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Centers and Institutes

MENA Centers and Institutes

The University of Oklahoma is home to four centers focusing on the Middle East and North Africa. With different yet complimentary specialities, these centers support research; offer courses, scholarships, and awards; and host a full slate of events both on campus and virtually every year. Their combined efforts create a vibrant, fruitful and collaborative environment for MENA studies at OU.

Iranian American Heritage Month

The Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies and friends celebrate Iranian American Heritage Month at the Norman Public Library, 2020.

African Studies Institute

Executive Committee: 
Kalenda Eaton, Associate Professor, Clara Luper Department of African & African-American Studies
Rita Keresztesi, Associate Professor, Department of English
Natalie Letsa, Wick Cary Assistant Professor of Political Economy, Dept. of International & Area Studies

The African Studies Institute (ASI) at the University of Oklahoma is an emerging, interdisciplinary center dedicated to research and the study of Africa, as well as building a community of those interested in Africa in the state of Oklahoma.

Visit the African Studies Institute page

Center for Middle East Studies

Director: Joshua Landis, Sandra Mackey Chair in Middle East Studies and Professor of Middle Eastern History

TheCenter for Middle East Studies (CMES) aims to enrich Middle East programming at the University of Oklahoma. CMES brings distinguished speakers to the university each semester, sponsors informal "brown bag lunches," and supports Middle East events on campus. In recent years, CMES has brought Reza Aslan, Stephanie Saldana, Adeed Dawisha, Mona Eltahawy, Eugene Rogan, Graham Fuller, Hooman Majd, Juan Cole, Trita Parsi, Mustafa Akyol, and Fowzia Karimi, among others, to speak at OU.

Visit the Center for Middle East Studies page

Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies

Director: Joshua Landis, Sandra Mackey Chair in Middle East Studies and Professor of Middle Eastern History

The mission of the Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies is to coordinate a variety of teaching, research, and outreach activities at the University of Oklahoma that explore the history, culture, society, and politics of Iran, the Persian Gulf, and those regions historically shaped by the Persian language. These activities include publications, lectures, conferences, workshops, film screenings and art exhibits.

The Farzaneh Family Center also sponsors a number of scholarships and awards, including the Farzaneh Family Scholarship for Iranian Students, the Farzaneh Family Persian Language Scholarship, the Medhi Firoozabadi Iranian Studies Scholarship, the Iranian Studies Best Undergraduate Paper Prize, and the Jafar and Shokoh Farzaneh Prize for Best Article on Persian Literature. 

Visit the Farzaneh Family Center Page

Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israeli Studies

Director: Alan Levenson, Schusterman/Josey Chair in Judaic History

The Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies, housed in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences at OU, offers a wide variety of courses, including Jewish history in all periods and places, Hebrew language and literature at all levels, the Bible and its interpretation, Israel studies, the Holocaust/genocide, and Jewish literature in translation, as well as anthropological, sociological, and political perspectives on the Jewish experience. With five core tenured/tenure-track faculty, two core faculty in Hebrew and 15 affiliated faculty (whose main area of research lies elsewhere, but offer courses with Judaic content) the University of Oklahoma fields the most comprehensive faculty/set of classes in the region.

In addition to offering courses, the Schusterman Center offers a range of scholarships and awards. The Center also sponsors a variety of guest speakers and special events each semester, including the the JuSt Film Festival and the JuSt lunch series. And in March 2020, the Center will host the Western Jewish Studies Association conference.

Visit the Schusterman Center Page

Center for Middle Eastern Architecture and Culture

Director: Khosrow Bozorgi, Professor, Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture

The Center for Middle Eastern Architecture and Culture (CMEAC) in the OU College of Architecture seeks to advance knowledge of the Middle Eastern built environment and culture for its intellectual and academic values. By acting as a coordinating body for participating universities and institutions whose research focus relates to this geographic area and beyond, the Center supports scholarship that is of historical and contemporary importance. CMEAC also welcomes interdisciplinary perspectives in the study of architecture and culture of the region. CMEAC aims for all-encompassing study of building in the Middle East, “building” here being taken in a broad sense, comprising all means by which humans give shape to their environment, including architecture, town planning and landscaping.

Visit the Center for Middle Eastern Architecture and Culture Page