I spoke with Dr. Alam Payind on Wednesday, July 21 at 10:00am Eastern Daylight Time to discuss the current troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, Taliban rule is taking hold and women’s rights, minority rights are already under threat. Thousands are fleeing the country due to Taliban brutality. The Taliban promises to bring shar’ia law, to stop drugs, and their propagandistic claims of being the “winner” in the fight against foreign occupation are effective in many areas who are accepting their leadership. Dr. Payind explained this as a case of “the drowning person grasping at foam,” a Persian saying. In Afghanistan, the past appears only to repeat itself. So many invaders have come “failing to leave a workable central government,” in Dr. Payind’s words. The closest Afghanistan came to doing this was the era of Zahir Shah, who was the king of Afghanistan from 1933 to 1973. Dr. Payind referred to this time as a “Golden Age.” We went into the history of the current situation going back to the Cold War era and the perennial issue of foreign invaders empower certain groups over others, whether in Afghanistan or other parts of the Middle East and the world.
Dr. Payind teaches International Studies 2241, “Introduction to the Modern Middle East,” and International Studies/NELC 5645, “Contemporary Issues in the Middle East.”
Professor Lesley Ferris joined us on July 7th. Distinguished Arts and Humanities Professor of Theatre Emerita, Department of Theatre, Film and Media Arts, director of the On the Front Lines project, Dr. Ferris discussed her international theatre work and highlighted her research on women in theatre. Lesley Ferris co-founded Palindrome Productions, a London based theatre company that simultaneously stages her work in Britain. A truly international scholar, she has brought the voices and creative works of authors from the Middle East to Ohio State University. During her time at OSU, she established international theatre courses into the curriculum, created a study abroad course in London, oversaw countless play commissions and theatre productions featuring international artists, and a school tour bringing theatre to local schools. Her legacy continues to make an impact on OSU students and local elementary, middle and high school students through the school tour program (so far, 250,000 served). Most recently OSU Libraries established the Lesley Ferris Collection on Women Playwrights.
Join us on July 7th at 10:00 Eastern Daylight Savings Time on our Facebook livestream. Lesley Ferris, Distinguished Arts and Humanities Professor of Theatre Emerita, Department of Theatre, Film and Media Arts, director of the On the Front Lines project, will discuss her international theatre work and research on women in Theatre. Lesley Ferris co-founded Palindrome Productions, a London based theatre company that simultaneously stages her work in Britain. A truly international scholar, she has facilitated authentic cultural engagements with Britain, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and many more since becoming a professor at Ohio State University. On the Front Lines marked a turning point in the evolution of theater and cross-cultural learning at The Ohio State University (OSU). The project’s purpose of bringing the voices, lived experiences and cultural contexts of Afghan women to our campus and the world through theater was met with immense interest and enthusiasm. Ohio State hosted six events in the fall of 2019 , including the performance of two plays commissioned for the project. Dr. Ferris will share her current work related to the project and other projects which foreground playwrights, theatre professionals, and authors from the Middle East and around the world.
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What can film teach us about Israeli society and its diversity? How does it position different cultural communities within Israel and the global context? We delve into these questions with Professor Naomi Brenner for a fascinating discussion. The evolution of demographics in Israel/Palestine from the late 19th century until today has a fascinating story within the realm of film and other media. Israeli film, in particular, shows the impact of immigration on Israeli society. One million people emigrated from the Soviet Union in the 1990s for example, and among Israel’s Jewish population fully half claim origins in Muslim majority countries. Films about Israel were historically made from a Jewish Israeli standpoint but films made by both Palestinian and Jewish directors became increasingly more common in the 20th century. Representations of Palestinians in those films were diverse, made by Jewish Israelis, Palestinians, and Palestinian citizens of Israel. Israeli films by directors from a variety of ethnic backgrounds are now being produced, and students in her classes discuss the issues related to identity and whether or not it matters if a director comes from the same ethnic background as the ethnic community he or she is portraying. Dr. Brenner makes a number of film recommendations. Please check the whole podcast out to hear them.
What can film teach us about Israeli society and its diversity? How does it position different cultural communities within Israel and the global context? We will delve into these questions with Professor Naomi Brenner for what will be a fascinating discussion, and learn more about her work as Professor of Hebrew at Ohio State University. Join us on Wednesday, June 16th at 10am EDT on Facebook.com/mesc.osu for a live stream of our conversation. Or catch it later on our podcast.
Dr. Alam Payind, Director of the Middle East Studies Center, discusses the implications of the Biden administration’s intention to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The consequences of U.S. troops withdrawing from Afghanistan could be serious, especially with regard to women and minorities. Comparisons between Afghanistan today, and the situation after the Soviet troop withdrawal in 1989 put the country’s status as a state (or failed state) into historical perspective.
The Middle East has seen a dramatic shift in marriage patterns over the past 20-25 years. Professor John Casterline, director of OSU’s Institute for Population Research, and the Robert T. Lazarus Professor in Population Studies, Department of Sociology, tells us about marriage ages getting older and more people choosing not to marry, among many other fascinating details about marriage and childbirth in the Middle East. He also gives a global perspective on those topics especially with regard to the global decline in childbirth. These “facts on the ground” elicit fascinating questions about family and everyday life in the Middle East, while also shedding light on some major differences between countries of the region. We touch upon recent history in terms of jobs, migration, flow of ideas across borders, the role of extended family, and much more that might surprise you.
Professor John Casterline will talk about how the Middle East stands out, from a global perspective, in terms of demographic dynamics and various family outcomes (marriage, childbearing). In recent decades the Middle East has followed different demographic paths than other regions, and Professor Casterline has conducted research on this phenomenon. He is Director of OSU’s Institute for Population Research.
On Wednesday, May 12th we spoke with Professor Jane Hathaway about the Ottoman origins of the modern Middle East. We explored the social, cultural, and economic processes that helped form what is now known as the Middle East in all its richness and diversity. Dr. Hathaway addressed some of the prominent historical narratives, such as the idea of steady decline. Such narratives aren’t helpful in explaining historical challenges faced by the Ottoman empire. Dr. Hathaway discussed these challenges in terms of crises and adaptations that occurred.
Join us next Wednesday, May 12th at 10:00 am ET on our Facebook site. We will be speaking with Professor Jane Hathaway about the Ottoman origins of the modern Middle East. We might touch on several topics, including political developments, and the social, cultural, and economic processes that helped form what is now known as the Middle East. Dr. Hathaway will deconstruct a lot of the most common assumptions about the nations, peoples, and communities that make up the modern nation-states of the region and bring out their richness and diversity. She will also illuminate the complex nature of the historical Ottoman “state.”
Her book Arab Lands Under Ottoman Rule is a comprehensive source on the subject of the Ottoman origins of the Middle East, with an emphasis on the Arabic-speaking communities and territories under Ottoman rule.
Arab Lands Under Ottoman Rule by Professor Jane Hathaway, History Department, Ohio State University