Past Conferences

Our annual conference, the largest and most prestigious UK gathering of scholars focused on the MENA region, has taken place since 1995. We have been fortunate to be hosted by many great institutions, including, in recent years, the universities of Exeter, St Andrews, Leeds, Edinburgh and Dublin, as well as universities in London such as King’s College, LSE and SOAS.

2023: Ecology, Crisis, and Power in the Middle East

Host: University of Exeter


Associate Professor Jessica Barnes, University of South Carolina: Placing the Environment in Middle East Studies: Scale, Stories, and Everyday Life

Professor Sharzhad Mojab, University of Toronto: A Revolutionary Storm Sparked by the Fall of a Butterfly

Conference Theme:

It is widely expected that the Middle East will be one of the areas of the world most impacted by anthropogenic climate change, with predictions of sharp fluctuations in temperature and sea levels, changing precipitation patterns, and increased frequency of extreme weather events. Much analysis of these climactic effects, however, tends to focus on their techno-scientific dimensions, ignoring what they might mean for established patterns of political and economic power in the region. In this context, it is essential to consider how ecological change might intersect with the region’s multiple and interconnected crises, including unprecedented levels of human displacement, food and water scarcity, war and violence, and some of the highest levels of economic inequality and social marginalisation in the world. The ways in which these crises reinforce and overlap with ecological change will shape future dynamics of political, social, and economic power in the region. Similarly, how have actors, both in the private and public sector, been preparing for climate change? What renewable and other technologies have they embraced and what are their implications? Despite some important emerging research on these themes, issues of ecology have not been adequately addressed in Middle East studies. The Middle East is also largely absent in contemporary debates around climate change. This theme is also broad and necessarily interdisciplinary, inviting contributions from across the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences.

Some of the potential questions that could be addressed within this theme, include:  

  • What are the potential implications of climate change on social, political, and economic structures in the region, including the nature of authoritarianism, neoliberalism, securitisation, and the cycles of ‘contentious politics’?
  • What might the intersectionalities of crisis and climate change mean for the most marginalised populations in the region, including women, youth, minorities, and displaced populations?
  • How are social movements in the region confronting, challenging, and contesting the potential implications of climate change? 
  • How are narratives of ‘ecological crisis’ wielded by elites in the region, and what role do ecological demands play in the wider political imaginary?
  • How are global initiatives to address and mitigate the effects of climate change connected to existing economic reform packages promoted by multilateral organisations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund?
  • How is climate change – and the urgent need to end global fossil fuel production – reshaping the region’s place in global capitalism?
  • What are the political, economic, and cultural implications of the ‘energy transition’ in the Middle East? How are we to understand the significant role of major Middle East states – especially in the Gulf – in global renewable energy projects, alongside the on-going expansion of traditional fossil fuel sectors?
  • Given the widespread exclusion of the Middle East in contemporary ecological debates, what can the study of the region bring to our understanding of climate change and campaigns for a ‘just ecological transition’?
  • What does climate change mean for the lives of rural farmers, and the rural-urban relationship?
  • What can contemporary ecological debates around notions such as the ‘Anthropocene’, ‘Fossil Capital’, and the ‘New Green Deal’ contribute to our understanding of the Middle East?
  • What are the implications of climate change for the nature of food regimes in the region? How are states, multilateral organisations, and private corporations intervening in the circulation of food across the region, given the significant impact that climate change is expected to have on the production of food? 
  • What role has environmental change played in earlier periods of Middle East history, including pre-colonial times? 

2022 - Exploring and Contesting the (Re)Production of Coloniality in the Middle East: Borders, Transnationalism, and Resistance

Host: University of St Andrews 


Professor Amira K. Bennison, University of Cambridge: Appropriation, Resistance and the Idea of the Moroccan Centre in the Medieval Maghribi Imaginary

Dr Heba Raouf Ezzat, Ibn Haldun University in Istanbul: Beyond Orders and Borders: The Refiguration of the Urban Spaces of the Middle East

Professor Raymond Hinnebusch, University of St Andrews: From Proxy War to Sanctions War: The Later Phases of the Syrian Conflict

2020/2021 - Knowledge, Power and Middle Eastern Studies

Host: University of Kent


Professor Caroline Rooney, University of Kent
‘The Revolution is a Woman’: From Woke Culture to the Arab Awakening

Dr amina wadud, National Islamic University of Jogjakarta
Islamic Feminism: What’s in a Name?

Professor Pinar Bilgin, Bilkent University
Nowhere to run? Decolonising the study of the Middle East between Area Studies and International Relations

2019 – Joining the Dots: Interdisciplinarity in Middle East Studies

Host: University of Leeds


Professor Mona Harb, American University of Beirut
Crafting Oppositional Politics amidst Urban Governance Ills and Radical Urban Planning Imaginaries: Learning from Beirut

Professor Salman Sayyid, University of Leeds
Post-Disciplinarily and the Challenge of Middle Eastern Studies

2018 New Approaches to Studying the Middle East

Host: King’s College London


Professor Ussama Makdisi,
The Harmony of Coexistence in the Modern Middle East

Professor Lara Deeb
Quiet Constraints on Scholarship: Self-Censorship, Refusal, and Topics We Wish Did Not Exist

Dr Seteney Shami 
Knowledge at Risk: Studying the Middle East in a Disordered World

2017 – Movement and Migration in the Middle East: People and Ideas in Flux

Host: IMES, University of Edinburgh


Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila, University of Edinburgh

Laurie Brand, University of Southern California

2016 – Networks: Connecting the Middle East through Time, Space and Cyberspace

Host: University of Wales Trinity St David


Grahame Davies
The Dragon and the Crescent

2015 – Liberation

Host: London School of Economics, Middle East Centre


Peter Sluglett, Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore 
Tahrir and What We’re Still Waiting For

Shereen El Feki
Liberation in the Bedroom? The Shifting Sexual Landscape of the Arab Region

2014 – The Middle East in Global Perspective: Interactions Across Time and Space

Host: University of Sussex


Professor Marilyn Booth, University of Edinburgh and Professor Mark Sedgwick, University of Aarhus
The Middle East in Global Perspective I

Professor Francis Robinson, University of Oxford and Dr Andrew Arsan, University of Cambridge
The Middle East in Global Perspective II

Professor Asef Bayat, University of Illinois
After the Arab Spring

2013 – Popular Movements in the Middle East and Islamic World

Host: University College, Dublin


Eamon Gilmore, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
Ireland, Europe and the Middle East

2012 – Revolution and Revolt: Understanding the Forms and Causes of Change

Host: London School of Economics, Middle East Centre


Professor Ghassan Salamé, Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA)
Revolution and Revolt: Understanding the Forms and Causes of Change in the Arab World

Rt Hon William Hague MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
International Policy Responses to Change in the Arab World Annual Conference

2011 – The Middle East: Aspirations and Challenges

Host: University of Exeter


Professor Ilan Pappé, University of Exeter
The Expert’s Defining Moment: The Revolutionary Middle East 2011

Professor Paul Starkey, Durham University
The Novellist as Political Guide: Sun’Allah Ibrahim and the Egyptian Revolution (Pearson Memorial Lecture)

2010 – Third World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies in Barcelona

2009 – Frontiers: Space, Separation and Contact in the Middle East

Host: University of Manchester


Professor Dale F. Eickelman, Dartmouth College
Theory of Limits: Transgressing the Boundaries of Traditional Religiosity


Roundtable with the BBC, Al-Jazeera and German State Television (ARD)

Roundtable bringing together academics and analysts from the FCO

2008 – Mapping Middle Eastern and North African Diasporas

Host: University of Leeds


Professor Kim Knott, University of Leeds

Professor Michael W. Suleiman, Kansas State University

2008 (special conference) – What Has the Middle East Done for Us?

Host: SOAS

2007 – EURAMES Conference in Freiburg

2006 – Faith, Politics and Society

Host: University of Birmingham


Professor Jørgen Nielsen

2005 – Renaissance, Representation and Identity

Host: Durham University


Professor Fred Halliday

Professor Robert Hillenbrand

Sir Harold Walker

2004 – Domination, Expression and Liberation in the Middle East

Host: SOAS


Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Former British Ambassador to the United Nations

Roger Owen (also the Annual Lecture)
Biography and Empire: Lord Cromer(1841-1917) Then and Now

Nader Fergany, Director of the Almishkat Centre for Research, Egypt

Robert Malley, Director of the Middle EastProgramme, International Crisis Group

2003 – Education as a Force for Change?

Host: University of Exeter


Tariq Ali
America’s Moment in the Middle East

Jonathan Berkey, Davidson College, North Carolina
Education as a Force for Change: A Medievalist’s Reflection on a Modern Problem

Heads of Departments of Middle East Studies in the UK
Middle East Studies in the UK

2002 – First World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Host: University of Mainz


HRH Prince Hassan Bin Talal
The Inter-religious Dialogue after 9/11

2001 – The View from the Top: State and People in the Middle East and North Africa

Host: University of Edinburgh


Dr Sami Zubaida, Birkbeck, University of London
Citizen and Community in Middle Eastern Politics

2000 – Writing the Middle East

Host: University of Cambridge


Professor Josef Van Ess, University of Tübingen
Political Theory in Early Muslim Theological Thinking

Professor Dimitri Gutas, Yale University
Arabic Philosophy in the 20th Century and Beyond

Lord Hurd, former British Foreign Secretary
Speaker at the conference dinner

1999 – EURAMES conference in Ghent

1998 – Religion and Pluralism

Host: Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham


Professor Mahmoud Ayoub, Temple University, Philadelphia
Qur’anic Bases for Concepts of Religious Pluralism

Professor Keith Ward, Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford
Religious Foundations of Pluralism

Professor Douglas Johnston, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC
Christian Initiatives in the Arena of Communal and Political Reconciliation

Sir Marrack Goulding, formerly of the United Nations, and Warden of St Antony’s College, University of Oxford
Speaker at the conference dinner

1997 – Re-Thinking Islam

Host: University of Oxford


Michael Bonner, University of Michigan and Rudolph Peters, University of Amsterdam
Re-Thinking Islam: Jihad

Derek Fatchett MP, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs responsible for Asia and the Middle East
Speaker at the conference dinner

1996 – EURAMES conference in Aix-en-Provence

1995 – The Middle East and the Environment

Host: Durham University


Dr Mundhir Abdul Salam, UNESCWA

Dr Clive Agnew, University College London

Database of Expertise

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