The EUC Middle East Seminars

The EUC Middle East Seminars (EUCMES) provide a platform for debate on contemporary Middle Eastern affairs. Rooted in the liberal arts approach embraced by Erasmus University College, this series of public events offers a broad range of perspectives on issues of political, socioeconomic or historic significance in our understandings of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). More than ever, we believe there is an urgent need to deconstruct undue preconceptions and monolithic representations of this fascinatingly diverse region by exploring its complexities and by highlighting why the Middle East is so much nearer to Western Europe than is often assumed.

By inviting professionals from various backgrounds (academics, journalists, civil servants, NGO officers, etc.) we hope to deepen information and insights on the MENA region. Addressing current issues from a scientific perspective contributes to move beyond violent imagery and replace it with genuine exchange. Locating these seminars in Rotterdam seems appropriate to underline our metropole’s societal fabric, its cultural effervescence and its no-nonsense approach to the challenges of the day. All seminars are free and open to the public, with a possibility for questions from the audience. For some seminars, registration (free) is required.

1 December 2016, 19.00-21.00 - Turkey’s diaspora governance: between fact and fiction


The main speakers at this event are Thijl Sunier (Professor in Cultural Anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and Dries Lesage (Professor of International Politics at the University of Ghent).

Seminar overview:

This seminar will critically examine the mechanisms of Turkish diaspora governance by putting such practices in a wider context of globalisation and transnationalism. This will show that Turkey is certainly not alone in maintaining state-monitored solidarity networks. It will highlight as well how such networks may also engender processes of disengagement from the state. Furthermore, this seminar looks for reflection and fact-based knowledge to confront some of the complexities and misconceptions that endure in debates about the power struggles within Turkish society.

2 February 2017, 18.00-20.00 - Syria: the search for an elusive peace


Nikolaos (Koos) van Dam, a distinguished Dutch diplomat and academic who served as an Ambassador of The Netherlands for 22 years. His book The Struggle for Power in Syria (IB Tauris, 2011) remains a classic reference for all students of Middle Eastern politics. For the past two years (2015-16), he has served as the Dutch Special Envoy for Syria. 

Seminar overview:

Until tragic violence wrought havoc on its multi-faceted society, Syria was arguably the Arab World’s best-kept secret. Religiously diverse, culturally wealthy and historically significant, Syria had abundant insights to offer to anyone interested in the Middle East. European states and societies –including cities like Rotterdam- are increasingly discovering the country through their newly immigrated citizens.

This seminar will provide an opportunity to tackle the historic, religious and geo-political backgrounds that sparked the Syrian civil war in the wake of the Arab Uprisings of 2011. While the violence continues to cause horror, dismay and unbelief across continents, we will look into who the key actors in this conflict are. What are their objectives and their strategies? And why is it so difficult to stop the deadly war and its destruction? Can we discern any key factors to resolve this spiralling conflict? Crucially, perhaps, are there any lessons for ordinary, critical world citizens like us?

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For both events (free) registration is required via  

Er is altijd mogelijkheid om vragen te stellen, ook in het Nederlands.

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