way as the field has expanded from its near-exclusive interest in long-form texts to awareness of single-page documents on papyrus, paper and parchment. The conversation has concomitantly shifted from the putative absence of archives to the study of archiving practices; from static caches of documents to the systole and diastole of the institutional mandate to preserve; and from documents as containers for textual information to the forensic value of material support and paratext.

This lecture will consider the written instruments of the Fatimid caliphs (909–1171) — including their material form and afterlives — as expressions of imperial power and post-Abbasid caliphal ambition. The Fatimid state produced masses of documents. Its central archive was one locus of document preservation, but there were others: provincial bureaus, the stores of used paper-sellers, the writing-tables of ordinary scribes and, above all, the Cairo Geniza, which preserved more Fatimid state documents than any other site by several orders of magnitude. Most were reused for texts in Hebrew script, and they have yielded, paradoxically, better evidence of archiving practices than any continuously surviving archive could."  

This event is sponsored by the Center for Medieval Studies; contact Michelle M. Hamilton for inquiries. 


January 25 Lecture: "A Shoot from the Stump of Abraham: Promise, Covenant, and Salvation in the Qur’an"

Prof. Mohsen Goudarzi (Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies)

Friday January 25, 2019, 2:00 - 3:00 pm 

Heller Hall 1210

This event is sponsored by the "The First Millennium: Religion in Late Antiquity" Workshop. 


October 25 Guest Lecture: "ʿĀlimāt: Female Religious Scholars of Classical Islam"

Prof. Asma Sayeed (University of California, Los Angeles)

Thursday October 25, 2018, 4:00 - 5:30 pm

Heller Hall 1210

A reception will follow the lecture. 

Asma Sayeed is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at UCLA in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. Her primary research interests are in early and classical Muslim social history, the history of Muslim education, the intersections of law and social history, and women and gender studies. She teaches the survey GE courses “Introduction to Islam” and “Islam in the West,” as well as seminars on research methodologies in Islamic studies and Muslim social and intellectual history. She received her PhD from the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. She has published on topics related to Muslim women and their religious participation in journals such as Studia Islamica and Islamic Law and Society and has contributed a number of encyclopedia articles on women’s history in early and classical Islam. Her current project relates to Muslim education and in particular to an examination of texts and textual practices in diverse regional and historical contexts.

This event is sponsored by the Center for Medieval Studies; contact Michelle M. Hamilton for inquiries. For further details, please refer to the relevant page on the University of Minnesota events calendar. 


October 12 Guest Lecture: "What is Settler Colonialism?"

Prof. Maya Mikdashi (Rutgers University)

Friday October 12, 2018, 1:30 - 3:00 pm

Walter Library 401/402

Maya Mikdashi is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and a lecturer in the program in Middle East Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is currently completing a book manuscript that examines the war on terror, sexual difference, religious and secular difference, and biopolitics from the vantage point of Lebanon. Maya is also pursuing research towards a manuscript on settler colonial affect as it is produced and circulated across family and academic archives. She is a co-founding editor of the e-zine Maya is also a filmmaker and writer. She is co-director of the feature length documentary film About Baghdad (2004), and director of Notes on The War (2006). Most recently Maya co-conceptualized, co-wrote (with director Carlos Motta), and performed in a queer historical fantasy film set in 19th century Beirut and Bogota, Deseos/رغبات.

This event is co-sponsored by the Imagine Fund; the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC); the Race, Indigeneity, Gender and Sexuality Studies Initiative (RIGS); and the Departments of American Indian Studies, Asian Languages and Literatures, English, and History. Contact Sima Shakhsari at [email protected] for inquiries. 


October 5 Guest Lecture: "Translational Infidelities: Authorship, Sexuality and Power in the Composition of Mohamed Choukri's For Bread Alone"

Prof. Kamran Rastegar (Tufts University)

Friday October 5, 2018, 1:30 - 3:00 pm

Folwell Hall 116

Kamran Rastegar is Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at Tufts University. His scholarship on film and literature has produced two books: Surviving Images: Cinema, War and Cultural Memory in the Middle East (Oxford University Press, 2015) and Literary Modernity Between Europe and the Middle East: Transactions in Nineteenth-Century Arabic, Persian and English Literatures (New York: Routledge, 2007).

This event is sponsored by MENAIS; contact Sonali Pahwa at [email protected] for inquiries. 


September 28 Guest Lecture: "Mobility and Migration in European Film: Cinéma-mondes and Screen Borders"

Prof. Michael Gott (University of Cincinnati) 

Friday, September 28, 2018, 3:00 - 4:30 pm

Nolte Center 229

Michael Gott is Associate Professor of French and Film & Media Studies BA at the University of Cincinnati. He is author of French-language Road Cinema: Borders, Diasporas, Migration and “New Europe” (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) and co-edited Open Roads, Closed Borders: the Contemporary French-Language Road Movie (Intellect, 2013), East, West and Centre: Reframing European Cinema Since 1989 (EUP, 2014), andCinéma-monde: Decentred Perspectives on Global Filmmaking in French (EUP, 2018). 

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of French and Italian Studies and the Institute for Advanced Study; contact Hakim Abderrezak at [email protected] for inquiries. For further details, please refer to the relevant page on the University of Minnesota events calendar. 


Academic Year 2017-2018 Guest Lectures: 

"Unsettling the Revolutionary Subject: The Feminist Implications of the Egyptian Revolution"

Prof. Nadine Naber (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 4:00 - 5:30 pm 

Social Sciences 710


"Simplicities: A Colonial Archive (Al-Farabi, Aristotle, Benjamin, Paul)" 

Prof. Jeffrey Sacks (University of California, Riverside)

Friday, November 3, 2017, 1:30 - 3:00 pm

Folwell Hall 113



On June 13, 2018, Patricia Lorcin spoke with Ahmed Rouaba of the BBC News Arabic radio and streaming service about the new edition of her book Imperial Identities. The interview was broadcast as part of the program ‘Alam al-Kutub. Listen to the interview here (starting at 16:00).

Additionally, in October 2018 Lorcin was interviewed by the New Books Network, about the volume French Mediterraneans: Transnational and Imperial Histories (University of Nebraska Press, 2016), which she co-edited with Todd Shepard. Listen to Lorcin and Shepard’s conversation with Roxanne Panchasi, host of the “New Books in French Studies” podcast on the New Books Network, here.  



In September of 2018, Giancarlo Casale was appointed Chair of Early Modern Mediterranean History at the European University Institute (EUI).  The position is a multi-year research appointment that will allow Prof. Casale to continue work on his current research project, a history of the Renaissance from the perspective of the early modern Ottoman Empire. More information about the project, and his position, can be found here. During his time at the EUI, Casale will be on unpaid academic leave from the University of Minnesota, but will continue to participate in workshops and conferences in Minnesota, co-teach with CLA faculty, and host Minnesota graduate students at the EUI campus in Florence.  He will return full-time to Minnesota at the end of his appointment.


In 2019, Shaden Tageldin will hold a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship to complete a new book, provisionally titled Toward a Transcontinental Theory of Modern Comparative Literature.  The book argues that the long-nineteenth-century struggle to make language and “life” mutually translatable in Arabic, English, and French literatures —among others— informed ideologies of comparability that underpin the modern discipline of comparative literature. 


Nabil Matar received a Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences award in the category of Comparative Literature and Literary Translation. (November 2017) 


The Middle East Collaborative website is maintained by Katrien Vanpee. Please contact [email protected] with inquiries about the Collaborative or this site.