Colleagues will be sorry to learn of the death, on 25 January 2018, of Dr Hussein Sirriyeh, former Senior Lecturer, who retired in 2012 from the School of Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (AIMES).
Dr Sirriyeh joined the University in 1990 as a Lecturer in the Department of Modern Arabic Studies. Having studied Psychology at undergraduate level (at the American University of Beirut), his interest in political science was developed through his masters level study of political thought, international relations and arms race strategies; and then at Oxford, where he gained a DPhil in International Relations in the Middle East. His early academic career spanned posts in Lebanon (Institute for Palestine Studies), Jordan (Yarmouk University), London (Arab Research Centre and the International Institute for Strategic Studies), and the US (University of Southern California).
Throughout his career, Dr Sirriyeh’s meticulous research and teaching focused mainly upon the modern history and international relations of the Middle East and North Africa, but with an overall frame of reference that spanned the 6th to the 21st centuries and allowed him to explore, and to present to his students, the rich contextual background of many contemporary issues, and to tease out the trajectories – consequential or otherwise – of cultural, industrial and military policies. He was also active in the wider academic community, as a member of a range of professional bodies, including the British International Studies Association, the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies, contributing in particular to the development of frameworks for undergraduate and taught postgraduate study of Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. He co-established, for example, a very popular MA programme in Middle Eastern Studies with colleagues from POLIS, and was instrumental in the development of the University’s undergraduate Middle Eastern programme, with some of the modules he established still taught today.
Dr Sirriyeh was also well-known across the School of Modern Languages and Cultures for his work in postgraduate research student liaison, in admissions, and in student support. Unassuming and approachable, he was unstintingly generous with his support for students at all levels, coaching them to achieve greater insight into the challenges they faced and the skills they possessed – or needed to acquire – in order to arrive at their own solutions so that the sense of achievement at a goal achieved was truly theirs, and so that they felt better equipped to tackle further challenges as they arose. He also acted as a mentor to many colleagues within AIMES who greatly appreciated his commitment and his motivational approach.
Dr Sirriyeh will be remembered at the University with great respect for his scholarship and his dedication to his students. He will also be greatly missed on a more personal level for the care and concern for others that he brought to every area of his University life.