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The Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA) was founded on October 24, 2007 by Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton University and Professor Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University. ASMEA is an academic society dedicated to promoting the highest standards of research and teaching in Middle Eastern and African studies, and related fields. It is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that seeks to achieve these goals through programs, publications, and services that support its members and the international community of scholars and concerned citizens.[1]

ASMEA is a community of concerned scholars committed to protecting academic freedom and promoting the search for truth to reach new heights in inquiry. ASMEA will offer its assistance to established and new scholars in the field to expand the body of scholars and knowledge. It is a response to the mounting interest in these increasingly inter-related fields, and the absence of any single group addressing them in a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary fashion.

ASMEA was formed as a breakaway group from the existing MESA, because of perceived biases and perceptions within that established academic learned society.[2]

The Academic Council, ASMEA’s governing body, includes recognized scholars and statesmen. They include Professors Lewis and Ajami, as well as Professor Fedwa Malti-Douglas (Indiana U.), Professor Robert Lieber (Georgetown U.), Professor David Landes (Harvard U.), Professor Kenneth Stein (Emory U.), Professor Victor Davis Hanson (Hoover Institution), Dr. Les Gelb (emeritus president, Council on Foreign Relations) and former Secretary of State George Shultz.[3]

ASMEA’s officers are responsible for running the organization. They include Professor Mark T. Clark of California State University at San Bernardino (President), Professor J. Peter Pham of James Madison University (Vice-President), and Professor Joseph Skelly (Secretary).[4]

Among ASMEA’s offerings and services are a website, an annual conference, an annual journal and quarterly newsletter, job bank, syllabi bank, book review service, and other such programs and activities necessary to helping scholars enhance their efforts.[5]

Inaugural Conference

ASMEA’s inaugural conference—entitled "The Evolution of Islamic Politics, Philosophy, and Culture in the Middle East and Africa: From Traditional Limits to Modern Extremes"—was held in Washington, D.C., April 24-26, 2008. The conference featured a combination of panels and roundtables with academics and policy makers focused on the profound Islamic influence in these regions. The Association's chairman Bernard Lewis delivered the keynote address entitled "Studying the Other: Different Ways of Looking at the Middle East and Africa," in which he discussed the threat to the freedom of scholarly inquiry regarding these two regions and the prospects for enhancing the body of knowledge in an open and inter-disciplinary manner.[6]

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