2021-2-3 Afghanistan in Global Context

A great introductory view on the peoples, cultures, languages, religions, and history of Afghanistan. We also discussed the country’s neighbors in some depth with respect to their relationships with Afghanistan and how their cultures and languages overlap. You can of course get more visual information on topics like the meaning of Afghanistan’s flag and the history of its borders if you watch the video (embedded below and available on our Facebook page).  In this hour-long video, you will get a sense of the diversity of the country and why it has been involved in so many global power struggles over the ages.

Ohio State is an amazing place to learn more about Afghanistan. We regularly host public presentations where our faculty address headlines and discuss the history of Afghanistan. Most recently, we commissioned and produced two plays about Afghanistan based on stories written by Afghan women. If you are a student or researcher at Ohio State, you’ll learn about the many resources for studying the country and its people at our university. We offer nearly all of the languages spoken there and have an amazing library collection*, in addition to faculty such as Dr. Payind who are offering related courses.

Listen to “Keys to Understanding the Middle East” on Spreaker.

*Start with this libguide, created by Professor Magda El-Sherbini:

Afghanistan in Global Perspective

Iqbal called Afghanistan “The Heart of Asia” because anything that happens there sends shock waves throughout the entire continent. Since 9/11 Afghanistan is watched warily from around the world, especially with regard to the Taliban and the specter of failed statehood looming. Yet, Afghanistan is loved dearly by its people and seemingly by all who visit there. Join us on February 3rd at 10am as we discuss Afghanistan, its people, and its past and present roles in the world. We will be live on Facebook/mesc.osu – or catch it later as a podcast. You will be able to find the episode here, or nearly anywhere you may listen to podcasts.


picture of men praying in front of a mosque in Afghanistan



Minority Religious Groups in the Middle East

Dr. Alam Payind, Director of the Middle East Studies Center joins us. We discuss Minority Religious Groups in the Middle East, delving into the struggles different religious minorities have faced over the centuries until today. The Middle East is uniquely diverse as a crossroads of civilizations. Religious identity has played an important role in the power dynamics between the many different communities created by the many different traditions, cultures, and languages. Invaders, also, have played a central part in divisions and conflicts between religious communities. At the same time, communities withstand all of these situations and continue to practice their faith, even until today.
Listen to “2021-01-20-Minority Religious Groups in the Middle East with Dr. Alam Payind” on Spreaker.

Minority Religious Groups in the Middle East with Dr. Alam Payind

Join us next Wednesday at 10am ET for  Facebook live stream on the topic of Minority Religious Groups in the Middle East.  We will look at Sunni minorities in countries like Iraq, other minority sects within Islam, as well as religious groups with smaller populations within their countries. This topic relates to a recent webinar we hosted on the Alevi minority in Turkey, with professor Ayfer Karakaya-Stump that you can view on our MESC Outreach Youtube channel.

image of protester with sign showing crescent and cross, Egypt

CC2.0 “The Friday of One Demand” by Al Jazeera English via Flickr

What life was like thousands of years ago in the Arabian Peninsula?


Meet Professor and anthropologist, Dr. Joy McCorriston, and learn about what life was like thousands of years ago in the Arabian Peninsula. Hear about her experiences in #Yemen and #Oman doing #archeology. What can knapped stones, graffiti, animal bones, and more, tell us about how people lived their lives? Dr. McCorriston sheds light on how people made social ties, how groups shared resources, and what technologies people created to get what they needed from their environments. Some of these practices are found throughout the world, not just in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula.

Listen to “2021-01-06-What was life like thousands of years ago in the Arabian Peninsula_” on Spreaker.

Her Books:
World Prehistory & the Anthropocene
Landscape History of Hadramawt
Pilgrimage and Household in the Ancient Near East…
Her archeology in Yemen:
Some of her classes at Ohio State U:
ANTH 2201 Introduction to Archaeology
ANTH 3451 Archaeology of the Ancient Near East
ANTH 3434 Archeology of the Holy Land



Life in the Arabian Peninsula Thousands of Years Ago with Joy McCorriston

Live stream podcast on Wednesday!! Meet Professor and anthropologist, Dr. Joy McCorriston, and learn about what life was like thousands of years ago in the Arabian Peninsula. Hear about her experiences in #Yemen and #Oman doing #archeology.  Catch it live on Facebook at 10am on Wednesday:

image of map of the Middle East

Map of the Middle East. via Picryl, CC0


Podcast: Who Are the Taliban?

We did our first live stream on Facebook today! We will also continue to publishing the podcast via Spreaker and Youtube. “Who Are the Taliban” shed light on the Taliban’s origins, how they differ from the other well-known jihadists, the Mujaheddin, and what a pivotal role Pakistan plays in the region. Check it out!


Listen to “Keys to Understanding the Middle East” on Spreaker.

1st Live Podcast: Who Are the Taliban?

Join us on our Facebook Page on Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 10 am U.S. East Coast Time as we discuss who the Taliban are, how they came to be, and what the current situation with U.S. -Taliban negotiations might portend. Dr. Payind, who is a native of Afghanistan and has been teaching about the region for many years, will offer his insights and share information about the Taliban you won’t find anywhere else. His combination of academic qualifications and life experience uniquely qualifies him to give the cultural, historical, and current social context for recent events. Dr. Payind has seen Afghanistan through many phases: under King Zahir Shah, President Dawud, the ten-year Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the Mujahiddin regime, followed by the Taliban regime, and the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, and subsequent Karzai government. Unlike most political scientists, he has fluency in the languages of the region he studies and literary competence, as well. Dr. Payind served in the Afghan government as the Director General of Cultural and Foreign Relations and was a professor at Kabul University before the Soviet invasion in 1979 forced him to seek refuge in the US. He remains a member of the faculty and offers classes whenever he visits Kabul.





First Podcast: Diversity in Islam

Dr. Payind and I created our first podcast. The topic is “Diversity in Islam.” We discuss the early history of Islam and how it shaped the shared values and practices as well as different legal systems across a wide variety of Muslim communities today. This ties into our chapter on religion in our “Keys to Understanding the Middle East” e-book. We also briefly touch upon the war in Yemen, and diversity in the Middle East in terms of the Shi-i/Sunni divide, and the diversity within Shi’ism. In our next podcast we will delve into Shi’ism. Be sure to check back here or to follow us on Facebook or Twitter!
Listen to “2020-09-18-Diversity in Islam” on Spreaker.