The PhD Seminar was an invaluable occasion to provide for me to become acquainted, discuss and present my work to many experts on Middle Eastern Studies whose critical comments and discussions helped to improve my proposal and construct my hypothesis coherently. The seminar targeted a variety of topics and useful techniques such as practical exercise to give presentations, exercise for open discussions, and networking of doctoral students in Japan, which was a very nice opportunity to an overseas student like me. I am a PhD student at the Graduate School of Area and Cultural Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. My PhD dissertation deals with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement and its political activism during the era of President Muhammad Hosni Said Muraka.
The first presentation, "Necessary Requirements for Submitting Doctoral Dissertation", by Dr. Aiko Nishikida touched upon many important issues and most of the problems postgraduate students and researchers face from A to Z when they conduct a fieldwork and write PhD dissertation. There were many topics of interest during the seminar among which Miyuki Kinjou's paper, a PhD Candidate at Ritsumeikan University, "The New History in Israel: Formation and Change" was very interesting. It shed light on some new historians' discourse who have challenged the tenets of the Zionist and Israeli historical narrative and ethos. As the Arab-Israeli conflict remains in a deadlock, it would be worth researching to understand to what extent does each side's core historical narrative assist conflict resolution. It might also be interesting to explore if this new reading of historical narrative has influenced the foreign powers' approach to the Palestinian problem as most of these works are written in English and read outside Israel.
Another interesting paper was by Kenichiro Takao, a PhD candidate at Doshisha University, which dealt with the Great Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro, who contributed a lot to Islamic revival in modern Syria. The very few literature available on Sheikh Kuftaro might be a challenging task for Kenichiro's study but, at the same time, it is an invaluable opportunity for him to be the first one, in Japan, to shed light on state-society relation in Syria from a new perspective.
I learned a lot from the seminar, but it would have been more useful if the one in charge had set a certain guideline for students to follow in their presentations. Also it might have been more practical and helpful if some professors, present at the seminar, could have given brief lectures, in the beginning of each day, on writing PhD dissertation and made recommendations on problem statement and hypothesis, approach and methodology that are crucial in successfully writing a PhD dissertation. I would like to thank all the organizers and professors who devoted their time and made this seminar possible and would be very grateful if I could have the chance again to present my work in the future.