Mary Kenefake ’13 Shares Research with Other Middle Eastern Studies Scholars in Doha

March 21, 2013

Mary Kenefake ’13 is in Doha, Qatar, this week presenting her research, “The Socioeconomic Transformation of Iran: Reform and Revolution 1973 – 1985.” She was selected as one of 22 students (and one of only two from liberal arts colleges) to attend the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service Middle Eastern Studies Students' Association Conference.

The conference brings together undergraduate scholars from different disciplines interested in the Middle East to present their work to peers, academia, and policy practitioners.

Kenefake’s research paper was originally written for History 334: World Economic Orders 1908-2008, taught by Assistant Professor of History Quinn Slobodian in fall 2012. The assignment was to "explore competing models of economic order within a particular European empire, nation-state, or former colony in a particular period of time, which might include a period of transition."

“I chose Iran during the period of 1973-1985,” Kenefake explains. “While not technically a formal colony of Britain, it was almost entirely economically controlled by British oil companies until the mid 1950s. The years 1973-1979 showcased the economic changes made under the capitalist economy of the Shah, and 1979-1985 included the actions of the newly formed socialist economy of the Mullahs.” 

Kenefake is a history major with a Middle Eastern studies minor, and picked Iran for her research because of her interest in the Middle East. “I had written about Iraq for an earlier paper in the same course,” she says, “and wanted to do something about its neighbor Iran.” 

Kenefake submitted her paper for consideration in January, “I was thrilled when I found out I was accepted to the conference. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity,” she wrote in a blog she has started. Her research was all done from the Wellesley College campus, and this fully funded conference is her first trip to the Middle East. “I definitely would not be able to attend a conference that was not fully funded, as I am a student on financial aid,” she says.

Wellesley encourages students to take their work into the world. Its Center for Work and Service is available to help students identify and pursue opportunities and means to do so.

Photo: Mary Kenefake's blog