(May 31, 1916 – May 19, 2018)
For more than 60 years, Bernard Lewis, the doyen of Middle East historians, interpreted the world of Islam to the West. Born and raised in London, he studied at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, where he earned a Ph.D. in the History of Islam. After service during World War II, he taught at the University of London until 1974 and at Princeton University until 1986. He was Princeton’s Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies.
Professor Lewis drew on primary sources in Middle Eastern and other languages to produce more than two dozen books, including The Arabs in History and the post-9/11 international best-sellers What Went Wrong? and Crisis in Islam. Professor Lewis performed the invaluable service of placing current events in the context of history.
He was the first Western scholar permitted access to the archives of the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul. His work was distinguished by its attention to the lives of ordinary people, as well as kings and rulers. Professor Lewis was among the first to study issues of race, slavery, class, and the status of women in Middle Eastern history. In addition to his historical studies, he published translations of classical Arabic, Turkish, Persian, and Hebrew poetry.
Recognizing the pressing need for reform and improvement in the Middle Eastern as well as African studies, Professor Lewis assembled a distinguished group of scholars and statesmen in 2007 to create ASMEA.
Professor Lewis was founding vice chairman of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa. He passed away on May 19, 2018.