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This three-day workshop will, for the first time, bring in contact with

each other an entire generation of young international scholars of Middle

East and Islamic studies at Canadian Universities from Simon Fraser to

Dalhousie. The workshop is hosted by Jens Hanssen at the Departments of

Near and Middle East Civilizations and History at the University of

Toronto (UofT) and Historical Studies at UT Misssissauga, in collaboration

with the Institute for Women's Studies and Gender Studies, the Center for

Diaspora and Transnational Studies and the Center for the Study of the

United States at UofT. Amal Ghazal (Dalhousie/UofT) and Thomas Kühn (Simon

Fraser) are his co-organizers. The workshop takes place at UofT from

Friday, November 4 to Sunday November 6, 2005. These dates situate the

workshop appropriately between the "Academic Freedom - Post 9/11"

conference organized by the Harry Crowe Foundation in Toronto on October

28-30, 2005, and the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association

of North America (MESA) held in Washington D.C. on November 19-22, 2005.

In the last four years there has been an unprecedented expansion at

Canadian Universities in the field of Middle East and Islamic Studies.

Canadian Universities have attracted over twenty-five new academic hires

from Canada, the US, the Middle East and Europe. This expansion reflects

the growing significance and importance of this field in light of recent

immigration from the Middle East, issues regarding the place of religion

in Canadian society as well as public interest and anxiety about the

nature of Islam. After September 11, 2001 and again after the bombings in

London this summer, our field of expertise has found itself in the

limelight of media attention and in high demand to explain, mediate and

advocate. As international academics few of us are fully prepared to

individually meet these urgent challenges for Canada and no collective

stocktaking of Canadian Middle East research and expertise has ever taken

place. At the same time, the academic study of the Middle East and Islam

has come under unprecedented attacks from pressure groups outside the

university after September 11, 2001. This has raised the issue of the

threat of 'counter-terrorism', the autonomy of universities and academic

freedom, more particularly in the US. This worrying trend also challenges

Canadian academia to assume a leadership role in upholding academic

integrity in research and teaching the Middle East and Islam. A weekend of

brainstorming, critical reflection and policy- and research-agenda

formulations will yield an urgently needed inventory of the strengths and

weaknesses of our field as well as of long-term understanding and future

strategies of higher education in Canada.

Workshop details and all updates will be posted on the CANMES website:

canmes.concordia.ca (no www.)

Jens Hanssen

History/Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations.