ACOR at the MESA Annual Meeting 2020

Middle East Studies Association

Congratulations to all of the former ACOR fellows whose papers were accepted to the Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), currently being held online from October 5–17.

We are proud to have sponsored a panel this year with guidance from board member Betty Anderson (Boston University) and longtime ACOR friend and recent fellow Kimberly Katz (Towson University). The title of the session is Organizing, Enduring, Empowering, and Sharing: Challenging Institutional Constructs in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.

Both Professor Anderson and Professor Katz are also recent contributors to our online publication Insights; you can find their respective articles here and here.

The session will include presentations by several recent ACOR fellows:

ACOR board member Seteney Shami will also be presenting at this year’s event. Dr. Shami is founding director of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences and program director at the Social Science Research Council for SSRC’s Interasia and Middle East and North Africa Programs. She will be presenting in the sessions The Political Economy and Ethics of Social Science Research in the Arab World as well as for the MESA Presidential Panel: Middle East Studies and the Academy in the Time of COVID-19, on the topic “Research in the Arab Region in the Vortex of Multiple Crises.”

If you are curious to learn more about what other ACOR- and MESA-affiliated researchers have been working on since their fellowships in Jordan, take a look at the list below for links to abstracts at this year’s conference. You will also find below links to related open-access articles about their work, freely-available online through our digital publication, Insights.


Former ACOR fellows at MESA 2020

Fida Adely (Georgetown University) will present on “Poor Education, Unemployment and the Promise of Skills: The tyranny of the ‘Skills Mismatch’ discourse” in the session Dissecting Development: Discourses and Disparate Priorities Across the Middle East. She will also serve as discussant for the session Education and State in the Modern Middle East. Dr. Adely is a longtime friend of ACOR’s and was awarded an ACOR-NEH Fellowship in 2010–2011.

Rawan Arar (The University of Washington) will be presenting on “Negotiating Authority: Jordan and the International Response to Syrian Displacement” in the panel on Unintended Consequences of International Actors. Dr. Arar was awarded an ACOR-CAORC Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in 2017–2018; check out her article on Insights, titled “Call me Galib”: Navigating Gender as a Local Humanitarian Aid Worker.”

Gail Buttorff (The University of Houston) will serve as discussant for the session Progress and Relegation: Women as Workers, Candidates, and Voters. Buttorff was awarded an ACOR-CAORC Pre-doctoral Fellowship in 2008–2009.

Louise Cainkar (Marquette University) will chair the session Institutional Borders and Disruptive Geographies: Arab American and MENA Diaspora Studies. Dr. Cainkar was awarded an ACOR-CAORC Post-Doctoral Fellowship in 2010–2011.

Morgen Chalmiers (University of California San Diego) will present on “In through the door and not through the window:” The Political Stakes of Love & Intimacy after Resettlement in the United States” in the session Sex in the Middle East and North Africa. Ms. Chalmiers was awarded an ACOR-CAORC Pre-Doctoral Fellowship just this year (2020–2021) and arrived at ACOR to begin her fieldwork as of early October.

Brittany Cook (The University of Louisiana at Lafayette) will present on “What does feminist research look like in Geography and in Middle East Studies?” in the session Feminist Geographies of the Middle East and North Africa. Dr. Cook was awarded an ACOR-CAORC Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in 2016–2017; check out her article for Insights, titled “Producing Extra-virginity in Jordan.”

Lillian Frost (George Washington University) will be chairing the panel Law and Legal Regimes in the MENA Region. She is also organizing the aforementioned session Unintended Consequences of International Actors on Jordan’s Refugee Policies and will present therein on “Intentional Ambiguity: Refugee Policies under Pressure in Jordan.” Ms. Frost was awarded an ACOR-CAORC Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in 2016–2017; check out her article for Insights, titled “Patriots without Passports.”

Allison Hartnett (University of Southern California) will be presenting “After Empires: Legacies of Foreign Rule and Long-Run Fiscal Capacity in Arab States” with Yusf Magiya in the session Past as Prelude? Historical Legacies and State Building Across the MENA Region. Dr. Hartnett was awarded an ACOR-CAORC Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in 2017–2018; read more about her research with us here.

Frances Hasso (Duke University) will present on “Calculating Life and Death: Infant Mortality, Eugenics, and Reproductive Desire in Twentieth-Century Palestine” in the session The Power of Bodies and Bones: Revisiting Death and Dying in the Middle East. Dr. Hasso was awarded an ACOR-CAORC Post-Doctoral Fellowship in 2017–2018. Check out her article for Insights, called “Palestinian Reproductive Death and Life during the British Mandate.”

Kate McClellan (Mississippi State University) will be organizing the session Horizons and Limits of Care in the MENA Region and she will present therein on “Uncertain Care: Experimenting with Islamic Animal Ethics in Jordan.” Dr. McClellan was awarded an NEH Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in 2014–2015.

Aseel Najib (Columbia University) will serve as organizer for the panel Early Islamic Taxation in Theory and Practice: Abbasid and Fatimid Case Studies and therein present on The Kharaj in the Early Abbasid Period: A Conceptual History. Dr. Najib was awarded a Harrell Family Fellowship in 2019–2020.

Christine Sargent (University of Colorado Denver) will also be organizing the session  The Horizons and Limits of Care in the MENA Region, mentioned above, alongside Kate McClellan, and she will present therein on “Techniques of the (normal) body: Childhood disability and contradictions of care in Jordan.” Dr. Sargent was awarded an ACOR-NEH Post-Doctoral Fellowship in 2019–2020 and was a fellow in residence during winter 2020. (Stay tuned for a forthcoming article about her research in Insights!)

Aseel Sawalha (Fordham University, New York) will present on “Beyond Family, Tribe, and Nation-state: Art as method in Amman” in the session Art as Method and Lens for Middle East Studies. Dr. Sawalha was awarded an ACOR-NEH Fellowship in 2015–2016. Check out her 2016 ACOR public lecture “An Anthropological Gaze at Art,” freely available on our YouTube channel.

Renee Spellman (The University of Arizona) will present on “Online Palestinian Women’s Activism: Reimagining the Public and Private Sphere” in the session Communicating to Peace. Ms. Spellman was awarded an ACOR-CAORC Pre-Doctoral Fellowship just this year (2020–2021)

William Tamplin (Independent Scholar) will present on “Thani’s Raid: The Limits of Discourse in a Slave Narrative from Jordan” in the session Biographies in Tribal Arab Societies. Mr. Tamplin was awarded an ACOR-CAORC Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in 2019–2020, which you can read about here.

Patricia Ward  (Boston University) will present on “Not Just a Domestic ‘Problem’: Transnational Effects of International Aid Organizations’ Cash-for-Work Programs, The Case of Jordan” in the Unintended Consequences of International Actors panel as well. Ms. Ward was awarded an ACOR-CAORC Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in 2017–2018, which you can read about here.

To explore the full, searchable MESA program online, please visit https://mesana.org/annual-meeting/program. We also encourage you to learn more about this year’s fellowship awards at acorjordan.org/fellowships-2021-2022


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