In Memoriam

Honoring the Memories of Past Members and Yemeni Scholars

AIYS is saddened to hear of the passing of Prof. Abbas Hamdani, who made substantial contributions to the study of the Ismaili community in Yemen, on December 23, 2019.

Dr. Hamdani was Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He was born in Surat, India in 1926, received his B.A. (Hons.) and L.L.B. degrees from Bombay University in 1945 and 1947 and his Ph.D. from the University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies) in 1950, in Arabic and Islamic Studies. He taught Islamic History at the University of Karachi from 1951-62; at the American University in Cairo from 1962-69; and at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee until his retirement in 2001.

Dr. Hamdani published widely on medieval Islamic philosophical thought.  His academic honors include a Fellowship from the Fulbright Commission and the American Research Centre in Egypt, and an award for distinction in Teaching, Service, and the promotion of Peace from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He spoke several languages (English, Arabic, French, Urdu, Gujrati) and travelled widely, attending and speaking at conferences in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, North Africa, Australia, and Asia.  He recently donated around 300 manuscripts inherited through seven generations of his family to the Institute of Ismaili Studies, which has been catalogued in the IIS publication Arabic, Persian and Gujarati Manuscripts: The Hamdani Collection.

A full obituary is published by the Institute for Ismaili Studies.

The Middle East Studies Center extends our deepest condolences to the family of Dr. Jon Mandaville, who passed away on August 5, 2019. We honor Dr. Mandaville for his 54 years of continuous scholarly service at Portland State University.  Jon Mandaville grew up in an Aramco family complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. After finishing high school in Beirut, Lebanon, he obtained his B.A. in History from Dartmouth College in 1959. He studied Arabic at the University of Edinburgh and under Philip Hitti at Princeton University, and pursued graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh where he received an M.A. in Islamic Studies in 1961. He earned his Ph.D. in History and Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University, NJ in 1969.

Professor Mandaville joined the History Department of Portland State College in 1965 before it became Portland State University in 1969.  His contributions to the Middle East Studies Center were invaluable. He served as the Director of the Middle East Studies Center between 1996 and 2004. He was Professor Emeritus at Portland State University in the History Department and Middle East Studies Center. He traveled throughout the Middle East, and served as the first director of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies in Sanaa, Yemen. 

He thought of history as "more than facts alone", and liked to explore the background of historical events in "live narrative." As an Ottomanist, his research and publications focused on the social and legal history of the Middle East since 1500 with special emphasis on the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. He wrote multiple publications on Islamic and Middle Eastern history, both near and dear to his heart. 

Dr. Mandaville and his family also hosted and befriended numerous local and Middle Eastern students during his tenure.  Many went on to become leaders, scholars, and a few pursued government service. His generous spirit and 54-year commitment to academic excellence has well served by his students and our community.

(from Portland State University)


The American Institute for Yemeni Studies is a US registered 501(c)3 non-profit, academic organization.

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