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MECANA Faculty Host Campus Dialogue Series on Gaza and Israel

December 14, 2023

The Bryn Mawr Program in Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and North African Studies (MECANA), with support from the Office of the President, hosted a series of recent events to help the community better understand the current situation in Gaza and Israel.

“As scholars who study and care deeply about the Middle East, we wanted to help inform the Bryn Mawr community  about the history and context of the current crisis in Gaza and Israel. Our goal was to provide a supportive environment to engage in respectful, balanced discussion about these difficult topics,” explained Rubina Salikuddin, assistant professor and director of MECANA, who has spearheaded the organization of these events.

The series started in November with a two-part conversation featuring Bryn Mawr faculty members Jennie Bradbury, assistant professor in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, Aytuğ Şaşmaz, assistant professor of Political Science, and Salikuddin, joined by Nathaniel Shils of Wellesley College. December events included a discussion geared toward graduate students on “Fieldwork in Times of Conflict” organized by Bradbury and Alicia Walker, professor of History of Art.  The fall series will end with “Queering Palestine and the Empire of Critique,” a book talk with Professor Sa’ed Atshan, associate professor of Anthropology and chair of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College. MECANA has also worked with Social Sciences and Data Librarian Kate Blinn to curate a selection of informative resources on Palestine and Israel at Canaday Library, which provide additional context from diverse perspectives for interested members of the community.

“The standing-room-only attendance at both lunchtime discussions was a clear indication of the community’s desire for constructive dialog and informed perspectives,” reflected Walker. “MECANA has been building its ranks the past several years, in part through a recent expansion position in International Studies, and it is rewarding to be equipped to respond promptly to current events by providing this essential programming.”

MECANA and Office of the President plan to hold more events throughout the spring semester. Details will be advertised in upcoming Daily Digests and on MECANA’s webpage.

The Program in Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and North African Studies (MECANA) offers a minor focusing on study of the area from Morocco to Afghanistan, from antiquity to the present day. Bryn Mawr students can investigate the history, politics, and cultures of the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa through coursework, independent study, study abroad, and events at Bryn Mawr and neighboring institutions.