CMENAS is delighted to announce Professor Ryan Szpiech has been appointed interim Director of the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, effective July 1, 2021, for the 2021-2022 year. Professor Szpiech is an Associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. He previously served as the associate director of CMENAS. CMENAS is grateful to Professor Szpiech for his commitment to the International Institute (II), MENAS, and international education. We look forward to working together on the future of the CMENAS Center at the II.
We would also like to thank Professor Samer Ali for his leadership of CMENAS.
CMENAS is also thrilled to announce Professor Muzammil Hussain has been appointed Associate Director of the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, effective July 1, 2021, for 2021-2023. Professor Hussain is Assistant Professor of Communication and Media, Faculty Associate at the U-M International Institute and the U-M Institute for Social Research, and Faculty Affiliate at the U-M Ford School of Public Policy’s Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program (STPP) and the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS). He is also the associate director of GISC. CMENAS looks forward to working closely with Professor Hussain on CMENAS programming.
Please join us in welcoming Professor Szpiech and Professor Hussain to these new roles at the II!
Ryan Szpiech is Associate Professor of Spanish and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, where he has taught since 2007. He earned his BA in Rhetoric and Spanish and an MA in Comparative Literature at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He earned an M.Phil in Medieval Studies and a PhD in Spanish at Yale University, focusing on the history of Arabic and Hebrew translation in the Iberian Peninsula. He is the author of Conversion and Narrative: Reading and Religious Authority in Medieval Polemic (Pennsylvania University Press, 2013), which won the "La Corónica International Book Award" in 2015. He is also the editor of Medieval Exegesis and Religious Difference: Commentary, Conflict, and Community in the Premodern Mediterranean (Fordham University Press, 2015), and co-editor of Interreligious Encounters in Polemics between Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Iberia and Beyond (with Mercedes García-Arenal and Gerard Wiegers) (Brill, 2018) and of Astrolabes in Medieval Cultures (with Charles Burnett, Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas, and Silke Ackermann). He has published articles (in English, Spanish, and French) in the Journal of Qur’anic Studies, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, al-Qanṭara: Revista de estudios árabes, Archives de sciences sociales des religions, Journal of Transcultural Medieval Studies, and numerous others. In 2018–19, he was Head Fellow at the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, leading a research team on Sephardic identity, and in 2019, he completed (with the support of UMich’s Language Resource Center) a documentary film entitled “The Birth of Spanish in 3D” (https://birth-of-spanish.rll.lsa.umich.edu/) about the Arabic influence on the Spanish language in the Middle Ages. Since 2013, he has been Editor-in-Chief of the journal Medieval Encounters: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Culture in Confluence and Dialogue.
As a former FLAS recipient for Arabic study, Szpiech strongly supports the center’s mission of promoting the study of the Middle East and North Africa with dynamic programming and pedagogy. From 2019–21, he served as Associate Director of CMENAS, working with director Samer Ali to oversee the first two years of the new CMENAS Masters in Regional Studies. He is excited to serve as Interim Director for the coming academic year.
Muzammil M. Hussain is Assistant Professor of Communication and Media, Faculty Associate at the U-M International Institute and the U-M Institute for Social Research, and Faculty Affiliate at the U-M Ford School of Public Policy’s Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program (STPP) and the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS). Dr. Hussain’s interdisciplinary research is at the intersections of global communication, social analytics, and technology governance. At Michigan, Professor Hussain teaches courses on digital politics, research methods, and global innovation. He has authored numerous research articles, book chapters, and industry reports examining global ICT politics, innovation, and policy, including pieces in The Journal of Democracy, The Journal of International Affairs, The Brookings Institutions’ Issues in Technology and Innovation, The InterMedia Institute’s Development Research Series, International Studies Review, International Journal of Middle East Affairs, The Communication Review, Policy and Internet, and Journalism: Theory, Practice, and Criticism.