Asian and Middle East Studies Program (AMES) was established in 2011-2012 after merging the two separate, programs of Asian Studies and Middle East Studies. Housed under Global Studies, AMES is genuinely interdisciplinary in nature. AMES offers courses and draw upon faculty in a number of departments: Anthropology, Art History, Economics, English, Government (and International Relations program), History, Modern Languages and Literature, Music, Religion, Sociology, and Theatre, Speech and Dance. AMES has also been instrumental in establishing the new Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies program. While AMES acts as a fully integrated program, we have a two-track major, where students can major or minor in either the Asian Studies track or Middle East Studies track. We also have a vibrant South Asian studies faculty and minor. While we maintain two tracks, all majors are required to take two “core” courses. They are AMES 250 (Critical Issues in Asian and Middle East Studies), where they are introduced to a number of different topics, methodologies, theories, histories, and geographies across Asia. AMES 493 is the Capstone Course (Senior Seminar), where majors pursue their own senior research project particular to their interest while also exploring theoretical issues, cultural expressions, and social phenomena across Asian and Middle East Studies.
All students are also required to take one course in AMES outside their chosen “track” (i.e. from the other AMES track). Furthermore, AMES majors are required to have Arabic, Chinese, or Japanese through the 202-level or test out of the equivalent, along with two further levels of the language/literature/culture at the 300-level. While we do not offer a number of potentially appropriate languages, students can count another East Asian, South Asian, or Middle Eastern language (such as Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Turkish, or Persian), provided they can demonstrate proficiency through testing (that we can arrange) or accredited academic courses taken domestically or abroad.
In addition to the centrality of the language component to the major, the concentration and minor require students to take a series of courses across a range of cultural, historical, political, social, religious, and artistic topics. Furthermore, AMES encourages study abroad. While students have studied at various programs in the Middle East (largely, in Morocco and Jordan), the Chinese and Japanese programs have established summer and exchange programs with Kanazawa University, Keio University in Tokyo, and Akita International University in Japan and Tsinghua University in Beijing, as well as a yearly, faculty-led, summer intensive program in China.
Student and faculty life within AMES is robust. The program actively organizes and sponsors high-profile speakers, student and professional performances, learning-based and student centered activities, film series, workshops, student conferences, and field trips. For example, in addition to our music ensembles and “capstone conference,” AMES sponsor guest lectures, films series, book events, and a AMES “Town Hall,” where students and faculty meet to discuss the needs and hopes of the students for the upcoming year.
AMES uniquely hosts two music ensembles, the Middle East Music Ensemble and the South Asian Music Ensemble. These music ensembles bring together performers from the student body, the faculty, and the Williamsburg community, offer frequent performances, often with prominent guest musicians, and travel nationally and internationally to perform.