Over the last two decades, a number of presidents of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) have used their platform at annual meetings to express concern about decline in the field. [1] One is reminded of the Ottomans who, according to many (now discredited) accounts, were also in perpetual decline. Recently, though, this theme has acquired a new tenor of urgency as people involved in area studies wrestle with the implications of what is popularly termed “globalization.” The question is if area studies as a distinct form of international scholarship has outlived its utility. Rashid Khalidi captured the mood with the title of his 1994 MESA presidential address: “Is there a future for Middle East studies?” [2]

This issue of the magazine attempts a critical evaluation of the state of Middle East studies by revisiting questions and themes explored in a 1975 issue on the “Middle East Studies Network” (MERIP Reports 38. The earlier issue captures a moment when the field was still dominated by a relatively small group of driving personalities. It traces the study of the Middle East in the US back to the colonial missionary movements of the nineteenth century, but concentrates on the institutionalization of Middle East area studies since World War II, highlighting the close links between the field and government and/or corporate interests. Although the field has undergone some striking transformations since 1975, notably in terms of the diversification of membership and scholarly agendas, academic developments continue to be conditioned by global power relations, events and, most immediately, US policy concerns and interests.

Current anxieties about the state of the field reflect the dramatic end of the Cold War and the inexorable search for a new mission to justify the global projection of US power. It is not surprising that Middle East studies in the US is grappling with profound questions about its raison d’etre as an academic field. Of course, the field has never been monolithic, and many of those who were once on the critical edge have achieved prominence in the contemporary “network.” This article focuses on developments in Middle East studies in the US, highlighting the last 20 years.

The Early Years

“Area studies” was created as an interdisciplinary niche in the US academy in the World War II era and its aftermath. The Cold War politics of anti-communism and Soviet containment were central to this early history. The process was set in motion by what Bruce Cumings has referred to as the “state/intelligence/foundation nexus,” which orchestrated the production of “area” expertise. [3] Although geopolitical considerations were the inspiration, fields were organized on the intellectual premise that “areas” were sufficiently distinguished from one another to warrant a regionally focused perspective. As Irene Gendzier extensively documents in Managing Political Change: Social Scientists and the Third World, area scholarship largely took its institutional organization and theoretical cues from the shifting imperatives of the US state to pursue its Cold War agenda. [4]

Middle East area studies began in 1946 with the establishment of a training program in international administration at Columbia University, and Army Specialized Training Programs for languages at Princeton and the Universities of Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In 1947, Princeton founded the first interdisciplinary program specializing in the modern and contemporary Middle East. [5]

The “Sputnik crisis” in 1957 — the unexpected launching of a Soviet rocket into space well before US readiness to do the same — gave area studies its biggest boost with the passage of Title VI of the National Defense Education Act in 1958. [6] By 1961, courses on the Middle East were being offered at 180 colleges and universities around the country. The bulk of Title VI funding has supported area centers in 11 world areas (including the Middle or Near East) and several “international studies” centers organized around issues rather than geography. [7] By the early 1960s, eight centers had been established or reoriented to study the modern Middle East.

In 1960, under the auspices of the newly established Joint Committee on the Near and Middle East of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), deliberations to create an association for Middle East scholars began. From these talks, MESA was born on December 9, 1966. The founding fathers [8] were a combination of classical Orientalists and social scientists, indicating the field’s efforts to bridge — and fuse — disparate perspectives and backgrounds.

Government largesse for Middle East studies was limited by many more pressing demands emanating from US involvement in hot wars, revolutions and foreign policy crises in other regions. Yet the US had an established interest in the region’s oil resources and “political stability,” which served to maintain funding and shape many scholars’ agendas. Some scholars took issue with aspects of US policy and distinguished their own agendas from those of the state, but very few publicly challenged the powerful links between the academy and national security interests.

The guiding paradigms of social science research were beholden to a Western ideology of “developmentalism” inherited from nineteenth-century assumptions of social evolution and Western superiority over non-Western societies. [9] The US variant of developmentalism, “modernization theory,” combined scholarly inquiry about the “backwardness” of non-Western regions with policy-oriented recommendations to foster the replication of liberal capitalist societies in the West. Daniel Lerner’s The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East was exemplary of this approach. [10] Ignoring the often violent social transformations brought about by colonial expansion and global capitalist penetration, modernization theorists envisaged development as an incremental process of internal transformation whereby “modern” values and practices are diffused to receptive local elites through greater integration into the Western system. [11] It was assumed that democracy and economic takeoff would follow.

By the end of the decade, however, such liberal optimism in Middle East studies had been diminished by slow economic growth and the rise of authoritarian states, as well as by the ascendancy of a conservative version of modernization theory exemplified by Samuel Huntington’s work which prioritized the maintenance of “order” over change. [12] Needless to say, this new conservative emphasis dovetailed nicely with US policy concerns for stability and counterrevolution in the region.

Cracks in the “Network”

By the late 1960s, domestic sociopolitical unrest spurred by the civil rights and antiwar movements was taking its toll on the US academy. The role of the scholar was becoming a subject of heated debate, with increasingly vocal criticism directed toward those whose output was either geared toward a pro-government agenda or premised on the assumption that a Western capitalist model could and should be universalized. The political views and scholarly work of some of the doyens of Middle East studies and their proteges were being challenged by others seeking to revamp the relationship between the US and the region. Critics on the left drew upon concepts such as “imperialism,” “underdevelopment” and “dependency” to challenge the received wisdom about development and its barriers.

An early challenge to the Middle East studies establishment materialized in 1971 with the formation of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP). The founders, New Left academics and activists, wanted to generate a literature that would reflect both a reality that they had come to know during time spent in the region (some of the original members were returning Peace Corps volunteers) and the anti-imperialist politics they espoused. [13] The collective began publishing MERIP Reports (subsequently Middle East Report), the longest-running progressive publication focusing on the region.

Another challenge, this one more squarely anchored in the academy, was mounted by several dozen leftist scholars who, at the 1977 MESA meeting, formed the Alternative Middle East Studies Seminar (AMESS). They were critical of the orientalism and pro-capitalist bias of mainstream scholarship and the extent of the profession’s complicity or silence in government and corporate policies in the Middle East. They sought to draw attention to women, peasants, the urban poor and other marginalized groups, and to make issues like the Arab-Israeli conflict part of the intellectual agenda.

Those involved in MERIP and AMESS, along with insurgent scholars in Britain and elsewhere, were motivated politically and intellectually by a sense of solidarity with the peoples of the region, most significantly in support of the Palestinian struggle, but including other anti-imperialist forces as well. Although AMESS formally lasted only a few years, it was not for lack of commitment. Rather, the “we” of Middle East studies, as represented by MESA membership, was changing. Growing numbers of critical scholars, including people with personal ties to the region, women and graduate students were joining, and articulating increasingly vocal critiques of US policy and orientalism.

Progressive scholarship on the Middle East was never a major current in the field, but by the 1970s it was making its mark as part of a broad New Left intellectual agenda. Leftist debates over political economy approaches included Marxist-influenced scholars in the region. The influence of “dependency theory” coming out of Latin American studies inverted many of the assumptions of modernization theory: Societies were not intrinsically “backward” nor was the West the source of relief; rather, the Third World had been underdeveloped precisely as a result of integration into the global capitalist system. Readings of Marx’s early writings on “Asia” against his corpus on capitalism provided a backdrop for modes of production debates in some quarters of Middle East studies, inspiring new assessments of the Ottoman and colonial periods. [14] Of more contemporary relevance, the consolidation of oil-based rentier states and the transnational migrations of labor and wealth provided distinctive regional imperatives to political economy analyses.

Leftists, however, were not in agreement on many points. The “classical” Marxist left subjected dependency theory to withering attack on the grounds that the latter substituted a moral critique of imperialism for a more accurate analysis of the dynamic nature of capitalism and the possibilities for class struggle. These two trends were at sharp odds over the endorsement of state autonomy and Third World nationalism. [15]

Challenging Orientalism

The publication in 1978 of Edward Said’s Orientalism was a seminal event, causing lasting reverberations throughout the academy. Said charged that Western pursuits of truth and knowledge were infused with racist power and cultural supremacy. His interventions in matters so central to Middle East studies (in addition to his political outspokenness on behalf of Palestinian rights) stimulated new scholarly activity in previously un- or under-explored directions as Orientalism became a model for investigating the relationship between scholarly production and imperial power. Timothy Mitchell’s Colonizing Egypt turns the orientalist mirror back on Europe to reveal the formulation of key modern notions of representation and reality in the exercise of colonial power over Egypt. [16]

Said’s continuing visibility as a public scholar has proved inspiring to people working in a wide variety of fields, including cultural, feminist and post-colonial studies, as well as various fields of area studies. In South Asian studies, for example, major conferences and special journals have been devoted to themes in his work. [17] Orientalism, however, inspired critical and negative reactions as well, ranging from outright denunciation to more ambiguous concerns that his analysis was too sweeping to account for the diversity of scholarship on the region. [18] His work also drew fire from some quarters of the left for his attacks on Marx and his inattention to political economy, and from some post-structuralists for his seemingly contradictory embrace of humanist ideals. [19]

More generally, critical scholarship began to evince a heightened skepticism toward overly materialist models of human behavior and causality and an appreciation for the discursively constructed nature of power and social formations. Said’s work formed part of a larger shift in literary studies, history and anthropology animated by post-structuralism, Western feminism and neo-Marxism. In Middle East studies, this shift inspired methodological innovations and increasing coverage of previously marginalized subjects. [20]

Crisis and Transition

More mainstream currents in Middle East studies, although embracing a wider range of critical perspectives than in the early years, retained a certain consonance with US political strategy, notably through continuing commitment to state-led modernization and development. [21] During the 1970s, US commitment in the region grew dramatically, spurred by the “vacuum” left by the British withdrawal from the Gulf, the rise of Saudi Arabia to global prominence following the 1973 war, and Sadat’s embrace of the US during the same period.

In 1979, the fall of the Shah of Iran, one of the US’s most crucial allies and a paragon of Western-style modernization, came as a shock to many. A review of the literature following the Iranian revolution leaves the impression of a field of experts rudely betrayed by their subject. The Iranian revolution proved to be more decisive to the field than the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973. [22] The post-revolutionary Iranian regime represented an activist variant of Islam perceived as imminently threatening to Western interests and pro-Western regimes, notably those in the oil-rich Gulf. The proliferation of Islamic movements across the region posed a fundamental challenge to modernization theory’s evolutionary predictions of increasing democratization and secularization. Needless to say, the study of the rise of “Muslim fundamentalism” soon became a cottage industry, producing many less than illuminating attempts at explanation.

The concurrent Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Reaganism helped set off a new phase of the Cold War in which the Middle East was accorded a pivotal role. This enhanced the strategic dimension of Middle East studies. While some scholars and students of the region hastened to direct their research towards this more militarized and security-oriented agenda, many other Middle East scholars rose to the task of countering the virulent anti-Islamism popular in the media and political circles, even though their own inclinations were secular, whether liberal or leftist. There was a growing gap between academic discourse and the rhetoric surrounding US policy. To some extent, this gap was filled by the rise of a new breed of “terrorologists” and pseudo-experts on Middle East politics who took over the task of sanctioning state policy with their “authoritative” opinions. [23]

Any assessment of the “state of the field” implies broad generalizations. Clearly, the field did not become a hotbed of radical anti-Americanism. But it can be argued that a substantial body of scholarship has been produced over the last few decades that is markedly more diverse, critical and independent of US governmental concerns than was the case in the early years. The nature of an enterprise that privileges language study and field research as part of the course of generating knowledge stands in sharp contrast to less-informed literatures and media driven by agendas of the state.

The View from the Right

The end of the Cold War has left a lacuna, and the Middle East figures prominently in the US government’s search for new enemies. The influence of the contemporary Middle East studies network is dwarfed by the financial resources and institutional muscle of right-wing organizations intent on advancing an ethos of pro-Americanism of the most retrograde variety in the nation’s public fora.

Norvell de Atkine and Daniel Pipes authored a 1996 article which illuminates right-wing thinking, “Middle Eastern Studies: What Went Wrong?” [24] According to them, Middle East studies lost its way and became “irrelevant” when it stopped serving US interests. De Atkine and Pipes argue that Middle East studies suffers from a misplaced preference for the interests of the peoples of the region over US interests, and a lack of “common sense” when it comes to Islam, which leads scholars to function as “counter-cultural apologists.” They take a negative view of the “indigenization” of the field, charging that MESA has been transformed from “an American organization interested in the Middle East to a Middle Eastern one that happens to meet in the United States.”

Other area studies fields have undergone changes similar to Middle East studies, notably an increasing number of indigenous scholars, intellectual investments in solidarity politics, critiques of US policy, and efforts to accommodate perspectives of peoples from the regions into scholarly frameworks. For right-wingers, contemporary area studies is part of the landscape of “multiculturalism” which has inspired a highly visible and well-endowed backlash by new right constituencies. Ultraconservative institutions like the Heritage Foundation and the National Association of Scholars adopt a two-pronged approach: encouraging or promoting conservative scholars to positions of influence, and challenging those “tenured radicals” who articulate views inimical or hostile to a conservative agenda. This latter dimension puts the name dropping condemnations in de Atkine and Pipes’ article into perspective, since they have produced an updated who’s who list of Middle East studies.

Resurgent Liberalism

The triumphalism following the Cold War clearly has influenced the relationship between scholarship and US policy. The new “Washington consensus” reflects a global agenda intent on promoting economic privatization (i.e., “free markets”) and integration (i.e., “free trade”). Yet, the social devastation and instability that often accompanies neo-liberal “reforms” needs to be supplemented by market-friendly forms of political liberalization. It is in this context that one can understand how issues of democracy, civil society and liberalization more generally have become an obsession in current debates about development in the Third World, including some quarters of Middle East studies. The recent flurry of books, articles and well-funded projects on these themes is a testimony to the dramatic impact of this new liberal agenda. [25] In many respects, this has created the possibility for a renewal of a more significant policy role for Middle East scholars, although the primary obstacle to the crystallization of a new mission for the field has been the unwillingness to implement a liberal democratization agenda in US policymaking on the region.

To be sure, elements of this liberal agenda resonate in the Middle East, rooted in opposition to the untrammeled power of authoritarian states and the appalling lack of human and civil rights across the region. But the scholarship advancing this agenda tends to resurrect the beliefs of modernization theory among a new generation of social scientists. The assumption that the experience of Western capitalist democracy can and should be duplicated throughout the rest of the world is being reasserted, only now the desirable transition is not from “tradition” to “modernity” but from “undemocratic” to “democratic” cultures. The effect of such work, as before, is that the region is being subjected to Western guidance and tutelage in the search for “civil society.”

The new liberal agenda has been remarkably successful in appropriating conventionally progressive objectives such as “sustainability,” “equity” and human rights. It appears as if liberalism is becoming what Bellamy has called a “meta-ideology”: a set of presuppositions which govern thinking across the ideological spectrum and which is reflected and refracted in wider discourses. [26]

The rapid advance of the new liberal zeitgeist illuminates, by contrast, the current pallor of more critical perspectives on regional political developments. The contemporary crisis of Marxism and radical development theory is one factor. [27] Another is that while the new fields of cultural and post-colonial studies appear to be making some inroads into the field, their anti-representational epistemologies and critiques of enlightenment values have sharply divided critical scholarship. [28] Greater collaboration among critical scholars, however, may result from the further development of political economy critiques of the “development industry.” [29]

The End of Area Studies?

Funding, or lack thereof, is a major factor for the future of area studies. When academic administrators and department heads in the country’s colleges and universities look for fat to trim, these programs often provide a vulnerable target. More generally, the financial crises in higher education make it necessary for many disciplinary departments seeking new hires to look for people who can handle a broad range of teaching responsibilities, not an area specialization. [30] A central aspect of this problem is that area-based research and expertise spans two spheres in the academic landscape: the various social science and humanities disciplines, and the interdisciplinary fields organized by regions. This dual positioning raises questions about the past and future of international scholarship in terms of the allocation of resources (from the government, foundations and private donors), the changing nature of higher education, and the larger political context of US relations with the rest of the world.

In the matter of government funding, many of the resources that sustain the field (including grants to institutions and individuals) come from the state. The state expects some benefits in return, and has been disappointed in its investments in area studies. In a 1981 Rand study of Title VI, the authors write:

The [area studies] centers should make efforts to link their programs to more policy-oriented disciplines and help their students identify and prepare for nonacademic jobs…. [There] is a disjunction between center focus and national need, as defined by academic, governmental and business employers. [31]

In 1991, legislation authorized the Department of Defense to administer the National Security Education Program (NSEP), which supports study abroad and area studies centers. MESA joined the American and Latin American studies associations to protest both its administrative location and service requirements for recipient students (in the defense or intelligence community); a MESA resolution passed by the membership in 1993 urged that its members and their institutions not seek or accept NSEP program or research funding. [32]

In terms of foundation support, some big changes are being instituted in line with the “Washington consensus.” For example, by the early 1990s, the joint international program of the SSRC-ACLS began undergoing internal reorganization. Specifically, the Mellon and Ford Foundations decided that a regional “area” approach was obsolete in the post-Cold War era, thereby affecting the availability and use of resources. Intellectual considerations were also at issue; Kenneth Prewitt, president of SSRC, described the changes as adapting to the need to “internationalize” area studies to accommodate changing intellectual priorities, notably cross-regional, transnational, processual and thematically focused inquiries. [33] This shift involves replacing a series of vertical structures organized along geographic lines with a horizontal integration of area expertise throughout the various international programs.

Part of the reevaluation of area studies relates to developments in academic disciplines. Area studies has remained a “junior partner” in the “disciplinary mapping of the world.” [34] Middle East studies successes in satisfying the needs and standards of the disciplines are subject to debate. Rashid Khalidi offered a particularly negative view of the field in his 1994 MESA presidential speech. To counter the perceived weaknesses, he suggested:

Our future lies in being part of the departments of comparative literature, political science, history or whatever, and not in remaining in a Middle Eastern ghetto…. [T]hese disciplines…[have] more powerful institutional support, and most of them can claim to be more universal. [35]

The rationale for area studies is also being weakened by liberal approaches. In political science and economics, the big trend is rational choice; the social scientific search for “homo economicus” is linked to efforts to cultivate new “globalizable” frameworks of analysis. [36] This shift toward quantitative methods and paradigms and away from local language and other sources marks a decontextualization of knowledge and, as such, is inimical to much of what has come to characterize area studies. [37] Some disciplines are being squeezed by these trends, too, notably anthropology, history and literature, each of which is organized largely by language and geographic areas and oriented by methodologies and research agendas that tend to emphasize detail and difference over generalities and regularities.

There is no reason to assume these changes necessarily signal an end to the possibilities of continuing work in and on the region. Rather, the questions we need to be asking are about the institutional arrangements and political implications of such work. The remapping of area-based knowledge back into the disciplines to a greater or lesser extent could have the positive benefit of broadening awareness of conditions in various areas of the world by strengthening the basis for critical comparative analysis. Culturally sensitive international studies, including those of an area-focused variety, are a prerogative of scholars that provides one of the few means of continuing to rethink and revise the lines between “us” and “them” that have long ordered a global hierarchy. [38]

There is a need, however, for more critical reflection upon the dominant trends and forces behind this restructuring, namely the “Washington consensus” and the new global centers of power. What is being created is a new framework of inquiry to accompany the project of creating a brave new “world without borders” in which global capital and elites can roam without restrictions and populations are kept pacified by market discipline and occasional elections. The consequences of this new agenda are now being felt in the Middle East, though in fits and starts, and it may take time for scholars to deal with its various implications.

Area studies and other forms of international scholarship are, by definition and history, politicized. For progressive scholars, the question is how to exploit the porous boundaries between the academy and the political sphere in ways that befit their commitments. To these ends, the “internationalization” of area studies has implications for decentering (geographically) but not depoliticizing the processes and consequences of knowing.

To realize the political potential of the current generation of oppositional academics, we must extend our work beyond the narrow confines of the academy to play a more active role in influencing public consciousness. (Re)claiming the public sphere for serious discussion of the affairs of the nation and the place of the US in the world is the real challenge for progressives, including those in Middle East studies.


[1] Texts of MESA presidential speeches are published in the MESA Bulletin. On the theme of decline, see: L. Carl Brown (1976), who fretted that Middle East studies was in danger of becoming an isolated academic backwater; Kemal Karpat (1985), who decried petty academic infighting as an obstruction to true scholarly debate, thereby weakening the field; Yvonne Haddad (1990), who wondered about the function of crises to the field and whether Middle East scholars were driven to the role of ambulance chasers to earn and justify their keep.
[2] See Rashid Kbalidi, “Is There a Future for Middle East Studies,” MESA Bulletin (July 1995).
[3] Bruce Cumings, “Boundary Displacement: Area Studies and International Studies during and after the Cold War’ Bulletin for Concerned Asian Scholars (January-March 1997), p. 12.
[4] Irene Gendzier, Managing Political Change: Social Scientists and the Third World (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1985). Cumings’ article details some McCarthy-era purges of Asia studies scholars and the intimate relations between certain heads of research centers and security institutions. For this period, see Ellen W. Schrecker, No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism and the Universities (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).
[5] Outside of the academy, the Middle East Institute was founded in 1946 by former foreign service officers with field experience in the region. Originally linked to the School for Advanced International Studies, the Institute became independent in 1948.
[6] In addition to the govelnment, major funding also came from large philanthropic organizations like the Rockefeller, MacArthur and Ford Foundations, the latter contributing $270 million to 34 universities for area studies and langnage studies between 1953-1966. See Edward H. Berman, “Foundations, Philanthropy and Neocolonialism,” in Philip G. Altbach, ed., Education and the Colonial Experience (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1984); Donald Fisher, Fundamental Development of the Social Sciences: Rockefeller, Philanthropy and the United States Social Science Research Council (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1993); Sigmund Diamond, Compromised Campus: The Collaboration of Universities with the Intelligence Community (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).
[7] See Lorraine McDonnell, Sue Berryman and Douglas Scott, Federal Support for International Studies: The Role of NDEA Title VI (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1981).
[8] The meeting that founded MESA was attended by 51 men.
[9] See Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995); and Wolfgang Sachs, ed., The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power (London: Zed Books, 1992).
[10] Daniel Lerner, The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East (New York: Free Press, 1958).
[11] See Gendzier for a bibliography of the theory and its critiques, as well as a useful summary of the central criticism of modernization theory.
[12] Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1968).
[13] In other areas, similar developments took place. The Bulletin for Concerned Asian Scholars and North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) were comparable projects in Asian and Latin American studies, respectively.
[14] Some works of this period from these different strands of left political economy include Sarnir Amin, especially The Arab Nation: Nationalism and Class Struggle (London: Zed Press, 1978); the pseudonymous Mahmoud Hussein, Class Conflict in Egypt: 1945-1970 (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973); and various writings in MERIP Reports, Khamsin and the Review of Middle East Studies. Later directions taken by work in this broad tradition, with much refinement, are reflected in, for example, Roger Owen, The Middle East in the World Economy, 1800-1914 (New York: Methuen, 1981); Huri Islamoglu-Inan, ed., The Ottoman Empire and the World Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987); and Joel Beinin and Zachary Lockman, Workers on the Nile: Nationalism, Communism, Islam and the Egyptian Working Class, 1882-1954 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987).
[15] See Patrick Clawson, “Egypt’s Industrialization: A Critique of Dependency Theory,” MERIP Reports 72 (1978) and Fred Halliday, “Imperialism and the Middle East,” with a response by Gary Nigel Howe, “Warren’s Revision of the Marxist Critique,” MERIP Reports 117 (1983). A more recent critique of dependency theory, and a brief discussion of this period’s intellectual history, can be found in Robert Vitalis, “The End of Third Worldism in Egyptian Studies,” Arab Studies Journal 4/1 (Spring 1996).
[16] Timothy Mitchell, Colonizing Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968).
[17] The South Asia Regional Studies program at the University of Pennsylvania, for example, devoted its 1988-1989 seminar series to Orientalism, leading to the publication of Carol A. Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer, eds., Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament (Philadelphia, 1993).
[18] For hostile reviews see Bernard Lewis, “The Question of Orientalism,&rqduo; New York Review of Books, June 24, 1982 and Bayly Winder’s review in Middle East Journal 35 (1981), p. 617. For more measured tones see Albert Hourani, “The Road to Morocco,” New York Review of Books, March 8, 1979 and Malcolm H. Kerr’s review in International Journal of Middle East Studies 12 (1980).
[19] For various perspectives on this point, see the Marxist-inspired attack on Said by Aijaz Ahmed, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures (London: Verso, 1992), and the entire issue of Public Culture 6/1 (Fall 1993), which takes issue with Ahmed’s critique, though not through an uncritical endorsement of Said.
[20] See Hisham Sharabi, ed., Theory, Politics and the Arab World (New York: Routledge, 1990); Tareq Ismael, Middle East Studies: International Perspectives on the State of the Art (New York: Praeger, 1990).
[21] See the discussion of Middle East social science during this period by Lisa Anderson, “Policy Making and Theory Building: American Political Science and the Islamic Middle East,” in Sharabi, ibid.
[22] See Lori Anne Salem, “The DANTES Survey of Courses in Contemporary Middle East Studies,” MESA Bulletin (July 1992).
[23] See discussion in Middle East Report 180 (January-February 1993).
[24] Norvell B. DeAtkine and Daniel Pipes, “Middle Eastern Studies: What Went Wrong?” Academic Questions 9/1 (Winter 1995-96).
[25] Some major new collections on such topics include lliya Harik and Denis J. Sullivan, eds., Privatisation and Liberalization in the Middle East (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1992); Augustus Richard Norton, ed., Civil Society in the Middle East 1 & 2 (Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1995); and Rex Brynen, Bahgat Korany and Paul Noble, eds., Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Arab World 1 & 2 (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1995).
[26] Robert Bellamy, Liberalism and Modern Society (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992). See also David Williams, “Liberalism and Development Discourse,” Africa 63/3 (1993).
[27] A collection of important contributions to the debate over how to reconstruct Marxist development theory can be found in Frans J. Schuurman, ed., Beyond the Impasse: New Directions in Development Theory (London: Zed Books, 1993).
[28] See Ella Shohat, Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1989); Arnmiel Alcalay, After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993); Darius M. Rejali, Torture and Modernity: Self, Society and State in Modern Iran (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1994).
[29] For an exception see Tim Mitchell, “America’s Egypt: Discourse of the Development Industry,” Middle East Report 169 (1991).
[30] A MESA survey of faculty in the US indicated that an estimated 27 percent of the Middle East positions at private colleges and universities and 36 percent at public institutions would not be refilled. The most insecure disciplines for specialists on the Middle East are economics, where an estimated 80 percent of the current positions would not be refilled with someone who works on the Middle East, and sociology, where the estimate is 68 percent. In anthropology, the survey revealed an estimate of 40 percent definitely not refilled, and 40 percent uncertain. The disciplines most likely to refill Middle East positions are history, political science, languages and literature. Cited in Prospects for Faculty in Middle East Studies: A Report Prepared for the National Council of Area Studies Associations, republished by MESA, 1996.
[31] See McDonnell, Berryman and Scott, Federal Support for International Studies, pp. vivii.
[32] See “Update on the National Security Education Program,” MESA Newsletter (May 1994); and “NSEP Service Requirement Prompts Resolution from MESA’s Board of Directors, MESA Newsletter (February 1996).
[33] See Items [the Social Science Research Council newsletter] (March 1996 and June-September 1996); Itty Abraham and Ronald Kassimir, “Internationalization of the Social Sciences and Humanities,” Items (June-September 1997).
[34] Vicente L. Rafael, “The Cultures of Area Studies in the United States,” Social Text (Winter 1994), p. 95.
[35] Khalidi, “Is There a Future for Middle East Studies?” p. 5.
[36] See Jacob Heilbrunn, “The News from Everywhere: Does Global Thinking Threaten Local Knowledge?” Lingua Franca (May-June 1996); and Cumings, “Boundary Displacement.”
[37] See Roger Owen, “Globalization of Area Studies in America,” al-Hayat, November 18, 1996 and republished in English by the Economic Research Forum (Cairo).
[38] See Benjamin Lee, “Critical Internationalism,” Public Culture 7/3 (Spring 1995).

How to cite this article:

Steve Niva, Lisa Hajjar "(Re)Made in the USA," Middle East Report 205 (Winter 1997).

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