News from The Ohio State University Middle East Studies Center.
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On the Front Lines

Performing Afghanistan

"On the Front Lines," a series of events centered on Afghanistan, organized by Lesley Ferris and sponsored by the Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme at the Ohio State University.  The project features stories written by Afghan women and adapted for the stage. Join us for unique cultural experiences and hear from scholars about the history of Afghan theatre and its continued relevance in daily life.

Mark your calendar for the following (links to details): 




Shakespeare Among the Suicide Bombers: The Turmoil of Theater in Modern Afghanistan
Nushin Arbabzadah, Afghan playwright, scholar, translator, and journalist, delivers the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute Annual Lecture on contemporary Afghan theatre from its humble origins on the dusty streets of ancient towns to its elevation at the court to its devastation under the Taliban to its current recovery through international efforts.

10/03/2019 4:00pm

Thompson Library, Room 165

Sahar Speaks: Voices of Women from Afghanistan*
Commissioned by Palindrome Productions of London and adapted for the stage from stories by Afghan women, these these two one-act plays—Parwana: They Bear All the Pain by Alia Bano and Dust Allergy by Nushin Arbabzadah— offer a rare and revealing look into Afghan women’s lives.

10/07/2019 4:30pm

Wexner Center for the Arts, Film/Video Theater

Chai Khana Social Hour *
Afghan afternoon tea and refreshments. 

5:45 p.m.

Wexner Center for the Arts Lower Lobby

Screening of "Kuja Meri?" (Where are you going?): Afghan Refugees Across the Globe*
Dutch photographer Joël van Houdt discusses his gripping exhibit documenting the journeys of Afghan refugees around the world following the despair resulting from the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan.

10/07/2019 7:00pm

Wexner Center for the Arts, Film/Video Theater

Strategic Culture: Staging Afghanistan to Simulate War 
Natalie Alvarez, Canadian theatre and performance scholar, delivers a lecture about Afghans playing the roles of villagers in military training camps in Canada and Britain, based on the research for her book Immersions in Cultural Difference: Tourism, War, Performance.

10/08/2019 4:00pm

168 Dulles Hall, 230 Annie and John Glenn Ave, Columbus

On the Road to the Pentagon: The Great Game Afghanistan
Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor Lesley Ferris presents a lecture on Tricycle Theatre’s 2009 Afghanistan festival of short plays focusing on
“The Great Game: Afghanistan,” a ground- breaking series of new plays documenting Britain’s relationship with Afghanistan from the 19th century to today.

10/31/2019 2:30pm

Thompson Library, Room 150

Film Screening of A Thousand Girls Like Me, by Sahra Mani (2018)
This 76-minute documentary by Sahra Mani presents the awe-inspiring story
of one woman’s battle against cultural, familial, and legal pressures as she embarks on a mission to obtain justice for the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, setting a positive example for her daughter and other girls like her.

11/04/2019 4:00pm

Wexner Center for the Arts, 
Film/Video Theater

*These are opening day events to be held on October 7th.

Supported by a Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme Arts Creation Grant. Co-sponsored by The Department of History, the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, the Middle East Studies Center, the Wexner Center for the Arts, and the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Service and the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Institute at the University Library.

Image: Joël van Houdt, All Rights Reserved.

Afghanistan stands at a critical juncture. For the first time in the 18-year American-led war, real prospects exist for a peace deal. The U.S. and (separately) Russia are openly negotiating with the Taliban, trying to chart a possible end to the war. We offer an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and the Columbus community to engage with one of the most critical issues of our time– women’s voices and the refugee crisis– through witnessing a range of performance events grounded in Afghan experience. This will create a unique learning opportunity that will be maximized by faculty in a number of departments. Other featured artistic practices –photography and film — provide a sense of the layered, nuanced ways one can view and come to understand other cultures. While wars do not define Afghanistan, they are critical for understanding the country today, and for connecting to Afghan history. The art events that inform this proposal explore these experiences through theatre making: scripted plays and immersive theatre. The Middle East Studies Center will interpret plays for students and the public by hosting discussions on politics, culture, and global issues related to war.  Artistic practices offer powerful ways to understand culture authentically and in context.  Theatre, especially, has the ability to transport audiences, or to immerse them in a cultural experience.  Please follow news and information regarding this exciting project at


Event Information, Parking, and Accessibility

Parking for events on OSU campus is available at the Tuttle Garage and the Ohio Union Garage. Disability spaces are available in those parking garages for visitors with valid disability permits. Payment for parking can be made by meters or through the campus parc smartphone app (note that any visitor spot can be made into a disability spot if paid for through the app). Further parking accessibility information is located here.

Please let us know if you have questions concerning access, or need to request accommodations for a disability. We will either direct you to the event organizers, or, if we are the organizer, make arrangements for any necessary accommodations. Early requests are encouraged, and a week will generally allow OSU units to provide seamless access.

For more information about this or other activities, please get in contact with the Middle East Studies Center, (614) 292-5897  To support our programs please go to our development page or consider joining our team

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Stay informed

We publish this information to support our community, and inspire young scholars to pursue Middle East Studies.  Stay tuned for information regarding funding, job opportunities and opportunities to share your knowledge with other researchers abound, locally in Ohio, in the U.S. and abroad. Check out our upcoming events, news analysis on the Middle East (eventsvideosblog posts), and publications, such as our e-books based on courses and conferences we offer. 

MESC's Vision

Our Center's mission is not only to foster high quality research and scholarship, but also to use this research and scholarship to increase understanding of the realities of everyday lives of Middle Eastern people. Our highest priority is to share knowledge, especially that which is based on direct experience in the form of field research, cross-cultural interaction, and/or primary sources from the Middle East.  We strive to make that information accessible through technology, but also by making it understandable through associated media and discussions.  
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