Research Center on Minorities in the Middle East

A- The identity of the Center
The Research Center on Minorities in the Middle East (RCMME) is a center for specialized university studies pertaining to minorities in the Middle East. The RCMME was established by the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) and approved by the University Council on July 11, 2012.

B- The importance and particularity of the project

As the world is becoming increasingly aware of the concept of the global village, ethnic and racial affiliations have taken root, in an unconscious movement, mainly for fear of disappearing or losing one’s particular identity as defined by geography, history, human and social factors, and culture. Accordingly, and with the rapid breakdown of barriers and obstacles hindering the unlimited communication network, minorities in the Middle East are imposing a cognitive model of functional differentiation in which scholars, researchers and specialists strive to explore, to record and to teach.
USEK is a Middle Eastern university recognized on the national, regional and international levels and is based on a special Syriac oriental heritage. While this has never hindered its relations and contacts with the other national heritages in the Middle-East, the University remains the first and only institution in Lebanon to have ever thought of establishing such a center dealing with the religious, cultural and cognitive history of minorities in the Middle-East and seeking to impart this knowledge to a wider audience.

C- The statute and academic affiliation of the Center
The RCMME is linked, both administratively and in practice, to the USEK Higher Center for Research (CSR). It is committed to identifying all mechanisms of action and research work in conformity with the overall strategy of the University, and is characterized by its openness to all the Faculties and Institutes concerned.
The center does not deliver any diplomas. However, it provides research projects and studies for all the individuals, partner universities and/or participating units concerned in the shape of assisted research projects related to this intellectual knowledge field. Participation in these research projects is recognized and assessed in conformity with the internationally-adopted credit system.

D- The statute of the Center: direct and indirect objectives
One subject associated with research exclusively is the issue of ethnic, racial and religious minorities in the Middle East, highlighting their human and historical richness and their art, literature, sciences and culture. The RCMME trains specialists in the field of minorities that are rooted in this prosperous region, as well as training social workers, advisers and experts working for international and local organizations. The basic objective is two-dimensional: first, to preserve the cultural heritage of these minorities, following the collection, classification, study and publication of data; second, to introduce a new young generation to the Other, who may be different, and yet shares the same geographical civilizational space, which may be culturally unique, with other youth born and living in this land of prophets, monotheistic communities and who are the founders of early human civilizations. Oriental personality as defined and characterized during the first century of the third millennium, has an essential added value due to its intellectual wealth, to human awakening and to social openness.

The research subjects focus on the personal identity of every minority group based on its various human, historical, social and cultural aspects. In addition, they tackle the interaction between individuals and their social and geopolitical surroundings and their role in writing human history in two areas, namely social, political and cultural growth, and participation in the evolution of humanity at all levels.

The importance of the study, the publication of the research and the exploration of the heritage and productivity of these minorities are of a significant value with regard to the culture of individuals and groups in this globalization era. This makes them accessible to all and enriches research subjects and higher studies in humanities and social sciences (Master, PhD, and beyond).

E- The administration of the Center: patterns, conditions and research methods
• The administration of the RCMME is managed by a full-time USEK research professor appointed by the University President following consultations with the Vice-President for Research and the RCMME Director. The term of office is three years and may be renewed twice…
• The Director of the RCMME is assisted by an integrated team of research professors and assistants, and an executive and administrative body, the level and number of which is determined in accordance the needs of the Center.
• The research team is composed of local full or part-time teachers at USEK, in addition to teachers from other universities with which we have mutually beneficial joint research agreements.
• The team of twenty researchers includes national and international researchers who constitute the scientific advisory committee, which guarantees the quality of research and creativity.
• The holders of Masters degrees, PhD students and researchers working on their post PhD research projects join the practical team of the Center.

• The main activities are divided accordingly as follows:

  • Defining the strategy of this research program within the framework of a general assembly, which joins the appropriate team and the scientific committee and convenes at least once a year in order to discuss the RCMME budget, identify the research framework and techniques, and define the necessary development plan needed to implement and assess ongoing or completed research projects.
  • Establishing a permanent laboratory, which gives the primary research materials at the individual or institutions level, such as the Doctoral College, and prepares the fertile ground for higher education studies. This refers particularly to a postgraduate diploma in the shape of a Master degree bearing the same title, along with access to a continuous digital library and heritage archives related to minorities.
  • Expanding the research partnership with the Faculties of Theology, Philosophy and Humanities, Letters, Music, Fine and Applied Arts, and Law, in addition to the Institutes of History and Liturgy at USEK.
  • Strengthening and diversifying the research partnership with centers and institutes in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.
  • Types of activities including: field studies in statistics, heritage, arts, literature, philosophy and humanities related to minorities in the Middle East; quarterly or yearly exhibitions covering the artistic heritage of minorities; conferences and seminars to which experts in this field shall be invited.
  • The research period may vary from one year to three years according to the type of the research and field work. This period may be extended to five years for some research projects.
  • The executive body is composed of the Executive Secretariat, technical and vocational assistants, and University staff members.
  • A budget of no less than the minimum budget per annum is earmarked for research by means of a permanent sponsorship by local and international sponsors, such as private and/or public institutions.

F- The general subjects listed on the program of the Center
Some major subjects may acquire a natural importance within the communities of the Middle East as a geographic region. The most important of these subjects are listed according to the following criteria:

 

The Maronite Church and its religious and cultural history
• Various intellectual phases (seminars and conferences)
• Heritage customs and traditions (conferences and exhibitions)

The Catholic Church and its religious and cultural history (in the East and West)
• Various intellectual phases (seminars and conferences)
• Heritage customs and traditions (conferences and exhibitions)

The Orthodox Church and its religious and cultural history
• Various intellectual phases
• Heritage customs and traditions (conferences and exhibitions)

The Armenian Church and its religious and cultural history (in the East and West)
• Various intellectual phases (seminars and conferences)
• Heritage customs and traditions (conferences and exhibitions)

The Coptic Church and its religious and cultural history (in the East and West)
• Various intellectual phases
• Heritage customs and traditions (conferences and exhibitions)

The Ethiopian Church and its religious and cultural history
• Various intellectual phases
• Heritage customs and traditions (conferences and exhibitions)

The Chaldean Church and its religious and cultural history
• Various intellectual phases (seminars and conferences)
• Heritage customs and traditions (conferences and exhibitions)

The Assyrian Church and its religious and cultural history
• Various intellectual phases (seminars and conferences)
• Heritage customs and traditions (conferences and exhibitions)

The Alawites and their religious, social and cultural heritage
• Various intellectual phases (seminars and conferences)
• Heritage customs and traditions (conferences and exhibitions)

The Druze and their religious, social and cultural heritage
• Various intellectual phases (seminars and conferences)
• Heritage customs and traditions (conferences and exhibitions)

The Alawite Nusayris and their religious, social and cultural heritage

The Sabeans and Baptists and their religious, social and cultural heritage

The Houthis and their religious, social and cultural heritage

The Zoroastrians and their religious, social and cultural heritage

The Yazidis and their religious, social and cultural heritage

The Kurds and their religious, social and cultural heritage
• Various intellectual phases (seminars and conferences)
• Heritage customs and traditions (conferences and exhibitions)

The Baha’is and their religious, social and cultural heritage

The Nawars (gypsies) and their religious, social and cultural heritage
• Heritage customs and traditions (conferences and exhibitions)

General culture and key subjects are taught within the framework of:
• Seminars in anthropology, sociology and ethnicities
• Shedding light on unknown minorities
• Minorities and emigration
o Minorities in their countries of origin and emigrating minorities
• Minorities and globalization
• Minorities in history and geography
• Minorities and laws
o Minorities and human rights
o Minorities and the right to vote or to stand as a candidate
o Minorities and the right to property.

G- Currently active centers and potential partners:

Institutes, Studies and Programs

http://middleeastminorities.blogspot.com/
1. European Center for Minority Issues (Flensburg, Germany) 
2. Research Institute of Ethnic and National Minorities (Budapest, Hungary) 
3. Centre for Ethnic and Minority Studies (London, UK)
4. Future of Minority Studies Research Project (Ithaca, New York)
5. Minorities in the Middle East (Columbia University, New York)
6. Institute for the Study of Minority Issues (North Carolina Central University)
7. Kurdish Human Rights Project
8. Centre d’études ethniques des universités montréalaises (CEETUM – Université de Montréal) 

Researchers

  • Prof. Youhanna Akik, USEK
  • Prof. Victor El Ki, UL
  • Prof. Dr. Raif Georges Khoury, Heidelberg Universität
  • Dr. Mirna Mzawwa, USEK
  • Dr. Paul Zoghei, USEK
  • Dr. Élie Azz, USEK
  • Dr. Fadi Al Ahma, UL
  • Dr. Gaby Bou Samr, UL
  • Dr. Georges Yara, USEK

The Scientific Committee

  • Prof. Farid El Khazen, AUB, Deputy
  • Prof. Charles Chartoun, UL
  • Prof. Victor El Kik, UL
  • Prof. Dr. Raif Georges Khoury, Heidelberg Universität
  • Prof. Dr. Werner Arnol, Heidelberg Universität
  • Prof. Sami Aoun, Université de Sherbrooke
  • Prof. Joseph Yaacoub, Université Catholique de Lyon
  • Prof. Souheil Kash, Université Laval, Québeck
  • Prof. Pascal Salhani, Université de Strasbourg
  • Dr. Harald Surman, MISSIO
  • Prof. Karam Riz, USEK
  • Prof. Issam Khalif, UL
  • Prof. Youhanna Akiki, USEK

H. Activities

The Modern Aramaic Languages
September 27, 2013

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