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Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Illinois

The Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies promotes teaching and scholarship on South Asia and the Middle East and fosters a greater public understanding of these globally influential regions.


For over thirty years, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has recognized the importance of South Asian and Middle Eastern studies by supporting student and faculty projects related to the region. Through study abroad programs, language instruction, and faculty teaching and research, the campus offers students a variety of learning opportunities to engage with South Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, histories, and societies. CSAMES offers undergraduate minors in South Asian Studies and Islamic World Studies and a Master’s of Arts degree with a concentration in South Asian or Middle Eastern Studies.

CSAMES works with more than a dozen departments and affiliated faculty of over 75 members, who bring to the Center their expertise and diverse areas of interest. With the help of these members of the faculty, CSAMES organizes a variety of events, including a weekly noontime lecture series, conferences, symposia, and film series. CSAMES supports affiliated faculty who teach the languages spoken in our regions and has funded positions in Arabic, Hindi, Persian, Turkish, Sanskrit, Urdu and Bengali. At CSAMES, we bring together a broad and extensive program that address topics such as social movements, religious beliefs and transformations, cultural identities, literary traditions and critic, urbanization, political economy, nationalism-state formation, and gender relations.

Since its establishment in 1983, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded the Center a Title VI and multiple years of Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Languages (UISFL) grants. Additionally, the Center has received major grants from private institutions such as the Social Science Research Council, the Institute of Turkish Studies, and the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center.

Islamic World Studies Minor

The Center for South Asian & Middle Eastern Studies offers an interdisciplinary minor in the Study of the Islamic World. The minor is designed for students interested in developing an expertise in one or more parts of the Islamic World or in Islamic culture generally, as a complement to their disciplinary major. Completion of the minor requires 20 credit hours in applicable courses with a minimum grade-point average of 2.75. The courses selected by students for the Minor should form a coherent program of study and must meet the approval of the Director in the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

Language studies

CSAMES affiliated faculty teach Hindi, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and Turkish.

Outside the classroom

CSAMES also organizes events on campus for (and with) students and faculty to facilitate discussion about current events and issues pertaining to the Middle East and South Asia. We sponsor a weekly noon Brown Bag lecture series, frequently sponsor and co – sponsor lectures such as the annual India Studies Lecture and the Turkish Studies Symposium. We partner with a variety of campus units and community organizations to host film screenings and art exhibits. In addition to these public events, CSAMES also strives to serve K – 12 audiences through classroom visits, online curriculum units, and teacher workshops.

The Center Courses

SAME 133- Intro to the World of Islam

HIST 135- History of Islamic Middle East

RLST 214- Introduction to Islam (or RLST 213 Intro to Islam- ACP)

Additional courses in language, history, and social science chosen from the approved course list below. The courses must come from at least two disciplines. At least six hours should be at the 300- or 400-level.

ARAB 407: Topics Stand Arabic Lang & Lit I

ARAB 408: Topics Stand Arabic Lang & Lit II

ARAB 409: Adv Top Stand Arabic LangLit I

ARAB 410: Adv Top Stand Arabic LangLit II

ACE 453: Econ Dev in S & SE Asia

ANTH 402: Transnational Islam, Europe-US

ARTH 310: Islamic Arts of Africa: Muslim Identities at the Crossroads

CWL 205: Islam & West Through Lit

FR 479: Studies in Francophonie (when topically appropriate)

HNDI 408: Intro to South Asian Lit (when topically appropriate)

HIST 210: History North & West Africa

HIST 211: History East & Southern Africa

HIST 330: South Asian Military History

HIST 335: Middle East 1566-1914

HIST 337: Middle East since World War I

HIST 352: Europe in the World Since 1750

HIST 413: The Horn of Africa

HIST 430: India from Colony to Nation


HIST 438: Egypt Since World War I

HIST 439: The Ottoman Empire

HIST 466: Southeastern Europe

HIST 498: Research and Writing Seminar (when topically appropriate)

LA 218: S. Asian Cultural Landscapes

LA 222: Islamic Gardens & Architecture

MUS 417: Area Studies Ethnomusicology (when topically appropriate)

PS 241: Comp Politics in Dev Nations

PS 345: Gov& Pol of SE Asia

PS 346: Gov& Pol of South Asia

PS 347: Gov& Pol of Middle East

RLST 213: Intro to Islam-ACP

RLST 214: Introduction to Islam

RLST 223: Qur’an Structure and Exegesis

RLST 260: Mystics and Saints in Islam

RLST 403: Women in Muslim Societies

RLST 408: Islam and Modern Society

RLST 410: Islam in Egypt

RLST 480: Islamic Law

RLST 481: Muslim Ethics in a Global Age

RLST 482: Muslim-Christian Interactions

RLST 483. Salvation in Islamic Law

SWAH 407: Topics Swahili Lang & Lit I

SWAH 408: Topics Swahili Lang & Lit II

SWAH 409: Adv Topics Swahili Lang & Lit I

SWAH 410: Adv Topics Swahili Lang & Lit II

WLOF 407: Topics Wolof Lang & Lit I

WLOF 408: Topics Wolof Lang & Lit II


Contact the Center

Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

910 South Fifth Street, Champaign, IL 61820

Phone: (217) 244-7331

Email: csames@illinois.edu

Website: http://www.csames.illinois.edu/

Contact the Staff

Hadi Salehi Esfahani, Director
Office: 220 ISB
Phone: 217-244-7331
Email: esfahani@illinois.edu

Angela Williams, Associate Director
Office: 222 ISB
Phone: 217-244-5939
Email: aswillms@illinois.edu

Jovita Terpetschnig, Office Support Associate

Office: 221 ISB

Phone: 217-244-7331