Published: Thu Sep 23, 2004One of the nation’s top experts on the Middle East lives and works in Middle Tennessee.
Tennessee Tech University political science professor Michael Gunter ranks as one of only 32 top university-based specialists on the topic, according to Campus Watch, an organization that reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America.
Campus Watch listed Gunter, along with experts from Harvard, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Georgetown and other major universities, as a specialist who produces “praiseworthy work” and offers “thoughtful and balanced analysis of the Middle East.”
“I am very pleased to have been chosen by such a prestigious and well-known organization and to be in world-class company,” said Gunter. “Although I’ve focused my studies on the Kurds, this recognition is much broader and is based on my publications and background.”
Indeed, the 32 experts were chosen based on their writings and experience and were not contacted before the list was released. Campus Watch was created by the prestigious Middle East Forum in Philadelphia by Daniel Pipes, a well-known authority on the Middle East.
“On our own initiative, we compiled the list to help students, parents, journalists, government officials and others to find professors from whom they might wish to learn,” said Campus Watch managing editor Jonathan Calt Harris.
Colleague Chris Joyner of Georgetown University agrees Gunter should be included in the list.
“Over nearly two decades of research, I’ve encountered few persons of such high professional integrity and intellectual energy as professor Gunter,” said Chris Joyner of Georgetown University. “His writings prompt new insights into important research questions that seek to explore the nature of violence in society, the cause of conflict and the justification for natural self-determination.”
Gunter’s body of work, bolstered by personal experiences and extensive travel to the lands he writes about, have placed him in continuous demand as an international conference speaker, visiting university professor, and national and international media contact.
Listed by the university as an expert on the Profnet service, Gunter receives radio, print and television interview requests from around the world on a regular basis. He’s been a guest on National Public Radio, Voice of America and the BBC.
He spent the last three summers at the International University in Vienna, Austria, which plays a major role in training international diplomats. There he taught undergraduate courses in international human rights and peacekeeping and received the 2003 Distinguished Visiting Professor Award for Teaching.
In 2003 and 2004, Gunter delivered papers at conferences at Eastern Mediterranean University in Northern Cyprus. In previous years, Gunter conducted a seminar to the U.S. State Department dealing with Middle East issues. He has also attended numerous international conferences in Berlin, Amsterdam and in Denmark, where he spoke about the military and societal consequences of a U.S. war with Iraq.
Gunter is a prolific writer with more than 75 articles in scholarly journals and books including Middle East Journal, American Journal of International Law and World Affairs. He has authored nine books about the Kurdish people of Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Iran, and two of those books were among the first analyses in English of the Kurdish unrest in the Middle East. In writing his analyses, Gunter has worked directly with top Kurdish and other Middle Eastern political leaders. He received the Kurdish Human Rights Watch’s “Service to the Kurds Award” in 1998.
Gunter’s latest release, “Historical Dictionary of the Kurds” (Scarecrow Press, 2004), explores the cultural, economic and social issues affecting the group. It recently received a positive review in the Middle East Journal. He also co-edited “Kurdish Question and the 2003 Iraqi War,” a book of commissioned articles about current issues, which will be released in Oct. 2004.
Gunter’s analyses and writings sometimes strike readers as controversial, but he says sometimes his views are often based on information that does not become public for a period of time. In fact, some organizations ask him not to discuss meetings and information gathered there.
Planning to remain in the thick of Kurdish issues, Gunter continues to stress the importance the Kurds’ future has on Americans.“The Kurds form the largest nation in the world without its own independent state,” said Gunter. “Since the Kurds sit on a great deal of the Middle East’s oil and water resources, the Kurdish issue will become even more important in this century.”