MES Decision on Tampa

The MES Board has been closely following ongoing discussions about the upcoming AAA Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida.

Building on our March 1 discussion and on consultation with our members, which we undertook out of a commitment to democratic process with our members, the MES Board endorsed the AQA’s call for a nonbinding boycott on March 20, emphasizing the call not to register for the conference. This action reflects our solidarity with AQA and affected communities in Florida as well as our frustration with the AAA leadership in their failure to listen to and address members’ concerns at the fall business meeting and after. We confirm, building on AQA’s statement, that “AQA members feel unsafe going to Florida for a conference,” and that “Florida’s government suppresses academic freedom.” We also emphasize, drawing on the AQA statement, that a boycott sends a political message to Florida, which is “not an exceptional state” but rather a precedent-setting one regarding policies that harm LGBTQ people, immigrants, and people of color.

We also seek to preserve our ability to carry out our section’s responsibility of promoting the vital work of Middle East Anthropology and our activism within the AAA. We recognize the importance of retaining membership to preserve our voting rights in the AAA amidst unprecedented assaults on free speech and academic autonomy. Thus, many of us will maintain our AAA memberships. Along the lines of what AQA is planning, and along with their recognition that some scholars, to quote from the AQA statement, “feel a professional need to attend this year’s meeting, whether in person or online,” MES will still review and program submissions from members choosing to attend the Tampa meeting. We will also plan online activities for our section during the year.

Resolution on Palestine at AAA Meeting 2023

Please bring the following resolution to the floor at your section meeting, and join us at the business meeting on Friday November 17, 6:15-7:30 pm at TMCC (Hall F) to call for the AAA to adopt it.

Resolution on Palestine

Whereas the people of Gaza have been subjected to widespread and indiscriminate bombardment and assault since October 7, 2023;

Whereas Israeli government and military leaders have expressed genocidal intent in Gaza and have engaged in direct and public incitement to commit genocide;

Whereas as of November 12, 2023, over 11,000 Palestinians have been killed, including over 5,000 children, and over 28,000 have been injured by Israeli attacks, while over 3,000 Palestinians remain missing under the rubble;

Whereas the Israeli bombardment of Gaza has destroyed over 185 educational facilities, including dozens of UNRWA schools and the three major universities in Gaza: the Islamic University, Al Azhar University, and Al-Aqsa University;

Whereas more than 80 Palestinian university faculty and staff and 2000 university students have been killed by the bombardment;

Whereas army and settler violence has also increased against Palestinians in the West Bank, resulting in over 170 deaths, including the deaths of 45 children, and displacement of entire communities;

Whereas academic freedom and personal safety is in dire risk for Palestinian and Jewish Israeli critics, students and faculty alike, in Israeli universities.

Whereas in institutions of higher education across North America there is increasing repression of speech and advocacy on Palestine, and Palestinian, Muslim, Arab and allied students and faculty are under threat;

Whereas the AAA’s resolution for the boycott of complicit Israeli institutions passed by the overwhelming majority of voting members in July 2023;

Whereas the AAA has made a statement calling for an end to violence and acknowledging anthropological literature that has addressed structural and everyday violence imposed by the Israeli government;

We call upon AAA to:

  1. Stand in solidarity with Palestinian university students, faculty and staff.
  1. Issue a strong statement of condemnation of Israel’s ongoing illegal assault on and siege of Gaza and join the international call for an immediate ceasefire. 
  1. Condemn the ongoing violence against and displacement of Palestinians across the Occupied Palestinian Territory and within Israel. 
  1. Issue a letter to presidents of universities, research centers, and other academic institutions across North America calling on university administrations to provide explicit support and protection of Palestinian students, faculty, and staff and their allies against harassment, anti-Palestinian racism, Islamophobia, demonization and silencing in line with the principles of academic freedom. 
  1. Issue a strong statement condemning the violation of the academic freedom of Palestinian and critical faculty, students and staff at Israeli universities, currently facing harassment and threats of violence, disciplinary hearings, and termination and expulsion for exercising their academic freedom.

Also posted on AnthroBoycott.

Upcoming events at the 2023 AAA Meeting


Middle East Section Business Meeting, Friday, Nov. 17, 8-9:30 pm, Metro Toronto Convention Center 501B, with refreshments ** In addition to usual MES business, we will have an open space for sharing experiences of how reaction to events since Oct. 7 has shaped our campuses and for sharing ideas on responding to this new chapter in Palestinian Nakba.

Two Decades On: Teaching the US Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Middle East Section Teaching Workshop
Saturday, Nov. 18 12:30 PM- 2:00 PM TMCC – 712


2-850 War in Sudan: An Anthropological Perspective
Thursday, Nov. 16, 8:00-9:45 PM TMCC – 801 B

2-730 Art Anthropology: how art shapes anthropologies of space, Time, crisis, economies, ecologies, multispecies relations, the unfinished, becomings, uprisings, and imaginations
Thursday, 4:15 PM – 6:00 PM TMCC – 715 B

3-580 The Boycott of Israeli Institutions, Academic Freedom, and the Question of Palestine
Friday, Nov. 17, 2-3:45 TMCC – 718 B

4-480 Pushing the transitional to reciprocal ends: creating and enlivening reciprocal spaces
Saturday, Nov. 18, 2:00 PM – 3:45 PM TMCC – 718 A


We are also coordinating actions directly related to Gaza and Palestine at the 2023 AAA Annual Meeting; please find more information on the AnthroBoycott website.

2023 Prize winners!

The Middle East Section (MES) is pleased to announce this year’s winners for our Book Award, Student Paper Prize, and Photography Prize!

MES Book Award

Winner: Nomi Stone, Pinelandia: An Anthropology and Field Poetics of War and Empire (University of California Press, 2022)

MES Student Paper Prize

Winner: Hazal Aydın, “Open Body, Theatrical Intimacy and Sexual Harassment: Understanding Gendered Embodiments Through Turkey’s Theatre Industry.”

Honorable mention: Tony J. Chamoun, “Violent Histories in a Diasporic Register: Between Bodily Durabilities, Sacrificial Others, and Racialized Strangers”

MES Photography Prize

Winner: Çağla Ay

Honorable Mentions: Peter Habib, Rita Reis

Congratulations to our winners! Please join us for our business meeting (Friday, November 17, from 8 to 9.30 pm) at the American Anthropological Association conference in Toronto this year, where we will also celebrate the prize winners.

2018 Distinguished Scholar Award: Saba Mahmood (in memoriam)

The Middle East Section’s 2018 Distinguished Scholar Award was awarded in memoriam to Dr. Saba Mahmood (1962-2018). Dr. Mahmood published groundbreaking work in feminist anthropology, religion, and secularism, particularly in Egypt. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1998 and taught at the University of California, Berkeley, since 2004. She received numerous honors and awards and was the author of several notable books, including Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report (Princeton University Press, 2015) and Politics of Piety: the Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject (Princeton University Press, 2005).