Initiatives and Areas of Focus

CMES serves as a hub for Middle East-related research, outreach, and teaching at UC Berkeley. In this role, it collaborates with other academic centers, departments, programs, and initiatives, across campus and across the world, to advance the multidisciplinary study of the Middle East and its peoples, cultures, and histories.  In our academic programming, we strive to be representative of the great diversity found in the region as well as the diversity of approaches to studying it. Most importantly, we critically engage with the term "Middle East" as an analytical category, representing interlinked social and geographical reality.  This section of the site presents some of the academic engagements, initiatives and projects ongoing at CMES.

Jewish Studies

Jewish Studies is one of the primary aspects of CMES's academic and research purview. CMES supports the study of Judaism and Jewish communities throughout the Middle East and North Africa and globally from ancient times to the present in a range of scholarly fields, promoting a broad, interdisciplinary approach to research, teaching and academic programming. CMES encourages and advances Jewish Studies in close collaboration with the Center for Jewish Studies and the ...

MENA Foreign Policy

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley is pioneering a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of Middle East and North African (MENA) statecraft. MENA Foreign Policy is a research and teaching initiative that looks critically at the ways in which defense, diplomatic and development policies are conceived of and implemented. It asks a series of critical questions about security and statecraft: a) who defines "interests," b) how are interests translated into policy, and c) what are the effects of these policies on regional and international...

Arab Studies Initiative

The Arab Studies Initiative supports teaching, research, and public outreach on topics related to the Arab and Arab-Islamic world, with the overarching goal of promoting a deeper understanding of this important region at UC Berkeley and beyond. Grants are awarded to support graduate and undergraduate research, and other scholarly initiatives.

Assyrian Studies

Together with the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley is launching a new Assyrian Studies Initiative. By joining the study of ancient and modern Assyrian history, we hope to engage not only the broad UC Berkeley community with events and programming, but also, diasporic cultural institutions in the Bay Area and globally.

Islamic Studies Initiative

At its core, the Initiative in Islamic Studies is cross-disciplinary. It aims to foster research and training in the field of Islamic Studies that will incorporate the traditional philological, historical, and developmental approach to Islam into suitable theoretical frameworks and perspectives drawn from allied disciplines (such as ethnography, literary criticism, sociology, and anthropology). This innovative approach to the field will lead research and teaching in the textual traditions that are fundamental to virtually every aspect of Islamic Studies, while bringing such work to...

Kurdish Studies

CMES hosts an Annual Lecture in Kurdish Studies, given each year by an exceptional scholar of Kurdish languages, culture, history, or a public figure of particular relevance to Kurds and the Kurdish community.

Recent past speakers include: