February 17, 2017

Middle Eastern Studies Symposium Explores Identity and Experience

Lewis & Clark’s third annual student-run Middle Eastern Studies Symposium explores how cultural identity interacts with religion, gender, and resistance. Beginning Monday, February 20, and running through Wednesday, the symposium is free and open to the public.

Lewis & Clark’s third annual Middle Eastern Studies Symposium, titled “Experience of Culture and Identity in the Middle East,” will allow students to engage in discussions of religion, gender, resistance, and more. The symposium takes place February 20 through February 22.

The annual event is run by Lewis & Clark’s Middle East Initiative, a student organization whose advocacy helped realize a robust Arabic language program and the recent approval of a new Middle East/North Africa studies minor. The symposium will close with a question and answer session about the college’s new minor program, led by Associate Professor of Anthropology and Department Chair Oren Kosansky and the other professors responsible for its design.

This year’s symposium, led by Sema Hasan ’18 and Emma Slater ’19, will begin with a presentation from students Burnley Truax ’17 and Jessica Rosenblatt ’17, who will speak on their experiences working in Egypt as part of Lewis & Clark’s 100 Projects for Peace. Founded by philanthropist, scholar, and world traveler Katherine W. Davis, the program funds undergraduate initiatives to promote global peace. The $10,000 grants have been used to create projects addressing a diverse range of challenges, including providing clean water in Ethiopia, educating residents about human rights in Morocco, and teaching self-defense to women in India. At least one of the Projects for Peace grants has been won by a Lewis & Clark student every year since the initiative’s inception in 2007.

Monday’s keynote lecture will be delivered by Laura Robson, associate professor of history at Portland State University. Robson will focus on cultural identity by discussing the politics of ethnicity and religion in the twentieth-century Arab world.

In addition, the symposium will include a panel discussion on “Women in Revolution” and a lecture with Whitman College’s Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies Tarik Elseewi on interpretations of the Middle East in American media. On Tuesday, Lewis & Clark’s own Associate Professor of Religious Studies Paul Powers will present a lecture entitled “Territory is Not a Map: Deterritorialization, Mere Religion, and the Islamic State.”

For a full schedule of speakers and events, visit the symposium’s Facebook page.

This story was written by Scout Brobst ’20.