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Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies
(The Middle East & Central Asia)

Centre for Arab & Islamic Studies
(The Middle East & Central Asia)
The Faculties
The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200
t: (61) 2 6125 4982/ (61) 2 6125 4928
f: (61) 2 6125 5410
e: CAIS@anu.edu.au

The Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (The Middle East & Central Asia) (CAIS), Faculty of Arts, at the Australian National University in Canberra is the first of its kind in Australia, combining the study of the Middle East and Central Asia in a single centre. The Centre was opened in February 1994, and was known until1 January 1999 as the Centre for Middle Eastern and Central Asia Studies (CMECAS).

CAIS is established as a teaching and research Centre. It integrates the study of Middle Eastern and Central Asian politics, history, culture, and economics, and places these within the broader framework of the changing global order. It examines the role of religion, especially Islam, and fosters the study of the Arabic, Persian and (as of 2003) Turkish languages. It also focuses on issues pertinent to Australia's interests, specifically its commercial, scientific, and industrial ties with these dynamic regions.

The Centre serves as a national focal point from which all Australian bodies may derive knowledge, insight and expertise about the Middle East and Central Asia; produces high-quality research, and trains graduates who are able to make a valuable contribution in a variety of ways, whether in academia, the public service, diplomacy, journalism or business- to Australia, and by extension, to the wider international community.

The Centre's areas of coverage are the Middle East (Iran, Turkey, Israel, and the Arab world, including North Africa) and Central Asia (Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan); and Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The primary objectives of CAIS are:

to promote Arab, Islamic, Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies, in both the undergraduate and postgraduate domains, at a national level; to coordinate research by Australian and international academics and specialists; to provide a pool of expertise for public and private sectors; to strengthen Australia’s ties with the Middle Eastern and Central Asian regions.


Research at the Centre is carried out in a wide range of areas relating to the politics, political economy, history and international relations of the Middle East and Central Asia.

Research topics of current scholars and recent graduates include:
· The Gulf Cooperation Council
· Saudi Policy Behaviour Towards Iran: An Analysis of the Saudi-Iranian Relationship Since the British Withdrawal from the Gulf Region
· The Impact of Satellite Television on Saudi Society
· Mythology and Memory: Challenges to Cross-Cultural Communication in the Middle East Peace Process
· Saudi Arabia and the Momentum of Reform
· Government Response to Islamists in Egypt and Turkey
· Hindu-Muslim Communalism on the Indian Sub-Continent
· The Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in West Asia
· The Raj in Arabia and Frank Holmes, Father of Oil
· The Traditional Dance and Music Traditions of the Northern Afghanistan Region
· Economic Transition in Central Asia
· UNWRA: Memories, Mythologies and the Palestinian Refugee Issue
· A One Superpower World: Implications for Security in the Middle East
· Political Economy and Social Relations of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna and Dra Abu el- Naga, Egypt
· Secession and Minority Rights: The Case of Kashmir
· The Arab-Israeli Conflict and Palestinian Refugees
· Political Processes in Pakistan
· The Algerian Political Conflict and Freedom of the Press 1989-1999
· Caspian Oil Pipeline Politics
· Territorial Disputes between Iran and the United Arab Emirates
· British Iranian Relations since 1979
· The Role of the Lebanese Diaspora in the Reconstruction of post-war Lebanon
· Understanding the Kashmiri Uprising
· Court Management in Dubai between Present Challenges and Future Opportunities
· US policy towards Central Asia after the collapse of the Soviet Union

Special Events

The Seventh Biennial Conference of the Australasian Association for Communist and Post-Communist Studies (AACPCS) will be held on4-5 February 2005 at The Australian National University Canberra, ACT.
The theme of the Seventh Biennial Conference is "The Systemic Transformation of Communism: The Record of the Past Quarter Century in Communism and Post-Communism".


In 2004 CAIS hosted a number of seminars, as well as a special panel discussion on 9 September to commemorate the death of Ahmad Shah Massoud. Commander Massoud led the Afghan resistance to the Taliban and was assassinated two days before the September 11, 2001 attacks. Speakers included Dr Najibullah Lafraie, Lecturer in Political Studies at the University of Otago; Professor William Maley, Director of the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, ANU; HE Mr Mahmoud Saikal, Afghanistan's Ambassador to Australia.
The Centre organises seminars on a regular basis with a variety of speakers from the region. The seminars cover a wide spectrum of topics relating to the Middle East and Central Asia, and provide a valuable forum for CAIS scholars and other interested parties to keep abreast of developments in the region. An annual lecture on Islamic Civilisation is also hosted by the Centre.

Centre staff & associates

Centre staff and associates bring together a wide range of expertise covering politics, history, political economy and international relations, as well as strategic and defence issues, and religion (Islam), in relation to the Middle East and Central Asia. They also cover Russian history and Russia's relations with Central Asia, and Arabic studies, and Persian language.
The Center's activities are guided by an Advisory Board drawn from academia, government, business and industry. The Centre is also able to call on the expertise of a panel of International Advisers.
Director of Centre:Professor Amin Saikal:Research interests include the politics, history, political economy and international relations of the Middle East and Central Asia.
Email address: amin.saikal@anu.edu.au
Dr Robert Bowker :Visiting Reader & Director of Graduate Studies
Research interests includeMiddle East politics, Persian Gulf security and conflict resolution in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
email address: robert bowker@anu.edu.au
Dr Kirill Nourzhanov :Lecturer
Research interests include politics, international relations and conflict resolution in contemporaryCentral Asia.
email address: kirill.nour@anu.edu.au
Dr Seyed Mohammad Torabi
Lecturer, Persian language & literature

Research interests include Persian language and the history of Persian literature from the pre-Islamic period to modern Persian Literature.
email address: mohammad.torabi@anu.edu.au
Dr M Mehdi Ilhan :Lecturer, Turkish language & culture
Research interests include Ottoman language, modern Turkish language, Ottoman and Turkish history and culture, and the history of Islam.
email address: mehdi.ilhan@anu.edu.au
Dr Stuart Harris :Visiting Fellow
Research interests include international relations of China and countries of Northeast Asia, Asia-Pacific regional cooperation and Australia's foreign policy.
email address: stuart.harris@anu.edu.au
Carol Laslett:Graduate Studies Administrator/Project Officer
Carol has a BA (Development Studies) from ANU, and an employment background in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Institute of International Affairs. She joined CAIS in early 1996. Carol looks after the Centre's graduate studies programs.
email address: carol.laslett@anu.edu.au

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