Middle East Studies Association of North America

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Middle East Studies Association of North America
Typelearned society
Dina Rizk Khoury[1]

Middle East Studies Association (often referred to as MESA) is a learned society, and according to its website, "a non-profit association that fosters the study of the Middle East, promotes high standards of scholarship and teaching, and encourages public understanding of the region and its peoples through programs, publications and services that enhance education, further intellectual exchange, recognize professional distinction, and defend academic freedom."[2]


MESA was founded in 1966 with 51 original members.[3] Its current membership exceeds 2,700 and it "serves as an umbrella organization for more than fifty institutional members and thirty-six affiliated organizations".[4] It is a constituent society of the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Council of Area Studies Associations, and a member of the National Humanities Alliance.[5]

Regions of interest to MESA members include Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Israel, Pakistan, and the countries of the Arab world from the seventh century to modern times. Spain, Southeastern Europe, the Soviet Union and other regions also are included for the periods in which their territories were part of the Middle Eastern empires or were under the influence of Middle Eastern civilization. Historians comprise the largest group of disciplinary specialists in MESA followed by political science/international relations, anthropology, and language and literature.


The current president is Dina Rizk Khoury, George Washington University.[6]


The International Journal of Middle East Studies (IJMES) is a quarterly journal published by Cambridge University Press under the auspices of MESA. The editor is Joel Gordon of University of Arkansas.[7][8]

The Review of Middle East Studies (RoMES) is MESA’s journal of review. MESA policy has established the focus of RoMES as the state of the craft in all fields of Middle East studies. The Editor is Heather Ferguson and the journal is based at Claremont McKenna College.[9]

MESA has a very active Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) that has two wings: CAFMENA (Middle East and North Africa, established in 1990) and CAFNA (North America, established in 2005). Through CAF, MESA monitors infringements on academic freedom on the Middle East and North Africa worldwide.[10]

Each year CAF nominates candidates for MESA’s Academic Freedom Award. The winners are confirmed by the Board of Directors.


In 2007 Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami started Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa as a rival to MESA, as they saw MESA as "dominated by academics who have been critical of Israel and of America's role in the Middle East."[11][12]


Albert Hourani Book Award

Since 1991 MESA has awarded the Albert Hourani Book Award to recognize "the very best in Middle East studies scholarship". The prize is named after Albert Hourani, "to recognize his long and distinguished career as teacher and mentor".[13]

Malcolm Kerr Award

The MESA Dissertation Awards were established in 1982 to recognize exceptional achievement in research and writing for/of dissertations in Middle East studies. In 1984 the award was named for Malcolm H. Kerr to honor his significant contributions to Middle East studies. Awards are given in two categories: Social Sciences and Humanities.

MESA Mentoring Award

Since 1996 the MESA Mentoring Award has recognized exceptional contributions retired faculty have made to the education and training of others.

Jere L. Bacharach Service Award

Since 1997 Jere L. Bacharach Service Award has recognized the contributions of individuals through their outstanding service to MESA or the profession. Service is defined broadly to include work in diverse areas, including but not limited to outreach, librarianship, and film.

List of Recipients
Year Recipient Institution
1997 Ellen-Fairbanks D. Bodman

I. William Zartman

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Johns Hopkins University

1998 Richard L. Chambers University of Chicago
1999 George N. Atiyeh Library of Congress
2000 Louisa Moffitt Marist School
2001 Elizabeth W. Fernea University of Texas at Austin
2002 Jeanne Jeffers Mrad Center for Maghrib Studies in Tunisia
2004 Jere L. Bacharach University of Washington
2005 Ernest N. McCarus University of Michigan
2006 Howard A. Reed University of Connecticut
2008 Fred McGraw Donner University of Chicago
2009 Mary Ellen Lane Council of American Overseas Research Centers
2010 McGuire Gibson University of Chicago
2011 Bruce Craig

Michael C. Hudson

University of Chicago

National University of Singapore

2012 Erika H. Gilson Princeton University
2014 Günter Meyer University of Mainz
2015 Virginia H. Aksan McMaster University

Former presidents[edit]

The following persons have been presidents of the association:[14]


  1. ^ "MESA Board of Directors". Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  2. ^ "Middle East Studies Association". Retrieved 2014-12-02.
  3. ^ Anne Betteridge, ACLS Occasional Paper 28, 1993 http://archives.acls.org/op/op28betteridge.htm
  4. ^ https://mesana.org/about
  5. ^ https://www.nhalliance.org/members
  6. ^ "MESA Board of Directors". Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  7. ^ "IJMES CUP". Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  8. ^ "IJMES UARK". Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  9. ^ "RoMES CUP". Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  10. ^ "Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF)". arizona.edu. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  11. ^ Group Formed To Improve Middle East Scholarship, Annie Karni, New York Sun, November 8, 2007
  12. ^ The Electronic Intifada, 20 November 2007: New Middle East scholars group seen as close to White House Retrieved 2012-09-22
  13. ^ Albert Hourani Book Award
  14. ^ Previous Boards

External links[edit]