Ellis J. Goldberg, long-time Director of the Middle East Center, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, eminent scholar of the Modern Middle East, and inspiring teaching and colleague, died on September 20, 2019 at the age of 72.
Professor Goldberg received his B.A. cum laude in English from Harvard University; a double M.A. in English and Political Science and a Ph.D. in Political Science, all from the University of California, Berkeley. Throughout his career, his research and teaching were driven by a keen intellect and wide ranging interests that infused everything he did with creative insight rare in the academic arena. His life was rich with experiences beyond the scholarly world. Deeply concerned about human rights and labor rights—threads that ran through his scholarship—his life experiences reinforced his scholarship, from working as a casual longshoreman on the 1970s Oakland docks, to avidly practicing hard martial arts, to being at the forefront of research on Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring movement. He drew from the rich tapestry of his life and remarkable intellect to produce wide ranging scholarship that was always new, insightful, and never derivative. His published work include, among many publications, articles on “The Worker’s Voice and Labor Productivity in Egypt,” “Private Goods, Public Wrongs, and Civil Society in Some Medieval Arab Theory and Practice,” “Lessons from Strange Cases: Democracy, “Development and the Resource Curse in the U.S.: 1929-2002,” as well as two books: Trade, Reputation and Child Labor in 20th Century Egypt and Tinker, Tailor and Textile Worker: Class and Politics in Egypt. In recent years, he posted original and influential commentary on his blog “Nisralnasr: Occasional Thoughts on the Middle East and US Politics.” At the time of his death he was working on a book on Citizenship, Sovereignty and Community in Contemporary Arab Political Thought.
The originality of his research and quality of his leadership was recognized by the field through several awards and grants, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Carnegie Scholar Award, Rockefeller Foundation Award, Earhart Foundation Award, US Institute of Peace, Ford Foundation, National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and four US Department of Education National Resource Center grants.
As the Director of the Middle East Center, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, for sixteen years he led the Center as a prominent National Resource Center on the Middle East organizing conferences on Democratic Movements in the Middle East, Freedom of Expression in a Global Perspective, Medieval Islamic History and Institutions, The Arabian Peninsula and the Caspian Basin in Comparative Perspective. Beyond his academic role, as an administrator, he held the Middle East Center to the highest standards, advocating for staff and students and establishing policies that the Center continues to follow long after his retirement.
A public remembrance of Ellis J. Goldberg will be held on December 5, 2019, 3:00-5:00 p.m., Kane Hall, Walker-Ames Room, 225, University of Washington, Seattle.
Felicia J. Hecker, Associate Director, Middle East Center