135 episodes

The Middle East Centre, founded in 1957 at St Antony’s College is the centre for the interdisciplinary study of the modern Middle East in the University of Oxford. Centre Fellows teach and conduct research in the humanities and social sciences with direct reference to the Arab world, Iran, Israel and Turkey, with particular emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, during our regular Friday seminar series, attracting a wide audience, our distinguished speakers bring topics to light that touch on contemporary issues.

Middle East Centre Oxford University

    • Education
    • 4.5 • 10 Ratings

The Middle East Centre, founded in 1957 at St Antony’s College is the centre for the interdisciplinary study of the modern Middle East in the University of Oxford. Centre Fellows teach and conduct research in the humanities and social sciences with direct reference to the Arab world, Iran, Israel and Turkey, with particular emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, during our regular Friday seminar series, attracting a wide audience, our distinguished speakers bring topics to light that touch on contemporary issues.

    Women's Rights Research Seminar: Threatened motherhood in the Israeli welfare state: The discourse and the practice behind the disqualification of disadvantaged women's motherhood

    Women's Rights Research Seminar: Threatened motherhood in the Israeli welfare state: The discourse and the practice behind the disqualification of disadvantaged women's motherhood

    Prof. Esther Hertzog gives a talk on the vulnerable situation of motherhood in the Israeli welfare state. This talk will examine the role of state authorities, especially the welfare system and the courts, in undermining disadvantaged women's motherhood. State authorities undermine mothers' custodial rights over their offspring, especially through the discourse on 'child's wellbeing' and 'parental capability', blaming mothers for physically endangering and neglecting their children. It will be argued that while the formal discourse emphasizes the value of biological motherhood, yet in practice underprivileged mothers' custody over their offspring can be easily expropriated. Single parent mothers are a susceptible group from which babies can be taken away to adoption and their children taken to welfare institutions.

    The research on 'single parent mothers' ignores the phenomenon of expropriating disadvantaged mothers' parenthood by State authorities as well as the coercive means that are employed in the process. This talk will propose a critical analysis of the connection between "children at risk" discourse and disadvantaged women's motherhood.

    • 33 min
    Yemen’s Enduring Crisis

    Yemen’s Enduring Crisis

    Helen Lackner speaks about Yemen’s enduring crisis. Helen Lackner updates the seminar on the Yemeni war, providing a brief analysis of the origins of the conflict and addressing the main constraints and perspectives for the future. While focusing on the domestic aspects of the situation, she puts them in the regional context and also address the role of the international allies of the major parties involved. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 36 min
    The Global Merchants: The Enterprise and Extravagance of the Sassoon Dynasty

    The Global Merchants: The Enterprise and Extravagance of the Sassoon Dynasty

    Professor Joseph Sassoon in conversation with Dr Michael Willis about his recent book, The Global Merchants: The Enterprise and Extravagance of the Sassoon Dynasty (Allen Lane, Penguin Group, 2022). Emeritus Professor Avi Shlaim joins them. Abstract: The influential merchants of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries shaped the globalization of today. The Sassoons, a Baghdadi-Jewish trading family, built a global trading enterprise by taking advantage of major historical developments during the nineteenth century. Their story is not just one of an Arab Jewish family that settled in India, traded in China, and aspired to be British. It also presents an extraordinary vista into the world in which they lived and prospered economically, politically, and socially.

    The Global Merchants is not only about their rise, but also about their decline: why it happened, how political and economic changes after the First World War adversely affected them, and finally, how realizing their aspirations to reach the upper echelons of British society led to their disengagement from business and prevented them from adapting to the new economic and political world order.

    Professor Joseph Sassoon is Director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and Professor of History and Political Economy at Georgetown University. He holds the al-Sabah Chair in Politics and Political Economy of the Arab World. He is also a Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford. In 2013, his book Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime (Cambridge University Press, 2012) won the prestigious British-Kuwait Prize for the best book on the Middle East.

    Professor Sassoon completed his Ph.D at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He has published extensively on Iraq and its economy and on the Middle East. The Global Merchants is his fifth book.

    Professor Avi Shlaim is Emeritus Fellow of St Antony's College and a former Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2006. His main research interest is the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is author of Collusion across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine (1988); The Politics of Partition (1990 and 1998); War and Peace in the Middle East: A Concise History (1995); The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (2000, second edition 2014); Lion of Jordan: King Hussein’s Life in War and Peace (2007); and Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations (2009). He is co-editor of The Cold War and the Middle East (1997); The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948 (2001, second edition 2007); and The 1967 Arab-Israeli War: Origins and Consequences (2012).

    Professor Shlaim is a frequent contributor to the newspapers and commentator on radio and television on Middle Eastern affairs.

    Dr Michael Willis is Director of the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford and King Mohammed VI Fellow in Moroccan and Mediterranean Studies. His research interests focus on the politics, modern history and international relations of the central Maghreb states (Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco). He is the author of Politics and Power in the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from Independence to the Arab Spring (Hurst and Oxford University Press, 2012) and The Islamist Challenge in Algeria: A Political History (Ithaca and New York University Press, 1997) and co-editor of Civil Resistance in the Arab Spring: Triumphs and Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2015). Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 1 hr 9 min
    All Jihad Is Local: the Micro-Politics of Militant Islamism in 1980s Lebanon and Beyond

    All Jihad Is Local: the Micro-Politics of Militant Islamism in 1980s Lebanon and Beyond

    Dr Raphaël Lefèvre in conversation with Dr Neil Ketchley about his recent book, 'Jihad in the City: Militant Islamism and Contentious Politics in Tripoli' (Cambridge University Press, 2021). Militant Islamists are often assumed to be driven by global goals and transnational networks. But this narrative misses a crucial point: from Tawhid during the Lebanese civil war to Tahrir al-Sham in the current Syrian conflict, Islamist armed groups often seek to recruit and mobilize local communities not appealed by their religious ideology - certain tribes, social classes, and neighbourhoods. Why? How do they go about it? And to what extent, then, is all Islamist politics local?

    Dr Raphaël Lefèvre is a Senior Fellow at the University of Oxford and Research Associate at the University of Aarhus. He investigates Islamist armed groups in the Middle East. His latest book is Jihad in the City: Militant Islamism and Contentious Politics in Tripoli (Cambridge University Press, 2021). He is also the author of Ashes of Hama, the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford University Press, 2013). His PhD thesis which he did at the University of Cambridge was awarded the Bill Gates Sr Prize by the Gates Cambridge Trust and the Syrian Studies Association Prize.

    Dr Neil Ketchley is Associate Professor in Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations, the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, and a Fellow of St Antony's College. He is a political scientist of the Arabic-speaking Middle East and North Africa working at the intersections of political sociology and comparative politics. Neil's book, Egypt in a Time of Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2017), won the Charles Tilly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award. His current research interests include episodes of mass protest in the MENA, the rise of political Islam in interwar Egypt, and the changing profiles of regional political elites.

    Join us for our MEC live webinars – registration essential; details available from Middle East Centre Events, St Antony's College or subscribe to our weekly e-mailing newsletter by emailing mec@sant.ox.ac.uk and follow us on Twitter @OxfordMEC

    Middle East Centre, St Antony's College, University of Oxford Middle East Centre | St Antony's College (ox.ac.uk)
    https://www.sant.ox.ac.uk/research-centres/middle-east-centre
    Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 58 min
    The Career and Communities of Zaynab Fawwaz: Feminist Thinking in Fin-de-siècle Egypt

    The Career and Communities of Zaynab Fawwaz: Feminist Thinking in Fin-de-siècle Egypt

    Marilyn Booth speaking on her new book. This book is an intellectual biography of early Arabic feminist Zaynab Fawwaz (c.1850-1914) and a study of her life in Ottoman Syria and Egypt, in the context of Arabophone debates on gender, modernity and the good society, 1890s-1910. Chapters take up her writing and debates in which she participated, concerning social justice, girls’ education, marriage, divorce and polygyny, the question of ‘Nature’ and Darwinist notions of male/female, and intersections of nationalism, anti-imperialism, and feminism. Fawwaz’s two novels and play are analysed in the context of fiction rewriting history, and on theatre as a reformist tool of public education. The book also comprises a study of some important periodical venues for public debate in Egypt in this period, particularly the nationalist press and one early women’s journal, and it highlights the writings of lesser-studied journalists and other intellectuals, within the context of the Arab/ic Nahda or intellectual revival. The talk will focus particularly on a central argument: that Fawwaz’s feminism, based on an Islamic ethical worldview, was distinct from prevailing ‘modernist’ views in posing a non-essentialist, open-ended notion of gender that did not (for instance) highlight maternalist discourses and that rejected fixed notions of sex-gender identity. Fawwaz’s background was Shi’i, an element that is quietly present in her work.

    Biography:
    Marilyn Booth is Khalid bin Abdallah Al Saud Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World, University of Oxford. Her most recent monograph, The Career and Communities of Zaynab Fawwaz: Feminist Thinking in Fin-de-siècle Egypt (2021), is amongst numerous publications on early feminism, translation, and Arabophone women’s writing in Egypt and Ottoman Syria. Translator of eighteen works of fiction and memoir from the Arabic, she was co-winner of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize for her translation of Jokha Alharthi’s Celestial Bodies.

    • 1 hr 9 min
    The Fate of Colonial Elites in Post-Colonial Regimes: Evidence from the 1952 Egyptian Revolution

    The Fate of Colonial Elites in Post-Colonial Regimes: Evidence from the 1952 Egyptian Revolution

    Dr Neil Ketchley in conversation with Professor Walter Armbrust about his current research. The post-WWII era saw coups and “revolutions from above” break out across the Middle East and North Africa. How did these events transform colonial-era state elites? We theorize that post-colonial regimes had to choose between purging perceived opponents and delivering key state functions, leading to important variation in individual turnover and survival. To illustrate our argument, we trace the careers of 674 colonial-era ministers and civil servants in Egypt following the 1952 Revolution. Our analysis shows that individuals connected to Egypt's deposed monarch, very senior officials, and those with military backgrounds were more likely to be purged. Experienced officials and those with advanced university degrees were more likely to be retained. Residual workplace effects suggest that the logics of purging threats and retaining experienced officials also operated at the institutional level. The findings point to important instances of elite-level continuity during episodes of radical political change.

    Dr Neil Ketchley is Associate Professor in Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations, the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, and a Fellow of St Antony's College. He is a political scientist of the Arabic-speaking Middle East and North Africa working at the intersections of political sociology and comparative politics. Neil's book, Egypt in a Time of Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2017), won the Charles Tilly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award. His current research interests include episodes of mass protest in the MENA, the rise of political Islam in interwar Egypt, and the changing profiles of regional political elites.

    Professor Walter Armbrust is a Hourani Fellow and Professor in Modern Middle Eastern Studies. He is a cultural anthropologist, and author of Mass Culture and Modernism in Egypt (1996); Martyrs and Tricksters: An Ethnography of the Egyptian Revolution (2019); and various other works focusing on popular culture, politics and mass media in Egypt. He is editor of Mass Mediations: New Approaches to Popular Culture in the Middle East and Beyond (2000).

    Additional contributor, Mr Gilad Wenig, PhD student, UCLA. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 56 min

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