The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) advocates on behalf of its members on issues that are central to its mission of promoting high standards of scholarship and teaching, enhancing education, furthering intellectual exchange, defending academic freedom and supporting civil and human rights.

This is done primarily through statements and letters from MESA's Board of Directors — often in conjunction with other learned societies and professional academic associations — as well as via MESA's Committee on Academic Freedom, which has two wings, respectively devoted to the Middle East and North Africa and to North America.

In addition, MESA has a number of special projects:

MESA-CAF Profiles of Dismissed Iranian Academics

The Committee on Academic Freedom has created an extensive list of profiles of Iranian academics who have been dismissed from their university positions since the beginning of the presidency of Ebrahim Raisi in 2021 through the Woman, Life, Freedom nationwide movement in 2022-2023 when Iranian universities emerged as centers of activism. A pdf version and Excel spreadsheet are also available.

MESA Campus Resources: Gaza Conflict

MESA has created a new Campus Climate resource page for our members, in response to academic freedom-related developments on campuses across North America and beyond. In addition, anyone who would like to report an academic freedom-related incident on a university or college campus may send that information to MESA at a dedicated email address for information-gathering purposes: [email protected].

MESA Global Academy

The Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) recently launched the MESA Global Academy, a new interdisciplinary initiative to sustain essential research collaborations and knowledge production between MENA-based scholars and their counterparts outside the region. This program awards competitive fellowships to displaced scholars from the MENA region to attend meetings, workshops and conferences, and supports research activities through a range of partnerships. 

Task Force on Civil and Human Rights

MESA's Task Force on Civil and Human Rights notes with concern the increasing denial of entry to students, particularly from Iran, with valid visas, as well as reports of deportations and interrogations. MESA has initiated a study of the issues of visa cancelation, border denials, and deportations of students and faculty from the Middle East and North Africa.

Muslim Travel Ban

When President Trump issued Executive Order 13769 (the first Muslim travel ban) on January 7, 2017, MESA and the ACLU began discussing ways in which MESA could be useful in a lawsuit against the ban. MESA ultimately joined as a plaintiff in IRAP v. Trump. Now in its third iteration, the Muslim travel ban continues to be challenged in court. Follow MESA’s work here.

Exposing Canary Mission

MESA’s Committee on Academic Freedom has issued a resource guide for college and university leaders on actions they can take to counteract a secretive, political organization called Canary Mission that uses its website to engage in defamatory attacks against college students and faculty who engage in advocacy for Palestinian rights and academic inquiry about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Stay Connected

MESA offers several ways to stay connected: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, as well as listservs and trusty email notifications. To find out more, please follow the link below.

Connect Now