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New academic network to discuss Middle East and Islamic world 

Wednesday 28 April 2021 6:17pm

The recently formed Middle East and Islamic Studies Aotearoa (MEISA) network will be launched at the University of Otago’s Wellington cLeon_Goldsmith 2020 Imageampus on Monday, 3 May.

MEISA is an interdisciplinary academic network that brings together researchers and graduate students from several universities in Aotearoa New Zealand. It will promote research on all facets of the Middle East as well as the wider Islamic world from an Aotearoa New Zealand perspective.

University of Otago Politics academic and MEISA founding-member Dr Leon Goldsmith (right) says the network will answer an urgent need for an informed, cross-disciplinary and multi-institutional voice on Middle Eastern and Islamic issues.

“Syrian war refugees, the Christchurch terror attacks, and the centrality of the region to global questions of peace and security as well as environmental sustainability have continued to propel the Middle East and Islam onto centre-stage in Aotearoa New Zealand, and around the world.

“We need to have informed discussion on a complex range of issues and opportunities. We hope to contribute to cross-cultural dialogues in the community, academic debate and research, as well as informing policy-making and opening up commercial opportunities.”

The event – organised by Aotearoa New Zealand-based Middle East and Islamic studies academics Dr Hanlie Booysen, Dr Ayca Arkilic (both Victoria University of Wellington), Nadine Kreitmeyr (University of Canterbury) and Dr Goldsmith – is made possible with the financial supportWilliam Harris image 2021 of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO and the University of Otago Politics Programme.

Speakers at the event will include Labour list MP Ibrahim Omer, Otago Emeritus Professor William Harris (right, whose topic is “the Middle East studies from a New Zealand perspective”).

Dr Nadine Kreitmeyr will introduce the Network and the keynote speaker is Tony Lynch (lead official for the Government’s response to the Royal Commission report into the 15 March 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack). MEISA members will attend workshops in Wellington on Tuesday, 4 May.