Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

W.M. Watt Annual Lecture 2017 - Professor Nur Masalha

Professor Nur Masalha, a Palestinian historian and former Director of the Centre for Religion and History at St. Mary's University, London delivered the third annual W.M. Watt Lecture, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) on 2nd November 2017.

The lecture, titled ‘Powerful Symbols and the British-Zionist Alliance: From Balfour to the Nakba’, coincided with the centenary of the publication of the Balfour Declaration, the historic letter of the Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur Balfour, to Lord Rothschild announcing that the British government ‘view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people’.

Balfour himself had a close personal connection with both the city and University of Edinburgh. Born at Whittingehame House, the family seat in East Lothian, he served as Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh for almost forty years (1891-1930).

An audience of well over a hundred people attended the event in the Playfair Library. Dr Anthony Gorman of IMES opened with a brief introduction to Balfour and the speaker while Professor Andrew Newman, also of IMES, closed the event with thanks after a lively Q & A session.

Watch the lecture on Media Hopper

About Professor Nur Masalha

Professor Nur Masalha has taught at several universities, including Birzeit University in Palestine. He is currently Associate Member of the Centre for Palestine Studies, SOAS, University of London.

He is the author and editor of a number of books on Palestine and Israel, among them Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of ‘Transfer’ in Zionist Political Thought 1882-1948 (1992); The Politics of Denial: Israel and the Palestinian Refugee Problem (2003); Catastrophe Remembered (2005); The Bible and Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology and Post-Colonialism in Palestine-Israel (2007); The Palestine Nakba: Decolonising History, Narrating the Subaltern, Reclaiming Memory (2012): The Zionist Bible: Biblical Precedent, Colonialism and the Erasure of Memory (2013) and Theologies of Liberation in Palestine-Israel: Indigenous, Contextual, and Postcolonial Perspectives (2014).

Professor Masalha is also Editor of Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies published by Edinburgh University Press.

About IMES and W.M. Watt

Arabic has been taught at the University of Edinburgh for over 260 years, and today Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (based in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures) is globally recognised as a leading centre in the field.

From his appointment as Lecturer in Arabic in 1947, until his retirement as Professor in 1979, William Montgomery Watt made an outstanding contribution both to Islamic scholarship and to the development of IMES.

His Free Will and Predestination in Early Islam (1949) was the first of more than twenty books on Islamic subjects.

The inaugural Watt Lecture was launched in November 2015 to mark the 50th anniversary of Watt's Inaugural Lecture as the first Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Scotland.

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Nov 02 2017 -

W.M. Watt Annual Lecture 2017 - Professor Nur Masalha

Powerful Symbols and the British-Zionist Alliance: From Balfour to the Nakba.

Playfair Library
Old College
South Bridge