The Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies will host a conference on “World War I and the Transformation of the Middle East” on Feb. 19 and 20 in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium at the FedEx Global Education Center on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus, with a pre-conference panel at the Duke University Forum for Scholars and Publics.
The conference brings much-needed historical context to today’s struggles over belonging, identities and the map of the Middle East. In the aftermath of World War I, the religiously, linguistically and ethnically diverse Ottoman Empire was divided into a collection of small states. “Ottomans” became Syrians, Iraqis, Jordanians, Palestinians, Israelis and Turks. These new economic, social and political realities continue to influence the region to this day.
“New states created new refugees, new nationalities defined new minorities and new codes of law demanded new rights,” said UNC-Chapel Hill history professor Sarah Shields, one of the conference organizers. “Thus, the aftermath of the war was not only political, but also deeply personal, and it is on the collective personal repercussions of World War I that we will focus.”
Conference participants and scholars from UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke will address topics such as nationalism, sectarianism and segregation.
In addition to panel discussions, the conference includes a concert and a reception. It’s free and open to the public but prior registration is required. To register, see a list of featured speakers and a program schedule, visit the conference website.
UNC Global contact: Katie Bowler Young, (919) 962-4504,
Communications and Public Affairs contact: Jeni Cook, (919) 962-2091,
Duke University Media Contact: Julie Poucher Harbin, (919) 344-6158,

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