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Lecture Honors Donor, Growth of Persian Studies

What better way to celebrate UC Davis’ expanding program in Persian studies and its generous benefactor than with a lecture on modern Iranian women writers?
Lecture Honors Donor, Growth of Persian Studies

Nasrin Rahimieh

The Jan. 26, 2016, event at the Buehler Alumni Center featured a talk by Nasrin Rahimieh, a professor of humanities at UC Irvine and past president of the International Society for Iranian Studies. The lecture and a reception honored Bita Daryabari, a Silicon Valley philanthropist and humanitarian whose $1.5 million gift established a new Bita Daryabari Presidential Chair in Persian Language and Literature at UC Davis.

Teaching Prize Winner is a Gardener Who Sows Wisdom in the Classroom

Anthropologist Suad Joseph, founder of the Middle East/South Asia Studies Program, won the 2014 UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement.
Teaching Prize Winner is a Gardener Who Sows Wisdom in the Classroom

Suad Joseph

In her garden, anthropologist Suad Joseph has propagated more than 140 different varieties of fruit trees, assorted grapes, herbs and other vegetables — many grown from her own seeds and cuttings that she has collected. She shares the bounty, and her well-known cooking, with friends, colleagues and her students.

In her classroom, she propagates students in much the same way as her white Kadota figs and summer savory — urging her students to flourish by reading voluminous texts, coaxing them to look at each situation through a different lens, and teaching them what it means to be "human," her students say. Read more about her selection for the UC Davis teaching prize.

Persian Studies Program Receives $1.5 million from Iranian-American Philanthropist

Silicon Valley philanthropist and humanitarian Bita Daryabari has made a $1.5 million gift to UC Davis to broaden its Persian studies program.

The gift will establish the Bita Daryabari Presidential Chair in Persian Language and Literature and help transform UC Davis into a leading force in teaching, research and outreach that advances global understanding of Persian language and culture.

Exhibit Organized by UC Davis Alumna Throws Light on Working Women in Early 20th-Century India

A photo exhibition organized by UC Davis graduate Lisa Trivedi and sponsored by the Middle East/South Asia Studies (ME/SA) Program at UC Davis focuses on the lives of working women in India during the 1930s.

Refocusing the Lens, at the Sacramento City Hall Art Gallery Feb. 7 – March 31, is made up of images by the pioneering photographer Pranlal K. Patel.

Trivedi is shown in photo, far right, along with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg (J.D., ’84) and UC Davis Professors Sudipta Sen (history) and Smriti Srinivas (anthropology and director of ME/SA) at the opening of the photo exhibition.

New Archive Provides One-Stop Access to Vital Resources on California's Punjabi American Community

The digital archive, launched in fall 2016, seeks to share the stories and contributions to California of pioneering Punjabi Americans and their descendants through more than 700 video interviews, speeches, diaries, articles, and photographs.

The history and ongoing vibrancy of Yuba City’s Punjabi American community — one of the largest rural South Asian communities outside India — is celebrated with the launch of the Pioneering Punjabis Digital Archive Project at UC Davis.

Erum A. Syed awarded Diversity and Inclusion Innovation Grant

The grants are designed to support the ideas of UC Davis students, faculty, and staff that promote and enhance diversity and inclusion at the University.

Erum A. Syed, Chief Administrative Officer of the ME/SA Studies Program, has been awarded a $5,000 Diversity and Innovation Grant. The grants are designed to support the ideas of UC Davis students, faculty, and staff that promote and enhance diversity and inclusion at the University. Only 28% of the grant proposals submitted were selected, with preference given to those that aim to act upon, inform, or otherwise support the goals of the forthcoming UC Davis Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion. Syed’s project is titled  “Diversity Dialogue Series: The Muslim American Experience” which will consist of a series of three events in the 2017-18 academic year. 

ME/SA Graduation - Bidding Farewell to the Class of 2017

See pictures from the event here.

On Sunday, June 18th, ME/SA Graduation was held to celebrate some of our graduating students from the UC Davis ME/SA community. Professor Sudipta Sen served as the faculty keynote, sharing his wishes for the group of graduates. Each student also shared their thoughts upon graduating, many giving thanks to the ME/SA community for providing them cultural support during their time at UC Davis.



Experience South Asia at UC Davis in 2017-18

Amrinder Gill Concert Kicks Off Year of Events Spotlighting South Asia

The Middle East/South Asia Studies program is excited to kick off 2017-2018 with events celebrating the diversity of South Asia. Check out the College of Letters and Science's feature on this year's upcoming events here!

Suad Joseph Undergraduate Student Research Award

All undergraduate students working on the middle east and/or south Asia topics and taking courses related to the middle east or south Asia qualify for the award. Qualification can be met by doing a 92 or 192, 98 or 198, 99 or 199 or 194H with a professor on a ME/SA related topic - or by taking a course on the middle east or south Asia or their diaspora.


 Suad Joseph Undergraduate Student Research Awards is now open for applications. The award is made possible as a result of a donation by Suad Joseph, Distinguished Research Professor of Anthropology and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, from the proceedings of the UC Davis Teaching and Research Prize awarded in May 2014.

  1. Three to five awards of $500 each will be awarded for undergraduate students working on Middle East or South Asia topics either through a course on the Middle East or South Asia or through a 92, 192, 98, 198, 99 or 199 or 194H on a ME/SA related topic.
  2. The student’s research proposal must focus on research concerning the Middle East and/or South Asia or their diaspora. 
  3. The application: The application should be in the form of a research proposal, typed single spaced, a maximum of 300 words, 12-point font, Times New Roman, 1” margins. The title of the proposal should be on the cover page. The applicant’s name, department, date, and year in the program in the upper right hand side of the cover page. The pages need to be numbered at the bottom center.  A copy of the applicants informal transcript should be attached to the application. Funds are only for research expenses, not for stipend or living expenses. The proposal should very briefly answer these questions to the best of your abilities:

                             1.  What is your research question?

                             2.  What is your answer to the question?

                             3.   Why is your answer a plausible answer to the question?

                             4.   Why should we answer this question?

 4. Letter of recommendation:  One letter from a professor who will be mentoring the student on the research. The student are to sign up for a 92 or 192, 98 or 198, 99 or 199, 194H  or a course on the Middle East or South Asia with the understanding that the faculty member commits to mentoring the student to carry out the research.  Funds may be spent on research related costs, with the approval of the faculty mentor.

5. Results: The awardees will be expected to present their research results in Spring 2019 in the ME/SA Student Symposium and the UCD Undergraduate Research Conference.

6. Applications must be submitted before 5pm on Wednesday, November 20, 2018. Results will be announced by December, 2018

7. Submit the applications to: mesastaff@ucdavis.edu


New Research and Movie Shine Light on Punjabi Women in California

Read more at :  https://lettersandscience.ucdavis.edu/news/new-research-and-movie-shine-light-punjabi-women-california#mce_temp_url#

ME/SA stands with Pittsburgh

On Saturday, October 27, eleven people were killed at the Tree of Life/Or L'Simcha synagogue in Pittsburgh. The mass murder happened during a bris, a ceremony to welcome an infant into the Jewish community. It was the deadliest antisemitic attack in the history of the United States.

The program in Middle East/South Asia studies at UC Davis stands in grief with the Jewish communities in Pittsburgh and across the country. We express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims, many of whom were elders, and those who were injured, including the first responders trying to stop the shooter. We also recognize and stand in empathy with those in our community whose safety and dignity is under threat.

At a time when the forces of antisemitism have been emboldened and hate crimes against marginalized groups are on the rise, we as scholars of the Middle East and South Asia note the deep and deadly links between white supremacy and nativism, and the resurgence of intolerance and vitriol towards Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and members of many other ethnic and religious minorities. 

The symbol of the “Tree of Life,” in Jewish culture, has long represented the pursuit of knowledge. The ME/SA program at UC Davis is dedicated to pursuing and disseminating knowledge of the diverse cultures of the Middle East and South Asia in order to dispel ignorance and prejudice and clear the path toward understanding and truth. In our grief and in our condemnation of xenophobia and white supremacist violence, we recommit ourselves to this work.

Unveiling Men: Modern Masculinities in Twentieth-Century Iran

A provocative and original examination of gender and sexuality in Iranian discourse



For years, Iranian academics, writers, and scholars have equated national develop- ment and progress with the reform of men’s sexual behavior. Modern intellectuals repudiated native sexuality in Iran, just as their European counterparts in France and Germany did, arguing that transforming male identity was essential to the recovery of the nation.

DeSouza offers an alternate narrative of modern Iranian masculinity as an attempt to redraw social hierarchies among men. Moving beyond rigid portrayals of Islamic pa- triarchy and female oppression, she analyzes debates about manhood and maleness in early twentieth-century Iran, particularly around questions of race and sexuality. DeSouza presents the larger implications of Pahlavi hegemonic masculinity in creating racialized male subjects and “productive” sexualities. In addition, she explores a cross- pollination with Europe, identifying how the “East” shaped visions of European male identity.

For more information, contact: Lisa Kuerbis, Marketing , 315-443-5546 lkuerbis@syr.edu

Hardcover $55.00L 978-0-8156-3592-5

Ebook 978-0-8156-5449-0

Paper $24.95s 978-0-8156-3603-8

6 x 9, 200 pages, 15 black-and-white illustrations, notes, bibliography, index

Series: Gender, Culture, and Politics in the Middle East

MSA 151A

New course available spring 2019