Ussama Makdisi: Understanding The Contemporary Middle East

TWO TUESDAYS, FEBRUARY 17 AND FEBRUARY 24, 6:00–7:30 P.M. | Sessions will take place in a private residence; address will be provided to subscribers.

COURSE FULL--please call 713-666-9000 to be added to waitlist. 

People often dismiss the constant unrest and violence in the Middle East as the irresolvable legacy of centuries of religious conflict. Ussama Makdisi looks at contemporary events through the lens of deep understanding of the long history of the Ottoman and Arab worlds and introduces an alternative understanding of the region.

In his first lecture on FEBRUARY 17, he will trace the influence of 19th-century American missionaries and universities and the effect of the partition of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20thcentury and the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

In his second lecture on FEBRUARY 24, Makdisi will disentangle the early promise of democracy and self-determination and the current mistrust and violence towards America, despite deep and abiding familial, business and cultural ties. Dr. Makdisi is now working on a manuscript on the origins of sectarianism in the modern Middle East to be published with the University of California Press.

Professor Makdisi joined the faculty of Rice University in 1997 and became
a professor of history in 2008. He is the first holder of the Arab-American
Educational Foundation Chair of Arab Studies at Rice University and is on the
board of directors of the Middle East Studies Association. Dr. Makdisi was
recognized as a Carnegie Scholar for his original scholarship regarding Muslim
societies and communities, both in the United States and abroad. He is the
author of Artillery of Heaven: American Missionaries and the Failed Conversion
of the Middle East
(2008) and Faith Misplaced: The Broken Promise of U.S.-Arab
Relations, 1820–2001
(2010). He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University
and his B.A. from Wesleyan University.



Registration for fall 2018 is ongoing. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card. 


If you are interested in traveling to Virginia in the spring of 2019, please call the registrar at 713.666.9000 to place your name on a list. Please see Terms and Conditions for "travel list" policy. 


Please note a date in the Mid-term Elections course has changed from that published in the brochure. The course will meet the first two Mondays, October 29 and November 5 as planned, but will meet Tuesday, November 13 instead of Monday, November 12. 


Also note Art Underground: Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern on Wednesday, November 14 is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. A second session has been added and will meet Monday, November 12 from 2:00-3:30 P.M. Registrations are being accepted for November 12. You may register online, or by phone.


Who Gets to Vote: Challenges for the 2020 Elections?
Speaker: Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voter Rights Project
Monday, November 19, 6:30-8:00 P.M.
Location to be announced


Register today!


For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at  or phone 713.666.9000.