Almanac – The Oxford Middle East Podcast

Almanac – The Oxford Middle East Podcast

Almanac is a student-run initiative at the University of Oxford. Every two weeks, a number of students sit down for an in-depth discussion about the region which has made history for thousands of years and continues to make headlines today.

08 Sep 2020 Episode #1 

Normalization, annexation, and the Palestinians.

Piotr Schulkes, Frederike Brockhoven, and Michael Memari discuss the impact of the normalization of the UAE-Israeli relationship on Netanyahu’s annexation plan, why it's yet more bad news for Palestinians, and American reticence to improve the situation. 

21 Sep 2020 Episode #2

The Kafala System. 

Hajar Meddah, Felix Walker and Piotr Schulkes discuss the Middle East’s controversial Kafala system, that allows employers to exploit workers and undermine their rights without breaking the law. They cover the history of the practice, the successes and failures of activism against it, and what the Kafala system’s future might look like.  

29 Sept 2020 Episode #3

Female Entrepreneurship in the Middle East.

Frederike Brockhoven sits down with Rania Ayman of Entreprenelle, Yasmeen Mjalli of Babyfist, and Lina Khalifeh of Shefighter to discuss female entrepreneurship in the Middle East. They cover their journey, the challenges they face, and challenge the norms of how women and their work are discussed.

22 Oct 2020 Episode #4

Orientalism and the Language of the Middle East

Lillie Sullivan, Piotr Schulkes, and Hajar Meddah discuss what the Middle East as a region is and how it is portrayed in academia and the media. They compare what they have been taught to what they experienced when they lived there, and how the language used to describe the Middle East can have severe consequences for policy in the region.

19 Nov 2020 Episode #5

Avi Shlaim on Revisionist History and Israel

Piotr Schulkes and Avi Shlaim, Fellow of the British Academy, sit down to discuss Israel’s New Historians; who they are, what they believe, and the popular reception to it. They also cover the role of history in Israeli politics, the significance of the Oslo Accords, and what Prime Minister Netanyahu has meant for historical research in Israel

03 Dec 2020 Episode #6

Child abuse and dancing boys in Afghanistan

Piotr Schulkes, Rose Johnson, and Max Randall dive into the phenomenon of the Dancing Boys of Afghanistan. They discuss the parallels which can be found in Persian and Sufi poetry, why it has seen a resurgence the last decades, and how it cannot be separated from the socioeconomic conditions of the country today.

26th Jan 2021 Episode #7

New Year’s Episode

The whole team gets together to discuss what their moment of note of 2020 was, what they are looking out for in 2021, and what their favourite book on the Middle East is.

Piotr Schulkes, Helena Murphy, Frederike Brockhoven, Max Randall, Rose Johnson, Hajar Meddah, Felix Walker, Michael Memari.

8th February 2021 Episode #8

Lebanon’s Economic and political crisis

Piotr Schulkes, Felix Walker, and Michael Memari cover the ongoing crises in Lebanon’s political and economic systems. They discuss the importance of the confessionalist system in perpetuating the corruption and dependency structures that have hollowed out the Lebanese state, the role of foreign actors, and what the country might face in the future.

20th February 2021 Episode #9

History, politics, and Anecdotes with Eugene Rogan

Piotr Schulkes and Eugene Rogan discuss the importance of history in contemporary Middle Eastern politics, how the West discusses the region, and a number of stories from Rogan’s time at Oxford.

All podcasts can be found on