Southeast Regional Middle East and Islamic Studies Society


Welcome to SERMEISS - the Southeast Regional Middle East and Islamic Studies Society - a professional society for specialist or non-specialist educators and other individuals whose professional activities actively engage the Middle East and Islam. The organization was founded in 1977 to provide scholars in the southeastern United States with an opportunity to meet regularly with colleagues to share research findings and teaching concerns. SERMEISS is an affiliated organization of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA). 

The SERMEISS 10-state region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.       


2023 Article/Book Chapter Awards

We are thrilled to announce that Devin Stewart has been awarded the 2023 SERMEISS Article/Book Chapter Award for his outstanding contribution to the field with his article "Behind Enemy Lines: An Account of a Secret Conversion to Shiism in Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Aleppo," published in 2022 in Shii Studies Review, Volume 6.

Each year, this award recognizes a peer-reviewed article or edited volume book chapter from a wide array of academic disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, making significant empirical and theoretical contributions to our understanding of Islam and the Middle East.  Dr. Stewart's work offers a fresh perspective on a historical subject and has demonstrated a depth of research, analytical rigor, and theoretical innovation that makes it a standout contribution to the Middle East and Islamic Studies. The selection committee was deeply impressed with the quality and impact of his work.

Additionally, we are pleased to acknowledge Lillian Frost’s book chapter, "Security Threats or Citizens? Fifth-Column Rhetoric in Jordan," which appears in Enemies Within: The Global Politics of Fifth Columns, edited by Harris Mylonas and Scott Radnitz and published by Oxford University Press in 2022. The committee found in this chapter a compelling discussion about how and why states exclude a particular group in their polity. The committee was impressed with the extent of interviews that supported this work and complemented significant archival research. While Frost's focus is on Gazans and citizen and non-citizen Palestinians in Jordan, the committee found her analytical approach applicable beyond the case in and outside the region. Hence, the Committee recommends Dr. Frost’s work to be recognized as an Honorable Mention for the 2023 SERMEISS Article or Book Chapter Award.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Devin Stewart and Lillian Frost for this well-deserved honor and our sincere gratitude to all the nominees for their hard work and commitment to advancing scholarship within our areas of study.

On behalf of the entire organization, I also want to thank our Award Committee members, Dr. Ryan Lynch, Dr. Beverly Tsacoyianis, and Dr. Baris Kesgin, for their careful reading and evaluation of the submitted materials, as well as their insightful feedback. Their expertise, diligence, and careful consideration have played a pivotal role in recognizing and promoting excellence within our field.

We are dedicated to continually expanding the frontiers of knowledge and fostering a deeper appreciation of the Middle East and Islamic Studies, and that is why we look forward to the exceptional contributions that will continue to emerge from our members! Thank you all

SERMEISS  Fall 2023 Meeting 

Dear Members of the Southeast Regional Middle East and Islamic Society,

I hope this note finds you well and brimming with the intellectual vigor our annual meetings inspire. With that pleasure, I reflect upon the successful and engaging Fall 2023 meeting in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, between October 13 and 15.

The presentations and discussions during those three days were both enlightening and thought-provoking, as they covered a broad spectrum of complex and multifaceted issues within the region and demonstrated a remarkable understanding of both the "big picture" and the subtleties involved in each case. We had the privilege of hearing from distinguished scholars, including Lilly Frost, Dan P. Brown, Silvi Toska, Salih Yasun, and Liz Perego, and delved into topics such as the intentional ambiguities within citizenship regimes, the responses to the Arab Uprisings of 2011, the weaknesses in the party system in post-Arab Spring Tunisia, and the use of science fiction as a tool for political critique in 1960s Algeria. We were honored to host Charles Kurzman, who delivered the Bodman Lecture, during which he transported us back to the early 19th century, offering a glimpse into the pivotal moments that shaped the destiny of Algeria during the era of French imperialism. On Sunday, Farrukh Hakeem treated us to a visual presentation of the enchanting Mughal Chahar Bagh Gardens in Kashmir, reminding us of the beauty and cultural richness of the regions we study. Last but not least, our stimulating discussion of current events, led by Michael Samuel, Annie Tracy Samuel, Curtis Ryan, Charles Kurzman, and Barbara Michael, offered valuable perspectives on the evolving conflict(s) in the region, providing us with an opportunity to engage with pressing issues in our field.

As I look back on the Fall 2023 meeting, I feel proud of the sense of community and collaboration that we fostered, as this shared endeavor drives SERMEISS forward and encourages all of us within the organization to continue exploring and understanding the Middle East and Islam from our diverse disciplines, perspectives, and backgrounds. 

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all our presenters for contributing to these efforts, our Program Chair, Curt Ryan, and our President, Annie Tracy Samuel, for their help and support in organizing this wonderful conference. The meticulous planning and tireless efforts they invested were instrumental in ensuring that everything ran smoothly and seamlessly, allowing us to focus on exchanging ideas and fostering meaningful connections.

I am already looking forward to the upcoming meetings and the exciting discussions they will undoubtedly bring. Until then, please stay in touch, share your ideas, and continue inspiring the community members with your questions, comments, and analyses. 

Let's hope our scholarly pursuits continue enriching our understanding of the Middle East and Islamic World and help our efforts to bring peace to the region.

All the best,

Buket Oztas, Ph.D.

Executive Director

SERMEISS Statement in Support of Nassima Neggaz

The Southeast Regional Middle East and Islamic Studies Society (SERMEISS) declares its strong opposition to the politicization of tenure in the state of Florida and expresses its concern over the circumstances in which SERMEISS member Dr. Nassima Neggaz’s application for tenure and promotion was denied by the New College of Florida’s Board of Trustees.

Dr. Neggaz has established a distinguished record of research and scholarship that makes significant contributions to her field. Dr. Neggaz was awarded SERMEISS’s 2022 Article/Book Chapter Prize in recognition of her outstanding scholarship in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies for her article “The Many Deaths of the Last ‘Abbāsid Caliph al-Musta‘ṣim bi-llāh (d. 1258),” published in 2020 in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 585-612).

The New College of Florida’s Board of Trustees’ denial of Dr. Neggaz’s application for tenure and promotion in the absence of full and fair consideration thereof represents a significant harm to this promising young scholar, to the work of promoting an informed understanding of the Middle East and Islam to which Dr. Neggaz contributes, and to academic freedom broadly.

SERMEISS was founded in 1977 as a professional society to support scholars in the southeastern United States whose work engages the Middle East and Islam.

2023 SERMEISS Overseas Travel Grant 

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Lillian Frost (Virginia Tech) Melissa Camp (UNC Chapel Hill) have been selected as the winners of the SERMEISS Overseas Travel Grant. 

After much consideration and deliberation, the award committee has chosen Dr. Frost's project on "Intentional Ambiguity: Protracted Refugee Citizenship Policies under Pressure in Jordan" and Camp's dissertation work on "Sounding the Nahda: Musical Modernity in the Postcolonial Ottoman Empire" as the recipients of the grant. The committee was impressed by their outstanding work, fieldwork proposal, and overall dedication to the field. 

With that in mind, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the award committee for their diligent work in selecting the recipients. Their time, effort, and dedication to the process have been greatly appreciated.

We are proud to support Lillian and Melissa in their upcoming travels, feeling confident that they will continue to make significant contributions to the study of Islam and the Middle East and inspire others to do the same.

-SERMEISS Executive Director

SERMEISS Winter 2023 Newsletter

Dear SERMEISS friends and colleagues, 

Please see the SERMEISS Winter 2023 Newsletter for information about SERMEISS activities and programs, including the calls for award nominations, news of the society, and our members' new research projects connected with Islam and the Middle East.

Let us know if you have any suggestions or news that you'd like to share. We’d love to hear from you!

SERMEISS Executive Board

⁦Sermeiss 2021 book award winner ⁦Dr. Ryan Lynch⁩ gets the proceedings started with a great presentation for #Sermeiss2022

Dr. Lillian Frost⁩ presenting non Jordan’s nationality conferral laws for women at the Fall 2022 ⁩ conference in Valle Crucis, NC currently in full color.

Dr. Claudia Yaghoobi ⁦presenting on women’s movement in Iran

⁦Great roundtable on teaching difficult topics in difficult times featuring ⁦ Michaelle Browers⁦⁦, Waleed Hazbun, Mashal Saif⁩, and Matt Malczycki


Membership  is open to specialist or non-specialist educators, including graduate students, and other individuals whose professional activities actively engage the Middle East and Islam and who live in the southeast region. Dues are $25.00 per calendar year. 

Institutional membership dues are $200.00 per calendar year. Includes membership and free conference registration fees for up to 6 individuals from the same institution.


SERMEISS sponsors an annual fall meeting every October in Valle Crucis, North Carolina near Boone, and a spring meeting at a host university every other year. 

Spring meetings and alternate fall meetings feature the Bodman Memorial Lecture.