February 15, 2018

Symposium Explores a Complex and Dynamic Region

The fourth annual student-run symposium, History and Movement: Transition in the Middle East, explores the development of modern and historical discourse through the lens of transition. Students will discuss gender, religion, politics, and the implications of continuity and change in the region over time. The symposium kicks off on Monday, February 19.

Lewis & Clark’s fourth annual student-run Middle East Studies Symposium will explore historical and contemporary topics around transition in the Middle East. Students will engage in discussion on the dynamics of gender, religion, and politics across the region, and the influence that movement has had on modern discourse. History and Movement: Transition in the Middle East takes place from February 19 through February 21.

The symposium is the brainchild of the Middle East Initiative, a student organization originally created to advocate for a full-time Arabic language program at Lewis & Clark. Thanks in part to their efforts, extensive courses in Arabic are now incorporated into the Middle East and North African studies minor, a multi-disciplinary program that allows students to gain proficiency in Arabic, while also developing a broad cultural perspective through various academic fields.

The symposium is an opportunity for students to showcase original research on issues, controversies, and misconceptions surrounding the Middle East. Participants will explore the dynamic region and expound on the tension between perpetuated cycles and contemporary changes.

The program will begin with a keynote presentation by Dr. Omar Reda, a forensic psychiatrist and faculty member at OHSU. Reda fled his home in Libya in 1999, fearing prosecution from Ghaddafi’s forces due to his delivery of food and supplies to prisoners detained by the regime. Today, he continues to travel to Libya to provide psychiatric care to children affected by the conflict. Reda will speak on his experiences working with Mercy Corps, and his hope for the future of Libya.

A student panel will speak on the Morocco program offered by Lewis & Clark’s Overseas and Off-Campus Programs. Students will elaborate on personal experiences within the country, and preview their own academic research either conducted in, or inspired by, their travels to Morocco. The symposium will end with a musical performance from award-winning Al Andalus Ensemble, and attendees will be invited to enjoy and participate in the cultural experience.

“This dedication and early engagement allows students to be more than just spectators, and to draw on personal experience to present intriguing topics to the Lewis & Clark community,” said Oren Kosansky, associate professor of anthropology and director of Middle East and North African studies.

The full schedule of symposium events can be found here. All events are free and open to the public.   

Middle East and North Africa Studies Minor

Overseas and Off-Campus Programs


This story was written by Yancee Gordon BA ’21.