Founded in 2000, the Center for Middle East Studies (CMES) promotes the study of the Middle East, North Africa, and Islam at the University of California, Santa Barbara. CMES has long been a bastion of interdisciplinary scholarship, collectivity, and exchange. The last decade has witnessed a flourishing of CMES faculty and graduate students at UCSB across disciplines (Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences) and methodology (archival, ethnographic, quantitative, qualitative). CMES curates events geared to the campus academic community and broader public, including conferences, film series, musical performances, lectures, and book talks. It supports graduate studies of the Middle East, North Africa, and Islam through funding, conferences, symposia, and workshops.

CMES seeks to present a holistic picture of Middle Eastern, North African, and Islamic lifeworlds. It is a hub for research that is grounded in material conditions and interrogates theoretical questions and stakes. We understand the Middle East and North Africa as a site to produce theory and knowledge. Our commitment to interdisciplinarity comes from our intellectual ambitions. CMES faculty and students have produced award winning scholarship across the disciplines of History, Religious Studies, Anthropology, Film and Media Studies, Global Studies, History of Art and Architecture, Music, Political Science, Communication, and Sociology. STEM faculty are also core to our vision and our Executive Committee.

A message on the catastrophe in Turkey and Syria

All of us here at the Center for Middle East Studies are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life and the on-going suffering of the survivors in Turkey and Syria in the wake of the cataclysmic earthquakes that have struck that region. We offer our condolences to those who have lost loved ones and wish to express our solidarity and support of those who are working so hard in rescue and relief operations.

Please note that this disaster has affected many members of our own UCSB community, so we urge understanding and support for students, staff, and faculty who have personal ties to the region. Those experiencing shock or grief may wish to consult UCSB Counseling Services.

Here in Santa Barbara we are no strangers to natural disasters and know that the road to recovery can take a long time and require large amounts of outside support. We urge everyone to consider making a donation to a disaster relief fund or agency of your choice.

Dwight Reynolds,
Acting Director
Center for Middle East Studies


Dr. Dwight F. Reynolds has been appointed Acting Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Reynolds is Distinguished Professor of Arabic language & literature in the Department of Religious Studies.  HIs most recent books are The Musical Heritage of al-Andalus (2021), Medieval Arab Music and Musicians (2022), and Bestsellers and Masterpieces: The Changing Medieval Canon (2022), co-edited with Heather Blurton (English, UCSB).


Dr. Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky has been appointed Vice-Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Hamed-Troyansky is an Assistant Professor of Global Studies. He is a historian of migration and displacement in the Middle East, the Caucasus, and the broader Muslim world. His forthcoming book, Empire of Refugees, examines the resettlement of about a million Muslim refugees from Russia in the Ottoman Empire prior to World War I.