Conference to Feature Leading Expert on Middle East

April 03, 2019

MISSOULA – One of the world’s foremost experts on Middle Eastern history and politics will speak during the 17th annual International Conference on Central and Southwest Asia, which will be held at the University of Montana on Thursday and Friday, April 18-19.

Will Todman, a visiting scholar and Associate Fellow at the Middle East Program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., will present the conference keynote lecture, “The Ties That Bind: Family, Tribe, Nation and the Rise of Individualism in the Arab World,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 18, in the University Center Theater.

“To have someone of Will Todman’s scholarly stature speak here at UM is an incredible opportunity,” said Mehrdad Kia, co-director of the University’s Central and Southwest Asian Studies Center. “He will illuminate the history and modern-day changes that are affecting a vitally important part of the world.”

Other presentations will include a roundtable talk with award-winning journalist Dexter Roberts, the former China bureau chief at Bloomburg Business week, as well as a panel presentation with four leading Chinese scholars on the critical role played by China in the Middle East and North Africa.

All conference events are free and open to the public and will be held in the third-floor UC Theater. Event sponsors include UM’s Central and Southwest Asian Studies Center, Shanghai International Studies University, the Montana World Affairs Council, the UM Department of History and the UM Provost’s Office.

A full conference schedule follows:

Thursday, April 18

  • 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.“The Partition of the Indian Subcontinent: Women and the Disharmony and Disfiguration of India.” Presented by Ekta Gupta, a visiting Fulbright Scholar, University of Lucknow, India.

  • 12:30-2 p.m.Student Panel. Ardi Kia, Central and Southwest Asian Studies Center co-director, will chair the panel. Student presenters are Chris Hanson, Sean Kitson, Isaac Mann, Kelcie Murphy and Jacob O’Neil.

  • 2-3:30 p.m.“Russia, the United States and the Middle East: A Panel Discussion.” UM History Professor Michael Mayer will chair, and the presenters are Robert Greene, UM history department chair, and Robert Seidenschwarz of the Montana World Affairs Council and a visiting scholar with the Central and Southwest Asian Studies Center.

  • 7-8:30 p.m.The Ties That Bind: Family, Tribe, Nation and the Rise of Individualism in the Arab World.” Keynote lecture presented by Will Todman, Associate Fellow at the Middle East Program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. UM President Seth Bodnar; Janet Rose, executive director of the Montana World Affairs Council; and Robert Seidenschwarz, MWAC chair; will provide opening remarks.

Friday, April 19

  • 10:30-11:30 a.m.From Factory of the World to Superpower: China’s Troubled Transition.” A conversation with Dexter Roberts, award-winning journalist and former China bureau chief at Bloomberg Businessweek. Seidenschwarz also will present.

  • 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.“The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism in the United States, Europe and Beyond.” Presented by UM’s Mayer and Bruce Barrett, a Missoula attorney and visiting scholar with the Central and Southwest Asian Studies Center.

  • 1-2 p.m.“Centrality of Central Asia.” Presented by Ardi Kia.

  • 2-4:30 p.m.“China, Central Asia and the Middle East.” Zhen Cao, chair of UM’s Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, will chair the event. Presenters are Professors Niu Song, Qian Xuming, Zhang Yuan and Zhao Jun, all from Shanghai International Studies University.

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Contact: Mehrdad Kia, co-director, UM Central and Southwest Asian Studies Center, mehrdad.kia@mso.umt.edu.