Conflict in the Middle East


Twentieth Annual Darwin College Lecture Series 2005


Lecture 4   :   11 February

Lisa Anderson





As a region, the Middle East is both a real place, central to the modern world as the strategic crossroads of three continents, and an elusive invention of modern history, with competing claimants and ambiguous frontiers. Global debates about how identity and community are to be defined in the modern world are reflected and refracted in regional political turmoil as competition to define the imaginary Middle East provokes battles to delineate borders within and beyond the geographical Middle East. The region's distinctive association with political turmoil reflects a uniquely vexed relationship between territorial and communal identities between geography and imagination.



Lisa Anderson is the sixth Dean to lead the School of International and Public Affairs, established in 1946. She has been on the faculty of Columbia since 1986 and, just prior to her appointment as Dean, served as Chair of the Political Science Department at Columbia. Dean Anderson also served as Director of Columbia~Rs Middle East Institute from 1990 to 1993.

One of this country's most eminent scholars of the Middle East and North Africa, Dean Anderson's academic specialty is state formation and regime change. Author of Pursuing Truth, Exercising Power: Social Science and Public Policy in the Twenty-first Century (Columbia University Press, 2003), The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830-1980 (Princeton University Press, 1986), editor of Transitions to Democracy (Columbia University Press, 1999), and co-editor of The Origins of Arab Nationalism (Columbia University Press, 1991), she has written more than 35 scholarly articles. She has testified before the Foreign Relations Committees of both the House and the Senate, published commentary in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, and appeared as an expert on the news programs of the major television and radio networks.

Dean Anderson holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. She earned a PhD in Political Science from Columbia University, where she also received a Certificate from the Middle East Institute. She was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Monmouth University in 2002. From 1981 to 1986, she was an Assistant Professor of Government and Social Studies at Harvard University.

In addition to her responsibilities at Columbia, Dean Anderson is Past-President of the Middle East Studies Association, and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Social Science Research Council. She is on the Boards of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, and Human Rights Watch, where she serves as Co-chair of Human Rights Watch/Middle East. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Close menu
Site navigation mobile menu