Middle East minorities, refugees topic of roundtable and lecture

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Middle East minorities, refugees topic of roundtable and lecture

Dr. Laura Robson, associate professor of modern Middle Eastern history at Portland State University, will discuss Middle Eastern politics and refugees as part of the “Ethnic and Religious Minorities in the Ottoman Empire” workshop and lecture on Friday, Feb. 3, at Fresno State.

Robson’s talk, “War, Peace and the Making of Minorities in the Post-Ottoman Middle East, 1919-1923” will be from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Smittcamp Alumni House (2625 E. Matoian Way).

She will also be among four panelists  for a roundtable on Ottoman minorities from 9:30 to 11:45 a.m. in the Peters Business building (Room 390).

The events, which are free and open to the public, are co-sponsored by the Leon S. Peters Foundation, the Islamic Studies Speaker Series and Fresno State’s History Department and College of Social Sciences.

In addition to Robson, roundtable discussants include two Fresno State professors: Dr.  Sergio La Porta of the Armenian Studies Program and Stacy Fahrenthold of the History Department. Fahrenthold researches Syrian and Lebanese emigrants in the Americas during World War I.

Other panelists are Dr. Janet Klein, of the University of Akron, who researches Ottoman Kurds and the construction of minorities in Republican Turkey; Dr. Devin Naar, of the University of Washington, who researches Sephardic Jews in the Ottoman Empire and the Sephardic diaspora in Europe and the Americas; and Dr. Bedross Der Matossian, of the University of Nebraska, who researches inter-ethnic politics and the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

The scholars will address such issues as ethnic and religious diversity through the concept of minorities, the history of the Ottoman minority and how it contributes to new research on Armenians, Kurds, Sephardic Jews, Assyrians and Arab Christians in the Middle East.

In her keynote talk that night, Robson, a historian of the modern Middle East, will illustrate how the League of Nations created a new Middle Eastern politics of minority and majority through peace agreements, through refugee resettlement efforts and through partition of territories after the Ottoman Empire’s dissolution. Her presentation will include a discussion of Armenian aspirations for statehood immediately following the end of World War I.

Robson’s research and teaching focus on the history of religious and ethnic minorities in the 20th century Arab world. She is the author of “States of Separation: Transfer, Partition, and the Making of the Modern Middle East” and “Colonialism and Christianity in Mandate Palestine.” She received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2009.

Free parking will be available in Lot P1 across from the Smittcamp Alumni House.

For more information about the roundtable, contact Fahrenthold at sfahrenthold@csufresno.edu. For information about the lecture, contact the Armenian Studies Program at 559.278.2669 or see www.fresnostate.edu/armenianstudies.