Middle East Research and Information Project: Critical Coverage of the Middle East Since 1971

Education

From One East to the Other

Although direct encounters between the two extremes of Asia began in the seventh century [1] and the Imperial Treasures contain many items from the Middle East dating back more than a thousand years, systematic study of the Middle East in Japan did not emerge until the “modernization process” of the Meiji period, which began in 1868. [2] The Meiji restoration addressed, among other things, a number of capitulation treaties signed by the late Tokugawa regime with the Western powers. As part of their efforts to minimize Western influence, Meiji officials undertook numerous foreign studies.

No Debate

In 1990, an umbrella organization was created to promote Middle East studies in Europe. The European Association for Middle East Studies (EURAMES) has modest goals and virtually no budget. It has published a directory of Middle East scholars in Europe (with EU funds) and has initiated triennial conferences in cooperation with its member societies. [1] The foundation of EURAMES has encouraged the creation of new national associations in Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Poland. [2]

The Privatization of Russian Middle East Studies

The Institute for Oriental Studies in Moscow, once headed by the current Russian foreign minister, Yevgenii Primakov, [1] used to be the premier research establishment for modem history and Soviet policy making concerning the Arab world, Africa and Asia. Like other state-funded academic institutions, it has not fared well under the Yeltsin budgetary boondoggles and chaotic privatization measures. Salaries are so low that the academic and nonacademic staff spend most of their working hours at other jobs in the private sector. At the end of August 1997, all salaries were arbitrarily suspended for a month.

Bringing the Peninsula In from the Periphery

Research on the political and economic development of the contemporary Arabian Peninsula is often relegated to the fringes of general comparative and Middle Eastern scholarship, isolated from larger theoretical debates and narrowly defined in terms of threat typologies, regional security alliances and the stability of major oil-exporting states. The intellectual marginalization of the Peninsula is the result of a monopoly on access.

Tourists with Agendas

One bizarre aspect about life in Palestine is the scrutiny to which we are subjected by journalists, researchers and political tourists who descend daily. Birzeit University is particularly attractive to researchers who come to “do Palestine.” At first glance, the benefits would seem great: publicity, access to the media and protection against institutional harassment by the Israelis. Indeed, this was important during the intifada, when the university was closed for four and a half years.

Education, Control and Resistance in the Golan Heights

Discussions of the Israeli-occupied territories generally treat the Golan Heights in terms of strategic significance and water resources, seldom in terms of the 16,500 Syrians living under Israeli rule today. [1] While in some ways their experiences are comparable to those of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, in other ways the Golan occupation illustrates a unique formulation of Israel’s neocolonial ambitions in the region.

The National Islamic Front and the Politics of Education

In a country like Sudan, those with access to education become the object of intense competition on the part of political parties of all stripes, especially those with no traditional base of support. Secondary schools and especially universities become the hunting ground — and sometimes the killing ground — for groups whose success on campus represents a shortcut to political hegemony in the country. Whatever the nature of their rhetoric about “the people,” these parties rely on elites, recalling the crucial role that the Graduates Congress played in Sudan’s struggle for independence. Sections of the elite were again instrumental in toppling military regimes in October 1964 and April 1985. [1]

Graham-Brown, Education, Repression and Liberation

Sarah Graham-Brown, Education, Repression and Liberation: Palestinians (London: World University Service, 1984).

“Whenever I hear the word culture,” said an occupying officer during the Spanish conquest of South America, “I pull out my gun.” Foreign invaders are often quick on the trigger, and quick to assert their “superior” culture. Indigenous culture, after all, is a rallying point for popular resistance. What the invaders cannot suppress outright, they try to ignore, belittle, distort and dehumanize.

Memories of a Sentimental Education

I was supposed to set an example. Voluntary Service Overseas was in its second year in 1959 and two of us were here on a pound a week plus keep, to be examples. Nineteen-year-old examples. A year before university, you’ll have a wonderful experience. It was, too.

The students in Form 2A were not what I expected. To start with, half of them were my age or older, one or two were married and had children back in the protectorates, some were even taller than I — six feet, two inches from Eastbourne, Sussex. From Eastbourne Grammar School to Aden College.

From the Editors (March/April 1983)

Most readers are only too familiar with the litany of harassments endured by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, from restrictions on personal freedoms to attacks on institutions and confiscation of land. Nonetheless, for the purposes of building campaigns to support Palestinian rights, and for a dearer understanding of the workings of the occupation, it is worth focusing on particular violations that are significant both for the victims and for that much-evoked phantasm, “world public opinion.”

Cancel