CMES Summer in Review 2016

September 20, 2016

Each summer, a number of CMES PhD, AM, and undergraduate students whose interests lie in the Middle East have the opportunity to travel to the MENA region for summer research and language study. A group of these students shared stories from their summer travels at the “CMES Summer in Review” event on Friday, September 16, 2016. In a fast-paced format, over a dozen students shared images and stories, and fielded questions from the audience. With the support of funding including CMES grants and fellowships, students strengthened their language skills, participated in internships, or furthered their research and studies with travel to Armenia, Belgium, Egypt, Israel and the West Bank, Iran, Morocco, Oman, Tajikistan, Tunisia, and Turkey. The event brought together students at different stages of their academic work to learn more about each other’s research, and sparked thoughtful questions and discussions.

Ataman Turkey

Joseph Ataman (AM) interned for the Wall Street Journal this summer in Brussels, Belgium, and had a front page article in August entitled “Europe Is Losing Track of Child Refugees.” Joseph also traveled to Turkey and described what the after-effects of the coup felt like in Istanbul. (Photo, Turkey)


Mefford bike

Ethan Mefford (AM) traveled from Portugal to Morocco via bike, and did not have a single flat tire. He studied Arabic in both Tetouan and Rabat, Morocco. (Photo, Morocco)


Lessersohn 1

Nora Lessersohn (PhD candidate in History and Middle East Studies) continued her research in Armenia and her study of Western Armenian. (Photo, Armenia)


Ben Liebowitz

Ben Leibowitz (AM) studied Hebrew at Tel Aviv University, researched Reform Zionism, and traveled around Israel and the West Bank.



Ian McGonigle (PhD candidate in Anthropology and Middle East Studies) strengthened his Arabic and Hebrew skills with travel and language study in Israel and Oman. He also traveled to Turkey with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. (Photo, Oman)



Paul Stainier (Harvard College) received the A.J. Meyer Arabic Language Fellowship, and studied Arabic in Rabat, Morocco, for the summer. (Photo, Morocco)


Talia Weisberg

Talia Weisberg (Harvard College) received a Rosovsky Fellowship and completed research for her senior honors thesis in archives in Bnei Brak on the first Jewish women’s religious education movement, Bais Yaakov, which originated in Krakow, and was the type of school she attended in Manhattan.



Zena Agha (AM) traveled to Tunisia with a group of Harvard PhD and AM students, the second group of Harvard students to be a part of the Tunisia travel study program that focused on studying Arabic and history. She also described the sense of community she felt being in a Muslim country observing Ramadan during Ramadan. (Photo, Tunisia)



Mira Schwerda (PhD candidate in History of Art and Architecture and Middle East Studies) traveled to Iran and continued her research. This photo is of the Golestan Palace. (Photo, Iran)


Bethany Kibler

Bethany Kibler (PhD candidate in Anthropology and Middle East Studies) described her time informally interviewing people regarding the training army personnel received on Middle East cultural awareness and sensitivity. 


Yildirim Tschoepe

Aylin Yildirim Tschoepe (PhD candidate in Anthropology and Middle East Studies ) returned from two years of field work as a Middle East Studies and Anthropology student researching in the social and spatial overwriting occurring in neighborhoods in Istanbul, Turkey, including this neighborhood in Kadikoy. (Photo, Turkey)



Chloe Bordewich (PhD candidate in History and Middle East Studies) traveled to both Cairo and Turkey this summer, focusing her time on advancing her Turkish language skills. She was in Turkey during the military coup, and recounted that she had also been in Egypt during the 2011 coup as well. This is one of the remaining murals near Tahrir Square from the 2013 coup that are being covered up by the current government. (Photo, Egypt)



Belle Cheves (PhD candidate in History and Middle East Studies) traveled to Tajikistan to research and practice her Russian and Tajiki Persian. Belle also traveled to Iran this summer, and this photo was taken at the si-o-seh pol (bridge). (Photo, Iran)