Middle East Studies Events

Check back soon for more upcoming events! 


Past Events

The Black Winter of 1860 - 61: War, Famine, and The Political Ecology of Disasters in Qajar Iran

A Talk by Dr. Ranin Kazemi 

Thursday, February 21st
H&SS Room 3086

About the Talk:

This lecture focuses on one of the most serious cases of famine in the Middle East in the nineteenth century. Reading through a wide range of contemporary documents, Kazemi uses this episode as a case study to talk about the larger problem of subsistence crises and natural disasters in Iran and the Middle East. He contends that the causes of the 1860–61 famine were a series of interlocking issues that had affected the political economy of the Qajar state in Iran. The longer-term economic and political developments in the run-up to the crisis, had an important role in setting up a broad context in which subsistence crises of this kind could occur frequently. Loss of transcontinental trade and territories, the decline of local industries, worsening trade deficits, the devaluation and scarcity of currency, and chronic imperial and state-building warfare in an increasingly globalized economy had led to the worsening fiscal crisis of the Iranian state and the rise of what was essentially new and predatory capital in the Qajar grain market. In such an atmosphere, people had become vulnerable more than ever before to natural and manmade disasters. Many, if not all, of the processes explained here were central in the making of disasters elsewhere in the Middle East. The factors that brought about these unfortunate episodes in the region were interconnected and had local, regional, and above all global dimensions.

About the Speaker

Ranin Kazemi is an Associate Professor of History at San Diego State University. He holds a PhD in History from Yale
University and a Master’s degree in History from the Ohio State University. Kazemi published several lengthy, monographic articles in major scholarly journals such as Iranian Studies, The Historian, Middle Eastern Studies, Modern Asian Studies, the Journal of Persianate Studies, and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Kazemi is currently working on a series of articles about the history of food, famine, drugs, and protest in early modern and modern Iran, and a book manuscript entitled The Ecology of Conflict: Privation, Protest, and Populism in Iran, 1850-1892.

Download the event flyer here


Imperfect Strangers: Americans, Arabs, And U.S.— Middle East Relations in the 1970s

A Talk by Salim Yaqub

Thursday, February 23rd
Eleanor Roosevelt College, Room 105

About the Talk:

Salim Yaqub argues that the 1970s were a pivotal decade in U.S.-Arab relations--a time when Americans and Arabs became an inescapable presence in each other's lives and perceptions, and when each society came to feel profoundly vulnerable to the political, economic, cultural, and even physical encroachments of the other. Throughout the seventies, these impressions aroused striking antagonism between the United States and the Arab world. Over the same period, however, elements of the U.S. intelligentsia grew more respectful of Arab perspectives, and a newly assertive Arab American community emerged into political life. These patterns left a contradictory legacy of estrangement and accommodation that continued in later decades and remains with us today.

Download the event flyer here

About the Speaker

Salim Yaqub is a Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Director of UCSB's Center for Cold War Studies and International History. He is the author of Containing Arab Nationalism: The Eisenhower Doctrine and the Middle East (University of North Carolina, 2004) and Imperfect Strangers:
Americans, Arabs, and U.S.-Middle East Relations in the 1970s, which was published by Cornell University Press in September 2016.


The UC San Diego Institute of Arts and Humanities is presenting "From Japanese Internment to the Muslim Ban: History Forgotten & Remembered," as part of its ongoing "Challenging Conversations" series.

Tuesday, February 21st
Multipurpose Room of the Student Business Services Building

Download the event flyer here

Muslim Ban


October 26th: Mafia State: The Politics of Organized Crime in Contemporary Turkey with Ryan Gingeras, Associate Professor, Naval Postgraduate School
Time: 3:30 - 5:00pm
Location: HSS (Humanities and Social Sciences Building) 4025

Ryan Gingeras is an associate professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and is an expert on Turkish, Balkan and Middle East history. He is the author of four books, including most recently, Fall of the Sultanate: The Great War and the End of the Ottoman Empire 1908–1922. His Sorrowful Shores: Violence, Ethnicity, and the End of the Ottoman Empire received short list distinctions for the Rothschild Book Prize in Nationalism and Ethnic Studies and the British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize. He has published on a wide variety of topics related to history and politics in such journals as Foreign Affairs, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Middle East Journal, Iranian Studies, Diplomatic History, Past & Present, and Journal of Contemporary European History.


December 7, 2017: "The Demise of the US-Turkish Partnership? Strategic Partnership in the Erdogan and Trump Presidencies" with Sinan Ciddi, Executive Director of the Institute of Turkish Studies and a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
Time: 3:30 - 5:00pm
Location: SSB (Social Sciences Building) 106



June 5, 2018: "Why Destroy Yemen?: Roots to the World's Greatest Humanitarian Catastrophe" with Isa Blumi, Stockholm University.
Time: 3:30
Location: ERC Conference Room, 201

In reports on Yemen's destruction, there are many references made to possible causes for the "civil war." There is a need to challenge these references. This lecture argues that it is the decline of the larger regime of oil/gas-backed political order (never associated with events in Yemen) that is a neglected source of the war. By providing deeper historical roots to the campaign to destroy Yemen, it is then possible to offer how we are expected to think about what comes next. In the end, by telling a mediated story of destruction while it is still happening, we may intercede in the inevitable retrospection that as much obscures as illuminates other stories of ruin in larger Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and other associated polities. 

Dr. Isa Blumi is a Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor in the Department for Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies at Stockholm University. He received a B.A. and M.A. from the New School for Social Research in New York, and his Ph.D. from New York University. Recently he finished his latest book, Destroying Yemen (University of California Press, 2018), which offers historic accounts for the recent violence in South Arabia. Dr. Blumi, who previously taught a course at The Graduate Institute in the International History Department, Geneva, GSU, American University of Sharjah, and Antwerp University, continues to research and write on transitional societies found through the larger Islamic world, including the impact migrants from the Ottoman Empire has had on global history.

The Turkish-American bilateral relationship has its roots embedded in the Cold War. By the late 2000s, the Obama administration labeled the relationship as a “model” partnership. Since the onset of the Arab uprisings and heightened instability in the near and Middle East, Turkey’s relationship with the United States (US) has come under increased strain, owing largely to divergent policies that have eroded trust and undermined cooperation. The US recently imposed the unprecedented measure of issuing a ban on the processing of non-immigrant visas in its US missions in Turkey. To what extent has the US-Turkish relationship suffered irreparable harm and are there ways that the partnership can be rebuilt? In the wider context, how will the US approach policy-making towards the MENA region if Turkey is not a partner or ally?

Middle East Studies

CAESAR Programs Coordinator


Andrianna Martinez

Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Room 1105


Walk-in Advising:
10:00-11:00 AM and 2:00-3:00 PM
and by appointment