MESA pledges to oppose anti-Black racist violence by addressing the structural injustice at work in our own organization, in the field of Middle East studies, and among communities in the region. Guided by the principles articulated here, we commit to eradicating anti-Blackness in our organization and in the knowledge we produce.
Letters and Statements from the Board
Letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Concerning Its Decision to End Visa Exemptions for International Students
MESA has cosigned the letter from the MLA and other ACLS constituents to ICE concerning the revocation of temporary visa exemptions for international students and faculty members for the upcoming academic year.
MESA has endorsed the Middle East Librarians Association Statement on Collection Development, Access, and Equity in the time of COVID-19 issued June 22, 2020. The statement concerns the preservation of funding allocations for acquiring materials from the region and other related issues.
MESA has cosigned the American Philosophical Association statement regarding xenophobia, discrimination, and racism, including acts of violence, against Asians and Asian Americans.
MESA has cosigned the American Sociological Association's statement asking institutions of higher education to be flexible with requirements and policies for students. We as scholarly societies encourage colleges and universities to offer all appropriate accommodations to students, given the uncertainty and stress caused by the unparalleled disruptions to our educational community.
MESA calls on academic institutions to protect both the labor rights and the academic freedom of students and scholars of the Middle East, particularly the most vulnerable among us, during the great uncertainty and new dangers caused by the lockdown and the shift to online teaching. Institutes of higher education need to develop policies that prioritize the intellectual rights and the internet security of faculty and students.
MESA has cosigned MLA's statement regarding academic labor and COVID-19, urging flexibility and empathy among faculty, students, and staff at institutions of higher education, including not only material support but also ethical imagination and commitment from academic institutes to both the individual and shared challenges facing our communities during this unprecedented pandemic.
Review and Reappointment Processes For Tenure Line and Contingent Faculty During the COVID-19 Crisis
The Middle East Studies Association (MESA), in collaboration with scholarly societies led by the American Sociological Association (ASA), commends institutions of higher education for quickly taking steps to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and encourages all universities and colleges to consider appropriate temporary adjustments to their review and reappointment processes for tenure line and contingent faculty.
The Board of Directors has issued an open letter to Durham University regarding the Vice Chancellor's decision to withdraw administrative services from the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES), following the society’s vote on a resolution in favor of supporting the academic boycott of Israel last year. MESA is gravely concerned over the implications for academic freedom and freedom of expression over controversial issues — not only for our colleagues engaged in Middle East studies in Britain, but also for British academia more broadly.
MESA joins 16 other associations from across the globe in concern for the recent policy changes by the Secrétariat général de la défense et de la sécurité nationale (SGDSN), imposing limitations on access to documents from 1940 to present, which includes all those held at the French Ministry of Defense Archives at Vincennes, and the possible extension to other archives with previously classified documents.
The Middle East Studies Association is joined by seven fellow associations of the American Council of Learned Societies in deep concern over the continued politicization of the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and the threat that its ongoing investigations into New York University and the University of California, Los Angeles represents to academic freedom. Political speech is and must remain constitutionally protected in the United States, and should not be conflated with bigotry for partisan political purposes. We condemn racism in all forms, and oppose in the strongest possible terms any form of discrimination against or harassment of Jewish students. The government's instrumentalization and abuse of the issue of anti-Semitism is an unwelcome intrusion at our institutions of higher education, intending to intimidate faculty and police political debates on campuses.
MESA signs open letter by SAH in opposition to proposed EO “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again”
MESA joins SAH statement as a signatory with other concerned academic associations following the proposed Executive Order regarding design and structure of federal buildings.
MESA signs joint letter from the AAA opposing American presidential threats to commit war crimes by targeting cultural sites in Iran
MESA joins AAA statement "Targeting Cultural Sites is a War Crime" as a signatory with other concerned academic associations following recent presidential threats to Iran.
November 14, 2019 MESA Board statement concerning the protection of academic freedom, condemning anti-Semitism and all other forms of discrimination and illegal harassment, while affirming the constitutional protection of free speech.
House Committee on Education and Labor expresses concern and requests information from the DoE regarding Duke-UNC Consortium investigation
House Committee on Education and Labor requests documents and further information from the Department of Education and expresses deep concern over the implications for academic freedom of its public threats to the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies over its Title VI funding as a National Resource Center for area studies.
MESA has joined other organizations in an open letter to Emirati authorities on behalf of human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor.
18 major scholarly societies join MESA in expressing concern about the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title VI
MESA and 18 other academic associations, representing over 100,000 concerned members, issue letter in response to allegations made by the DoE against the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, calling attention to the overly narrow and partisan conception of international studies contained in the letter, and pointing to past successes of Title VI programs in educating students and training experts with the needed depth and breadth in languages and regional and international studies.
Letter to Israel authorities about restrictions on international academics working in Palestinian universities
MESA and other scholarly societies issue letter that calls upon Israel authorities to issue a transparent policy that allows entry and the presence of foreign faculty and staff on Palestinian university campuses in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law.
MESA has endorsed the Statement from AHA on Domestic Terrorism, Bigotry, and History. The AHA expects the statement to “stimulate more questions than answers, with hopes these questions make their way into classrooms, libraries, museums, city council meetings, community centers, and even coffee shops, wherever people are trying to connect with each other to make historical sense of our current moment.”
In a narrow vote (8-8 with the Chief Justice casting a tie breaking vote) the Turkish Constitutional Court found that the rights of the Peace Petitioners had been violated. The decision should have precedential effect that will impact all the trials of petition signatories, bringing great relief to hundreds of Turkish academics. MESA’s joint letter of 24 July 2019 to the Constitutional Court of Turkey expressed support of the signatories’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly. MESA’s Committee on Academic Freedom has written numerous letters regarding the persecution of the Peace Petition signatories.
MESA along with other academic associations in the social sciences and humanities have written to the Constitutional Court of Turkey in support of the right of scholars and academics who signed the Academics for Peace Petition. The Court will take up the issue of the Peace Petition signatories on 26 July.
MESA deplores the most recent mass execution of 37 detainees in Saudi Arabia on 23 April 2019. It has noted with deep concern that among those executed were an academic and at least one student.
Letter from MESA Board to Stanford University expressing deep disappointment and dismay over the decision to drastically cut support of its university press.
MESA joined as a signer with other professional societies on a letter to Stanford University's administration about the recent decision to drastically cut support of their university press.