In the midst of a period of significant change in the Middle East and North Africa, scholars from multiple academic fields convened at Northwestern University in Qatar to present their work in progress on topics relevant to the region and its past, present and future. Together, their work suggests new directions in the study of the Middle East and North Africa and the ways an interdisciplinary conversation opens up a more dynamic sense of a complex and varied place.

The scholars in this collection explore questions of political and cultural identity, widening inequalities, and increasing political and economic oppression. In doing so from this perspective, they challenge the received wisdom of the region and its people, history and relationship to the rest of the world.

The essays collected in this volume emerged from a meeting held in Doha, Qatar, in September 2012. These working papers, or interim reports, represent manuscripts in progress by ten faculty members working in the field of Middle East and North African studies at two Northwestern campuses. The scholarship presented here—crossing fields of study and national boundaries—will be of interest to students and researchers based in a number of disciplines.

Northwestern University in Qatar was founded in 2008 by parent organization Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, USA in partnership with the Qatar Foundation. NU-Q draws on Northwestern University’s distinguished schools of journalism, communication and liberal arts to educate students for leadership positions in the rapidly evolving global media industry. As part of its active role in the development of a 21st-century, knowledge-based economy in Qatar, NU-Q engages in research, thought leadership and service relevant to Qatar, the Middle East and the global community.