By Joseph Croitoru for QANTARA.DE on FEBRUEARY 21, 2013

A group of Israeli historians and archaeologists is calling for a radical rethink in the way the region’s past is viewed. They want a stronger focus on Palestine’s Islamic eras, which have in the past been neglected in favour of its Jewish history.

Something sensational is happening in the field of archaeology in Israel. For the first time ever, researchers of history and ancient history in Israel are focussing their attention on East Jerusalem’s former Moroccan (or Mughrabi) Quarter, which was intentionally destroyed by the Israelis in 1967 in order to create more space around the Western Wall. Continue reading


The continuing violence in Mali highlights one of the vital challenges facing humanity: the perpetual wars over property acquisition, corporation creeds—the Curse of Jefferson and its radical adversaries from the religious extremists. Both are a clear hindrance to the human potential to break away from perpetual war, and live up to the goodness in all humanity—the spirit of Timbuktu. Challenging the ethical roots of these institutionalized creeds and religious violence is crucial if the current culture of human ‘expendability’ is to be reversed, and the art of life and peace is to be cherished and cultivated. Continue reading

by Rabia Gregory for  MODERN MEDIEVAL on FEBRUARY 10, 2013

Last month, as French ground forces moved into Mali at the request of Mali’s interim President, horrified whispers spread across the internet: Timbuktu’s manuscripts were in peril. On January 28, the French army moved to recapture Timbuktu amidst rumors that a retreating militia, perhaps the Salafist group Ansar Deine, had torched the Ahmad Baba Library. Later reports revealed that Ansar Deine had protected the Ahmad Baba Library, that the majority of manuscripts had been kept safe by African curators and local citizens, and that rumors of fire were stoked by a Sky News reporter embedded with the French army and confirmed by Hallè Ousmane, Timbuktu’s mayor, exiled 800 km away in Bamako.

As images of scorched manuscripts on the tiled floors of the Ahmad Baba library began circulating, medievalists voiced a visceral outrage: to us, more than anyone, the destruction of books is an unfathomable act of barbarism.When fighting in Aleppo set the medieval souks aflame, threatened the Crac des Chevaliers, and endangered Palmyra and Old Damascus, and imperiled the manuscripts of Timbuktu, my friends and colleagues turned to Facebook and blogs to lament that they could never understand how anyone could so callously destroy their own cultural heritage. As if destroying manuscripts marked humans as dangerously different, or subhuman. As if our own armies had not destroyed vast collections of unique manuscript in Hamburg, Dresden, Baghdad, Mosul, Sarajevo, and elsewhere.

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2013 U.S. Faculty Development Seminar on Palestine
May 16-27, 2013 in Jerusalem and the West Bank

*Applications due January 25, 2013
Awards announced March 15, 2013

The Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) announces its fourth Faculty Development Seminar on Palestine. This 12-day seminar is for U.S. faculty members with a demonstrated interest in, but little travel experience to, Palestine.

PARC will select 10 to 12 U.S. faculty members to participate in Jerusalem-based activities that will include lectures, workshops, and visits to local universities and other related institutions in the West Bank.

Through these activities, participants will learn about the region, deepen their knowledge of their particular fields of interest as they relate to Palestine, and build relationships with Palestinian academic colleagues. Continue reading


International Journal of Middle East Studies (IJMES) Special Issue
World War I in the Middle East and North Africa

Guest editor Mustafa Aksakal with IJMES editors Beth Baron and Sara Pursley

While World War I is generally understood as a watershed in the history of the Middle East and North Africa, the war as experienced by MENA societies remains underexplored. The war took the lives of at least five million people, mostly civilians, across the region, and it is clear that the mayhem and suffering it unleashed changed the area profoundly. As the centennial of the war approaches, an in-depth look at the material and environmental devastation it caused and at civilian life during the
war years is warranted. Continue reading