Khalidi will talk at I-House Tuesday

By Kimberly Drelich

Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Middle East Studies at Columbia University, will give a lecture entitled “Democracy in the Middle East: Historical Observations,” on Tuesday, May 24 at 6 p.m. at International House. The Center for International Studies, the International House Global Voices Program, and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies will sponsor the event, which is part of the World Beyond the Headlines series.

Khalidi will focus on “historical precedents for democracy in the Middle East,” and most likely contextualize present democratization endeavors by looking at other democratic movements in the Middle East, according to Irving Birkner, associate director of the Center for International Studies.

The former director of the Center for International Studies and professor in History and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University, Khalidi has written Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America’s Perilous Path in the Middle East (2004), among other works including The Origins of Arab Nationalism (1991) which he co-edited, Under Siege: PLO Decision-making during the 1982 War (1986), and Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (1997).

“Professor Khalidi is a thoughtful and accomplished historian of the modern Middle East,” Birkner said. “As a public intellectual, he often expresses his opinion on one of the major political issues in the Middle East, the Palestine-Israel dispute. There are those that disagree with him, and then there are those that have confused a political issue for a religious one,” Birkner said, when asked why some may consider Khalidi’s stance to be controversial. “The latter has resorted to shameful incidents of name-calling, censorship, and fear-mongering. In such an atmosphere, Professor Khalidi’s moderate stance and considered perspective is too often lost in the noise.”