Founded in 2000, the Center for Middle East Studies (CMES) promotes the study of the Middle East, North Africa, and Islam at the University of California, Santa Barbara. CMES has long been a bastion of interdisciplinary scholarship, collectivity, and exchange. The last decade has witnessed a flourishing of CMES faculty and graduate students at UCSB across disciplines (Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences) and methodology (archival, ethnographic, quantitative, qualitative). CMES curates events geared to the campus academic community and broader public, including conferences, film series, musical performances, lectures, and book talks. It supports graduate studies of the Middle East, North Africa, and Islam through funding, conferences, symposia, and workshops.
CMES seeks to present a holistic picture of Middle Eastern, North African, and Islamic lifeworlds. It is a hub for research that is grounded in material conditions and interrogates theoretical questions and stakes. We understand the Middle East and North Africa as a site to produce theory and knowledge. Our commitment to interdisciplinarity comes from our intellectual ambitions. CMES faculty and students have produced award winning scholarship across the disciplines of History, Religious Studies, Anthropology, Film and Media Studies, Global Studies, History of Art and Architecture, Music, Political Science, Communication, and Sociology. STEM faculty are also core to our vision and our Executive Committee.
Sherene Seikaly has been appointed as Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Seikaly is Associate Professor of History and the author of Men of Capital: Scarcity and Economy in Mandate Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2016). Her forthcoming book is titled, From Baltimore to Beirut: On the Question of Palestine. She is co-editor of Journal of Palestine Studies and Jadaliyya.
Heather Badamo has been appointed as Vice-Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Badamo is Assistant Professor of the History of Art & Architecture. Her forthcoming book is titled, St. George in the Eastern Mediterranean: Images of an Interfaith Hero in the Global Middle Ages (Pennsylvania State University Press).
Shiva Balaghi joined the University of California, Santa Barbara in August 2021 as Academic Coordinator of Area Global Initiative, East Asia Center, Latin American and Iberian Studies Program, and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. She is a cultural historian, whose books include Reconstructing Gender in the Middle East (co-edited); Picturing Iran: Art, Society, and Revolution (co-edited); and Saddam Hussein: a Biography.