Skip navigation

Josef Korbel School of International Studies

Center for Middle East Studies


Welcome to the Center for Middle East Studies (CMES) at the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies. CMES is an interdisciplinary institution dedicated to the study of Middle Eastern politics, history, and culture. We seek to engage the University of Denver community and broader public in informed discussion on topics of regional importance in an effort to deepen understanding of this critical region of the world.

To join the discussion and learn about upcoming events and publications, please subscribe to our Email List by contacting us at We hope to see and hear from you! 

Upcoming Events

Rovner Poster In the Shadow of Zion: Promised Lands Before Israel

A Lecture by Adam Rovner

Wednesday January 21 @ 12:00 PM
Room SIÉ 150 | Ben M. Cherrington Hall | Josef Korbel School

Adam Rovner is Associate Professor of English and Jewish Literature at the University of Denver, where he teaches transnational Holocaust literature, modern Hebrew literature and narrative theory. His new book, In the Shadow of Zion: Promised Lands before Israel, an intellectual history of alternative Jewish homelands, has been called a “path breaking study [that] takes us on a riveting journey [through a] little known chapter in modern Jewish history” and “a masterpiece…a must read for anyone interested in global Jewish history or in the history of Israel.”

Copies of Professor Rovner's book will be available for sale.

The event is free of charge. Lunch will be provided.

Returning to Palestine:  Personal Reflections on Exile, Memory and Reconciliation

A Presentation by Shafeeq Ghabra

Shafeeq Ghabra

Wednesday January 21 @ 7:00 PM
Reiman Theater | Margery Reed Hall | University of Denver

Shafeeq Ghabra, Professor of Political Science at Kuwait University and a Visiting Scholar with DU’s Center for Middle East Studies, was born in Kuwait in 1953 to a Palestinian family displaced in 1948 during the creation of Israel. In 2012, he voyaged to Palestine for the first time in his life. In this presentation, he will share images from that haunting visit and reflect on this magical land and its traumatized people.

The event is free and open to the public.


The Charlie Hebdo Debate:
Islam, Europe, Freedom of Expression, and the Antinomies of Liberalism


A Korbel Faculty Panel

Thursday January 22 @ 12:00 PM
Special Events Room | Anderson Academic Commons | University of Denver

The horrific attacks on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher market in Paris have sent shock waves across Europe and the West more generally. An anti-Muslim backlash is growing, with right-wing populist parties mobilizing across Europe and acts of violence and vandalism against Muslims on the rise. These events have reignited smoldering cultural tensions and re-opened talk of a civilizational war between Islam and the West.

Is there an unbridgeable chasm between Islamic and liberal values? Are there limits to tolerance? Have European states failed to integrate Muslim migrants (and their European-born children and grandchildren)? Is it hypocritical for France to champion freedom of expression while arresting dozens on the vague charge of “defending terrorism”? Does liberalism offer a useful framework for making sense of these issues, or is it collapsing under the weight of its internal contradictions?

In this forum co-sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies and the Center for the Study of Europe and the World, five professors from DU’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies—Micheline Ishay, Martin Rhodes, Nader Hashemi, Tom Farer, and Alan Gilbert—will offer contending perspectives on these and other questions in an open, conversational format. 

This event is free of charge and open to the public.

Lunch will be provided.

February enrichment course on ISIS announced

 The ISIS Menace: What Is It
& How Should the World Deal with It?

isis flag

The rise and expansion of ISIS (also known as ISIL or the Islamic State) represents a major turning point in Middle East politics. The organization now controls territory in the heart of the Middle East roughly the size of Great Britain. Simultaneously, its beheading of Western journalists and humanitarian workers, its persecution of religious minorities, and its enslavement of women have galvanized global horror and mobilized an international coalition for what President Obama calls a “long-term campaign” against the ISIS threat. 

In two short but high-powered sessions, Nader Hashemi, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, and Danny Postel, Associate Director of the Center for Middle East Studies, address key questions: From where did ISIS emerge? What are the organization’s ideological origins and goals? How does the rise of ISIS impact the Syrian civil war? How effective have coalition airstrikes against ISIS been? What drives young people (including from Denver) to join ISIS? What does ISIS mean for the future of the Middle East and US policy? 

Two sessions
Tue., 7-9 pm, Feb. 3, 10, 2015
CRN 1032 / $75

For more information, including how to register, visit the University College enrichment course description or call 303-871-2291.

New CMES occasional Paper published

The Holocaust & the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives:
Critical Dialogues with Gilbert Achcar

achcar paper

CMES is proud to present the third in our series of Occasional Papers: "The Holocaust and the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives—Critical Dialogues with Gilbert Achcar." In May we hosted Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at SOAS, the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, for two robust days of lectures and conversations, including a spirited panel discussion on his acclaimed book The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives. His interlocutors were Ira Chernus, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Adam Rovner, Associate Professor of English and Jewish Literature at the University of Denver. CMES Director Nader Hashemi also sat Professor Achcar down for an interview while he was here.

This Occasional Paper is the fruit of these critical engagements with Professor Achcar, whom the French newspaper Le Monde called “one of the best analysts of the contemporary Arab world.” Access the PDF by clicking here or on the cover image above.

The conflict with isis: recent cmes events & publications


Recognizing the significance of the escalating conflict with ISIS/ISIL in Syria and Iraq, CMES is actively involved in seeking to foster greater understanding of the so-called "Islamic State" and the underlying sociopolitical factors that propelled it to prominence -- both on campus at the University of Denver and in the public sphere.

Toward that end, CMES Associate Director Danny Postel published an article entitled, "The War on ISIS: Views from Syrian Activists and Intellectuals," for the blog of Dissent Magazine , which profiles the thinking of eight Syrian thinkers and activists on the current struggle against ISIS/ISIL.

Further, CMES co-hosted a faculty teach-in with the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy on the first day of Fall Quarter to discuss the various options for the U.S. in combatting ISIS/ISIL. Featuring Dean Christopher Hill, Sié Center Director Deborah Avant, and CMES Director Nader Hashemi, the event drew an enormous crowd and was recorded by three local television news outlets. In case you missed the event, you can watch it in its entirety below.

2014 Annual Conference

What Went Wrong? Egypt's Failed Democratic Transition

Egypt Banner

The Center for Middle East Studies presents a Daylong Conference Examining Egypt's Failed Democratic Transition

Friday, September 12, 2014

  • 9:15 - 9:30 am: Opening remarks - Ambassador Christopher Hill, Dean of the Josef Korbel School, and Nader Hashemi, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies
  • 9:30 - 11:00 am: The Role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt's Democratic Transition
    • Mona El-Ghobashy, Independet Scholar
    • Joshua Stacher, Kent State University
    • Shadi Hamid, Brookings Institution
    • Emad El-Din Shahin, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  • 11:15 am - 12:45 pm: Islamism, Liberalism, & Democratic Theory - Lessons from Egypt's Failed Transition
    • Andrew F. March, Yale University
    • Mohammad Fadel, University of Toronto
    • Daniel Brumberg, Georgetown University and the United States Institute of Peace
    • Micheline Ishay, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver
  • 3:00 - 4:30 pm: Ideology, Mass Media, Popular Culture, & the Public Sphere in Egypt - Explaining the Outbreak of Fascism
    • Mohamad Elmasry, University of North Alabama
    • Joel Gordon, University of Arkansas
    • Ellis Goldberg, University of Washington
    • Abdullah Al-Arian, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Qatar
  • 7:00 - 10:00 pm: Screening of Jehane Noujaim's Documentary Film THE SQUARE Followed by a Panel Discussion & Open Forum,  Margery Reed Building Reiman Theater
    • Daniel Brumberg
    • Mohammad Fadel
    • Monah El-Ghobashy
    • Emad El-Din Shahin
    • Ellis Goldberg

Video from all four panels is now available on our YouTube Channel!