News of the Association

Annual Meeting Yields New Board Members and Award Winners


Geoffrey Schad and Andrea Stanton


The Syrian Studies Association held its annual meeting on 18 November 2010 in San Diego, CA in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association. President of the Association Fred Lawson presided.


President Lawson welcomed the membership, listed the Association events at MESA, and reported that after much work the Associations bank accounts were now consolidated. He specifically thanked past Secretary-Treasurers Sherry Vatter and Annie Higgins for having assumed the burden of carrying SSAs finances in accounts for which they were personally liable. Lawson also announced that after much investigation and correspondence, the Internal Revenue Service had confirmed SSAs status as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity.


Lawson also announced that the Academic Travel Abroad organization had joined SSA as an institutional member.

Election Results


President Lawson announced that SSA members had elected Zayde Antrim (Trinity College) as SSA Secretary-Treasurer, and Heghnar Watenpaugh (University of California-Davis) as Member at Large of the SSA Board.


Zayde Antrim is Assistant Professor of History and International Studies at Trinity College.  She received a BA in History from the University of Virginia in 1995, an MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from Oxford in 1997, and a PhD in History from Harvard in 2005.  Her forthcoming book, Routes and Realms: The Power of Place in the Early Islamic World, focuses on the relationship between geographical texts, political power, and religious belonging among Muslims between the 9th and 11th centuries.  Her doctoral dissertation, Place and Belonging in Medieval Syria, 6th/12th to 8th/14th Centuries, won the Bruce D. Craig Prize for Mamluk Studies in 2005.  She has published articles in the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, the Mamluk Studies Review, and al-Masāq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean.  Other research and teaching interests include gender and sexuality, cartography, and literature in Middle Eastern history.


Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of California, Davis. She publishes on Islamic urbanism, issues of gender and space, as well as heritage in modern Middle Eastern societies. Her book, The Image of an Ottoman City: Imperial Architecture and Urban Experience in Aleppo in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (2004) received the Spiro Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians. She has also received the Best Article Award from the Syrian Studies Association in 2007 for her essay, Deviant Dervishes, published in the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. She has received fellowships from the J. Paul Getty Trust, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright-Hays, Social Science Research Council, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, and the Office of the President of the University of California. She held the Aga Khan Career Development Professorship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2001-2005. She serves on the editorial board of Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Culture of the Islamic World. She served on the Board of Directors of the Society of Architectural Historians, 2007-2010. Born and raised in Lebanon, Heghnar lived in Syria 1995-1997 and visits regularly.


Dissertation and Article Prizes


The Association awarded prizes for the best doctoral dissertation and best article. Peter Sluglett announced that the thesis winner was Benjamin White (pictured at right with Sluglett), Oxford University, currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University, for his December 2008 dissertation The nation-state form and the emergence of minorities in French mandate Syria, 1919-1939.


Andrea Stanton announced that the article prize was shared. The article joint winners were Kevin W. Martin (pictured at left), University of Indiana, Bloomington for Presenting the True Face of Syria to the World: Urban Disorder and Civilizational Anxieties at the First Damascus International Exposition, International Journal of Middle East Studies 42 (2010), 391-411, and Thomas Pierret (picture at right), Postdoctoral Fellow, Princeton University, and Kjetil Selvik, Assistant Professor in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo, for Limits of Authoritarian Upgrading in Syria: Private Welfare, Islamic Charities and the Rise of the Zayd Movement,  International Journal of Middle East Studies 41 (2009), 595-614.


The prize committee will award a prize for best article or book chapter published in an edited collection in 2011. Articles and chapters published between August 2010 and September 2011 are eligible. Submissions in languages other than English are welcomed; all submissions should be sent electronically. The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2011. Steve Tamari will chair the prize committee; please send submissions to him at: Winners will be announced at the SSA Annual Meeting in November 2011.


The meeting adjourned so members could attend the reception honoring Dr. Abdul-Karim Rafeq (pictured with Peter Sluglett) and Brills recent publication of Syria and Bilad al-Sham Under Ottoman Rule: Essays in Honor of Abdul-Karim Rafeq, edited by Peter Sluglett and Stefan Weber. The reception drew a sizeable crowd, who listened intently to Rafeqs comments on the evolution of Ottoman studies in the past generation and on the numerous arenas for future research.


Geoffrey Schad is former Secretary-Treasurer of the Association and Andrea Stanton is Editor of the Syrian Studies Association Newsletter.