About the Clarke Initiative
The Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa is a cumulative project that focuses on current legal, political, economic, and social changes in the Middle East.
Made possible by the generosity of Cornell alumnus Jack Clarke, the Initiative seeks to be a part of the continuing academic and legal development in the region.
The Initiative includes collaborations with Middle East specialists in academia, policy, and the legal profession in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
This fall, the Clarke Initiative hosted a wide range of events, as discussed in the following pages. We continue to be grateful for the opportunity to enrich contemporary research and scholarship on this crucially important region.
Distinguished Visiting Scholar Program
The Clarke Initiative contributes to the development of research and scholarship on the region in part by hosting scholars from the region. These scholars are able to benefit from the resources of a world-class research
university to advance their work, as well as to dialogue with colleagues at Cornell and beyond in ways that may not otherwise be possible.
For the fall semester, the Clarke Initiative is hosting Professor Mohamed Arafa as a Visiting Scholar. He is an Assistant Professor of Law at Alexandria University Faculty of Law (Egypt on Sabbatical); Adjunct Professor of Law at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law; and Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Brasília School of Law (Brazil). As part of his activities at Cornell, Professor Arafa delivered two lectures in the fall. On September 26, Professor Arafa discussed the topic “The Legitimacy of Shari’a Law: Whither Ijtihad?” On November 8, Professor Arafa delivered a lecture entitled, “Uniquely Human and Unthinkable: Is Compatibility Achievable between Islamic (Shari’a) and Human Rights Law?”
Professor Arafa received his Doctorate from Indiana University McKinney School of Law 2013, an LL.M. from University of Connecticut Law School 2008 and his LL.B. from Alexandria University Law School.Professor Arafa serves as Managing Editor of the Arab Law Quarterly in London. He focuses his teaching and scholarship in the areas of criminal law; white-collar crime; Islamic law; international criminal law; human rights law with focus on terrorism and transitional justice. He has taught in Newcastle at Northumbria University, Manchester University in the UK, University of Parma and Bologna in Italy, Paris I (Sorbonne) in Paris, and Rijeka in Croatia. He has also lectured at venues around the world about Islamic law, terrorism, and the US Middle Eastern policies.
Distinguished Speaker Series
The Clarke Initiative continued to implement its occasional Distinguished Speaker Series, bringing established scholars to campus to speak on key and timely issues.
On October 22, Professor Sahar Aziz of Rutgers University visited Cornell to deliver a lecture, entitled, “The (Ir)Relevance of Law in Egypt’s Failed Transition to Democracy.”Professor Aziz discussed the limitations of law and legal institutions in shaping Egypt’s chaotic transition from the Mubarak regime.
About the speaker: Sahar Aziz is Professor of Law, Chancellor’s Social Justice Scholar, and Middle East and Legal Studies Scholar at Rutgers University Law School.Professor Aziz’s scholarship adopts an interdisciplinary approach to examine intersections of national security, race, and civil rights with a focus on the adverse impact of national security laws and policies on racial, ethnic, and religious minorities in the U.S. Her research also investigates the relationship between authoritarianism, terrorism, and rule of law in Egypt. She is the founding director of the interdisciplinary Rutgers Center for Security, Race, and Civil Rights. She is also a faculty affiliate of the Department of Political Science at Rutgers University-Newark. She teaches courses on national security, critical race theory, evidence, torts, and Middle East law. Prior to joining legal academia, Professor Aziz served as a Senior Policy Advisor for the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security where she worked on law and policy at the intersection of national security and civil liberties. Professor Aziz began her legal career as a litigation associate for Wilmer Hale after which she was an associate at Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLP in Washington, D.C. where she litigated Title VII class actions on behalf of plaintiffs. Professor Aziz earned a J.D. and M.A. in Middle East Studies from the University of Texas where she was as an associate editor of the Texas Law Review. Professor Aziz clerked for the Honorable Andre M. Davis on the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
On November 14, Professor Noura Erakat, a well-known expert and media presence on international law and Palestinian human rights, discussed “The Question of Palestine After Trump: Law, Jerusalem and the Rights of Palestinian Refugees.” She gave a legal and political analysis of the significance of the Trump Administration’s movement towards Jerusalem.This event was co-sponsored by Cornell University’s Ottoman and Turkish Studies Initiative.
About the speaker: Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and an Assistant Professor at George Mason University’s School of Integrative Studies.Her research interests include humanitarian law, refugee law, national security law, and critical race theory. Noura is the author of Justice for Some: Law As Politics in the Question of Palestine (Stanford University Press, forthcoming, 2019)
Junior Scholar Series
This fall the Clarke Initiative introduced a new speaker series: the “Seminar Series for Junior Scholars in Middle Eastern and Islamic Law.” This series is intended to further the Clarke Initiative’s objective of supporting the development of research and scholarly networks, by providing relatively junior academic or practitioners interested in scholarship with a platform to introduce their works-in-progress.
On October 3, Hesham Genidy delivered a lecture entitled “Islam, Terrorism and Democracy”in which he interrogated the theological roots of Islam, arguing they had been distorted by extremists and showing their essential compatibility with principles of democracy.
About the speaker: Hesham Genidy is a visiting scholar at Maurer School of Law and the Center for the Study of the Middle East at Indiana University.He received his Doctor of Juridical Science from Indiana University Maurer School of Law. His dissertation was awarded the best dissertation of the year award. His research interests are focused on the intersection of law and political science, rule of law and separation of powers. He is the author of "Everything New is Old again: The Impact of Egypt's Political Culture on the Rule of Law and Democracy" and the co-author of "Egypt Beyond Tahrir Square." Prior to starting his academic career, Genidy worked as a political analyst at the Egyptian National Security Agency for ten years, and his last position was the supervisor of the Middle East and North Africa Department. He also worked as special adviser for the United Nations Mission in Darfur. His areas of expertise are national security, law, and democracy in Egypt, and political issues in the Middle East.
On November 1, Dr. Gabriel Silveira discussed “Religion and Politics within Democracy: Comparative Thoughts from Brazil.” Dr. Silveira situated the rise of religious conservatism in Brazil in a comparative and international context.
About the speaker: Gabriel Silveira is Professor of Sociology at the Federal University of Piaui (UFPI), Brazil, and teaches in its Sociology Graduate Program (PPGS-UFPI).He holds PhD and Master degrees, both in Sociology, from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS); and a bachelor's degree in Law from UNISIONS. Gabriel also conducts research on comparative legal cultures, human rights and the judiciary. He is the coordinator of the extension program "Human Right's Agenda."
On November 7, Tarek Badawy gave a presentation on “Arbitration in the Middle East: From the Divine Law to Man-Made Jurisprudence.” Mr. Badawy discussed the religious and constitutional context for introducing Islamic principles into commercial legal transactions.
About the speaker: Tarek Badawy is a Partner in Shahid Law Firm’s Arbitration Group and is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the American University in Cairo.He maintains a broad public and private international law practice and has experience consulting for the United Nations. He represents clients in trade, commercial, and investment disputes before international tribunals, Egyptian courts and administrative authorities. Tarek has published extensively on different areas of Egyptian and international law and appears as a guest lecturer on legal matters in Egypt and overseas. He also sits as an arbitrator, and regularly serves as an expert witness on Egyptian law before courts (e.g., in Canada and the United Kingdom), and international arbitral tribunals. Tarek holds degrees in Political Science and Law from the American University in Cairo (BA), Cairo University (LLB), Essex University (LLM), and McGill University (BCL/LLB).
On November 16, Dr. Giancarlo Anello discussed “Europe and the Ummah: A Legal Inquiry on the Condition of the Muslim Community in a Transforming Continent.” Dr. Anello gave a legal- anthropological analysis of the growing Muslimpopulation on the European continent.
About the speaker: Dr. Giancarlo Anello (PhD Rome Sapienza) is a Legal Anthropologist.Currently he is Associate Professor at the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and Cultural Industries of the University of Parma, Parma, Italy where he teaches “Anthropology and Institutions of Islam”, and “Culture and Legal Pluralism.” Dr. Anello has published several articles in academic journals focusing on the possibility to adopt a cultural interpretation for legally supporting - in a pluralistic and democratic context – claims of Muslim communities grounded on the Islamic Legal Tradition.
Collaboration with University Partners
The Clarke Initiative continues to participate in Cornell’s Middle East Working Group (MEWG), a consortium of departments and programs addressing issues related to the region. Other participants include the Department of Near Eastern Studies, the Comparative Muslim Societies Program, and the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Initiative. The mission statement of MEWG declares:
The Middle East Working Group (MEWG) seeks to explore avenues of collaboration among the various units across the university that are engaged in programming on, and in the Middle East. Units with representation in MEWG include The Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa, the Comparative Muslim Societies program, the Jewish Studies Program, the Near Eastern Studies Department, and the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Initiative. Goals for the working group include:
- Increasing the visibility of Middle Eastern Studies at Cornell, raising student awareness of the rich and diverse academic resources available to them, and establishing support for research and teaching in this area as a university-level priority;
- Working to help ensure that expertise on the Middle East helps to undergird the university’s long-term institutional interests and commitments in the region; and
- Informing the wider academic and other interested publics about Cornell’s scholarly resources related to the Middle East.
The participants of MEWG often co-sponsor events with each other, as in the case of the joint sponsorship by the Clarke Initiative and the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Initiative of this fall’s lecture by Professor Erakat. MEWG has also hosted its own joint conferences, as in Fall 2017’s symposium on “The Middle East, the Academy, and the Production of Knowledge.” MEWG participants plan to meet in the early spring semester to devise a new agenda of forthcoming activities.
Comments, suggestions and questions are welcome.
Chantal Thomas Professor of Law
Director, Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa