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Saudi Arabia Expert Mai Yamani '79 to Speak

Mai Yamani '79, a leading expert on Saudi Arabia, will return to the College this month to give a talk titled "Initiative and Inertia: Saudi Politics at Home and Abroad." The lecture will take place Monday, March 17, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ely Room of Wyndham Alumnae House and is free and open to the public.

"As Saudi Arabia becomes far more active diplomatically in trying to sort out the problems in Iraq, it has become paralyzed domestically," Yamani has written. Although King Abdullah had a reputation as "a keen advocate of reform" when he ascended to the Saudi throne in 2005, Yamani says, ordinary Saudi citizens who hoped to see the Kingdom make significant steps toward democratic reform have been disappointed, even as Abdullah "has energetically taken on a leading role in the region's turbulent affairs."

Yamani, who was the first Saudi woman to earn a doctorate from Oxford, is currently a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. A social anthropologist who has done extensive field research in Saudi Arabia, she is the author of Changed Identities: The Challenge of the New Generation in Saudi Arabia and Cradle of Islam: The Hijaz and the Quest for an Arabian Identity, the co-author of The Rule of Law in the Middle East and the Islamic World: Human Rights and the Judicial Process, and the editor of Feminism and Islam: Legal and Literary Perspectives.  

In addition to her scholarly work, Yamani has published commentary in the popular press in the United States, Great Britain, and the Middle East, and her expert opinion is frequently sought by broadcast news programs. A sampling of her commentary can be found at Project Syndicate.

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Posted 3/6/2008 by Claudia Ginanni