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Welcome to the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC). The department was founded half a century ago, making it one of the oldest such departments in the nation. Its founding father was Professor Wadie Elias Jwaideh, a native of Iraq and an expert on the modern history of the Kurds who joined the faculty of IU in 1960. He served as chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures with exemplary dedication for over two decades, building a department with strengths in Arabic language and linguistics, Hebrew and Jewish studies, and Middle Eastern and Islamic history, culture, and religions. We are thus justifiably proud of belonging to one of the oldest and most venerable departments of its kind in the nation.

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Professor Stephen Katz, Departmental Chair


Weekly Announcements

Please check out our weekly announcements here!

Good news from NELC alumna, Ms. Lingxin Zhang

Indiana University Egyptology alumna Lingxin Zhang (MA 2014), who is now a Ph.D. candidate in Egyptology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, received the award for "Best Student Paper" at the annual conference of the American Research Center in Egypt in Tucson, Arizona, on Saturday, April 21. Lingxin spoke on an ancient Egyptian astrological papyrus which she is currently studying for her Ph.D. dissertation. The text, which is written in a very difficult cursive script called "Demotic," contains predictions on whether a woman is liable to give birth to a son, based on when she herself had been born.
Lingxin is originally from Chengdu, China. She began working on her MA in Egyptology at IU in 2012. She wrote her MA thesis on Contextualizing the Antinoeion at Hadrian's Villa, a study of Egyptian-style statues at the villa of the Roman Emperor Hadrian at Tivoli (near Rome).

IU Jewish Studies Hebrew Program in Saudi Arabia

Dr. Mohammad Alghbban, who is a NELC former graduate and now a professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, recently debunked a strange post in Saudi social media and provided an accurate translation of the anthem. Dr. Alghbban started teaching Hebrew literature and translation in Saudi after he completed his doctorate at IU in 2011, he has been working diligently on developing his Hebrew program, in order to further improve the Israeli-Saudi reapprochement in Saudi Arabia. The news can be found in the link below.
Teaching Hebrew in Saudi Arabia.

16th Annual Victor Danner Lecture

We are excited to announce the 2018 Annual Victor Danner Memorial Lecture will be held at 6:30pm, Thursday, April 12th at the Federal Room, IMU. The lecture will be given by Professor Roy Mottahedeh, Harvard University. Topic of the lecture----Medieval Kashan: Crossroads of Commerce and Culture:
The medieval Iranian city of Kashan had an international reputation for its artisanal traditions, in particular, the manufacture of luxury ceramics. Its strong educational institutions produced a significant number of talented officials for the Seljuq and later administrations and some of the most important mathematicians and astronomers of the medieval period. It was a center of Shi'ism and Shi'ite learning almost continuously through its history. For flyer and updates of the lecture please visit our Facebook site
NELC Facebook.

NELC recent MA graduates, Ms. Hilo Sugita, has just been awarded the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools Distinguished Master's Thesis award, in the humanities category

This is quite an honor and achievement, as she was up against nominees from dozens of Midwestern universities. Hilo's thesis was awarded the Indiana University Graduate School Distinguished MA thesis award earlier this year. The award ceremony will be Wednesday, April 4, at the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools annual conference in Grand Rapids, MI. Ms. Sugita earned her MA in Egyptology here in 2016 and she's now a Ph.D. student in Egyptology at Harvard. For her MA thesis here at IU, she did a study of an ancient Egyptian coffin lid here in the Eskenazi Museum; she worked on the history of the object, she deciphered all of the inscriptions, and she also made a three-dimensional digital model of it. Well done Hilo! You did IU proud!

Professor Asaad Alsaleh joined the Hoover Institution Library and Archives at Stanford University for the 2018 winter workshop

The workshop was from January 21 to 31, 2018, with the topic on Authoritarianism and Democratic Breakdown.

Democratic breakdown has not been as amply studied as democratization. How and why do democracies fail? What facilitates the onset of authoritarianism? What role, for example, is played by propaganda and information warfare, populist politics or economics, internal subversion of institutions, the nature of the international system? The workshop's goal is to provide researchers on these subjects time in the unique and fast-growing holdings of the Hoover Archives as well as a group forum for exchange of views.

New Funding Opportunities from the Borns Jewish Studies Program

Jewish Studies Program is excited to announce funding opportunities for graduate students for 2018-2019 academic year. The applications' deadlines are listed in the links below.
Jewish Studies 2018-2019 graduate fellowships.
Graduate Students Grants-in-Aid of Research for 2018-2019.
Conference Funding for 2018-2019.

Professor Asma Afsaruddin prompts students to interrogate assumptions about the Islamic world

NELC's Professor Asma Afsaruddin spoke with Yael Ksander about her popular courses, "Islam and Modernity" and "Islamic Feminisms." These courses are designed to challenge students' preconceptions and help her students appreciate the diversity of the Muslim World. These courses will be offered again in 2018-19. Please see the link below for the full article from SGIS.
Asma Afsaruddin prompts students to interrogate assumptions about the Islamic World.

NELC Former Student Awarded 2017 Distinguished Master's Thesis Awards

Hilo Sugita, who earned her MA in Egyptology in NELC in September 2016, has been awarded one of the Indiana University Graudate School's two Distinguished Master's Thesis Awards for 2017, for her thesis "Uncovering the Dead: An Extensive Study of the Late Period Coffin Lid of Qnw-pw-s at the Eskenazi Museum of Art--Indiana University". Hilo is now a Ph.D. student in Egyptology at Harvard University.

16th Annual Wadie Jwaideh Memorial Lecture

We are excited to announce that the 16th Annual Wadie Jwaideh Memorial Lecture will be held on Thursday October 26, 2017 at 7:30 PM in the IMU President's Room. The lecture, "The British and the Turks: Enemies in the Guise of Friends" will be presented by Dr. Justin McCarthy (Professor of History, University of Louisville).

Professor McCarthy's lecture, "The British and the Turks: Enemis in the Guise of Friends" will address manner in which the British and the Ottomans were often been portrayed as friends, until the Ottomans joined the Germans in World War I. In reality, the British were second only to the Russians in animosity to the Ottoman Empire. They repeatedly broke promises to defend the Ottomans, and did much to aid the Ottomans' enemies. Domestic groups that fueled anti-Ottoman feeling and a continuing prejudice against Turks and Muslims had more effect on British diplomacy than did any considerations of great power politics. Politicians felt the need for popular support. They therefore withheld from both Parliament and the public evidence that would have cast doubt on their anti-Ottoman policies. In no sense were the British friends of the Ottomans.

Professor Walbridge welcomes retired General David Patraeus into the Classroom

NELC's Professor John Walbridge and Col. Richard Welch welcomed retired General David Patraeus on Monday to speak to Walbridge's COLL-C 104, War in the Middle East class. Please see the link below for the full article in the IDS.
Petraeus skypes in to visit and talk with IU students.

15th Annual Victor Danner Lecture

We would like to thank everyone who came out to our annual Victor Danner Lecture. The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures welcomed Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl (UCLA Law) as the 15th Annual Victor Danner Memorial Lecturer. The lecture was held on Friday April 14, 2017 at 7:30 PM in the President's Room in the IMU University Club.
Professor El Fadl's lecture, "Shari'ah Law: Reasoning with God and the Challenge of the Unreasonable," built upon his latest book, "Reasoning with God: Reclaiming Shari'ah in the Modern Age," and continues the exploration of the role of authority, reason and reasonableness, and Shari'ah." For images and the video of the lecture please visit our Facebook site
NELC Facebook.

15th Annual Wadie Jwaideh Memorial Lecture

We thank everyone who came out to our Annual Jwaideh Lecture!
The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures welcomed Professor Malika Zeghal (Harvard University) as the 15th Annual Wadie Jwaideh Memorial Lecturer. The lecture was held Thursday November 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm in the Federal Room in the IMU.

ProfessorZeghal's lecture, “The Absent Secularists: Islam in the 2014 Tunisian Constitution,” addressed a number of issues surrounding the drafting of the constitution between 2012 and 2014 including Tunisians' debates on how they could continue to have a state "whose religion is Islam" while shaping a democracy for the first time in their history. Malika Zeghal examined how they constitutionalized these two imperatives without introducing Sharia Law in the 2014 Constitution.

Professor Asma Afsaruddin's Newest Publication!

SGIS in the Media has published a piece on Professor Asma Afsaruddin and her new book, Contemporary Issues in Islam, published last fall. Click here to read more.

Amazing News: NELC Awarded Arabic Language Flagship!

In January 2016, the National Security Education Program (NSEP) at the U.S. Department of Defense awarded the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at IU its first Arabic-language flagship program. "It's a great honor for NELC and IU to get the Arabic flagship," states Professor Salman Al-Ani, one of the writers of the flagship proposal.

For further information, check out this article from the IUB Newsroom.

NELC Ph.D. Student Yasin Ramazan Awarded the Louise McNutt Dissertation Fellowship!

The Louise McNutt Fellowship was established through the estate of Louise McNutt to support graduate fellowships in the College of Arts and Sciences in the humanities.

On receiving the award, Ramazan states, "This scholarship shows me something: all those years of learning have been recognized by the academic community. In my case, as a philosophy of religion student, I needed to seek common themes and discussions among medieval Muslim, Jew, Christian philosophers as well as early modern ones to connect them to contemporary problems of philosophy of religion. When I was notified for the Award, I realized that my efforts for seeking an original contribution to the field have come to fruition."

We have moved! We are no longer in Goodbody Hall, our home of many years. Our office is in the east wing of the brand new Global and International Studies Building, office space 3050: take the elevator to the third floor, and we are on the right.

Our beautiful new home!

The NELC office is settled into our new spaces at the Global and International Studies Building. We are thankful to our faculty and students for providing the office with wonderful decorative pieces from all over the Middle East. Come vist us and say "Marhaba"!

Check out our classes for Spring 2017

You can look at our schedule of classes here.


NELC is excited to spotlight students Basem Al-Raba'a, Seyed Asghari, Michael Bevers, and Zhaoya Colley who have all accomplished a very great deal this semester. We wish them and all of our students a safe and happy summer, and a hearty congratulations to those who have graduated!

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Student Accomplishments

Doctoral candidate Bandar Alghmaiz recently received second place at the Indiana University Three Minute Thesis competition. Bandar was selected with 19 other doctoral students from different schools and departments and we are happy that he represented NELC with this award.

Undergraduate student Tyler Russell has been awarded the Kate Hevner Mueller Senior Recognition Award.

Graduate student Benjamin Priest has been awarded an FLAS from the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center to continue his Turkish studies.

Graduate student Jermaine Butler has been awarded a CLS to study Persian in Tajikistan for Summer 2016.

Congratulations to our very successful NELC students!

Upcoming Events

After a year full of wonderful events, the 2018-2019 year has been completed!

Read the Spring 2019 NELC Newsletter

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