OUR COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
Diversity and Inclusion in MELC
The Department of MELC has a passionate commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. Our faculty represent a diverse group of people concerned with languages, texts, literary and material cultures that, while not historically underrepresented in the same way as other minority cultures with a closer relationship to American history and culture (Native American and African-American, especially) have nonetheless been othered and undervalued. Among social, religious, and political groups that have been othered in the modern world, groups from the Middle East surely hold a significant place. The othering of Middle Eastern peoples has many manifestations, both in the past and today, no less so in the American Academy in terms of the marginal place fields like Assyriology, Egyptology, Semitics, and Islamicate Studies have traditionally had and still have.
With the exception of the study of the Bible, Middle Eastern fields have held a kind of niche position, one that is not central to the mission of the American Academy but a luxury only found at major universities. We in MELC subscribe neither to the “universality” of Western culture and thought nor the centrality of its perspective. Western civilization with its literary, scientific, and historical cultures, from our perspective, represents a particular viewpoint that must be set against other viewpoints from de-centered places, such as the ancient and modern Middle East.
The research and teaching in MELC directly expresses our commitment to the idea that the region holds great significance for American students and the American Academy. Our students need to have available places where they can go to study the unfolding of the histories of othered and underrepresented groups, to learn their languages and their relationships to the mainstream, and the subtle and pervasive developments of prejudice and lack of freedom. These themes are manifest in the literature and poetry of the modern Middle East and the formation of ancient fault lines between populations are already visible in Middle Eastern antiquity. We are proud that Berkeley Humanities reflects the principle that all othered groups are fully deserving of the attention traditionally paid to the West. We maintain that the MELC Department well reflects Berkeley’s commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation of minority other cultures.