Monday, November 19, 2007

Quick Update from Canadia

i am in Montreal for the Middle East Studies Association annual meeting - one of my colleagues convinced our training officers that this would be a good use of our time. i am having a great time - seen lots of people i know, attended some very interesting panels that have raised some new issues for me, and (of course) have racked up on academic books at steep discounts. Canada is wonderful, but i will save my love song for Ottowa until i get back.


  1. As I told you last night: TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES FOR ME

    /Capslock: Autopilot for awesomeness.

  2. Why in the world would a Middle East Association have its meeting in Canada during the week of Thanksgiving? That makes no sense to me whatsoever. I mean, were they trying to discourage attendance so as to weed out the casual pedestrians from die-hard Middle East scholars like yourself? Canada is a brutal venue this time of year, not to mention having absolutely no symbolic Middle East significance. Is there anyone in the Middle East who can even name the Canadian prime minister? I sure can't.

    It just doesn't make any sense. Wait, I bet the cost of plane flights to Canada is rock-bottom cheap this time of year. Yeah. Okay, I get it now.

  3. It's not a meeting of purely Middle Easterners (although a lot were there), it's a meeting of people who study the Middle East. The association is largely populated by academics in the US and Canada (with a healthy contingent from Europe too), and the conference moves around every year. It is held the Saturday through Tuesday before Thanksgiving so that American academics (something like 70% of the body, i think) can reasonably skip a lot of the workweek without missing too much class. Montreal in particular is good because McGill University there has one of the best Islamic Studies departments in the world. Next year it will be in DC, then in Boston the year after that.

    The weather actually wasn't that bad. Evidently true winter in Montreal and Ottawa doesn't set in for another few weeks, generally speaking. There are lots of Arabs who have moved to Canada - something like 1% of the country is of Lebanese descent. (Lots of Vietnamese people there too, but that's beside the point.) Canada has a significant presence in the NATO forces in Afghanistan, as well as one of the largest aid budgets in the world, which it applies to the Middle East as well as other parts of the world.

    In short, you're not giving our northern neighbors a fair shake. Remember, they are our biggest trade partners and in many ways our relationship with them is far better and closer than with any other nation! (Not to say that i'm not above a few jokes about Canada, though...)

  4. When I was bidding on Toronto, I remember reading that more than half the population of that city was born outside of Canada. There's a very diverse international community there.

    And Lebanese are everywhere! There's a large Lebanese community in Mexico as well...Carlos Slim, the wealthiest man in the world, is of Lebanese descent.

  5. "The weather actually wasn't that bad"? I could have sworn that you come from the same part of the country that I do. Maybe I was mistaken. ;-)

    I still think it was the cheap plane flights.