The Middle East History and Theory (MEHAT) Workshop meets on alternate Thursdays from noon to 1:30 p.m. in 218 Pick Hall. We provide a forum for campus scholars (emerging and otherwise) to present new work, receive feedback, and generate interesting and productive discussions across the disciplines. We also occasionally host presentations and roundtables with outside scholars. Drafts of dissertation proposals, chapters, and theses are especially welcome, along with other works in progress. If you are interested, please contact us at

Papers are generally pre-circulated a week prior to the workshop on the MEHAT listhost (sign up here) to encourage informed discussion. Papers ideally should not exceed 30 pages in length. We also ask that presenters preface their paper with a paragraph that frames the work for the audience, by indicating the work’s immediate research context and the sort of feedback they would find most helpful. Participants are encouraged but not required to read the paper beforehand.

At the start of the session, the paper is introduced by the discussant, who offers a summary followed by a few questions, comments, and suggestions (10–15 minutes). The presenter is then invited to respond (10–15 minutes), after which the floor will be opened to general discussion.

Workshop Schedule: Winter Quarter 2013

  • January 16: Kaveh Hemmat (NELC), “Sufi as Ethnographer: The Function of Sufi Poetry in the Khitaynama, a 16th-century Description of China”; with Edmund Hayes (NELC) as discussant.
  • January 30: Azad Sadr (NELC), “Blood, Murder, and Obedience: Rumi’s Use of Love in ‘The King and the Slave Girl'”; with Maryam Sabbaghi (Divinity) as discussant.
  • February 13: Sami Sweis (CMES ’12), “Transjordanian Mukhtars: The Coalescence of State and Tribe”; with Carl Shook (NELC) as discussant.
  • February 18: Rula Jurdi Abisaab (Islamic Studies, McGill University), “Shi’i Jurisprudence, Sunnism and the Traditionist (Akhbārī) Thought of Muhammad Amin Astarabadi (d. 1036/1626-7)”
  • March 6: Elham Mireshghi (Medical Anthropology, UC Irvine), “Sacred Knowledges and Expert Opinions: Understanding the Fatwas on Kidney Sales in Iran”; with Madeleine Elfenbein (NELC) as discussant.
  • March 13: Ellen Amster (History, UW-Milwaukee); “Healing the Body, Healing the Umma: Sufi Saints and God’s Law in a Corporeal City of Virtue”




Autumn Quarter 2012

  • October 10: Inaugural Roundtable: “What I Learned in Grad School: Continuity and Change in the Graduate Experience,” with Professors Na’ama Rokem, Orit Bashkin, Ahmed El Shamsy, and John Woods
  • October 24: Joseph Yackley (NELC) on Ottoman bankruptcy negotiations; with Corey Tazzara (Collegiate Assistant Professor in History) as discussant
  • Tuesday, October 30: Special joint workshop with LANTBYZ: Michael Jennings (NELC) presents “Archaeology of Jericho, West Bank, in the early Islamic period” (at Cochrane-Woods Art Center, Room 152, 5540 S. Greenwood Ave)
  • November 7: Daniel Mahoney (NELC) presents “The Utilized Landscape: Craft Production and Exchange Networks in the Central Highlands of Islamic Period Yemen”; with Tony Lauricella (NELC) as discussant
  • November 14: Lotte Fasshauer (Freie Universität Berlin) presents “Lyricism, Performativity and Melancholy in Ghassan Salhab’s Film and Video Works”; with Ali Feser (Anthropology) as discussant
  • November 28: Esra Taşdelen (NELC) presents “Ahmet Hikmet Muftuoglu’s ‘Cultural Nationalism’ and His Views on Turkish Language Reform”

Spring Quarter 2011

  • March 31: Catherine Bronson: “Imagining the First Woman in Formative Tafsīr”. Discussant: Mehmetcan Apkinar.
  • April 1: Larisa Jasarevic: “Three lights on Queen’s face: Ethnography of mêlée”. Co-sponsored with the Anthropology of Europe Workshop. Discussant: Noha Forster.
  • April 5: Andrew Newman: “Old and New Sources/Voices in Twelver Shīʿī History”. Co-sponsored with the Shi’ism Discussion Group.
  • April 7: Shiraz Hajiani: “Reconstructing Alamut – approaches to Shiʿism in Iran in the Middle Period”. Discussant: Kaveh Hemmat.
  • April 12: Rodrigo Adem: “The Silent Imam: Religious Archetype and Historical Memory in the Sectarian Milieu”. Co-sponsored with the Shi’ism Discussion Group.
  • April 15: Nabil Matar: “Henry Stubbe and the first use of Christian Arabic sources about Muhammad”. Co-sponsored with the Rensaissance Workshop, the Franke Institute, and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
  • April 21: Basil Salem: “The Logic of Sacral Sovereignty in the Aftermath of the Ottoman Conquest of Egypt and Syria”. Discussant: Chris Markiewicz.
  • April 28: Michael Figueroa: “Whence Israeli Song? The Fragmented Prehistory of Unisonance in Israel”. Co-sponsored with the EthNoise! Ethnomusicology Workshop. Discussant: Orit Bashkin.
  • April 29: Rodrigo Adem: “Inheritors of Adam: A Shi’ite Tradition on Prophethood”. Discussant: Alex Muller.
  • May 5: Jason Mohaghegh: “Inflictions: The Writing of Violence, East/West”. Co-sponsored with the Literature and Philosophy Workshop.
  • May 6: Jason Mohaghegh: “The Chaotic Imagination: Cruelty, Fatality, and the Shadow-Becoming in New Middle Eastern Literature”. Co-sponsored with the Middle East Studies Students’ Association and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
  • May 13–14: 26th Annual MEHAT Conference.
  • May 19: Emran El-Badawi: “Divine Judgment and the Apocalypse in the Qur’an and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions”. Co-sponsored with the LantByz workshop.
  • May 25: Dima Orsha: Arabic poetry sung in lied form and operatic style. Co-sponsored with the EthNoise! workshop and the Noontime Concert series.
  • May 26: Roy Fischel: “Foreigners in the Deccan: Migration and Politics in South India, 1565-1636″. Discussant: Hani Kafipour.

Winter Quarter 2011

  • January 13: Yașar Tolga Cora (NELC): “Looking for the Origins of the Muslim/Turkish Bourgeoisie; The Nemlizades: Rise of a Merchant ‘Dynasty’ of the Black Sea Coast”. Discussant: Hakan Karateke.
  • January 27: Elizabeth Urban (NELC): “‘They are Your Brothers in Religion and Your Mawālī': The Quranic Transformation of the Term Mawlā“. Discussant: Mehmetcan Apkinar.
  • January 28: Mandy Terc (University of Michigan): “‘We are Gmail addicted': Social and Linguistic Responses to Syria’s New Economy”. Discussant: Shayna Silverstein.
  • March 2: Mohamad Ballan (MAPH): “Between Castilian Reconquista and Ottoman Jihad: A Reconsideration of the 1501 Hispano-Muslim Qasida to Sultan Bayezid II.” Co-sponsored with the Western Mediterranean Culture Workshop.

Fall Quarter 2010

  • October 7: Mapping the Middle East, and other cartographical absurdities: Featuring Orit Bashkin, Roy Fischel, Hasan Karateke, and Metin Yüksel.
  • October 15: Chris Markiewicz: “The Esoteric Sciences in the Cosmography of a Sixteenth-century Ottoman Scholar: Wonder and Mystery in the Works of Mehmet es-Su’udi (d. 999/1591).” Discussant: Ahmet Tunç Sen.
  • October 28: Ali Feser: “Sects, Law, videotape: Political Fantasy at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport.” Discussant: Shayna Silverstein.
  • November 4: Christopher Sheklian: “Turkish Secularism and Christian Minorities.” Discussant: Metin Yüksel.
  • November 12: Metin Yüksel: “I cry out so that you wake up: Cegerxwîn’s Poetics and Politics of Awakening.” Discussant: Franklin Lewis.
  • November 22: Maria Six-Hohenbalken: “Narrations of violence: Tensions between individual and community accounts of the 1988 Halabja massacre.” Discussant: Melissa Bilal.
  • November 23: Taufik Dea’dle: “Khan el-Hillu and the city of Lid (Lod) during the Ottoman period: Summarizing three years of excavations.”

Spring Quarter 2010

  • April 5: Rumi: The Time of Love: A documentary film by Nuri Aksu, Visiting Student, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
  • April 15: The Turbulent Present: religion, politics and society in Iran. A panel discussion with Kaveh Ehsani (Assistant Professor of International Studies, DePaul University), Norma Moruzzi (Associate Professor, Political Science, Gender & Women’s Studies, and History UIC), Arang Keshavarzian (Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, NYU), and Chris Toensing (Editor, Middle East Report).
  • April 19: Sara Hirschhorn, PhD Candidate, Department of History: “The New Frontier: Jewish-American Activism within the Israeli Ultra-Nationalist Movement, 1967-1977.”
  • May 3: Emran El-Badawi, PhD Candidate, NELC: “Prophetic Tradition in the Late Antique Near East.” (Co-sponsored by the Workshop on Late Antiquity and Byzantium)

Winter Quarter 2010

  • January 11: Mun’im Sirry, Divinity School: “The Early Development of the Qur’anic Hanif: An Exegetical Analysis.” Discussant: Emran El-Badawi.
  • January 25: Mehmetcan Akpinar, NELC: “The matn-cum-isnad analysis of Bahira anecdotes: The case of Abu Bakr.”
  • February 8: Emine Evered, Department of History, Michigan University: “Ottoman Governmentality and Women’s Education.” Discussant: Esra Tasdelen.
  • February 23: Rasheed Hosein, NELC: “Coercion and Conflict: Thaqif and Quraysh in the pre-Islamic Period.”

Fall Quarter 2009

  • October 5: A discussion with Profs. Orit Bashkin, Fred Donner and Tahera Qutbuddin: “Orientalist canons: why do we study the texts we study?”
  • October 26: Abdurrahman Atcil, Ph.D. Candidate, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations: “The Restructuring of the Religions Disciplines in Post 11^th Century and Theoretical Jurisprudence.” Discussant: Mehmetcan Akpinar.
  • November 5: Joint panel session with Platypus: PANEL EVENT: “30 Years of the Islamic Revolution in Iran: The Tragedy of the Left”; A Discussion with Maziar Behrooz, Chris Cutrone, Kaveh Ehsani, and Danny Postel.
  • November 6: Maziar Behrooz, “Iran in Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries”
  • November 16: Nell Gabiam, Ph.D Student in Center for the Study of Race Politics and Culture: “Politicizing Humanitarianism: Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA and the Right of Return.” Discussant: Sara Hirschhorn
  • November 30: Elizabeth Urban, Ph.D Candidate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations: “The Mawali and Early Islamic Discussions of Social Equality.”

Spring Quarter 2009

  • April 20: Shayna Silverstein, Dept of Music, University of Chicago: “Engendering Dabke: Popular Dance and Kinship Relations in Contemporary Syria.” Discussant: Erin Glade, History
  • May 11: Karen Ellis, Dept. of Political Science, University of Chicago: “Conflicts of Interest: The Significance of Islamic Economics in Contemporary Pakistan.” Discussant: Ahsan Butt, Political Science
  • May 26: Rajarshi Ghose, Dept. of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago “Conceptualizing the ‘Social’ in Colonial South Asia: The Case of Mid-Nineteenth century Muslim Bengal.” Discussant: Nusrat Chowdhury, Anthropology
  • June 1: Jeremy Walton, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Chicago: “Invocations of Tradition, Aspirations to Modernity: The Characteristic Historicities of Turkish Civil Islam.” Discussant: Malika Zeghal, Divinity School

Winter Quarter 2009

  • January 5: Pelin Kadercan, University of Rochester: “Transnational Encounters in Music: Edward Zuckmayer and Music Education in Turkey”: Discussant: Melissa Bilal, Music
  • January 12: Sabahat Adil, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago: “The Mehrab of Modernity: Religion and History in Turkey’s Earliest Museums” (joint session with Islamic Art and Artifact Workshop)
  • February 2: Toufoul Abou-Hodeib, Committe on the History of Culture, University of Chicago: “Cultivating Domesticity in Late Ottoman Beirut.” Discussant: Noha Aboulmagd Forster, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
  • February 16: Fatimah Baeshen, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Chicago: “Islamic Banking in the US: Can The Industry Viably Subsist Under Secular Regulation?” Discussant: Joseph Yackley, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
  • March 2: Carel Bertram, Associate Professor of Humanities, San Francisco State University and Visiting Scholar, NELC: “Going Home For the First Time: American Armenian Pilgrims to Anatolia.” Discussant: Melissa Bilal, Music
  • March 9: Edhem Eldem, Professor of History, Bogazici University: “A Mid-Nineteenth Century Ottoman Livre de Raison: Mehmed Cemal Bey’s Account Book, 1855-1864.” Discussant: Orit Bashkin, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Co-sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

Fall Quarter 2008

  • October 22: Erol Ulker, Department of History, University of Chicago: “Workers, Class and Nation: Tramway Workers’ Movement in Istanbul, 1918-1929.” Discussant: Orit Bashkin, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
  • October 29: Pinar Ozyurek, Graduate Division of the Social Sciences, University of Chicago: “The Formation of Children as Recognized Modern Subjects During the Tanzimat Era: The Analyis if the Ottoman Children’s Journalsin Mumeyyiz (1869) and Arkadas (1876).” Discussant: Chihangir Gondogdu, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
  • November 6: Jacqueline Rose, Professor of English, Queen Mary, University of London: “On The Myth of Self-Hatred.” Discussant: Sam Brody, Divinity School.
  • November 12: Joseph Yackley, NELC, University of Chicago: “Sovereign Bankruptcy in late-19th Century Egypt and Ottoman Turkey: A Proposal and Overview of Research Plans.” Discussant: Kaveh Hemmat, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
  • November 19: Avshalom Rubin, Department of History, University of Chicago: “Israel, Jordan, and the Trajectory of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1957-1965.” Discussant: Carl Shook, Center for Middle Eastern Studies.