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Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures

321 Milbank Hall
212-854-8266 (fax)
Administrative Assistant: Mary Missirian

Chair: David Moerman (Associate Professor)
Professor: Rachel Fell McDermott
Term Assistant Professors: Hossein Kamaly, Annabella Pitkin, Dominique Townsend

Other officers of the University offering courses listed below:

John Mitchell Mason Professor Emeritus and Special Service Professor: William Theodore de Bary
Shincho Professor Emeritus and Special Service Professor: Donald Keene
Professors: Muhsin Al-Musawi, Paul J. Anderer, Peter J. Awn (Religion), Richard Bulliet (History), Pierre Cachia (Senior Scholars Program), Partha Chatterjee, Myron Cohen (Anthropology), Hamid Dabashi, Vidya Dehejia (Art History), Mamadou Diouf, Nicholas Dirks (Anthropology), Bernard Faure, Mason Gentzler (Senior Scholars Program), Carol N. Gluck (History), Jahyun Kim Haboush, Robert Harrist (Art History), John S. Hawley (Religion), Robert Hymes, Sudipta Kaviraj, Rashid Khalidi, Dorothy Ko (History), Le-ning Liu, Lydia Liu, Mahmood Mamdani, Brinkley M. Messick, Dan Miron, Timothy Mitchell, Sheldon Pollock, Frances Pritchett, Morris Rossabi,  George Saliba, Conrad Schirokauer (Senior Scholars Program), Alan Segal (Religion), Haruo Shirane, Michael Stanislawski (History), Robert A.F. Thurman (Religion), Gauri Vishwanathan (English and Comparative Literature), Pei-yi Wu (Senior Scholars Program), Marc Van De Mieroop (History), Chun-fang Yu (Religion), Madeleine Zelin
Associate Professors: Gil Anidjar, Charles Armstrong (History), Aaron Andrew Fox (Music), Lisbeth Kim Brandt, Feng Li, Joseph Massad, Adam McKeown (History), Gregory Pfugfelder, Jonathan M. Reynolds (Art History), Wei Shang, Tomi Suzuki
Assistant Professors: Janaki Bakhle (History), Weihong Bao, Allison Busch, Uri Cohen, Michael Como (Religion), Theodore Hughes, Nanor Kebranian, Eugenia Lean, David Lurie, Noha Radwan, Nader Sohrabi, Wendy Swartz, Gray Tuttle

The Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures


The Department’s primary aim is to introduce major Asian and Middle Eastern civilizations and their works and values as a means of expanding knowledge of the varieties and unities of human experience.  Students who major in the Department take a specific number of courses from the Barnard and Columbia curriculum, obtain two to three years of language proficiency in the language relevant to the world area under study, and hence become regional experts with specific disciplinary skills.  The Department offers three tracks:  the East Asian Track covers China, Japan, and Korea; the South Asian track covers India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh; and the Middle Eastern Track covers the Middle East, including Israel, the Gulf States, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, and North Africa.  The Department’s general courses are designed for all students, whatever their major interests, who wish to include knowledge of Asian and Middle Eastern life in their education.  Study abroad is encouraged.

Student Learning Outcomes

Faculty in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures hold the following learning outcomes for majors who take advantage of the opportunities offered through the program.  Students will be able to attain the following outcomes:

  • Speak, write, and read at an intermediate to advanced level in a language of the Middle East, South Asia, or East Asia;
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the history and culture of their chosen area of the world;
  • Exhibit in-depth knowledge of a particular aspect of it, such as the artistic, literary, religious, philosophical, sociological, anthropological, political, or economic elements;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with leading theory on the study of non-Western cultures; and
  • Produce a clearly and critically written senior thesis that draws upon the various aspects of their training – for instance, linguistic, historical, cultural, and political – in investigating a topic in detail and making a contribution to knowledge.

The satisfactory completion of one of the following courses offered in the departments of East Asian Languages and Cultures and Middle East Languages and Cultures satisfies the college requirements in the respective languages: Akkadian G 4113 Intermediate Akkadian; Arabic W 1215 Intermediate Arabic; Armenian W 1313 Intermediate Armenian; Bengali W 1202 Intermediate Bengali; Chinese C 1202 or F 1202 Intermediate Chinese (second stage); Hebrew W 1513 Intermediate Modern Hebrew; Hindi-Urdu W 1613 Intermediate Hindi-Urdu; Japanese C 1202 or F 1202 Intermediate Japanese (second stage); Iranian W 1713 Intermediate Modern Persian; Korean W 1202 Intermediate Korean; Sanskrit W 4813 Intermediate Sanskrit; Tamil 1202 Intermediate Tamil; Telegu W 1202 Intermediate Telegu; Tibetan W 4413 Intermediate Tibetan; or Turkish W 1913 Intermediate Turkish.

Students who wish to enter Chinese, Japanese, or Korean language courses above the introductory level must pass a language placement test before registering. Placement exams are given during the week before classes begin-contact the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures (407 Kent) for exact dates. For placement above the introductory level in Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Hindi-Urdu, Panjabi, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil, Tibetan, or Turkish, contact the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (401 Knox). All students wishing to enter the Hebrew language program or wishing exemption from the Hebrew language requirement must take a placement test. Contact the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (401 Knox) for details.