Seminar Series

The Centre of Islamic Studies organises the CIS Lecture series on themes of topical and scholarly interest reflecting current issues in the Islamic world. Our speakers are world-class experts in their fields and provide a stimulating talk followed by Q&A from the audience. They are held in the Faculty of Asian and Middle-Eastern Studies on the Sidgwick site and are open to the public.

The CIS Lectures re-commence in the Michaelmas term 2018 – further details will be available and speakers announced soon.

Previous Lecture Series’


The advent of the Arab Uprisings in 2011 was bathed, in the media and in Western academic circles, with a roseate glow. There was a residual anxiety as new governments began to emerge that the challenge of political Islam as a new force might find democracy difficult to accommodate. Confidence, however, was placed in the political maturity that such movements seemed to show. In retrospect, of course, such sunny optimism was proved to be misplaced. At the Centre for Islamic Studies (CIS-FAMES) and the Centre for the study of the International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa (CIRMENA – POLIS), we continue to monitor and comment upon the manifold uncertainties that confront the Arab world today through the Turbulent World seminar series.

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Beyond the Arab Spring

The events of 2011 and 2012 have both underlined the centrality of the Middle East and North Africa to world affairs and profoundly challenged conventional assumptions about the Arab and Muslim worlds. Not only did they demonstrate that Arabs and Muslims have political aspirations little different from those elsewhere but the way in which they unfurled underlined a popular capacity for peaceful mass demonstration. Given both the on-going significance of the region to the economic and security interests of Europe and the United States, and the more immediate social and political fortunes of the region’s inhabitants in the face of such radical change, the Centre instituted a standing seminar from 2011-2013 to discuss what had happened and what was yet to come.

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Wright Lecture Series

This addresses topics of relevance to the study and understanding of the Middle East, Iran and India, ancient and modern, and is open to the public. William Wright (1830-1889) was Sir Thomas Adams’s Professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge and was renowned as a Semiticist and a philologist. The Wright Lecture Series, named in his honour, is run by the Department of Middle Eastern Studies in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies in association with the Centre of Islamic Studies, and reflects the spread of the Department’s academic interests.

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