Middle East Studies


As an agenda-driven center with a multi-disciplinary faculty, Middle East Studies organizes several signature initiatives, spearheaded by annual conferences, that sustain ongoing research, programming, and teaching initiatives.

Aga Khan Professorship

The Aga Khan Visiting Professor in Islamic Humanities brings to Brown’s campus leading thinkers in a range of humanities disciplines. Broadly defined, this rotating professorship includes scholars of comparative literature, history, philosophy, religious studies, contemporary art, the humanistic dimensions of anthropology and sociology or the interdisciplinary focus on the values that underpin and sustain civil society. 

Digital Islamic Humanities

The Digital Islamic Humanities Project is a research initiative devoted to supporting data-driven scholarship on the history, literature, and cultures of the Islamic world. Over the past few decades, humanistic inquiry has been problematized and invigorated by technological advances and the emergence of what is referred to as the digital humanities. Across multiple disciplines, from history to literature, religious studies to philosophy, archaeology to music, scholars are tapping the extraordinary power of digital technologies to preserve, curate, analyze, visualize, and reconstruct their research objects. Through the sponsorship of annual gatherings, workshops, symposia, and other kinds of research projects, this initiative aims to support the state of the art in digital scholarship pertaining to Islamic & Middle East Studies. 

Digital Islamic Humanities Website

Palestinian Studies

There is now a critical mass of innovative scholars in the US, Europe, and the Middle East who work on Palestine and the Palestinians. The field has grown quantitatively and qualitatively, with new lines of inquiry pushing in several new directions simultaneously. New Directions in Palestinian Studies aims to shape scholarly works in this field through an annual workshop, an endowed post-doctoral fellowship, and a book series with the University of California Press. The thematically organized workshops bring together emerging and established scholars to take stock of research trends, identify promising new questions and sources, and encourage networking across academic and research institutions.

Engaged Scholarship

“Engaged Scholarship: The Politics and Ethics of Knowledge Production” is a Middle East Studies Initiative that aims is to generate a critical conversation among scholars from across the disciplines and area studies around the question of what it means to put intellectual work in the service of engaged scholarship, broadly defined. 

Engaged Scholarship Website


Through a yearlong series of workshops, seminars, courses, and cultural activities, Displacement and the Making of the Modern World will explore themes that integrate disparate studies of displacement. This Mellon Sawyer Seminar addresses three overarching themes: (1) Histories: Displacement as a global and historically enduring phenomenon; (2) Ecologies: Displacement as an environmental and technological phenomenon; and (3) Subjectivities: Displacement as an affective and discursive phenomenon. A common thread is a focus on displacement as formative of power relations of inclusion and exclusion. The Seminar pushes at the seams of the humanities, social sciences, and the natural and physical sciences by exploring long-term drivers of displacement.