This panel seeks to advance a debate started by the Arab Encounters panel in the 2018 IUAES Congress. It explores actors' positionalities vis-à-vis contemporary Middle Eastern encounters such as the recent uprisings in Lebanon and Iraq and the ongoing Syrian war and its production of refugees. It aims to discuss contemporary venues to define encounters as anthropological framework for complex social situations involving Middle Eastern social actors who themselves locate significant differences between "us" and "them" that become intertwined with identity and social belonging processes. Rather than focusing on a given subject (like Arabs in Europe), this panel favors social relations cutting across an ensemble of subjects engaged in Middle Eastern encounters across various regional contexts, and their symbolic and empirical connections to the polysemic, disputed imagined communities. How do crisscrossing emotions, ideas, aspirations, and values of different social agents influence dynamics of worldviews and social practices? We welcome papers that discuss Middle East encounters theoretically and/or ethnographically.