Michael Craig Hudson, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, died on May 25, 2021 at his daughter’s home in Tucson, Arizona. He was one week short of his 83rd birthday when he died of cancer.
Michael was born on June 2, 1938 in New Haven, Connecticut. His father, Robert Bowman Hudson, Jr. of Dublin, VA, was an urban planner and pioneer of public educational broadcasting. His mother, Joan Loram Hudson, was born in South Africa and was a champion college tennis player. Michael grew up in Denver, Colorado and attended high school at University High in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and also in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He graduated from Swarthmore College and received his PhD in political science from Yale University, studying with legendary political scientist Karl Deutsch and influenced by anthropologist Marshall Sahlins, with whom he took a course as a high school student.
Michael’s lifelong engagement with the Arab world was sparked when, as an exchange student in Beirut, he witnessed first-hand the US military intervention in the 1958 Lebanese crisis. He went on to focus his study of politics and international relations on the Arab world and Middle East. His first book, The Precarious Republic: Political Modernization in Lebanon (1968), was widely considered the pioneering English language monograph on that country’s political fragility. Similarly, his second book, Arab Politics: The Search for Legitimacy (1977), was a major contribution to the exploration of identity, history, and power as contributors to regional instability. In addition to these two major works which grounded the field of Middle East political science in qualitative research and comparative frameworks, he edited and authored dozens of volumes, scholarly articles, and commentaries. He served as president of the Middle East Studies Association in 1986-87 and was a frequent and sought-after media commentator on Middle Eastern affairs and US foreign policy for decades.
Michael began his career as a lecturer at the City University of New York, later moving to Washington, DC to teach at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. In 1975, he joined the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University as director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and accepted an endowed position as professor of international relations in the Government Department in 1979. He worked closely with his lifelong friends Hisham Sharabi, Halim Barakat, Clovis Maksoud, Ibrahim Oweiss, John Ruedy, Hanna Batatu, Zeina Azzam, Peter Krogh, Barbara Stowasser and Judith Tucker, among many others, to shape the field of interdisciplinary Arab studies. His many students have made untold contributions in academia, journalism, government service, diplomacy, humanitarianism and business. After serving several terms as CCAS director, he was recruited as the founding director of the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore from 2010 to 2014. Throughout his career he advocated for human rights and democratization across the Middle East and was a passionate supporter of Palestinian liberation.
Michael lost his wife and beloved companion of forty-four years, Palestinian-Lebanese biologist and toxicologist Vera Wahbe Hudson, in 2007. He was an avid bon vivant, delighting in fine food and drink, travel, music, theater, literature and spending time with friends, old and new. He enjoyed running and swimming until his last days of life.
Michael is survived by his brother Robert B. Hudson III and sister-in-law Perry Hewitt of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; his daughter Leila Hudson, son-in-law Riad Altoubal, grandchildren Zayna and Zayd Altoubal of Tucson, Arizona; and his daughter Aida Hudson, son-in-law Andreas Laursen and grandchildren Annika and Benedict Hudson-Laursen of Copenhagen, Denmark. His family, friends, and colleagues will gather in Washington, DC in July 2021 to remember and celebrate his life.