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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! 

middle eastern studies association's Annual meeting:  November 21-24

The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is a private, non-profit, non-political learned society that brings together scholars, educators and those interested in the study of the region from all over the world. MESA is primarily concerned with the area encompassing Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Israel, Pakistan, and the countries of the Arab World from the seventh century to modern times. From its inception in 1966 with 50 founding members, MESA has increased its membership to more than 2,700 and now serves as an umbrella organization for more than sixty institutional members and thirty-nine affiliated organizations. The association is a constituent society of the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Council of Area Studies Associations, and a member of the National Humanities Alliance.

CMES will be hosting three panel discussions as well as representing our center in the MESA Book Bazaar throughout the weekend. The panels include:

Saturday, November 21 at 5:30 pm: “Sectarianization in the Middle East”
Panelists: Paulo Gabriel Hilu Pinto, Nader Hashemi, Fannar Hadad, Marwa Daoudy, Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi

Sunday, November 22 at 2:00 pm: “Egypt – Intellectuals, Political Tyranny, and the Death of the Public Sphere”
Panelists: Nathan Brown, Ellis Goldberg, Emad Shahin, Amaney Jamal, Amr Hamzawy, Mona El-Ghobashy

Monday, November 23 at 2:30 pm: “Debating Syria”
Panelists: Joshua Landis, James Gelvin, Najib Ghadbian, Sarah Leah Whitson

For further information on MESA's annual meeting, such as registration fees and membership, please click here

october events with our visiting scholar: Rami Khouri

We are incredibly grateful and excited to have the presence of Rami Khouri, one of the preeminent public intellectuals in the Arab world, as a Carnegie Visiting Scholar with our center for the month of October. With his remaining 2 weeks with us, we have a busy schedule of events for Rami: 


Tuesday October 20 at 12:00 p.m.
How Regional Powers & Social Forces are Reconfiguring a Fractured Middle East
Anderson Academic Commons—Special Events Room
A Conversation between Rami Khouri & Nader Hashemi
visit the facebook event page for more information  

Friday October 23 at 12:00 p.m.
1000 Lashes: Freedom of Speech and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
Room SIÉ 150—Ben Cherrington Hall
Short Film Screening & Panel Discussion Hosted by Amnesty at Korbel, Amnesty International chapter at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies
visit the facebook event page for more information

Wednesday October 28 at 6:00 p.m.
Screening of Trials of Spring, Documentary Film about the Arab Uprisings as Seen Through the Lives of Nine Women
Reiman Theater—Margery Reed Hall (SW corner of University & Evans)
Followed by a Panel Discussion and Audience Q & A with Gini Reticker (Director of The Trials of Spring), Hend Nafea (Egyptian human rights activist) & Rami Khouri
co-sponsored with the Denver chapter of the United Nations Association of America (UNA Denver)
visit the facebook event page for more information.

All three of these events are free of charge and open to the public.

Denver Post interviews CMES Director Hashemi & Associate Director Postel

denver post logo

The Denver Post recently featured an in-depth interview about the Iran nuclear deal with CMES Director Nader Hashemi and Associate Director Danny Postel, co-editors of  The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future . While members of Congress review the deal ahead of the upcoming vote in September, pundits, advocacy groups, nuclear physicists, former US ambassadors, and voices across the political spectrum are debating this pivotal issue. While most of that debate has revolved around the geopolitics of the deal—specifically whether it’s
good for the United States and Israel - Hashemi and Postel discuss what the agreement means for domestic politics within the Islamic Republic and the struggle for democracy in Iran. The article can be accessed here.

For more on this issue, see these recent articles by Hashemi and Postel:

Best Student Paper Award

David Lunde Thesis The Center for Middle East Studies has established a Best Student Paper Award to recognize, celebrate and encourage the accomplishments of students at the University of Denver who have written an outstanding paper or thesis in the area of Middle East studies. The 2014-2015 recipient of the CMES Best Student Paper Award is David Lunde, who graduated with honors in June 2015 with a double major in International Studies and French. His thesis, Constitutions and Democratic Consolidation: Comparing Egypt and Tunisia, was written for departmental distinction in international studies. It is an incisive and highly illuminating examination of a key dimension of the Arab Spring, a comparative study of the democratic transitions in Tunisia and Egypt with a focus on the constitution-writing processes in the two countries. David wildly exceeded expectations for a B.A. honors thesis. He has written an outstanding, first-rate piece of work that deserves special recognition and distinction. We are happy to congratulate David on his exceptional work, and to feature his paper here.

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 combating 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

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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, Independent 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!