The State of Middle East Studies in North America

The State of Middle East Studies in North America

Last week, the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) held its annual conference in San Antonio, Texas. American, Canadian, French, Dutch, German, British, Irish, Moroccan, Egyptian, Lebanese, Spanish, Indonesian, Turkish, Israeli, and Iraqi scholars and students from disciplines as varied as anthropology, comparative literature, political science, history, media studies, and art came together for four days to share knowledge, browse a tremendous book exhibit, watch films, and reconnect with colleagues and friends. Given the grim state of most of the Middle East at present, one might assume that bringing together a critical mass of people with deep professional and personal ties to the region would be a recipe for glum and tense conversations, and there was a smattering of those, but for the most part, the mood at the conference was joyful.