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General Articles
The Dispute Between the US Department of Education and the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies Program

04.12.19

Editorial Note

 

IAM reported in October, that the US Education Department has alerted the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies program which is supported by Title VI funds, that it might be unauthorized and may not qualify to receive the grants. Federal funding is conditioned that the given center or program is a "National Resource" for foreign language, providing a full understanding of areas, regions, or countries for research and training in world affairs by teaching foreign languages and cultures to American students, required to develop a pool of experts "to meet our national needs." It also added that "It is unlawful for institutions of higher education to use Title VI funds differently."

 

The Education Department raised a number of concerns:

  1. That of over 6 thousand students enrolled in the program only 960 took foreign language courses. 
  2. There are collaborations with academic departments not aligned with the requirements and are not eligible for the grants. 
  3. Many of the topics taught have little or no relevance to Title VI, for example, Iranian art and films such as “Love and Desire in Modem Iran and Diaspora;” "Mihri Hatun: Performance, Gender-Bending and Subversion in the Early Modern Ottoman Intellectual History"; or, "Radical Love: Teachings from Islamic Mystical Tradition." These should not be subsidized unless they help students in Middle Eastern languages. 
  4. The program appears to be lacking balance and doesn't include, for example, historic discrimination faced by religious minorities in the Middle East, including Christians, Jews, Baha'is, Yazidis, Kurds, Druze, and others.  There is a clear effort to present the positive aspects of Islam, such as an outdoor concert series "Islam, music, and social change," but no effort to present the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism, or other religions in the Middle East.
  5. The program offers very little attention to "understand the geopolitical challenges to U.S. national security and economic needs." Instead, it emphasizes "advancing ideological priorities," such as presenting "dominant American frameworks," or American "aggressively capitalist environment.” 

In response, Terry Magnuson, the UNC vice chancellor for research, wrote a letter where he included a list of all the courses of Fall 2019 by Duke-UNC Middle East.  He stated that the Consortium "deeply values its partnership with the Department of Education and has always been strongly committed to complying with the purposes and requirements of the Title VI program."  He noted that the figures that were given by the Dept. of Education concerning student enrollments were wrong because students who enrolled in both fall and spring semesters were counted twice. He also added that according to the Modern Language Association Database, enrollment in the Consortium’s Urdu courses is the highest in the US, enrollment in Arabic is 8th highest, and enrollment in Turkish is 8th highest. 

 

Magnuson referred to the Dept. of Education's warnings that the Consortium fails to develop a pool of experts in foreign languages "for the benefit of U.S. national security and economic stability,” and that cultural events like Iranian art and films should not be funded. His response was that the Consortium has organized dozens of educational programs related to security and economic issues in the Middle East and events featuring former national security officials. The Consortium also organizes an array of programs on cultural and historical subjects that are closely linked with the Consortium’s language programs. Students in language courses are required to attend Middle Eastern films and engage with Middle Eastern arts to improve their language acquisition. Contrary to the Dept. of Education assertion, he wrote, the Consortium has organized programs on the persecution of the Yazidis, Armenian Christians, Iranian Baha’is, and other minorities in the Middle East, and these are also covered in the Consortium’s coursework. As for the positive image of other minorities, not only of Islam, the Consortium held activities such as on Christianity and Judaism in the Middle East. As for "advancing ideological priorities,” he wrote, out of more than 100 programs that the Consortium organizes each year, none of those activities mentioned by Dept. of Education were supported with Title VI funding. The Consortium does organize events presenting diverse perspectives and a wide range of views on many of the Middle East’s most challenging subjects. 

Magnuson listed all the courses given by the Consortium in order to counter the Dept. of Education's allegations of abuse of Title VI funding. 

But from this exchange, it seems that in their public letter, the Department of Education emphasized the cultural events which are publicized by the Consortium, rather than the actual coursework.

Looking at these events online, an explanatory note is posted, stating that "The Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies supports events that increase awareness of the history and cultures of the Middle East and Muslim civilizations, and values diverse perspectives that promote dialogue and understanding. Events listed here originate from a variety of campus units and community organizations. The listing of an event does not constitute endorsement of or agreement with the views presented therein”. 

 

These cultural events, as noted by the Department of Education, present Iran, Turkey, and the Palestinians in a positive light while the US and Israel, when they are mentioned, are sometimes presented negatively. Out of the many events posted online, IAM selected examples on such topics.

 

Palestinian events:

  1. Palestine Solidarity Week was held on October 11-18, 2019 at Duke University.
  2. Discussion: “Teaching Palestine: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and Academic Freedom” with Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi from San Francisco State University, was held on October 21, 2019, at UNC.
  3. Artist Talk: Photographer Rania Matar was held on October 23, 2019, at UNC. Matar is a Lebanese/Palestinian/American.
  4. Ackland Film Forum: Mussolini’s Sister on November 5, 2019, at UNC by Dir. Juna Suleiman, Palestine, 2018 about a Palestinian woman from Nazareth.
  5. Countering Hate: Overcoming Fear of Differences” series: “Painful Hope: An Israeli Settler and Palestinian Activist in Dialogue” November 13, 2019, at UNC, Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, an Israeli, and Shadi Abu Awwad, a Palestinian.
  6. Ackland Film Forum: 3000 Nights, on November 19, 2019, UNC by Mai Masri, Palestine, about a Palestinian woman, Layal who "finds herself incarcerated in a top security Israeli prison." 
  7. Lecture: Colonizing Imagination: Early Photography and Palestine, with Professor Issam Nassar, on November 22, 2019, at Duke University. Focusing on the representation of Palestine in early photographic practices.

Israeli-related events:

  1. Discussion: “Start Up Nation: Cybersecurity and Israel’s strategic partnership with the United States” with Samantha Ravich, Chair of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on September 23, 2019, at Duke University. A conversation with Samantha Ravich, on cybersecurity and Israel’s strategic partnership with the United States. 
  2. Discussion: “US-Israel Relations: Between the White House, Congress, and the Israeli Government” with journalist Amir Tibon, on October 29, 2019, on the "growing split between Democrats and Republicans, as well as between the White House and Congress, on the issue of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."  
  3. A Conversation: “Israel, the United States & the Middle East: Threats, Challenges and Opportunities” with former Israeli Minister Tzipi Livni, on October 23, 2019, at Duke University.
  4. Lecture: David Makovsky and Ghaith Al-Omari on November 18, 2019, at Duke University, on Arab-Israel Relations.

 Advancing ideological priorities:  

  1. Lecture: “Human Rights, Faith, and the Border” with Imam Omar Suleiman, on September 23, 2019, Duke University.  Suleiman was recognized by CNN as one of the 25 most influential Muslims in America.
  2. Humanities in Class Webinar: “Understanding the Modern Middle East" with Akram Khater, on April 21, 2020. "Far too often, the Middle East appears as doubly alien... at least two centuries of Orientalist representations, and decades of American military interventions, have all fed into the notion of the Middle East as turmoil-laden, sectarian and tribal pre-modern world." Going beyond these stereotypes. 
  3. Workshop: Been Here, Still Here: Muslims and Islamophobia 101, on November 14, 2019, at Duke University, to "understand the critical role Islam and Muslims have played in the history of the US."

Iranian Cultural events:

  1. Film Screening: Finding Farideh on September 4, 2019, Persian with English Subtitles Iran’s entry for the international feature film category in the 92nd Academy Awards (the Oscars) in 2020. 
  2. Persian Art Center in Carolina: The Life and Poetry of Wise Sanai with Maryam Tabibzadeh September 15, 2019, a presentation on Sanai, a Persian poet. 
  3. Persian Art Center in Carolina: A Study of Mysticism in Persian Poetry and Literature with Mr. Sadegh Hosseini, October 13, 2019, a study of mysticism in Persian poetry and literature.
  4. Film Screening: Homework, November 7, 2019, Persian with English Subtitles. a documentary Abbas Kiarostami directed in 1989 after realizing he was having difficulties assisting his son with his homework.
  5. Persian Art Center in Carolina: “Poetry of Entanglement and Barbed Seats in Farhadi’s Cinema” with Ehsan Sheikholharam. November 10, 2019. Poetry readings by the audience and live Persian music. 
  6. Film Screening: #63: The Story of Boulevard, on December 5, 2019. Persian with no subtitles. A documentary about Keshavarz Boulevard, one of Tehran’s important streets.    
  7. Persian Art Center in Carolina: “Dancing of Words and Tones: The Fusion of Music and Poetry in the Persian Culture” with Hamid Yazdani, December 8, 2019. 
  8. Performance: Celebration of Winter Solstice, December 8, 2019, Graduate Student Association of Iranians at Duke University featuring Persian music, poetry, and dance. 

 

Interestingly, according to Magnuson, these events are not sponsored with Title VI funding. Still, it is clearly evident that the Consortium does not intervene to balance the biased events. To recall, the Tzipi Livni lecture was met with interruption by pro-Palestinian activists. Likewise, Palestinian Solidarity Week has not been countered by something like Israeli Solidarity Week, or similar.

 

While the US Ministry of Education should examine the figures given by the Consortium, it should also make a decision whether it is acceptable for Title VI funded institutions to allow Middle Eastern interest-groups to influence their teachings by hosting events as part of their programs.  

 

 

 

 

 



September 20, 2019
Robert King
Assistant Secretary
Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20202
Dear Mr. King:
I am writing in response to your letter of August 29, 2019, regarding the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies and its use of federal funds from the Department of Education’s “Title VI” program. The Consortium deeply values its partnership with the Department of Education and has always been strongly committed to complying with the purposes and requirements of the Title VI program. In keeping with the spirit of this partnership, the Consortium is committed to working with the Department to provide more information about our programs.
1. Middle East language enrollment
Duke and UNC offer a broad range of language and area studies courses in Middle East studies, leveraging the contributions of Title VI funds and demonstrating the universities’ commitment to teaching and research on the region, which is one of the Department of Education’s selection criteria for Title VI National Resource Centers (Federal Register, May 25, 2018, p. 24300).
Your letter asks whether the number of students in Middle East language courses at Duke and UNC in the academic year 2017-2018, as presented in the Consortium’s 2018 Title VI grant application, refers to distinct students or to course enrollments. This figure counts semester-long enrollments, so students who enrolled in both fall and spring semesters were counted twice.
The letter also asks for clarification of the level of language proficiency achieved by the Consortium’s students in each Middle East language. These figures for the 2017-2018 academic year -- counting distinct students, not semester-long enrollments -- are as follows:

​​

According to the latest figures in the Modern Language Association’s Language Enrollment Database, enrollment in the Consortium’s Urdu language courses is the highest in the United States, enrollment in Arabic is 8th highest, and enrollment in Turkish is 8th highest.
2. STEM fields
The letter expresses concern about the Consortium’s compliance with “the requirement that National Resource Centers help students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields achieve foreign language fluency,” citing 20 U.S. Code §1122(a)(2)(J). The wording of §1122(a)(2)(J) suggests that this is one of 10 authorized activities for which Title VI funds “may be used,” and improved collaboration with STEM fields is a priority for the Consortium, which includes affiliated faculty in biostatistics, dentistry, environmental sciences, epidemiology, medicine, and psychiatry. In 2016-2017, the most recent year for which data are currently available, students in STEM fields comprised 28 percent of all students with declared majors who enrolled in Middle East language courses at Duke and UNC.
3. Cultural and historical subjects
Your letter suggests that the Consortium’s programs on cultural and historical aspects of the Middle East fail to support “the development of foreign language and international expertise for the benefit of U.S. national security and economic stability,” and that programs on topics such as Iranian art and film “should not be funded or subsidized in any way by American taxpayers under Title VI unless you are able to clearly demonstrate that such programs are secondary to more rigorous coursework helping American students to become fluent Farsi speakers and to prepare for work in areas of national need.”
The Consortium has organized, co-sponsored, facilitated, or publicized dozens of educational programs each year related to security and economic issues in the Middle East, including multiple events featuring former national security officials who had worked on Middle East issues in the Trump, Obama, and Bush administrations. (A list of the Consortium’s past events is archived online.) The Consortium collaborates with the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and the Triangle Institute for Security Studies on programs focused on security issues in the Middle East.
The Consortium also organizes or assists with an array of programs on cultural and historical subjects that are closely linked with the Consortium’s language programs. Students in language courses are encouraged and sometimes required to attend Middle Eastern films and engage with Middle Eastern arts to improve their language acquisition, for example, and programs on cultural and historical subjects help to attract students to the Consortium’s language courses.
In addition, cultural and historical programs provide essential preparation for work in areas of national need. As noted later in the letter, “cultural studies providing historical information about customs and practices in the Middle East and assisting students to understand and navigate the culture of another country, in concert with rigorous language training, could help develop a pool
of experts needed to protect U.S. national security and economic stability and may well be within Title VI’s ambit.”
To this end, the Consortium’s programs encompass “a variety of disciplines throughout undergraduate and graduate education,” contributing to “a full understanding” of the Middle East, so as to produce “experts in and citizens knowledgeable about world regions, foreign languages, and international affairs,” as stipulated in 20 U.S. Code §1121-1122.
4. Religious minorities
The letter claims that the Consortium “appears to lack balance as it offers very few, if any, programs focused on the historic discrimination faced by, and current circumstances of, religious minorities in the Middle East, including Christians, Jews, Baha'is, Yadizis, Kurds, Druze, and others.” In fact, the Consortium has organized or assisted with programs on the persecution of the Yazidis in each of the past three years, along with numerous programs on the persecution of Armenian Christians, Iranian Baha’is, and other minorities in the Middle East. These subjects are also covered in the Consortium’s coursework on the politics, history, and cultures of the region.
The letter also suggests that the Consortium’s activities for elementary and secondary students and teachers emphasize “positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism, or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.” In fact, positive appreciation for Christianity, Judaism, and other religions of the Middle East suffuses all of the Consortium’s K-12 outreach activities, including specific events that have focused on Christianity and Judaism in the Middle East, such as a visit to a Jewish center to explore Jewish traditions, presentations on Christianity in Lebanon, and presentations on religious diversity throughout the Middle East.
5. Diversity of perspectives
The letter states that the Consortium places “quite a considerable emphasis on advancing ideological priorities,” including activities that are not “consistent with a National Resource Center and lawfully supported by taxpayer funds.” Your letter identifies two activities that you consider to be inappropriate for Title VI funding, out of more than 100 programs that the Consortium organizes or promotes each year. Neither of these activities, as it happens, were supported with Title VI funding.
The Consortium’s activities “reflect diverse perspectives and a wide range of views and generate debate on world regions and international affairs,” in compliance with 20 U.S. Code 1122(e)(1).
As I wrote in my letter to the Department of Education on June 20, 2019, the Consortium organizes public events presenting diverse perspectives and a wide range of views on many of the Middle East’s most challenging subjects, including – in recent years -- conferences on censorship in Turkey, Islam and religious identity, World War I and the transformation of the Middle East, the aftermath of the Arab Spring; and lectures on human rights in Iran, civil war in Syria, repression in Egypt, and many other subjects. (Documentation is available on-line at the Consortium’s conference webpage and event archive.)
6. Job placement
The letter suggests that job placement of the Consortium’s language fellowship awardees reflects “critical shortcomings and impermissible biases.” In particular, the letter indicates that the Consortium “provides opportunities and support primarily for individuals to pursue academic careers rather than in government or business as Congress directs.” The letter quotes the Consortium’s statistics, from Table C4 of its 2018 Title VI grant application, that 35 percent of its fellowship graduates hold jobs in higher education, while 11 percent are in government positions. However, Table C4 also indicates that 30 percent of the Consortium’s fellowship graduates hold positions in business. Thus, the combined total of awardees employed in the government or business sector exceeds the percentage of awardees employed in higher education, thereby demonstrating that the Consortium actively promotes careers in government and business.
7. Teacher training
The letter states that the Consortium’s teacher-training activities focus on “narrow, particularized views of American social issues” and exhibit “a startling lack of focus on geography, geopolitical issues, history, and language of the area, as Congress required in Title VI.” The letter identifies one activity on multicultural education as evidence of a narrow and particularized view, but the letter does not mention the many teacher-training activities each year that focus on geography, geopolitical issues, history, and language. The same annual report that included the activity on multicultural education, for example, also included teacher-training activities on the religious diversity of the Middle East, Middle Eastern terrorism, Middle Eastern refugee crises, how to incorporate Middle East studies into economics courses, educational resources about Morocco, and enrichment of K-12 Arabic language programs – the very sorts of topics your letter endorses.
8. Events related to national security and economic stability
The letter stipulates that “as a condition for future Title VI funding, the Duke-UNC CMES is directed to provide a revised schedule of activities that it plans to support for the coming year, including a description demonstrating how each activity promotes foreign language learning and advances the national security interests and economic stability of the United States.”
Foreign language learning is discussed in section 9 of this letter. As for security and economic issues, the Consortium will continue to organize or assist with programs related to the security, stability, and economic vitality of the United States. The following events, all of which directly address United States national security concerns, are currently planned for Fall 2019:
- Stopping violent extremism, with former U.S. diplomat Farah Pandith (September 2019).
- U.S.-Israeli partnership in cybersecurity, with Samantha Ravich of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (September 2019).
- U.S.-Israel relations, with Israeli journalist Amir Tibon (October 2019).
- U.S.-Taliban negotiations, with former U.S. diplomat Annie Pforzheimer (November 2019).
Additional events on security and economic issues are in preparation.
9. Support for foreign language instruction
The letter requires the Consortium to “demonstrate that it has prioritized foreign language instruction as required by law.”
Duke and UNC were the first universities in the Southeast to teach modern Middle Eastern languages on a regular basis, with UNC offering its first Arabic classes in 1959. The Consortium now offers three or more years of language instruction in Arabic, Modern Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu, all of which have been identified by the Department of Education as priority languages for Title VI programs. As a National Resource Center, the Consortium assists Duke and UNC in growing these language programs; the Consortium also supports Arabic language instruction through partnership with Durham Technical Community College, a minority-serving institution.
During the 2019-2020 academic year, the Consortium is supporting Middle East language learning through:
- Language facilitators for the joint Duke-UNC program in Turkish (Fall 2019-Spring 2020).
- New section of Persian 102 at Duke University (Spring 2020).
- First-ever Urdu instruction at Duke University (Fall 2019-Spring 2020).
- “Language Across the Curriculum” course in Arabic at UNC (Spring 2020).
- Arabic instruction at Durham Technical Community College (Fall 2019).
- Pedagogical training grants for Duke, UNC, and Durham Tech language instructors (ongoing).
10. Language faculty credentials
The letter notes that “most of the instructors of foreign language courses are non-tenure track lecturers or teaching assistants, whereas most of the instructors of other courses are tenured faculty. Given the important role tenured faculty play in attracting students to foreign language instruction and majors and enabling students to overcome the difficulty of mastering a language, the lack of tenured foreign languages faculty relative to the number of tenured culture studies faculty, may signal a potentially serious misalignment between Title IV requirements and the Duke-UNC CMES’s orientation and activities.” The letter also suggests that “[m]ore equal utilization of comparably credentialed faculty in foreign language instruction might prove to be an appropriate measure in this regard.”
The Consortium shares the Department of Education’s interest in appropriately credentialed and effective instructors in foreign languages. All but one of the instructors in Duke’s and UNC’s Middle East language courses this semester have advanced degrees, and 47 percent have doctorates.
With regard to tenure-track positions in language instruction, much of American higher education has come to rely on non-tenure-track faculty for instruction in many disciplines (including foreign languages) that focus on teaching rather than on a combination of teaching and research. Both Duke and UNC have created long-term career tracks for teaching-focused faculty, parallel to the research-oriented faculty track: at Duke these positions are titled assistant professor of the practice, associate professor of the practice, and professor of the practice; at UNC these positions are titled teaching assistant professor, teaching associate professor, and teaching professor.
11. Faculty rank and employment status
The letter requires that the Consortium “provide the Department with a full list of courses in Middle East studies, including academic rank and employment status of each instructor who teaches each course.” A list of Middle East-related courses at Duke and UNC is available online at the Consortium’s courses page and in Appendix 3 of the Consortium’s 2018 grant application to the Department of Education. Faculty rank, credentials, and biographical information are available online in Appendix 1 of the grant application. An updated list of courses for Fall 2019, with faculty rank and employment status, is included as an appendix to this letter.
12. Program monitoring
The letter requires the Consortium “develop and implement effective institutional controls ensuring all future Title VI-funded activities directly promote foreign language learning and advance the national security interests and economic stability of the United States, thereby meeting statutory requirements and meriting taxpayer funding.”
The Consortium will re-examine its procedures to ensure that its Title VI-funded activities continue to match the purposes and requirements of the Title VI program. These procedures already include pre-approval of budget commitments by a joint Duke-UNC executive board comprised of Middle East studies faculty members and staff from each campus; ongoing oversight of the Duke and UNC center directors by deans on both campuses; ongoing oversight of the Consortium’s budget by the business offices of the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies and the UNC College of Arts and Sciences; annual review of the Consortium’s Title VI budget by Duke’s Office of Research Support, Duke’s Office of Sponsored Programs, and UNC’s Office of Sponsored Research; and annual review of the Consortium by the U.S. Department of Education.
Further, Duke and UNC will establish an advisory board to review the Consortium’s program and proposed activities. The Consortium will also add an additional mechanism of transparency, namely record-keeping of the relationship of each Title VI expenditure to the purposes and requirements of the Title VI program. This information will be included with the annual report that the Consortium submits to the Department of Education.
Sincerely,
Terry Magnuson, PhD
Vice Chancellor for Research

Appendix: Faculty in Duke-UNC Middle East-Related Courses, Fall 2019


====================================================================

https://mideast.unc.edu/events/list/?tribe_paged=1&tribe_event_display=list&tribe-bar-date=2019-07-01


THE UNIVERSITY of NORTH CAROLINA at CHAPEL HILL

Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies

Events

The Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies supports events that increase awareness of the history and cultures of the Middle East and Muslim civilizations, and values diverse perspectives that promote dialogue and understanding. Events listed here originate from a variety of campus units and community organizations. The listing of an event does not constitute endorsement of or agreement with the views presented therein.    



Palestine Solidarity Week
October 17, 2019 | 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Duke University NC United States 
 
This week of events, hosted by the Duke Students for Justice in Palestine, is devoted to an exploration of Palestine including film screenings, poetry, discussions, and more. Remaining events include:   Thursday October 17, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.: Know Your Rights with Palestine Legal, Social Sciences 119. Friday October 18, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Keynote Address with Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, Social Sciences 111.   Hosted by Duke Students for Justice in Palestine.   October 11-18, 2019 Duke University


Palestine Solidarity Week
October 18, 2019 | 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Duke University NC United States
 
This week of events, hosted by the Duke Students for Justice in Palestine, is devoted to an exploration of Palestine including film screenings, poetry, discussions, and more. Remaining events include:   Thursday October 17, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.: Know Your Rights with Palestine Legal, Social Sciences 119. Friday October 18, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Keynote Address with Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, Social Sciences 111.   Hosted by Duke Students for Justice in Palestine.   October 11-18, 2019 Duke University  


Discussion: “Teaching Palestine: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and Academic Freedom” with Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, San Francisco State University
October 21, 2019 | 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Campus Y, UNC-CH
Chapel Hill, NC United States
  
Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi is an internationally-known scholar and a distinguished professor and researcher. She is the Director and Senior Scholar in the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas and Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies/Race and Resistance Studies at the historic College of Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University. Before joining SFSU, she served as the first director of the Center for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan, Dearborn. Her scholarship, pedagogy and public activism focuses on Palestine  



Artist Talk: Photographer Rania Matar
October 23, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Ackland Art Museum, UNC
Chapel Hill, NC United States + Google Map
Rania Matar is a Lebanese/Palestinian/American documentary, portrait and fine art photographer. She photographs the daily lives of girls and women in the Middle East and in the United States, including Syrian refugees. She will discuss her work in conjunction with the She Who Tells a Story exhibition. She Who Tells a Story brings together the vital pioneering work of 12 leading artists from Iran and the Arab world, ranging in genre from portraiture to documentary: Jananne Al-Ani, Boushra Almutawakel, Gohar Dashti, Rana El Nemr, Lalla Essaydi, Shadi Ghadirian, Tanya Habjouqa, 


Ackland Film Forum: Mussolini’s Sister
November 5, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Ackland Art Museum, UNC
Chapel Hill, NC United States
 
Dir. Juna Suleiman, Palestine, 2018 Introductory Remarks by Yaron Shemer (Asian Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill)   In a documentary with a dash of fiction, we enter the mind of the elderly Hiam, a Palestinian woman from Nazareth. We see her at the hairdresser’s, waxing her upper lip and shuffling her way to bed. The mundanity of everyday life acquires extra layers of meaning because the filmmaker Juna Suleiman—her granddaughter—accompanies many scenes with internal monologues from Hiam. Gradually we gain a


Countering Hate: Overcoming Fear of Differences” series: “Painful Hope: An Israeli Settler and Palestinian Activist in Dialogue
November 13, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Toy Lounge, UNC, Toy Lounge, UNC
Chapel Hill, NC United States
  
Join Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, an Israeli, and Shadi Abu Awwad, a Palestinian, as they share the successes and challenges of their groundbreaking grassroots organization, Roots: A Local Palestinian Israeli Initiative for Understanding, Nonviolence and Transformation. This event is part of the Countering Hate: Overcoming Fear of Differences initiative. Learn more at college.unc.edu/counteringhate.   Sponsored by the UNC College of Arts and Sciences.   Wednesday, November 13 | 7:00  p.m. Toy Lounge, Dey Hall UNC Chapel Hill  

   
Workshop: Been Here, Still Here: Muslims and Islamophobia 101
November 14, 2019 | 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
|
Recurring Event (See all)
Duke University NC United States
  
Join the Center for Muslim Life for our inaugural training on Muslims and Islamophobia. This introductory training includes a presentation and facilitated discussion about the history and presence of Muslims and Islamophobia in the US. The learning objectives include: 1) To recognize stereotypes of Muslims and understand the diversity of racial backgrounds, practices, and experiences of US Muslims 2) To understand the critical role Islam and Muslims have played in the history of the US 3) To identify the


Ackland Film Forum: 3000 Nights
November 19, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Ackland Art Museum, UNC
Chapel Hill, NC United States
 
Mai Masri, Palestine, 2016 Introductory Remarks by Nadia Yacub (Asian Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill)   Inspired by a true story and shot in a real prison, 3000 Nights traces a young mother’s journey of hope, resilience and survival against all odds. Accused of helping a teenage boy on the run, newlywed Palestinian schoolteacher, Layal finds herself incarcerated in a top security Israeli prison for Palestinian and Israeli women. After Layal discovers that she is pregnant, the prison director pressures her

   
Lecture: Colonizing Imagination: Early Photography and Palestine with Professor Issam Nassar
November 22, 2019 | 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Duke University NC United States 
 
This lecture will focus on the representation of Palestine in early photographic practices and will reflect on how such representation might have played a role in constructing and image of Palestine as a land that needs to be redeemed.   Dr. Issam Nassar is a professor of Middle East history at Illinois State University and author of a number of books and essays on early photography in Palestine and the Ottoman world including a forthcoming new co-authored book: Camera



Discussion: “Start Up Nation: Cybersecurity and Israel’s strategic partnership with the United States” with Samantha Ravich, Chair of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
September 23, 2019 | 5:30 pm - 6:45 pm
Duke University NC United States + Google Map
Join the Duke University Program in American Grand Strategy for a conversation with Samantha Ravich, Chair of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on cybersecurity and Israel’s strategic partnership with the United States. Dr. Samantha Ravich is the chairman of FDD’s Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation and its Transformative Cyber Innovation Lab and the principal investigator on FDD’s Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare project. Her expertise includes cyber, military and political power, sanctions

     



Discussion: “US-Israel Relations: Between the White House, Congress, and the Israeli Government” with Amir Tibon
October 29, 2019 | 5:15 pm - 6:45 pm
FedEx Global Education Center, 301 Pittsboro Street
Chapel Hill, NC United States 
 
There is a growing split between Democrats and Republicans, as well as between the White House and Congress, on the issue of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, Israel went through two elections within five months, and could have another one quite soon. Israeli journalist Amir Tibon will discuss recent events in Washington, DC and in Israel and the impact they could have on the U.S.-Israel relationship, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the broader Middle East. 

 
A Conversation: “Israel, the United States & the Middle East: Threats, Challenges and Opportunities” with former Israeli Minister Tzipi Livni
October 23, 2019 | 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Duke University NC United States 

Livni is a former Foreign Minister of Israel, Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, and Leader of the Opposition. Over the course of her career in government service, Lizni has held critical portfolios, serving as Minister of Justice, Leader of the Opposition in the Knesset, and Minister for the Promotion of the Diplomatic Process. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007. She was also selected for the Quality of Governance


Lecture: Rudnick lecture welcomes David Makovsky and Ghaith Al-Omari
November 18, 2019 | 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Westbrook 0016 Duke Divinity School, Duke University NC United States + Google Map
 
The Duke Center for Jewish Studies and the annual Rudnick lecture proudly welcomes David Makovsky and Ghaith Al-Omari, senior fellows at The Washington Institute. This event is free and open to the public. A reception and book signing will follow the event.   David Makovsky is the Ziegler distinguished fellow at The Washington Institute and director of the Project on Arab-Israel Relations. He is also an adjunct professor in Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze

   
Ackland Film Forum: 3000 Nights
November 19, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Ackland Art Museum, UNC
Chapel Hill, NC United States + Google Map
 
Mai Masri, Palestine, 2016 Introductory Remarks by Nadia Yacub (Asian Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill)   Inspired by a true story and shot in a real prison, 3000 Nights traces a young mother’s journey of hope, resilience and survival against all odds. Accused of helping a teenage boy on the run, newlywed Palestinian schoolteacher, Layal finds herself incarcerated in a top security Israeli prison for Palestinian and Israeli women. After Layal discovers that she is pregnant, the prison director pressures her





Human Rights @ Duke Annual Lecture: “Human Rights, Faith, and the Border” with Imam Omar Suleiman
September 23, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
White Lecture Hall, East Campus, Duke University
Durham, NC United States + Google Map
Please join us in welcoming Imam Omar Suleiman for the Human Rights @ Duke Annual Lecture. Imam Omar Suleiman is a world renowned scholar and theologically driven activist for human rights. He is the Founder and President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research and a professor of Islamic Studies at Southern Methodist University. Most recently, he was recognized by CNN as one of the 25 most influential Muslims in America and included amongst the Fredrick Douglass 200 most influential Americans

    
Poetry Reading by Jess Rizkallah
September 24, 2019 | 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
NC State University Raleigh, NC 27695 United States + Google Map
  
Every September the Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies at NC State (in collaboration with Arts NC State) hosts a Lebanese or Lebanese American artist for a week long series of events and workshops. This year, our artist in residence is Lebanese American poet Jess Rizkallah, who has recently won the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize for her book the magic my body becomes. This event will be Ms. Rizkallah's public presentation of her work. 




Film Screening: Docunight #60 [Durham]: Finding Farideh
September 4, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
John Hope Franklin Center Durham, NC United States + Google Map
#60:
Finding Farideh Directed by: Kourosh Ataee, Azadeh Moussavi 2018 / 88 mins, Persian with English Subtitles Iran’s entry for the international feature film category in the 92nd Academy Awards (the Oscars) in 2020. “Finding Farideh” is a feature-length documentary about an Iranian girl named Farideh, who had been abandoned in a holy shrine in Iran when she was 6 months old in 1976, and then she got adopted by a Dutch couple and left Iran to the Netherlands


  
Persian Art Center in Carolina: The Life and Poetry of Wise Sanai with Maryam Tabibzadeh
September 15, 2019 | 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
The Club House, 400 Oak Tree Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27517 United States + Google Map
Join the Persian Art Center in Carolina for a presentation on Sanai, a Persian poet who lived in Ghazni between the 11th century and the 12th century in ancient Iran. This is event is in Persian. The program will begin with a social from 4:00-4:30pm. There will be a welcome and introduction by Dr. Amir Rezvani, 4:30-4:45pm. From 4:45-6:30pm, there will be a presentation by Maryam Tabibzadeh followed by discussion. From 6:30-8:00pm, there will be refreshments, poetry readings

Persian Art Center in Carolina: A Study of Mysticism in Persian Poetry and Literature with Mr. Sadegh Hosseini
October 13, 2019 | 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States + Google Map
Join the Persian Art Center in Carolina for a study of mysticism in Persian poetry and literature. This is event is in Persian. The program will begin with a social from 4:00-4:30pm. There will be a welcome and introduction by Dr. Amir Rezvani, 4:30-4:45pm. From 4:45-6:30pm, there will be a presentation by Sadegh Hoseini followed by discussion. From 6:30-8:00pm, there will be refreshments, poetry readings by the audience and live Persian music. 

Film Screening: Docunight #62 [Durham]: Homework
November 7, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
East Duke Parlors, 1304 Campus Drive
Durham, NC 27708 United States + Google Map
 
Homework, Directed by: Abbas Kiarostami, 1989 / 86 mins, Persian with English Subtitles   "Homework" is a documentary Abbas Kiarostami directed in 1989 after realizing he was having difficulties assisting his son with his homework. Kiarostami interviewed young male students at a local school to find out what kind of problems kids faced completing their homework, which in Iran requires a great deal of parental assistance (or did at the time). 


Persian Art Center in Carolina: “Poetry of Entanglement and Barbed Seats in Farhadi’s Cinema” with Ehsan Sheikholharam
November 10, 2019 | 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States
 
Join the Persian Art Center in Carolina for a talk on “Poetry of Entanglement and Barbed Seats in Farhadi’s Cinema.” This is event is in Persian.   The program will begin with a social from 4:00-4:30pm. There will be a welcome and introduction by Dr. Amir Rezvani, 4:30-4:45pm. From 4:45-6:30pm, there will be a presentation by Ehsan Sheikholharam followed by discussion. From 6:30-8:00pm, there will be refreshments, poetry readings by the audience and live Persian music  


Film Screening: #63: The Story of Boulevard / The Mannequins of Ghale Hassan Khan
December 5, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
John Hope Franklin Center Durham, NC United States
  #63:
The Story of Boulevard / The Mannequins of Ghale Hassan Khan Directed by: Davood Ashrafi / Sam Kalantari 2019 / 2015 / 40 / 32 mins Persian with no subtitles The Story of Boulevard is a documentary about Keshavarz Boulevard, one of Tehran’s important streets, The film is in effect a line-up of histories, events, and narratives of the place and it’s deep-rooted desires and contradictions waxing and waning, a course that makes Boulevard a collective belonging. 

   
Persian Art Center in Carolina: “Dancing of Words and Tones: The Fusion of Music and Poetry in the Persian Culture” with Hamid Yazdani
December 8, 2019 | 4:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States 
  Join the Persian Art Center in Carolina for an event, “Dancing of Words and Tones: The Fusion of Music and Poetry in the Persian Culture.”   The program will begin with a social from 4:00-4:30pm. There will be a welcome and introduction by Dr. Amir Rezvani, 4:30-4:45pm. From 4:45-6:15pm, there will be a presentation by Hamid Yazdani followed by discussion. From 6:15-7:30pm, there will be refreshments, poetry readings by the audience and live Persian music.  

    
Performance: Celebration of Winter Solstice کنسرت جشن یلدا
December 8, 2019 | 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Sonja Haynes Stone Center, 150 South Road
Chapel Hill, NC United States 
  Join the Graduate Student Association of Iranians at Duke University and the Persian Cultural Society at UNC Chapel Hill for a celebration of the Winter Solstice, featuring Persian music, poetry, and dance with the Pendar Academy of Arts. For more information and to purchase tickets, please contact: Somayyeh Soltanian Zadeh: s.soltanian.zadeh@duke.edu, Parisa Shirzadi: shirzadi@live.unc.edu, or Ms. Forooz Salim (919-539-5709, Forooz_salim@yahoo.com, or online here: Tickets: $50 VIP, $25 General Admission; $10 Students. Free parking at the end of Bell Tower


April 2020
Humanities in Class Webinar: “Understanding the Modern Middle Eastwith Akram Khater (North Carolina State University)
April 21, 2020 | 7:00 am - 8:30 pm
NC United States
Far too often, the Middle East appears as doubly alien: out of place and out of time. A century of popular culture caricatures, at least two centuries of Orientalist representations, and decades of American military interventions, have all fed into the notion of the Middle East as turmoil-laden, sectarian and tribal pre-modern world. In this webinar, we will go beyond these stereotypes to look at the historical forces that shaped the region across the 20th century, 

    

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