Columbia University unveiled its groundbreaking Center for Palestine Studies on Thursday. It is the first such center of its kind at an American University and builds on Columbia's reputation as a pioneer in Middle East studies.
The Center will seek to promote the study of Palestine, including its history and culture. It also aims to provide opportunities for academic exchanges for students and faculty.
"We are proud and honored to have the first such institution in the United States," said Rashid Khalidi, co-director of the new Center for Palestine Studies. "We hope to build on the current strengths of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University… and to honor the scholarly legacy of Professor Edward Saïd."
Khalidi's speech was greeted with rapturous applause and foot stomping, a resounding signal of the support and anticipation for the new Center. The Center will form part of the Middle East Institute, housed in the newly renovated Knox Hall.
The legacy of the Palestinian-American Professor Edward Saïd, most famous for his book, Orientalism, continues to attract prominent scholars and students from across the world to the university. Saïd taught at Columbia for 40 years. His personal books and papers have been archived under the auspices of the Columbia University Library.
Khalidi admitted that the newly-created institution lacks funding. One of management's first tasks will be to secure endowment funding to support operations, academic exchanges and scholarships.
The Center was inaugurated with the New York premiere of the movie 'Zindeeq' by Nazareth-born director Michel Khleifi. A question-answer session followed in the presence of the director and James Shamus, film producer and screenwriter, most famous for his work on 'Brokeback Mountain' and 'The Ice Storm.'
Anica Brooks is a second year Master of International Affairs student.