MENA, NU-Q team up for publication highlighting scholarship

Annie Bruce, Reporter

Faculty members from Northwestern’s Middle East and North African Studies program and Northwestern University in Qatar collaborated to put together a publication that highlights research from various disciplines related to the region.

The monograph, “On the Ground: New Directions in Middle East and North African Studies,” was published in a print edition in February and online in March.

Associate Prof. Brian Edwards, director of the MENA program, hopes the publication will help highlight the work the program is doing at NU.

“I think it gives a sense of the vibrancy of the program or the vibrancy of the field of Middle East and North African studies,” he said. “It’s challenging wrapping your mind around all these different disciplines, but they all contribute to a richer sense of a very diverse region.”

Edwards, who edited “On the Ground” and wrote a chapter for the publication, said each section gives insight into a different area of faculty research, ranging from political science to anthropology.

Jessica Winegar, an associate professor of anthropology, is one of eight MENA faculty members who contributed to “On the Ground.” Two members of the NU-Qatar faculty also wrote chapters in the book.

Winegar’s chapter, titled “Fed-up and bored,” focuses on revolutions in Egypt.

“These are all kind of working papers in the sense that they represent new research agendas and new research projects for all of us,” Winegar said. “The intent is to share with the Northwestern community new research directions in Middle East scholarship on the campus.”

Winegar became involved with “On the Ground” after traveling to the Qatar campus with other MENA faculty members in September 2012.

“While we were there we all gave lectures on our ongoing research and a publication idea came as a result,” she said.

The MENA program at NU was officially launched during Fall Quarter 2013, and Edwards said there is a benefit to starting a Middle Eastern studies program now.

“The first few stages of history of Middle East studies were very tied up with Cold War politics,” Edwards said. “Great scholarship that we all learned from came from that, but we’re creating a program at a very different historical moment.”

Edwards’ introduction to the book, “The Advantages of Arriving Late,” tackles this issue.

“On the Ground” was published by NU-Q and is being distributed freely online and in print. Edwards said versions of the book will eventually be released for Kindle and iPad as well.

“People have been taking notice, both here and nationally and even internationally that ‘Oh, Northwestern has got a really exciting new Middle Eastern studies program,’ and this allows us to show that,” Edwards said.

Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect that Middle East and North African Studies is a program, not a department. 

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