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 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.