About the Institute

Ornate building

The Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia (TRI) was established in 1994 with the generous support of HH Prince Moulay Hicham Benabdallah ('85) of Morocco. Its founding director is Professor Abdellah Hammoudi of the Department of Anthropology at Princeton.  The Institute's mission is to encourage and enhance the comparative study of issues central to the Middle East-North Africa-Central Asia region. Within this geographical setting, the Institute focuses research on development, economic, social and political issues, democratization and human rights. The Institute also seeks to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and the dissemination of information about this region to the academic and wider community.

Since the fall 2007 the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia (TRI) has been directed by Professor Bernard Haykel of the Department of Near Eastern Studies (NES). In September 2008 TRI became fully integrated within the Department of Near Eastern Studies (NES), and because of its focus on the contemporary social, economic and political affairs of the Arab and Muslim worlds, TRI’s presence in NES will bolster the department’s considerable offerings and strengths on the study of the modern Middle East. This will be accomplished in several ways. First, every year a research theme is developed through a series of events, such as lectures, workshops and conferences, as well as research fellowship appointments.  TRI has, for example, focused on the politics of youth in the Arab and Muslim worlds, the language of politics, contestation, and the resources at the disposal of authoritarian regimes.  Some of these are relatively neglected yet important topics for understanding the problems and potentials of the region.  TRI hopes to lead the effort in framing new questions as well as providing a fresh perspective on the challenges facing contemporary Arab and Muslim societies.

The principal activities of the Institute include:

  • Annually selecting one or more visiting research fellows to spend a year or two in the Institute. Fellows are generally younger scholars who show great promise in research and publication in areas of study related to the interests of the Institute.
  • Presenting an annual series of public lectures and other events organized around a theme chosen each year.
  • Organizing conferences that bring together scholars, journalists and public figures from the Middle East-North Africa-Central Asia region, the United States and the rest of the world.
  • Publishing, on an occasional basis, articles and monographs resulting from our lecture series, conferences and other events.
  • Assisting through sponsorship scholars and other organizations that are contributing to the study of the region.