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Middle East Knowledge Production In the Aftermath of October 7 | 2024 IMES Annual Conference

Middle East Knowledge Production In the Aftermath of October 7

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Register – Attend Online

The 2024 IMES Annual Conference will be held on Friday, April 19, from 9:00am to 3:30pm. Guests may attend either in-person at 1957 E St NW, Room 602, Washington, DC 20052, or online via Zoom.

Conference Description

The current war in/on Gaza continues to reverberate beyond the region. How has it impacted academic research, public scholarship, teaching, and policymaking in institutions of higher education and other research centers? This year’s IMES annual conference prompts us to consider systemic shifts in the US academy and beyond and their significance in shaping knowledge production as the war unfolds. These shifts include institutional changes brought about through the neoliberalization of higher education, including the erosion of faculty governance, the rise of donor influence on university policy, challenges to academic freedom and freedom of speech, the precarity of university faculty and staff, and opposition to frames of decolonization and racialization coming from challenges to scholarly expertise.

Conference Schedule

9:00am – 9:15am Welcome and Introductions

9:15am – 10:45am Panel 1: Safe to teach? Academic Freedom in the Age of Precarity and Censorship

10:45am – 11:00am Coffee break

11:00am – 12:30pm Panel 2: Decolonizing MES Knowledge-Production

12:30pm – 1:30pm Lunch

1:30pm – 3:00pm Panel 3: Knowledge-production amidst (de)humanization

3:00pm – 3:30pm Where do we go from here? Ongoing initiatives and resources for safeguarding academic freedom

Panel Descriptions & List of Panelists

Panel 1: Safe to teach? Academic Freedom in the Age of Precarity and Censorship

This panel addresses how academic freedom is impacted by ongoing institutional shifts at universities around increased precarious labor, censorship, the proliferation of expertise from private research centers and think tanks and emerging challenges to institutional collaboration and regional research, review practices, and public-facing scholarship.

  • Aslı Bâli (Yale University): Safe to Teach? Academic Freedom in the Age of Precarity and Censorship
  • Bassam Haddad (George Mason University): The Unraveling of Israel and Academic Freedom: A Telling Tale
  • Negar Razavi (Princeton University): Teaching in/against the ‘Marketplace of Ideas’ after Oct 7
  • Discussant: Judith Tucker (Georgetown University)
  • Panel Chair: Shay Hazkani (University of Maryland)

Panel 2: Decolonizing MES Knowledge-Production

This panel addresses the movement to decolonize academic knowledge production in Middle East Studies, examining the impact of geopolitics on emerging efforts to interrogate scholarly authority, structures and institutions of power, the parameters of political action and whose voices are amplified in the creation of new knowledge.

  • Amahl Bishara (Tufts University): Paths to Decolonizing Middle East Anthropology
  • Karen Culcasi (University of Western Virginia): Decolonizing the “Middle East” (from a Geography-centered position)
  • Tamir Sorek (Pennsylvania State University): Palestine/Israel Studies in the shadow of a genocide
  • Discussant: Irene Calis (American University)
  • Panel Chair: Ilana Feldman (GWU)

Panel 3: Knowledge-production amidst (de)humanization

This panel addresses the particularities, resonances and intersections of religion-based discrimination and dehumanization. How has the current political moment generated new avenues and spaces for the manifestation of material and epistemic violence? What opportunities arise for a renewed discussion of the importance of humanization in political discourse?

  • Mariam Durrani (American University) Knowledge-production amidst dehumanization
  • Maha Hilal (Muslim Counterpublics Lab) Knowledge-production amidst dehumanization
  • Adi Ophir (Brown University): Knowledge-production amidst dehumanization
  • Discussant: Arshad Ali (GWU)
  • Panel Chair: Arie Dubnov (GWU)

This event will be recorded. By entering and attending this event, you acknowledge and agree that your likeness may be included in photos and videos of the event and used by GW in connection with communications about the Institute for Middle East Studies or in other GW communications.

The Elliott School can coordinate with the university to reasonably accommodate most disabilities. If you need specific accommodations, please contact Requests should be made as soon as possible, but at least three days prior to the program to ensure accommodation.


  • Arshad Ali is an Associate Professor of Educational Research at George Washington University, where he directs the Education & Inequality PhD concentration. He is concerned with questions of educational possibilities, liberatory moments/movements, and social research methodologies. He has written extensively on issues relating to the cultural geography of Muslim student surveillance, citizenship, governmentality, and other issues of coloniality and Muslims in Western spaces. Dr. Ali regularly speaks and works with colleges and universities, training students in bystander interventions, understanding the context of campus racial aggression, and how to address anti-Muslim racism and violence on campus. He has been actively involved in youth and community organizing for over two decades.

  • Aslı Bâli is Professor of Law at Yale Law School where she teaches subjects in international and comparative law. Previously she was a professor at the UCLA School of Law where she was the Founding Faculty Director of the Promise Institute for Human Rights and Director of the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies. She is currently serving as President of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). Her scholarship has appeared in numerous law and peer-reviewed social science journals and she is co-editor of two volumes addressing different facets of institutional design and comparative constitutional law from Cambridge University Press.

  • Amahl Bishara is Associate Professor of the Anthropology Department at Tufts University. She is the author of Crossing a Line: Laws, Violence, & Roadblocks to Palestinian Political Expression (Stanford 2022), about different conditions of expression for Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank. Her first book, Back Stories: U.S. News and Palestinian Politics (Stanford University Press 2013), is an ethnography of the production of U.S. news during the second Palestinian Intifada. She has co-produced documentaries about incarceration and expression under occupation and collaboratively produced bilingual children’s books with Lajee Center in Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem.

  • Irene Calis is a Palestinian decolonial scholar, educator, and organizer. Her research focuses on emancipatory politics from the perspective of those living their struggle and on forging decolonial futures. Her scholarship, grounded in the Palestinian liberation struggle, involves long-term ethnographic fieldwork living and working with Palestinian farming and youth communities throughout the West Bank, as well as with popular struggles in South Africa, Oceania, and Indigenous North America. She is the Director of American University’s Arab World Studies program and faculty affiliate of AU's AntiRacism Center.

  • Karen Culcasi is Associate Professor of Geography at West Virginia University. Her research uses postcolonial and feminist geopolitical frames to examine discourses, practices, and people who have been marginalized. Recently, her work has focused on the international refugee regime and the concept of the territorial-state in contrast to the experiences of Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Jordan. Her book, Displacing Territory: Syrian and Palestinian Refugees in Jordan (University of Chicago), won the 2023 Meridian Book Prize for Outstanding Scholarship from the American Association of Geographers. She is currently working on a project on anti-Muslim discrimination in rural West Virginia. She teaches courses on Political Geography, Geographies of the “Middle East” (though she prefers to use “Southwest Asia and North Africa”), Digital Cartography, Geopolitical theories, and Geographic thought.

  • Arie Dubnov is the Max Ticktin Chair of Israel Studies. Trained in Israel and the U.S., he is a historian of twentieth century Jewish and Israeli history, with emphasis on the history of political thought, the study of nationalism, decolonization and partition politics, and with a subsidiary interest in the history of Israeli popular culture. His publications include the intellectual biography Isaiah Berlin: The Journey of a Jewish Liberal (2012), and two edited volumes, Zionism – A View from the Outside (2010 [in Hebrew]), seeking to put Zionist history in a larger comparative trajectory, and Partitions: A Transnational History of Twentieth-century Territorial Separatism (2019, co-edited with Laura Robson), tracing the genealogy of the idea of partition in the British interwar Imperial context and reconstructing the cross-border links connecting partition plans in Ireland, Palestine/Israel and India/Pakistan.

  • Mariam Durrani is a Professorial Lecturer at the School of International Service and a faculty affiliate with the Anti-Racism Research and Policy Center at American University. As a decolonial feminist anthropologist, Dr. Durrani's scholarship seeks to shift how academia, news media, and public discourse reflect on and reckon with the "Muslim" subject and the impact of global wars on higher education in the US and Pakistan. Her work draws on discourse analysis, multi-sited ethnography, and multimodality to study racialization, migration, and education across the US, Pakistan, and the broader South Asian and SWANA regions. As an intentionally public scholar, she writes and produces extensively on both academic and non-academic platforms. Dr. Durrani locates her teaching, scholarship, and advocacy through feminist approaches to dialogue, collaboration, and knowledge production.

  • Ilana Feldman is Professor of Anthropology, History, and International Affairs at George Washington University. Her research focuses on the Palestinian experience, both inside and outside of historic Palestine, examining practices of government, humanitarianism, policing, displacement, and citizenship. She is the author of Governing Gaza: Bureaucracy, Authority, and the Work of Rule, 1917-67; Police Encounters: Security and Surveillance in Gaza under Egyptian Rule; Life Lived in Relief: Humanitarian Predicaments and Palestinian Refugee Politics; and co-editor (with Miriam Ticktin) of In the Name of Humanity: The Government of Threat and Care.

  • Bassam Haddad is an Associate Professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. He is the author of Business Networks in Syria: The Political Economy of Authoritarian Resilience (Stanford University Press, 2011) and coeditor of A Critical Political Economy of the Middle East (Stanford University Press, 2021). Haddad is cofounder/editor of Jadaliyya ezine and executive director of the Arab Studies Institute. He serves as founding editor of the Arab Studies Journal and the Knowledge Production Project. He is coproducer/director of the award-winning documentary film, About Baghdad, and director of the acclaimed series Arabs and Terrorism.

  • Shay Hazkani is Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also currently a visiting scholar at the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University (GW) for 2024. Hazkani is the author of the award-winning Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War (Stanford University Press, 2021). He is also the co-creator of The Soldier’s Opinion, a documentary based on his research. Shay received his PhD in History and Judaic studies from New York University, his Master’s in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and his BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Tel Aviv University. Prior to his academic career, Shay worked as a journalist in Israel covering the occupied Palestinian territories and Israeli military.

  • Maha Hilal is a Muslim Arab American expert on institutionalized Islamophobia, the War on Terror, and counternarrative work. Dr. Hilal is the author of the book "Innocent Until Proven Muslim: Islamophobia, the War on Terror, and the Muslim Experience Since 9/11." Her writings have appeared in Vox, Al Jazeera, Middle East Eye, Newsweek, Business Insider, and The Daily Beast, among others. Dr. Hilal is the founding Executive Director of Muslim Counterpublics Lab, an organization that disrupts and subvert dehumanizing narratives that are designed and deployed to justify state violence against Muslims and an Adjunct Professorial Lecturer at American University.

  • Adi Ophir is Professor Emeritus at Tel Aviv University, The Cohn Institute, and a visiting professor at the Cogut Center for the Humanities and the program for Middle East Studies at Brown University. He specializes in political theory and contemporary continental philosophy, with interests in intellectual history, Jewish political theology, and Jewish political thinking. Ophir is a founding member of The Political Concepts initiative and director of its iteration at the Cogut Institute. His most recent books are "On Ruling Power" (in Hebrew, Resling 2022) and "In the Beginning was the State: Divine Violence in the Hebrew Bible" (Fordham University Press, 2023).

  • Negar Razavi is Associate Research Scholar at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Princeton University, where she is currently working on her first book manuscript on the role of policy experts in shaping U.S. security policies toward the Middle East since 9/11. Broadly her work examines the intersections of expertise, empire, security, gender, and governance. Razavi has published her research in Social Text, Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR), Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and Critical Studies on Security.

  • Tamir Sorek is a Professor of Middle East history at Penn State University. He studies culture as a field of conflict and resistance, particularly in the context of Palestine/Israel. His research has highlighted the political role of sports, poetry, and collective memory, as well as tensions around the boundaries of the religious and the secular realms. Sorek is co-editor of the new peer-reviewed journal, Palestine-Israel Review.

  • Judith E. Tucker is Professor Emerita of History at Georgetown University, former editor of the International Journal of Middle East Studies (2004-2009), and former president of the Middle East Studies Association (2017-2019. She is the author of Women in 19th Century Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 1985), In the House of the Law: Gender and Islamic Law in Ottoman Syria and Palestine (California University Press, 1998), Women, Family, and Gender in Islamic Law (Cambridge University Press, 2008), and co-author of Women in the Middle East and North Africa: Restoring Women to History (Indiana University Press, 1999).