About the Major

The Middle East/Islamicate Worlds Studies curriculum tries to encompass the overlapping, but not identical, cultural complexities of the Middle East, as well as other areas of the world where Islam has had a significant presence historically. The interdisciplinary program focuses on arts and architecture, family structures, literature, and ethical practices, such as Islamic finance, that are strongly influenced and shaped by Islam but are not necessarily part of the religion.

A Sampling of Courses

Middle Eastern Studies

Islamic History and Culture

An interdisciplinary exploration of Muslim societies from the 7th century to the present. Beginning with the origins of Islam, the history of the Quran, and the biography of the Prophet, the course examines how questions of political authority, religious practice, and cultural exchange were navigated as the Muslim community developed. We read texts from Islam’s rich literary heritage and pay close attention to the ways in which the Muslim past continues to animate contemporary debates, practices, and imagination.

Explore these select courses:

The course is a survey of modern Arabic narrative fiction and film by well-known authors and filmmakers from countries in Middle East, including, but not limited to, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Libya, Morocco and spanning the late 19th through early 21st centuries. Students learn about the Arabic-speaking people through their cultural, social, economic, and political struggles in the modern period, and explore questions relating to how they define themselves in a highly globalized world.

Introduction of North African diaspora in France through texts in translation. The course analyzes the roots of gender and religion-based stereotypes as they affect the Muslim population. It includes considerations on the History of North-African immigration in France; the aftermath of the French-Algerian War, as well as French secularism. Readings include novels and critical texts, online research, and films focused on the immigrant experience in France. Taught in English. No knowledge of Arabic required.

Begins with the emergence of Islam in the 7th century and continues to the present. Emphasis will be on how early Islamic art and architecture drew on Classical, Sassanian, and Byzantine forms; the development of Islamic art in response to the religion’s spread into Asia, Africa, and Europe; comparisons of sacred and secular space; developments in art and architecture associated with various dynasties (Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, Ottoman, and Mughal, among others); and perceptions of religious outsiders within Islamic culture as well as perceptions of Islam by religious outsiders

A survey of the Middle East from Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 to the present. Examines Muslim responses to European imperialism, political and cultural developments, the impact of the Cold War and the continuing Arab-Israeli rivalry.

The Middle East has witnessed significant political changes due to the Arab Spring. These transformations have occurred through both violent and non-violent means and with varying assistance from the international community. This class will explore the role of both state and non-state actors in this process. General themes of the course will include the causes and consequences of the uprisings, the role of the military and Islamist groups, the place of traditional and social media, the influence of international actors, communal conflict, and the use of art and symbolism.

Meet Our Faculty

Kira Jumet

Associate Professor of Government, Director of Middle East/Islamicate Worlds Studies


comparative politics, international relations, and Middle East politics

Rama Alhabian

Assistant Professor of Arabic


19th & 20th century Arabic literature; medieval Arabic travel writing and the Medieval Maqama; genre, translation, and postcolonial studies

Abhishek Amar

Director, Associate Professor of Asian Studies


archaeological history of South Asian religions, especially Buddhist and Hindu traditions; research in themes of inter-religious dynamics, syncretism and religious transformation; colonialism and reconfigurations of sacred centers; and religion and water management in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions

Shoshana Keller

Chair and William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History


Russian and Soviet history, Central Eurasian history, and history of the modern Middle East

Mireille Koukjian

Associate Professor of Instruction in Arabic


foreign-language education, specifically Arabic and the integration of storytelling into language learning

Claire Mouflard

Associate Professor of French


contemporary French and Francophone literature, culture, and film; literature and cinema of immigration; transnational immigrant identities in France

Israeli culture, ethnicity, and Hebrew language

Explore Hamilton Stories

Eleanna “Ele” Sorensen ’23

Eleanna Sorensen ’23 Receives Critical Language Scholarship

Eleanna “Ele” Sorensen ’23 will hone her long-time interest in the Arabic language as the recipient of a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS).

Erica De Bruin

De Bruin Awarded Grant to Study Militarized Policing

Assistant Professor of Government Erica De Bruin was awarded a research grant from the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA ) to support a new project on militarized policing.

Middle East and Islamic World Studies

A World of Choice Leads to the Middle East

That moment you realize you can take any course that sounds interesting: when it happened to first-year student Elliot Plaut ’19, he opted for Arabic.


Department Name

Middle East/Islamicate Worlds Studies Program

Contact Name

Kira Jumet, Program Director

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

Help us provide an accessible education, offer innovative resources and programs, and foster intellectual exploration.

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