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“Sykes-Picot and the Modern Middle East”

Dr. Hilary Falb Kalisman is a historian of the Modern Middle East.

Can we blame the seemingly perpetual conflict in the Middle East on a 100-year-old secret agreement signed by a British aristocrat and a French career diplomat?  Leading scholars, heads of nations and even heads of terrorist organizations have argued yes.

Furman history professor Hilary Falb Kalisman will discuss the Sykes-Picot Agreement and its unintended consequences when she speaks at the High Noon lecture series Wednesday, Nov. 16 at the Upcountry History Museum-Furman.

Her talk, “Sykes-Picot and the Modern Middle East,” begins at noon.  It is free and open to the public.

Dr. Kalisman will discuss the history of the agreement fashioned by Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot, which divided the 600-year-old Ottoman Empire into British and French spheres of influence following World War I. The document also aimed to reshape the geography of the Middle East.  She will talk about the agreement’s impact on the borders and conflicts in the region, and contrast this history with narratives surrounding Sykes-Picot’s significance and our age’s attraction to mapping and remapping the world.

Kalisman, a historian of the Modern Middle East, joined the Furman faculty this fall after earning a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Brown University and a Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley.  She has also been a visiting postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.  Her research focuses on education, political culture, colonialism and governance in the modern Middle East.

The Upcountry History Museum/Furman is located at 540 Buncombe Street in downtown Greenville’s Heritage Green area.

For more information, contact Furman’s Marketing and Public Relations office at 864-294-3107 or

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