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Katherine Fleming, provost and Alexander S. Onassis Professor of Hellenic Culture and Civilization at New York University, gave the keynote address at the conference, "The Middle East, the Academy, and the Production of Knowledge" on Nov. 12, 2017. Introduction by Lauren Monroe, associate professor, Department of Near Eastern Studies; and Michael I. Kotlikoff, provost and professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences. The event was organized by the Middle East Working Group (MEWG) of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.

Since Edward Said's seminal study Orientalism almost forty years ago, scholars have been aware that the Middle East is not just a site for study, but one invested with multiple meanings on the politics and pitfalls of how to study a place, generally. Situated at a crossroads of geographies, religions, and histories, the Middle East is contested terrain in every sense, and on a daily basis.

This conference brought together a group of scholars from within and outside the United States, who looked at this trope across a range of disciplines. Through this gathering of expertise and perspectives, they interrogated some of the ways that knowledge about the Middle East is produced, and shed critical light on that knowledge. What does the Middle East mean in the modern academy? Who produces this knowledge, and toward what ends? Participants looked at these formulations and others over the course of a stimulating - and provocative- day of collective discourse.

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