J. C. Hurewitz: 93, Dies; Scholar of the Middle East

Historians in the News

J. C. Hurewitz, a Columbia University professor whose voluminous research, belief in the importance of local histories and evenhanded scholarship contributed depth and complexity to the emerging field of Middle Eastern studies starting in 1950, died on May 16 in Manhattan. He was 93.

The cause was pneumonia, said Lisa Anderson, a Columbia political science professor, a former student of Dr. Hurewitz’s and one of his successors as director of Columbia’s Middle East Institute.

Dr. Hurewitz said he began studying Middle Eastern politics when it was “essentially a nonexistent discipline” and went on to shepherd hundreds of students through the Middle East Institute, which he directed from 1970 until 1984. These included future diplomats in the Middle East, some of the early women to venture into the field, and Ismail Khalidi, the father of Rashid Khalidi, the current director of the institute.

Dr. Hurewitz’s most enduring scholarly achievement was collecting mostly unpublished papers, like secret treaties, communications between governments and legislative acts, to document the history of the Middle East from the early 16th century until just after World War II. The material was collected in two volumes published in 1956, then expanded and updated in two more volumes published in 1975 and 1979. He preceded each document with a detailed explanation.
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