Middle East Studies Association of North America

Middle East Studies Association of North America

Overview
Middle East Studies Association of North America (often referred to as MESA) is a learned society
Learned society
A learned society is an organization that exists to promote an academic discipline/profession, as well a group of disciplines. Membership may be open to all, may require possession of some qualification, or may be an honor conferred by election, as is the case with the oldest learned societies,...

, and according to its website, "a non-political association that fosters the study of the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, promotes high standards of scholarship and teaching, and encourages public understanding of the region and its peoples through programs, publications and services that enhance education, further intellectual exchange, recognize professional distinction, and defend academic freedom
Academic freedom
Academic freedom is the belief that the freedom of inquiry by students and faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy, and that scholars should have freedom to teach or communicate ideas or facts without being targeted for repression, job loss, or imprisonment.Academic freedom is a...

."

MESA was founded in 1966 with 50 original members, including Malcolm Kerr, Samih Farsoun
Samih Farsoun
Samih K. Farsoun, was a professor emeritus of sociology at American University, where he taught for thirty years until his retirement in 2003. He graduated from Hamilton College in New York. He received a master's degree in 1961 and a PhD in 1971, both in sociology from the University of Connecticut...

, and other scholars.
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Encyclopedia
Middle East Studies Association of North America (often referred to as MESA) is a learned society
Learned society
A learned society is an organization that exists to promote an academic discipline/profession, as well a group of disciplines. Membership may be open to all, may require possession of some qualification, or may be an honor conferred by election, as is the case with the oldest learned societies,...

, and according to its website, "a non-political association that fosters the study of the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, promotes high standards of scholarship and teaching, and encourages public understanding of the region and its peoples through programs, publications and services that enhance education, further intellectual exchange, recognize professional distinction, and defend academic freedom
Academic freedom
Academic freedom is the belief that the freedom of inquiry by students and faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy, and that scholars should have freedom to teach or communicate ideas or facts without being targeted for repression, job loss, or imprisonment.Academic freedom is a...

."

History


MESA was founded in 1966 with 50 original members, including Malcolm Kerr, Samih Farsoun
Samih Farsoun
Samih K. Farsoun, was a professor emeritus of sociology at American University, where he taught for thirty years until his retirement in 2003. He graduated from Hamilton College in New York. He received a master's degree in 1961 and a PhD in 1971, both in sociology from the University of Connecticut...

, and other scholars. According to its website, its current membership exceeds 2,600 and it "serves as an umbrella organization for more than sixty institutional members and thirty-nine affiliated organizations." It is a constituent society of the American Council of Learned Societies
American Council of Learned Societies
The American Council of Learned Societies , founded in 1919, is a private nonprofit federation of seventy scholarly organizations.ACLS is best known as a funder of humanities research through fellowships and grants awards. ACLS Fellowships are designed to permit scholars holding the Ph.D...

, the National Council of Area Studies Associations, and a member of the National Humanities Alliance.

In 2007, a rival organization, Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa
Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa
The Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa was founded on October 24, 2007 by Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami . ASMEA is a learned society dedicated to promoting research and teaching in Middle Eastern and African studies, and related fields...

 was established by Bernard Lewis and others.

Current activities


Current President is Suad Joseph
Suad Joseph
Suad Joseph is Professor of Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies at the University of California, Davis and current President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America...

, University of California, Davis
University of California, Davis
The University of California, Davis is a public teaching and research university established in 1905 and located in Davis, California, USA. Spanning over , the campus is the largest within the University of California system and third largest by enrollment...

.

It is the publisher of The International Journal of Middle East Studies journal.

Since 1991 MESA has awarded the Albert Hourani Book Award
Albert Hourani Book Award
The Albert Hourani Book Award is a non-fiction book award given by the Middle East Studies Association to the year's most notable book in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. On occasion the award has been shared by two authors. Named after the scholar Albert Hourani, the award was first given in...

 to "the very best in Middle East studies scholarship". The prize is named after Albert Hourani
Albert Hourani
-Life and career:Hourani was born in Manchester, England, the son of Soumaya Rassi and Fadlo Issa Hourani, immigrants from Marjeyoun in what is now South Lebanon. His brothers were George Hourani and Cecil Hourani. His family had converted from Greek Orthodoxy...

, "to recognize his long and distinguished career as teacher and mentor".

Many academics associated with MESA, including its recent presidents John Esposito
John Esposito
John Louis Esposito is a professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University...

 and Juan Cole
Juan Cole
John Ricardo I. "Juan" Cole is an American scholar, public intellectual, and historian of the modern Middle East and South Asia. He is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. As a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs, he has appeared in print and on...

, have been criticized by Martin Kramer
Martin Kramer
Martin Seth Kramer is an American scholar of the Middle East at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Shalem Center. His focus is on Islam and Arab politics.-Education:...

. Martin Kramer has in turn been criticized by Joel Beinin
Joel Beinin
Joel Beinin is Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University. From 2006 to 2008 he served as Director of Middle East Studies and Professor of History at the American University in Cairo.-Education:...

http://www.stanford.edu/%7Ebeinin/Israelization.html, Zachary Lockman http://www.merip.org/mero/interventions/lockman_interv.html and Joseph Massad
Joseph Massad
Joseph Andoni Massad is Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University, whose academic work has focused on Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli nationalism...

"

Criticism


Bernard Lewis founded a rival organization, Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa
Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa
The Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa was founded on October 24, 2007 by Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami . ASMEA is a learned society dedicated to promoting research and teaching in Middle Eastern and African studies, and related fields...

, asserting the MESA "has been politicized to a degree without precedent. This has affected not only the basic studies of language, literature and history, but also has affected other disciplines, notably economics, politics and social science. Given the importance of these regions, there is an acute need for objective and accurate scholarship and debate, unhampered by entrenched interests and allegiances."

Mark T. Clark, professor of political science and director of the National Security Studies Program at California State University at San Bernardino, described MESA as “kind of a closed circle” of people with similar political views.

Franck Salameh (Boston College
Boston College
Boston College is a private Jesuit research university located in the village of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA. The main campus is bisected by the border between the cities of Boston and Newton. It has 9,200 full-time undergraduates and 4,000 graduate students. Its name reflects its early...

) charged MESA and its leadership with "group-think," in favor of a "reductionist Arabist paradigm of Middle Eastern history" that attributes all of the "pathologies of the Middle East" to "Western colonialist enterprise."

Former Presidents

  • Richard T. Antoun
    Richard T. Antoun
    Professor Richard "Dick" T. Antoun was an American anthropologist who specialized in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. He was a Professor Emeritus at Binghamton University....

    , 1981
  • William B. Quandt
    William B. Quandt
    William B. Quandt is an American scholar, author, professor and member of the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia. He previously served as senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution and as a member on the National Security Council in the...

    , 1987/88
  • John Esposito
    John Esposito
    John Louis Esposito is a professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University...

    , 1988
  • Barbara C. Aswad, 1992
  • John Obert Voll, 1993
  • Rashid Khalidi
    Rashid Khalidi
    Rashid Ismail Khalidi , born 1948, a Palestinian-American historian of the Middle East, is the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, and director of the Middle East Institute of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs.-Family, education and...

    , 1994
  • Ann Mosley Lesch,1995
  • Farhad Kazemi, 1996
  • Lelia Fawaz, 1997
  • Philip S. Khoury
    Philip S. Khoury
    Philip S. Khoury is an historian of the Middle East, presently Associate Provost and Ford International Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology . He is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut....

    , 1998
  • Barbara Freyer Stowasser, 1999
  • Jere L. Bacharach
    Jere L. Bacharach
    Jere L. Bacharach is Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Born in New York in 1938, Bacharach attended Trinity College, CN [B.A., 1960], Harvard University [M.A., 1962], and the University of Michigan [Ph.D., 1967]. He has been a member of the U.W...

    , 2000
  • R. Stephen Humphreys, 2001
  • Joel Beinin
    Joel Beinin
    Joel Beinin is Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University. From 2006 to 2008 he served as Director of Middle East Studies and Professor of History at the American University in Cairo.-Education:...

    , 2002
  • Lisa Anderson
    Lisa Anderson (scholar)
    Lisa Anderson is the President of the American University in Cairo, Egypt. She assumed this position in January 2011 after having served as Provost of the same institution from September 2008 through December 2010. Her academic background is as a professor of international relations, with special...

    , 2003
  • Laurie Brand
    Laurie Brand
    Professor Laurie A. Brand is the current director or the University of Southern California School of International Relations. Professor Brand specializes in the international relations of the Middle East, including political economy of the region and inter-Arab relations. She received her B.S. in...

    , 2004
  • Ali Banuazizi, 2005
  • Juan Cole
    Juan Cole
    John Ricardo I. "Juan" Cole is an American scholar, public intellectual, and historian of the modern Middle East and South Asia. He is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. As a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs, he has appeared in print and on...

    , 2006
  • Zachary Lockman, 2007