Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Awards
The MESA Dissertation Awards were established in 1982 to recognize exceptional achievement in research and writing for/of dissertations in Middle East studies. In 1984 the award was named for Malcolm H. Kerr to honor his significant contributions to Middle East studies. Awards are given in two categories: Social Sciences and Humanities.
2013 Nomination Guidelines
All students completing their dissertations between July 1, 2012 and June 15, 2013 are eligible to submit entries for the 2013 Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Awards. Dissertations should be nominated by the author’s sponsor or advisor, and accompanied by a letter of acceptance for the degree and a 250-word abstract of the dissertation’s subject matter. Applicants should specify either Social Sciences or Humanities as the category for which they are entering. Entries will be read by a three-member committee.
Authors should complete the submission form and provide a digital copy of the dissertation to the contact provided below. Winners will be announced at the 2013 annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. There is a $1000 award for the winning dissertation in each category. All materials must be in the hands of the Secretariat by June 15, 2013 to be considered. Materials should be sent to: MESA, The University of Arizona, 1219 N Santa Rita Ave, Tucson AZ 85721 or by email to email@example.com.
Deadline: June 15, 2013
Please address questions or requests for additional information to:
Middle East Studies Association
The University of Arizona
1219 N Santa Rita Ave
Tucson AZ 85721
2012 Award Recipients
Winner: Matthew Melvin-Koushki, University of Oxford, The Quest for a Universal Science: The Occult Philosophy of Sa'in al-Dīn Turka Isfahānī (1369-1432) and Intellectual Millenarianism in Early Timurid Iran
Yale University, Department of Religious Studies, Supervised by Gerhard Böwering
2012 Social Sciences
Art, Aid, Affect: Locating the Political in Post-Civil War Lebanon’s Contemporary Cultural Practices
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Department of Politics and International Relations, Supervised by Laleh Khalili
Organized Refugees and Fragmented Citizens: A Comparative Ethnography of Marginality, Solidarity, and Politics Across the Green Line
University of California, Berkeley, Department of Sociology, Supervised by Loïc Wacquant
Award Recipients, 1982-2011
- Winner: Abdel Razzaq Takriti, University of Oxford, "Revolution and Absolutism: Oman, 1965-1976"
2011 Social Sciences
- Winner: Orkideh Behrouzan, MIT, "Prozak Diaries: Post-Rupture Subjectivities and Psychiatric Futures"
- Winner: Maryann M. Shenoda, Harvard University, "Lamenting Islam, Imagining Persecution: Copto-Arabic Opposition to Islamization and Arabization in Fatimid Egypt (969-1171 CE)"
2010 Social Sciences
- Winner: Hamid Akin Unver, University of Essex, "How to Define Turkey's Kurdish Question? A Comparative Analysis of the Discourses in the US Congress, EU Parliament and Turkish National Assembly"
- Winner: Ahmed El Shamsy, Harvard University, "From Tradition to Law: The Origins and Early Development of the Shafi’i School of Law in Ninth-Century Egypt"
2009 Social Sciences
- Winner: Alan Mikhail, University of California, Berkeley, "The Nature of Ottoman Egypt: Irrigation, Environment, and Bureaucracy in the Long Eighteenth Century"
- Winner: Ziad Fahmy, University of Arizona, "Popularizing Egyptian Nationalism: Colloquial Culture and Media Capitalism, 1870-1919"
- Honorable Mention: Mark Dickens, University of Cambridge, "Turkaye: Turkic Peoples in Syriac Literature Prior to the Seljuks"
- Honorable Mention: Hanan Kholoussy, New York University, "The Making and Marrying of Modern Egyptians: Gender, Law and Nationalism, 1898-1936"
2008 Social Sciences
- Winner: Yuksel Sezgin, University of Washington, "The State's Response to Legal Pluralism: The Case of Religious Law and Courts in Israel, Egypt and India"
- Winner: Awad Halabi, University of Toronto, "The Transformation of the Prophet Moses Festival in Jerusalem, 1917-1937: From Local and Islamic to Modern and Nationalist Celebration"
- Honorable Mention: Sara Scalenghe, Georgetown University,"Being Different: Intersexuality, Blindness, Deafness, and Madness in Ottoman Syria"
2007 Social Sciences
- Winner: Max Weiss, Stanford University, "Institutionalizing Sectarianism: Law, Religious Culture, and the Remaking of Shi'i Lebanon, 1920-1947"
- Winner: Sabri Ates, New York University, "Empires at the Margin: Towards a History of the Ottoman-Iranian Borderland and the Borderland Peoples, 1843-1881."
- Winner: Raymond K. Farrin, University of California, Berkeley, "Reading Beyond the Line: Organic Unity in Classical Arabic Poetry"
2006 Social Sciences
- Winner: Mona El-Ghobashy, Columbia University, "Taming Leviathan: Constitutionalist Contention in Contemporary Egypt."
- Honorable Mention: Sherine F. Hamdy, New York University, "Our Bodies Belong to God: Islam, Medical Science, and Ethical Reasoning in Egyptian LIfe."
- Winner: Wilson Chacko Jacob, New York University , "Working Out Egypt: Masculinity and Subject Formation between Colonial Modernity and Nationalism, 1870-1940."
- Honorable Mention: Tamer el-Leithy, Princeton University, "Coptic Culture and Conversion in Medieval Cairo, 1293-1524 A.D."
2005 Social Sciences
- Winner: Koray Caliskan, New York University, "Making a Global Commodity: The Production of Markets and Cotton in Egypt, Turkey, and the United States."
- Honorable Mentions: Laleh Khalili, Columbia University, "Citizens of an Unborn Kingdom: Stateless Palestinian Refugees and Contentious Commemoration" and Kirsten Ann Stilt, Harvard University, "The Muhtasib, Law, and Society in Early Mamluk Cairo and Fustat (648-802/1250-1400)."
- Winner: Linda G. Jones, University of California, Santa Barbara, The Boundaries of Sin and Communal Identity: Muslim and Christian Preaching and the Transmission of Cultural Identity in Medieval Iberia and the Maghreb (12th - 13th Centuries)
- Honorable Mention: Maged S.A. Mikhail, UCLA, Egypt from Late Antiquity to Early Islam: Copts, Melkites, and Muslims shaping a New Society
2004 Social Sciences
- Winner: Lara Deeb, University of California, Davis, An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety among Islamist Shi’I Muslims in Beirut
- Honorable Mention: Oren Kosansky, University of Michigan, All Dear Unto God: Saint, Pilgrimage, and Textual Practice in Jewish Morocco
- Winner: Leor Halevi, Harvard University, Muhammad’s Grave: Death, Ritual and Society in the Early Islamic World
- Winner: Christopher Stone, Princeton University, The Rahbani Nation: Musical Theater and Nationalism in Contemporary Lebanon
2003 Social Sciences
- Winner: Gavin D. Brockett, University of Chicago, Betwixt and Between: Turkish Print Culture and the Emergence of a National Identity, 1945-1954
- Honorable Mention: James R. McDougall, St. Antony's College, Oxford University,Colonial Words. Nationalism, Islam, and Languages of History in Algeria
- Honorable Mention: Tamir Moustafa, University of Washington, Law Versus the State: The Expansion of Constitutional Power in Egypt, 1980-2001
- Winner: Bogac Ergene, The Ohio State University, Local Court, Community and Justice in the Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Empire
- Honorable Mention: Shafique N. Virani, Harvard University, Seekers of Union: The Ismailis from the Mongol Debacle to the Eve of the Safavid Revolution
2002 Social Sciences
- Winner: Ilana Feldman, Columbia University, Interesting Times, Insecure States: The Work of Government and the Making of Gaza in the British Mandate and the Egyptian Administration, 1917-67
- Honorable Mention: W. Flagg Miller, University of MIchigan, Inscribing the Muse: Political Poetry and the Discourse of Circulation in the Yemeni Cassette Industry
- Winner: John Chalcraft, Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University, The Striking Cabbies of Cairo and Other Stories: Crafts and Guilds in Egypt, 1863–1914
- Honorable Mention: James Onley, St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, The Infrastructure of Informal Empire: A Study of Britain’s Native Agency in Bahrain c. 1816–1900
2001 Social Sciences
- Winner: Jonathan Holt Shannon, Hunter College, Among the Jasmine Trees: Music, Modernity, and the Aesthetics of Authenticity in Contemporary Syria
- Honorable Mention: Paul J. Kaldjian, Missouri Southern State College, Urban Food Security and Contemporary Istanbul: Gardens, Bazaars and the Countryside
- Honorable Mention: Anthony B. Toth, St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, The Transformation of a Pastoral Economy: Bedouin and States in Northern Arabia, 1850–1950
- Winner: Joseph E. Lowry, University of Pennsylvania, The Legal-Theoretical Content of the Risala of Muhammad B. Idris Al-Shafii
- Honorable Mention: Mohammed Shahab Ahmed, Princeton University, The Satanic Verses Incident in the Memory of the Early Muslim Community: An Analysis of the Early Riwayahs and Their Isnads
2000 Social Sciences
- Winner: Samer S. Shehata, Princeton University, Plastic Sandals, Tea and Time: Shop Floor Politics and Culture in Egypt
- Honorable Mention: Engseng Ho, The University of Chicago, Genealogical Figures in an Arabian Indian Ocean Diaspora
- Winner: Shirine Hamadeh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The City’s Pleasures: Architectural Sensibility in Eighteenth-Century Istanbul
- Honorable Mention: Khaled Abou El Fadl, Princeton University, The Islamic Law of Rebellion: The Rise and Development of the Juristic Discourses on Insurrection, Insurgency and Brigandage
- Honorable Mention: John C. Lamoreaux, Duke University, Dream Interpretation in the Early Medieval Near East
1999 Social Sciences
- Winner: Peter C. Hennigan, Cornell University, The Birth of a Legal Institution:The Formation of the Waqf in Third Century A. H. Hanafi Legal Discourse
- Honorable Mention: S. Hülya Canbakal, Harvard University, ’Ayntãb at the End of the Seventeenth-Century: A Study of Notables and Urban Politics
- Winner: Marion Holmes Katz, University of Chicago, Purified Companions: The Development of the Islamic Law of Ritual Purity
- Honorable Mention: Heather J. Sharkey, Princeton University Colonialism and the Culture of Nationalism in the Northern Sudan, 1898-1956
1998 Social Sciences
- Winner: Joseph Andoni Massad, Columbia University, Identifying the Nation: The Juridical and Military Bases of Jordanian National Identity
- Honorable Mention: Mona L. Russell, Georgetown University, Creating the New Woman: Consumerism, Education, & National Identity in Egypt, 1863–1922
- Winner: Paul M. Cobb, University of Chicago, White Banners: Contention in ’Abbasid Syria, 750–877
- Honorable Mention: Albrecht Hofheinz, University of Bergen, Internalizing Islam: Shaykh Muhammad Majdhub, Scriptural Islam, and Local Context in the Early Nineteenth-Century Sudan
1997 Social Sciences
- Winner: Joshua M. Landis, Princeton University, Nationalism and the Politics of Za‘ama: The Collapse of Republican Syria, 1945–1949
- Honorable Mention: Farha Ghannam, University of Texas at Austin, Remaking the Modern: Space, Relocation and the Politics of Identity in a Global Cairo
- Winner: Najwa Al-Qattan, Harvard University, Dhimmis in the Muslim Court: Documenting Justice in Ottoman Damascus, 1775–1860
- Honorable Mention: Cynthia Robinson, University of Pennsylvania, Palace Architecture and Ornament in the “Courtly” Discourse of the Muluk al-Tawa’if: Metaphor and Utopia
1996 Social Sciences
- Winner: Samuel Wolfe Kaplan, University of Chicago, Education and the Politics of National Culture in a Turkish Community, Circa 1990
- Honorable Mention: Lisa Judith Wedeen, University of California, Berkeley, The Politics of Spectacle: Discipline, Resistance, and National Community in Syria
- Honorable Mention: James Long Whitaker, University of Durham, The Union of Demeter with Zeus: Agriculture and Politics in Modern Syria
- Honorable Mention: Marlis J. Saleh, University of Chicago, Government Relations with the Coptic Community in Egypt during the Fatimid Period (358–567 A.H./969–1171 C.E.)
- Honorable Mention: Muhammad Qasim Zaman, McGill University, Early ‘Abbasid Religious Policies and the Proto-Sunni ’Ulama’
1995 Social Sciences
- Winner: Lisa Hajjar, The American University, Authority, Resistance and the Law: A Study of the Israeli Military Court System in the Occupied Territories
- Honorable Mention: Mohameden Ould-Mey, University of Kentucky, Global Restructuring and Peripheral States: The Stick and the Carrot in Mauritania
- Winner: Kathleen Malone O’Connor, University of Pennsylvania, The Alchemical Creation of Life (takwin) and Other Concepts of Genesis in Medieval Islam
- Honorable Mention: Saleh Said Agha, University of Toronto, The Agents and Forces that Toppled the Umayyad Caliphate
1994 Social Sciences
- Winner: Gokhan Cetinsaya, University of Manchester, The Ottoman Administration of Iraq, 1890–1908
- Winner: Armando Salvatore, European University Institute, The Making (and Unmaking) of ‘Political Islam’
- Winner: Matthew S. Gordon, Columbia University, The Breaking of a Thousand Swords: A History of the Turkish Community of Samarra (218-264 A.H./833–877 C.E.)
1993 Social Sciences
- Winner: Deborah A. Kapchan, University of Pennsylvania, Women in the Marketplace: Transitional Economies and Feminine Discursive Domains in Morocco
- Winner: Rayed Krimly, The George Washington University, The Political Economy of Rentier States: A Case Study of Saudi Arabia in the Oil Era, 1950–1990
- Honorable Mention: Andrew J. Shryock, University of Michigan, History and Historiography Among the Belqa Tribes of Jordan
- Winner: Devin J. Stewart, University of Pennsylvania, Twelver Shi’i Jurisprudence and its Struggle With Sunni Consensus
- Honorable Mention: Lawrence Goddard Potter, Columbia University, The Kart Dynasty of Herat: Religion and Politics in Medieval Iran
1992 Social Sciences
- Winner: Leyla Neyzi, Cornell University, Beyond “Tradition” and “Resistance”: Kinship and Economic Development in Mediterranean Turkey
- Honorable Mention: Haggay Ram, New York University, Islamic Symbolism: The Ideology of the Islamic Revolution in Iran as Reflected in Friday Communal Sermons, 1979–1989
- Winner: Nasser Omar Rabbat, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Citadel of Cairo 1176–1341: Reconstructing Architecture from Texts
- Winner: Dwight F. Reynolds, University of Pennsylvania, Heroic Poets, Poetic Heroes: Composition and Performance in an Arabic Oral Epic Tradition of Northern Egypt
- Honorable Mention: Jamal Elias, Yale University, Sufi Thought and Practice in the Teachings of ’Ala’ad-dawla as- Simnani
- Honorable Mention: Yvonne Seng, University of Chicago, The Uskudar Estates (Tereke) as Records of Everyday Life in an Ottoman Town, 1521–1524
1991 Social Sciences
- Winner: Virginia H. Aksan, University of Toronto, Ahmed Resmi Efendi, 1700–1783: The Making of An Early Ottoman Reformer
- Honorable Mention: Michael Dumper, University of Exeter, Muslim Institutions and the Israeli State: Muslim Religious Endowments (Waqfs) in Israel and the Occupied Territories, 1948–1987
- Honorable Mention: Steven Heydemann, University of Chicago, Successful Authoritarianism: The Social and Structural Origins of Populist Authoritarian Rule in Syria, 1946–1963
- Winner: Vincent Cornell, University of California, Los Angeles, Mirrors in Prophethood: The Evolving Image of the Spiritual Master in the Western Maghrib from the Origins of Sufism to the End of the 16th Century
- Honorable Mention: Daniel Carl Peterson, University of California, Los Angeles, Cosmogony and the Ten Separated Intellects in the Rahat al-Aql of Hamid al-Din al Kirmani
1990 Social Sciences
- Winner: Diane Singerman, Princeton University, Avenues of Participation: Family and Politics in Urban Quarters of Cairo
- Honorable Mention: Maha Azzam, University of Exeter, Islamic Oriented Protest Groups in Egypt 1971–1981: Theory, Dogma and Politics
- Honorable Mention: Kevin Joseph Lourie, Brown University, The Negotiation of Orthodoxy: An Ethnographic Study of the Assimilation Strategies of Religious Soviet Jewish Immigrants to Israel
- Winner: Smadar Lavie, University of California, Berkeley, The Poetics of Military Occupation: Mzeina Allegories of Bedouin Identity under Israeli and Egyptian Rule
- Winner: Christopher Schurman Taylor, Princeton University, The Cult of the Saints in Late Medieval Egypt
1989 Social Sciences
- Winner: John Francis Foran, University of California, Berkeley, Social Structure and Social Changes in Iran from 1500 to 1979
- Honorable Mention: Philip Julian Robins, University of Exeter, The Consolidation of Hashimite Power in Jordan, 1921–1946
- Honorable Mention: Michael John Reimer, Georgetown University, Administration and Society in Alexandria, Egypt, 1807–1882
- Winner: Ola Abdelaziz Abouzeid, University of Toronto, A Comparative Study Between the Political Theories of al-Farabi and the Brethren of Purity
1988 Social Sciences
- Winner: Rahma Bourgia, University of Manchester, State and Rural Society in Morocco: The Qemmour and Qayan Confederations in the 19th and 20th Centuries
- Honorable Mention: William Charles Young, University of California, Los Angeles, The Days of Joy: A Structuralist Anaylsis of Weddings Among the Rashaayda Arabs of Sudan
1987 Social Sciences
- Winner: Nathan J. Brown, Princeton University, Peasants Against the State: The Political Activity of the Egyptian Peasantry, 1882–1952
- Honorable Mention: Wilhelmina Jansen, Catholic University of Nijmegen, Women Without Men: Gender and Marginality in an Algerian Town
- Winner: Sam Isaac Gellens, Columbia University, Scholars and Travellers: The Social History of Early Muslim Egypt, 218–487/ 833–1099
- Honorable Mention: Eran Fraenkel, University of Pennsylvania, Skopje from the Serbian to Ottoman Empires: Conditions for the Appearance of a Balkan Muslim Society
- Honorable Mention: Daniel Goffman, University of Chicago, Izmir as a Commercial Center: The Impact of Western Trade on an Ottoman Port, 1570–1650
1986 Social Sciences
- Winner: Mary Hegland, State University of New York, Binghamton, Imam Khomaini’s Village: Recruitment to Revolution
- Winner: Susan Slyomovics, University of California, Berkeley, The Merchant of Art: An Egyptian Hilali Oral Epic Poet in Performance
- Honorable Mention: Juan Campo, University of Chicago, Muslim Homes: The Religious Significance of Domestic Space
- Honorable Mention: Jane Dammen McAuliffe, University of Toronto, Perceptions of the Christians in Qur’anic Tafsir
- Honorable Mention: Daniel J. Schroeter, University of Manchester, Merchants and Pedlars of As-Sawira: A Social History of a Moroccan Trading Town (1844–1886)
- Winner: Zeynep Celik, University of California, Berkeley, The Impact of Westernization on Istanbul’s Urban Form, 1838–1908
1984 Social Sciences
- Winner: Lila Abu-Lughod, Harvard University, Honor, Modesty, and Poetry in a Bedouin Society: Ideology and Experience among Awlad ’Ai of Egypt
- Honorable Mention: Laurence O. Michalak, University of California, Berkeley, The Changing Weekly Markets of Tunisia: A Regional Analysis
- Honorable Mention: Timothy Mitchell, Princeton University, As if the World Were Divided in Two: The Birth of Politics in Turn-of-the-Century Cairo
- Honorable Mention: Mary C. Wilson, Oxford University, King Abdullah of Jordan: A Political Biography
- Winner: Margaret L. Caton, University of California, Los Angeles, The Classical Tasnif: A Genre of Persian Vocal Music
1983 Social Sciences
- Winner: Beatrice F. Manz, Harvard University, Politics and Control under Tamerlane
- Winner: Cornell H. Fleischer, Princeton University, Gelibolulu Mustafa Ali Efendi, 1541–1600: A Study in Ottoman Historical Consciousness
- 1982 Social Sciences
- Winner: Dilworth Parkinson, University of Michigan, Terms of Address in Egyptian Arabic
- Winner: Karen A. Rasler, Florida
Malcolm Hooper Kerr Biography (1931-1984)
Born in 1931 in Beirut, Lebanon, Malcolm Kerr was both a child of and a student of the Middle East. His American parents had gone to Turkey in 1919 to work with the Near East Relief and eventually went to teach at the American University of Beirut. Malcolm was raised on the AUB campus on the terraced bluffs above the Mediterranean. His earliest memories of Lebanon were formed in the pre-World War II days of the French Mandate before the establishment of the state of Israel and the full flowering of pan-Arab nationalism. His family life and his education gave him a foot in two worlds and an abiding attachment and love of the Middle East.
The family spent the war years in Princeton, New Jersey, where Malcolm had his first taste of America. In his junior high school he was called “the boy from Syria” - an attribute he didn’t forget. When the war ended, the family went back to Beirut, and Malcolm returned to the American Community School for two years. Then in 1947, at not quite 16 years of age, he left the Middle East to spend his last two years of secondary school at Deerfield Academy in western Massachusetts, a school where many sons of AUB families were sent to learn American values and institutions. He thrived on the rigorous academic and athletic programs and always said that Deerfield made a man of him. His quick maturation might also have been due to the fact that he had to spend most of one semester in the infirmary, incapacitated by early-onset arthritis. This affliction was with him all his life, but he learned how to live with it and keep it at bay much of the time.
Malcolm went on to Princeton where he studied International Relations and specialized in the Middle East under Philip Hitti. His post-graduate plans to study at Oxford in 1953 were thwarted by a recurrence of arthritis; instead he returned to Beirut where he could live with his parents on the AUB campus and join the MA program in Middle East Studies. During that time he met his future wife, Ann Zwicker, who was taking her junior year abroad at AUB from Occidental College in California. They were married in 1956, by which time Malcolm had started work on his PhD at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Choosing to write his thesis with Sir Hamilton Gibb at Harvard, they spent the next two years in Cambridge and had to find their way to the Johns Hopkins Baltimore campus where his graduation was held in 1958.
Two books resulted from his graduate studies. His master’s thesis became Lebanon in the Last Years of Feudalism, 1840-1868; A Contemporary Account by Antun Dahir Al-Aqiqi. His PhD thesis became Islamic Reform: The Political and Legal Theories of Muhammad `Abduh and Rashid Rida.
Malcolm’s first teaching job was at AUB where he taught for three years in the Political Science Department. The first two of the couple’s four children, Susan and John, were born during that time. From AUB, Malcolm was hired by Gustav von Grunebaum to teach at UCLA in the Center for Near Eastern Studies and the Department of Political Science. He delayed that appointment by a year to do post-doctoral study at St. Antony’s College, Oxford with Albert Hourani. As with so many of Albert's students, the year of study together led to a life-long friendship.
Malcolm had a twenty- year teaching career at UCLA, but at every opportunity the family used leaves-of-absence and sabbaticals to get back to the Arab world. In 1964-65, Malcolm received a Social Science Research Council grant to Cairo where he completed his best known book, The Arab Cold War; Gamal Abd al-Nasir and His Rivals, 1958-1970, a study of the interplay of ideology and political tactics in Arab affairs and of Nasir’s career as a pan-Arab leader. His concern was to dispel the notion of Arab politics as a projection of decisions made in Washington. The next year was spent teaching at AUB where the Kerr’s third child, Stephen, was born.
Shortly after his return to UCLA, he became chairperson of the Political Science Department, a job he declared in later years to be the best preparation for any kind of job in university administration. The Kerr’s fourth child, Andrew, was born during that time, and a beautiful house on top of a mountain overlooking the Pacific was purchased before the inflation of real estate prices began.
After the June War of 1967, Malcolm had become discouraged with Israeli-Arab politics, and so the family decided to spend time in France and North Africa during their next sabbatical in 1970-71. He obtained a grant to study the politics of higher education in North Africa. In actuality, he missed the issues of the eastern Mediterranean Arab world and neglected the politics of education in favor of working on the third edition of The Arab Cold War. His concern for the problems of the region are revealed in the preface:
…since June, 1967 Arab politics have ceased to be fun. In the good old days most Arabs refused to take themselves very seriously, and this made it easier to take a relaxed view of the few who possessed intimations of some immortal mission. It was like watching Princeton play Columbia in football on a muddy afternoon. The June War was like a disastrous game against Notre Dame which Princeton impulsively added to its schedule, leaving several players crippled for life and the others so embittered that they took to fighting viciously among themselves instead of scrimmaging happily as before. This may be instructive for the student of politics, but as one who all his life has had friendships and memories among the Arabs to cherish, I have found no relish in describing it.
Back at UCLA, the Kerrs spent a record five-year stretch in California, during which time Malcolm continued teaching and was appointed Divisional Dean of Social Sciences. He joined the ranks of “air academics” who flew around to conferences giving papers, but, in the memories of his daughter and three sons, still managed to be a loving father who liked nothing better than to play basketball in the driveway or attend father-daughter Camp Fire Girl dinners.
In 1976-77, Malcolm was asked to be a visiting distinguished professor at the American University in Cairo. With civil war going on in Lebanon this was a good alternative to taking the family to AUB. During that sojourn, he obtained Ford Foundation support for a collaborative enterprise between the von Grunebaum Center and the Strategic Studies of Al-Ahram Foundation. This was to be a joint study by Egyptian and American scholars on the subject of rich and poor states in the Middle East. Returning to UCLA in 1977, Malcolm administered the program and became director of the von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies. Two years later the family again departed for Cairo where Malcolm ran the University of California Education Abroad Program and completed the rich and poor Arab states project with an edited book entitled, Rich and Poor States in the Middle East; Egypt and the New Arab Order. In the concluding chapter he wrote of five scenarios for the future of Egypt in the year 2,000. Reading them today, they seem remarkably on target.
As much as the Kerr family loved Cairo, Malcolm’s heart always belonged to Beirut and AUB. He had become a trustee of the university and traveled to Lebanon from Cairo during lulls in the Civil War. When he was asked to be the president of AUB in 1982, it seemed like an ideal job fit - except for the political climate - but it was easy to overlook the danger for the chance to lead the institution which stood for all the things he believed in and where his parents had taught for forty years. His enthusiasm for taking the job was summed up by his statement, “The only thing I’d rather do than watch Steve (his son who then played for the University of Arizona) play basketball is be president of AUB.” The Civil War had been going on for seven years, but it was hoped that the shuttle diplomacy of Henry Kissinger that had brought about the exodus of the PLO to Tunis would soon bring peace. Betting on those chances and feeling a sense of calling to the job, the Kerrs decided to go to Beirut. Malcolm was president for only seventeen months. The war had not been spent but kept going for seven more years. On January 18, 1984, Malcolm was shot outside his office by two gunmen. Later Islamic Jihad made a telephone call to claim the credit for his death. The irony, of course, was that they had killed a man who understood and loved the Middle East as much as any foreigner could.
Malcolm’s spirit is carried on in the American University of Beirut, where hundreds of students have studied under scholarships in his name, in the students he taught at UCLA, AUB and AUC - and in his family. His children, in their own lives, personify and continue the various aspects of Malcolm’s career and interests and reflect the values of their parents as they raise their own children.
There is probably no academic tribute that Malcolm would appreciate more than having the MESA dissertation award named after him. His own scholarship was forthright and honest to the point of sometimes getting him into trouble. While he was often thought of as “pro-Arab” in writing about the Israeli-Arab conflict, he could be as critical of the Arabs as he was of the Israelis. He spoke the truth as he saw it and was committed to the cause of Arab-Israeli peace and to building understanding between the Arab World and the West. He was a founding member of MESA and served as president in 1972. Attending the fall meetings and seeing all his colleagues and friends was one of the highlights of his year. It is fitting that Malcolm Kerr’s spirit and scholarly love of the Middle East are perpetuated in the MESA dissertation award.