SISMEC is a consortium of instructors, researchers and students based at The University of Arizona, and dedicated to furthering understanding of conflict in the greater Middle East and Northern Africa through curriculum development, advanced research, diverse partnerships and community outreach.
The Initiative’s external mission is to support and disseminate the most up to date and relevant scholarship on the sources, textures and dynamics of Middle Eastern and North African conflicts to a wide array of audiences through publications, lectures, conferences, electronic databases and involvement in vital, cutting-edge projects supported by the innovative use of technology. Our internal mission is to train scholars and practitioners firmly grounded in the languages and histories of the area as well as all of the tools of the social sciences and humanities, integrated through a unique focus on the articulation of global pressures with local social, political and cultural structures. To this end we develop and offer inter-disciplinary courses on regional conflicts and local manifestations of global issues, complementing The University of Arizona’s wider offerings.
Our ultimate vision is a new architecture of security studies where pedagogy and research consistent with the goals of a public, land grant university support vigorous, self-renewing and most importantly, informed engagement at the global, national and local levels between decision-makers, opinion-makers, and the general public in the ongoing struggle for peace, stability and progress in the 21st century.
Dr. Leila Hudson is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona. A graduate of Yale College (BA) and the University of Michigan’s Anthropology Department (MA) and Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History (PhD), she researches and teaches about culture and political economy in the Arab Mashreq. She is the author of Transforming Damascus: Space and Modernity in an Islamic City (IB Tauris, 2008) and Middle Eastern Humanities: An Introduction to Middle Eastern Cultures (Kendall Hunt, 2010) as well as articles on gender, culture, and power in the Ottoman and contemporary Middle East. She is currently co-editing a volume on Media Evolution in the Middle East and working on a monograph on global and local capital flows in the Arab Middle East.
Academic Advisory Board
Dr. Turki Faisal al-Rasheed is the founder and chairman of Golden Grass Inc., one of the top 100 businesses in Saudi Arabia. He is also founder and director of Al-Ulama Management and Consultancy Services, the Saudi Voters Center, and the Turki Faisal International Corporation (TFIC). He also serves on the board for Saudi Arabia’s National Agriculture Development Company (NADEC) and is a member of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce’s Agricultural Committee.
Dr. al-Rasheed is frequently called upon as a sustainable agricultural development expert, and is the author of five books, including most-recently Post Arab Spring: The Manual Labor of Democratic Change–as well as numerous articles in Arabic and English exploring national security, sustainable agriculture, food/ water scarcity and security, sustainable development, political economy, and self-improvement.
Dr. al-Rasheed was honored as the 2013 University of Arizona Outstanding Alumnus, and currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at the UA Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.
David Dunford retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 1995 following completion of his assignment as Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman. He served from 1988-92 in Saudi Arabia as Deputy Ambassador, including 15 months as Acting Ambassador. His other Foreign Service assignments included Director of Egyptian Affairs in the Department of State in Washington, DC, Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs at the American Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative in the Executive Office of the President.
Ambassador Dunford is an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Arizona where he teaches courses on the Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Middle East Business Environment. He was an Adjunct Professor at the Thunderbird School of Global Management from 1998- 2000. He is on the Governing Board of the University of Arizona’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He is a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow with visits to small colleges and universities throughout the U.S. Over the past six years he has traveled to Korea, Germany and to various military bases in the U.S. to assist in the training of U.S. forces being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. During 1997-8, Ambassador Dunford was Coordinator of the Transition Team for the establishment of the Bank for Economic Cooperation and Development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENABANK). The Team offices were located in Cairo. From April to June of 2003, he worked for the Organization of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, and later the Coalition Provisional Authority, in Baghdad as Senior Ministerial Liaison to Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Brigadier General (U.S. Army-retired) John Adams retired from the U.S. Army in 2007 after more than 30 years of active duty service worldwide as an Army Aviator, Military Intelligence Officer, and Foreign Area officer. Currently president of Guardian Six Consulting, he is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science in the School of Government and Public Policy at the U.A. He served in Iraq on temporary duty in February 2004, while assigned as Deputy G-2 for Headquarters Department of the Army. Adams’ final military assignment was as Deputy U.S. Military Representative to the NATO Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium.
Dr. Aomar Boum is an assistant professor in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies and Religious Studies Program at the University of Arizona; he also holds a courtesy appointment with The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies. He is also a regular contributor to The North Africa Post and serves as a co-editor for H-Maghrib. Dr. Boum’s research focus and interests include Moroccan history and historiography, ethnic and religious minorities in Africa and the Middle East, Islamic movements, Moroccan politics, Islam, urbanization, traditional Islamic and modern education, Arab media, internet, youth movements, migration, folkdances and water politics and issues; his primary research explores how different generations of Moroccan Muslims remember, picture and construct Moroccan Jews, Jewishness and Judaism. Dr. Boum has published a number of articles on the history and historiography of the Jewish communities of southern Morocco, Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue, representation of Jews in Moroccan museums, Jewish migration in the context of Arab nationalism and Zionism, and the Alliance Israélite Universelle in rural Morocccan communities.
Dr. Faten Ghosen received her BA and MA from the American University of Beirut, and her Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. Her research focuses on the interaction of adversaries, be they conflictual or cooperative. A common theme running throughout her professional interests is the importance of the choice of strategy that is picked by the adversaries to manage their conflicts. Her main areas of interest include: conflict, conflict management, negotiations, as well as Middle East politics. Her publications include “Getting to the Table and Getting to Yes: An Analysis of International Negotiations,” in International Studies Quarterly; “Israel and Lebanon: A Precarious Relationship,” in The Middle East-Peace by Piece: The Quest for a Solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict, edited by Hassan Barari. “The MID 3 Data Set, 1993-2001: Procedures, Coding Rules, and Description,” in Conflict Management and Peace Science; and “Negotiations, Guns and Money: Do Constrained Leaders Do Better?” in Causes and Consequences of International Conflict: Data, Methods and Theory edited by Glenn Palmer.
Dr. Maha Nassar is an historian of the modern Middle East, with a focus on the twentieth- century Arab world. Her research explores intellectual constructs of ethnicity, culture and national identity in the Arab Middle East, analyzing how writers in the 1950s and 1960s utilized mass media, especially newspapers and literary journals, to challenge the dominant narratives of the nation-state. Her dissertation, “Affirmation and Resistance: Press, Poetry and the Formation of National Identity among Palestinian Citizens of Israel, 1948-1967,” is the first systematic study of the Palestinian-Israeli popular press and its seminal role in creating an emerging sense of nationhood among Palestinian citizens of Israel. It also explores the social, cultural and political connections between Palestinians in Israel and the broader Arab world, despite their political and geographic isolation. She has conducted fieldwork in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel/Palestine, and she is currently working on a book about the cultural history of Palestinians in Israel. Dr. Nassar is an assistant professor in the UA Department of Middle East and North Africa Studies.
Professor of Practice Maggy Zanger focuses on Middle East journalism and is an affiliated faculty member of the UA Center for Middle Eastern Studies. She is Project Director of the School of Journalism’s partnership with Nangarhar University in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, a three-year effort to develop a journalism department at the Afghan university. Zanger has developed several new journalism classes, including Media Coverage of International Crises, International Opinion Writing and Reporting the Middle East, the first two cross-listed with MENAS. She has organized study abroad programs in Egypt, and in Dubai and Oman. Her current research centers on Iraqi reporters’ access to information and working conditions. She was the Iraq country director of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in Iraq for nearly two years, starting centers in Baghdad and Sulaimani to train Iraqi journalists to work for independent news media. Zanger previously was a faculty member at the American University in Cairo, for nearly four years and the coordinator of the publications program of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.