Facing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in Washington

PWAD-670-in-front-of-White-House“Students in Shai Tamari’s PWAD 670 course, Challenges to Peace-Making in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, have grappled throughout the spring semester with some of the complex, intractable issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Discussions have ranged from the importance of narrative and identity in evaluating political options to the more concrete aspects of the conflict, such as settlements, lobby groups and Israeli and Palestinian internal politics… The trip to Washington, D.C., served as our opportunity to engage with the different groups responsible for pushing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward. We met with them with the confidence and tools that we have developed through our coursework, and we were prepared, if necessary, to be able to challenge their perspectives.” To read more about the trip, see here.

May 5th, 2014

UNC Professor Zeynep Tufekci on the Protest Spurred by Social Media in Istanbul

zeynepnytIn a New York Times op-ed, UNC Professor Zeynep Tufekci analyzes the dynamics of large-scale protests spurred by social media, such as the mass funeral held last week in Istanbul, Turkey. Tufekci argues that “Protests like this one, fueled by social media and erupting into spectacular mass events, look like powerful statements of opposition against a regime. … Yet often these huge mobilizations of citizens inexplicably wither away without the impact on policy you might expect from their scale.” Tufekci proposes that “Digital tools make it much easier to build up movements quickly, and they greatly lower coordination costs. This seems like a good thing at first, but it often results in an unanticipated weakness: Before the Internet, the tedious work of organizing that was required to circumvent censorship or to organize a protest also helped build infrastructure for decision making and strategies for sustaining momentum. Now movements can rush past that step, often to their own detriment.” For the full article in The New York Times see here.

March 20th, 2014

Small Threat of Terrorism, Yet Rising Negative Attitudes Towards Muslims in US

news_charles-kurzmanIn a report issued this month by the Triangle Institute on Terrorism and Homeland Security, UNC Professor of Sociology Charles Kurzman traces the upward trend of negative feelings towards Muslims in the US despite the small number of Muslim suspects and perpetrators of terrorist acts.  Read the report, “Muslim-American Terrorism in 2013,” here.  An article by Kurzman on the data, published on IslamiCommentary is available here.

February 28th, 2014

New Library Guide to Middle East Studies


Middle Eastern Librarian Mohamed Abou El Seoud recently introduced the Center’s faculty and graduate students to a new online resource, the Middle East Studies Guide. Part of the UNC University Libraries site, the guide provides links to collections of films, music, art, books and journals, and maps and data for Middle East studies. It also includes information about library support for scholarly communication and digital repository services, as well as funding opportunities. For more information about this new resource, go to our Library Resources page.

November 19th, 2013

Underground Music and the Arab Uprisings


On September 17, 2013, Dr. Zeina G. Halabi (Department of Asian Studies at UNC-CH) appeared on the Global Music Show on WXYC 89.3FM. The show explored contemporary indie and underground bands in the context of the Arab uprisings. Different in both genre and content, the songs selected by Dr. Halabi were by pop, hip-hop, and rock bands from Egypt (Thawrageya; Youssra el Hawary; Massar Egbari), Lebanon (Mashrou3 Leila; El-Rass), Syria (Al-Sayyid Darwish), Palestine (Boikutt), Morocco (Soultana) and Jordan (El-Morabba3). Whereas some of the artists above are more established and more politically explicit than others, they all engage the intense political and social upheavals that the Arab world is witnessing today.

November 4th, 2013

Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute Creates Fellowships for Graduate Students in Persian Studies

news-130822-zulloBy Carl W. Ernst

Persian art, language and culture, which is identified with modern Iran and adjoining regions, is one of the most formidable cultural traditions in the world, going back more than 2,500 years to the ancient Persian empire of Cyrus the Great. Spoken by as many as 70 million people today, Persian has for centuries served as a lingua franca across much of Eurasia for subjects ranging from philosophy, science and medicine to poetry, governance and education.

Given that historical significance, it is not surprising student demand for advanced courses in Persian language and culture is high. Beginning in 2000, when Persian instruction began at UNC, and continuing through spring 2010, when the Persian Studies Program was formally organized, Carolina has sought to meet that demand. Today, UNC boasts one of the only graduate programs in Islamic studies in the United States with a strong commitment to Persian. It also offers comparative perspectives on the multiple religious traditions of Iran.

Already appealing to top graduate students worldwide, UNC’s allure will only increase thanks to the creation of Roshan Institute Fellowships for Excellence in Persian Studies. These new fellowships, made possible through Roshan Institute Fund for Excellence in Persian Studies established by a grant from Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, will provide much-needed support for Carolina’s efforts to attract and retain graduate students of the highest quality. Plus, they will allow the University to increase diversity among its graduate student population by helping offset additional costs incurred by international and out-of-state students. Read more about the Roshan Institute Fellowship and UNC here.

October 21st, 2013

Carnegie Fellowships to Support Visiting Arab Social Scientists at UNC-Chapel Hill

An award from the Carnegie Corporation of New York will fund visiting fellowships for Arab region social scientists to come to UNC-Chapel Hill, beginning in fall 2014.

The fellowship program will be directed by Charles Kurzman and Carl Ernst of the Carolina Center for the Study of Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, and administered by UNC’s Odum Institute for Research in Social Science.

The fellowships will offer advanced doctoral candidates or post-doctoral scholars within five years of their Ph.D.’s an opportunity to work with a faculty mentor at UNC, to participate in ongoing research, and if interested, to audit graduate seminars. The program will provide an intensive intellectual experience for Arab social scientists at a formative stage of their careers.

Fellows must be affiliated with an Arab university and currently engaged in research in any social science discipline or social-scientific work in information science, law, public health or other fields.

The program anticipates offering three fellowships in fall 2014 and three in fall 2015. Applicants must identify one or more faculty mentors at UNC, propose a research training agenda, and submit two letters of recommendation. Materials for fall 2014 fellowships should be sent by Jan. 1, 2014, to mideast@unc.edu.

UNC-Chapel Hill is one of 10 universities to receive Carnegie funding for fellowships for Arab region social scientists.

Further information on the fellowships is available here.

September 27th, 2013

Persian Culture Collections Receive New Endowment

news-130822-zulloA $25,000 donation has doubled the Library’s endowment for Persian studies and will help to build collections that support this rapidly growing area of research and teaching at UNC.
An anonymous donor has established the Pars Endowment for Persian Study. Funds from the endowment will help the Library acquire Persian studies materials such as books, journals, and electronic resources. The endowment will also provide appropriate technology to ensure access to specialized materials.
Click here to read more about the fund.

September 27th, 2013

Roundtable Discussion: “Intervention in Syria? Problems, Prospects, and Contexts”

news-130822-zulloOn September 3, 2013, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Curriculum in Peace, War and Defense and the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations hosted the roundtable discussion “Intervention in Syria?: Problems, Prospects and Contexts” at the Global Education Center. The panel addressed increased global tensions over the ongoing conflict within Syria and the likelihood that the U.S. and some of its allies will intervene militarily.

Panelists included Sarah D. Shields, Cemil Aydin, Michael Morgan, Mark Weisburd, Ali Reza Eshraghi, Patricia Sullivan, LTC Bob Curris, COL Richard Menhart. See more information about the panelists here

The roundtable discussion was sponsored by the Curriculum in Peace, War, and Defense and the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations. For more information, please contact Shai Tamari at tamari@unc.edu.

Watch the video of the panel discussion here

September 11th, 2013

UNC FLAS student recounts witnessing Egypt’s revolution this summer

news-130822-zullo“RALEIGH — Caroline Zullo will always remember where she was when the Egyptian Army announced it had ousted President Mohammed Morsi. The UNC-Chapel Hill junior was sitting in front of a television set in the common area of her dorm – in downtown Cairo. Zullo was surrounded by Egyptian students and professors, cafeteria workers and security guards, all of them eager for news of what would come next for their country. When the announcement finally came, the room exploded with cheers. Zullo watched as people poured into the streets to celebrate. ‘It was a night I’ll never forget,’ she said. ‘It was amazing.’ Zullo, 19, had arrived in Cairo at the beginning of June for an intensive course in Arabic [with the help of a Foreign Languages & Area Studies Fellowship], which she had been studying for the past two years. Zullo graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High School and is a political science and global studies major at UNC.” Click here to read the rest of Caroline’s interview by Sarah Barr in the News & Observer.

August 22nd, 2013