Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies Department

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The Middle East, South Asian, and African Studies Department (MESAAS) has been involved in its fair share of controversies. The department was formerly known as Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC), but changed its name in 2011 after the addition of African Studies.


MESAAS is perhaps the most controversial department at Columbia. Its professors were tarred in the unabashedly Zionist documentary Columbia Unbecoming, which alleged anti-Semitism and intimidation of students by MEALAC faculty. Professor Joseph Massad in particular has come under scrutiny since the film's 2004 airing.

The denial of the department's chair in Armenian studies to James Russell, a Columbia alumnus and by far one of the most accomplished scholars in the field, is another MESAAS controversy of note.

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