In the air

I’m heading out for three weeks of travel tomorrow. I’m not one of those people who blogs from internet cafes, so this site will slow down until mid-April.

This is some of what I’ll be up to during my travels:

:: I’m participating in the 30th anniversary symposium of Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. (Yes, you read that correctly.) The theme of the symposium: “Arab Studies: A Critical Review.” Here are the schedules for the first and second days. I’ve been included in a panel entitled “Arab Studies in the Cross-hairs.” (“This panel is dedicated to the current debates, critiques and attacks on Arab studies. It will consider the purposes, accomplishments, and shortcomings of Arab studies as a field of study.”) I commend the organizers for extending this interesting invitation to me. I hope to learn much and generate a few sparks.

:: I’ll also be participating in the inaugural conference of the new Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. The center is envisioned as an alternative to the usual run of Middle East centers. It’s directed by a friend and former colleague, Shai Feldman, who’s just assumed his duties. I’ll be speaking at the opening panel, on “Middle Eastern Studies in the U.S.: What is the Debate About?” (Joining me on that panel: Steven Caton, director of the Middle East center at Harvard, and Malik Mufti, director of the program at Tufts.) Here’s the full program (pdf). I have great hopes for the Brandeis initiative.

:: Finally, I’ll be off to Doha, Qatar, to participate in the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, a joint project of the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution and the state of Qatar. (I attended last year as well.) This is a see-and-be-seen event, this year featuring Henry Kissinger, Joschka Fischer, Charlie Rose, and Samuel Huntington, and Arab luminaries such as Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abuol Gheit, activist Tariq Ramadan, and Al-Jazeera host Faisal al-Qasim. Participants also get a warm greeting from the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad. Fun and educational.

I can’t promise to make any postings on any of this before I return home in mid-April. But my impressions of all these gatherings will eventually find their place right here. Check back.