The Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies (CMENAS) is pleased to announce that Samer Mahdy Ali, associate professor of Arabic and Islamic culture, has been appointed as its new director, effective July 1, 2017.

Before arriving at the University of Michigan, Professor Ali taught at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) and at the Free University in Berlin. While at UT Austin, he served as graduate advisor in Middle Eastern studies where he raised $500,000 to fund the education and research of the 42 graduate students he recruited. He is particularly dedicated to mentoring women, minorities, and first generation graduate students. He remarked, 

Professor Ali earned his BA in psychology, with emphasis on education, from the University of Chicago; MA in Arabic studies from the University of Utah; and PhD in Arabic literature from Indiana University. He is the author of Arabic Literary Salons in the Islamic Middle Ages: Poets, Public Performance and the Presentation of the Past, and co-editor of The CALICO Journal: Special Issue on Hebrew and Arabic, both by University of Notre Dame Press. He has published articles in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and WomenEncyclopedia of IslamJournal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, and Journal of Arabic Literature.

Professor Ali strongly supports the center’s mission of promoting the study of the Middle East, past and present, broadly across the discipline. He says, 


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The Center for Middle Eastern & North African Studies (CMENAS) at the University of Michigan provides a venue for faculty, students, and the community to learn and share knowledge through an active lecture series and various educational and research programs, and by partnering with a host of units across campus on projects of mutual interest. CMENAS is a member of the International Institute.