Professional Development Courses & Workshops

Middle East Studies Symposium

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Middle East Studies Symposium

California State University, Chico’s Middle East Studies Symposium is hosted by the University’s Middle Eastern Studies Minor and Political Equilibrium in the Middle East and North Africa (PEMENA). Students from universities and colleges from around the U.S. and overseas present papers on a variety of topics related to the history and cultures of the Middle East and North Africa. The symposium also features Middle Eastern food and music.

The CSU, Chico Department of International Languages, Literatures, and Cultures offers the Middle Eastern Studies Minor. The symposium is co-sponsored by the History Department and the Multicultural Affairs Council.

 

Narrative and Agency: Beyond the “Invention” of the Middle East

Mehdi Beyad

Student, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

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Transcript

“The Middle East,” as a region and as a concept, is a relatively modern invention, according to the presenter. The first known use of the term to describe that large, multi-national region of the world is attributed to a U.S. Naval Officer in an article published in 1902. Mr. Beyad asserts that the term has its roots in the security concerns of the United States and England. The delineation of which countries are considered as part of The Middle East have changed over time – some countries have been included in the definition, then excluded, and then included again. Mr. Beyard delves into some of the reasons this has happened.

Presentation time: 28 minutes

The Truth Behind Argo: Iranian Hostage Crisis and Its Impact on Iranian-American Relations

Casey Benson, Thomas Giles, and Eric Lefevers

Students, California State University, Chico

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The speakers use the results of their research to assert that the 1979-1981 hostage crisis, when Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy, was mishandled by the U.S. government.  The students took 60 people as hostages, of whom 52 were American citizens, and presented a list of demands for their release. Most of the Americans were detained for 14 months. The speakers provide historical background on the circumstances that led to this pivotal event in the history of U.S.-Iran relations. “Argo” is the title of a 2012 movie that was roughly based on the hostage incident.

Presentation time: 34 minutes

Obstacles to Democratic Goals of Social Movements: A Case Study of Egypt’s Post Arab Spring

Lila Wael Raouf

Student, Indiana University

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Ms. Raouf starts out by posing the question, “Why do social movements sometimes not reach their original goals of democracy?” She notes that her review of existing literature highlights the military and the political culture of a state as two major obstacles of social movements in reaching their democratic goals.  Ms. Raouf chooses to focus on events in Egypt in the past several years, starting with the 2011 Egyptian revolution, as Egypt is country in which the military has played, and continues to play, an important role. She puts that uprising in a historical context, going back to the Free Officer’s Movement of 1952.

Presentation time: 26 minutes

Islam, Feminism, and Western Assumptions: Early 20th Century Women’s Activism in Iran and Turkey

Zavier Christian Wingham

Student, University of Texas, Austin

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Mr. Wingham asserts that the Western news media portray all Muslim women as being the same, and also in a stereotypical, patriarchal way. He also believes that, as a result, cases of activism by Muslim women are not accurately reported. Mr. Wingham maintains that feminist thought and movements vary in each Muslim country, as they each take place in a different cultural context. He uses Turkey and Iran as examples.
    
Presentation time: 33 minutes

A Percolation of Culture: The Ottoman Coffee House in European Society

Kristin Feay

Student, California State University, Northridge

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Ms. Feay’s focus is on the historical role of coffee houses as “vessels of cultural exchange” between Middle Eastern and European societies. Specifically, she explains how coffee houses spread Middle Eastern culture to European society. She discusses reasons why coffee houses overcame cultural barriers, what aspects of culture were exported from the Middle East to Europe through coffee houses, and the social function of the coffee house.

Presentation time: 29 minutes

The Influence of Sustainable Action on Cultural Conflicts in the Middle East

Brandon Michael Smith

Student, Wichita State University

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The valleys formed by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are among the most fertile areas in the entire Middle East. To explore his topic, Mr. Smith focuses on one example: the current construction of a dam on the Tigris River in Southeastern Turkey in a regional called Hasankeyf. This area of the world is sometimes referred to as “the cradle of civilization.” It is the location of numerous archaeological sites that reveal a rich cultural heritage. Mr. Smith explains the expected effects of the dam on the region – politically, educationally, culturally, and environmentally.

Presentation time: 29 minutes

Islam and Fashion in a Transnational Context

Allison Brooke Yates

Student, Indiana University

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Ms. Yates explains how a group of Muslim women living in the United States interpret Muslim fashion. She interviewed those women, as well as Muslim women who are active bloggers in the fashion world. They call themselves “Hijabistas” rather than “Fashionistas” – this is in reference to the hijab, the scarf or veil that covers the head, and sometimes the chest, that Muslin women wear to conform to an Islamic standard of modesty for post-puberty women. Ms. Yates studied how the women discussed modesty, fashion, and Islam; style, empowerment, and identity; and being an American.

Presentation time: 28 minutes

Longevity of the Ottoman “Imaret”

Rod Thomson

Student, California State University, Chico

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In the Ottoman Empire, social welfare and humanitarian relief was provided by the institution known as Waaf. Rod Thomson examines this centuries-old tradition, which is still in existence today in parts of the Middle East. Waaf is defined in Islamic law as a good deed that goes on into perpetuity. The Imaret is a soup kitchen that is part of a larger complex to provide humanitarian aid to those in need.

Presentation time: 27 minutes

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood

Jonathan Miller & Seth Thomas, Portland State University Students

Students, Portland State University

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The presenters give a history of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, from its roots in the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century to the organization as it exists today. Mr. Miller provides a history lesson, including a description of the French occupation from 1920-1943, which resulted in 10 Syrian revolts. This spurred the rise of nationalistic and anti-colonial groups; the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the mid-1930s. Mr. Thomas discusses the changes in the Brotherhood’s politics and image during the past three decades, during most of which the organization has been banished from Syria.

Presentation time: 41 minutes