October 24, 2007

HARRISONBURG—Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, will help lead a newly formed professional academic association, the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA).

Dr. Bernard Lewis, the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies Emeritus at Princeton University, considered one of the world’s leading authorities on the Middle East, will chair the new organization. Dr. Fouad Ajami, the Majid Khadduri Professor and Director of Middle East Studies at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, will serve as the Vice-Chairman of the association’s Academic Council. Other charter members include Dr. Robert J. Lieber, professor and chair of international relations at the Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service; Dr. Fedwa Malti-Douglas, the Martha C. Kraft Professor of Humanities at Indiana University; Dr. Victor Davis Hanson, the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution; Dr. George P. Shultz, sixtieth Secretary of State of the United States (1982-1989); and Dr. Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and former Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs (1977-1979).

Under the direction of the Academic Council, ASMEA’s officers will be responsible for running the organization. The officers include Dr. Mark T. Clark, Director of the National Security Studies Program at California State University-San Bernardino, an Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence, who will serve as president; and Dr. Joseph Morrison Skelly, associate professor of history at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, Riverdale, New York, and a decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as secretary-treasurer. JMU’s Dr. Pham, who also holds an academic appointment as an associate professor of justice studies, political science, and Africana studies, will serve as the new organization’s vice-president.

ASMEA’s goal is to encourage and promote the scholarly and dispassionate study, through multiple disciplines, of these important and so often misrepresented regions. It will advance both research and discourse in these fields by offering its members new opportunities to publish and present ideas to the academic community and beyond. ASMEA will offer its assistance to established as well as new scholars in the field, including un-tenured faculty and senior graduate students.

At the new organization’s announcement in Washington today, Dr. Lewis stated: “Because of various political and financial pressures and inducements, the study of the Middle East and of Africa has been politicized to a degree without precedent. This has affected not only the basic studies of language, literature and history, but also has affected other disciplines, notably economics, politics and social science. Given the importance of these regions, there is an acute need for objective and accurate scholarship and debate, unhampered by entrenched interests and allegiances. Through its annual conference, journal, newsletter, and website, ASMEA will provide this. It will seek to improve the education of the next generation of scholars and leaders upon which our future depends.”

According to Dr. Lewis ASMEA “will respond to the burgeoning interest in these and related fields by helping to address problems individually and in a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary fashion.”

ASMEA’s website can be found at: