Fall 2019 CCAS Newsmagazine

Page 1

CCAS Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Georgetown University


Fall 2019


The Environment Issue

DIRECTOR’S NOTE Rochelle A. Davis


CAS continues to thrive and grow because of our world-class faculty, our dedicated and creative staff, and the support of our Board of Advisors. CCAS values the intellectual community we have created that insists on thoughtful and intelligent teaching, learning, and public engagement on and around the Arab world. This year we’ve reconnected with our MA in Arab Studies alumni in new ways—through a huge 40/45 party in May and by hosting more than 15 of our alumni to speak in various forums at Georgetown. Crucial to us is our excellence in teaching and research. Over the past academic year, our seven core faculty published twelve articles, book chapters, and reports, one edited volume, and another edited volume in translation. Five of these publications were co-authored with Georgetown MA or PhD students. Our faculty taught 27 courses over the year, four of which were instructed fully in Arabic. We have not only increased the overall number of students enrolled in the MA in Arab Studies and certificate programs, but also expanded the learning opportunities available to our students by awarding more than one million dollars in scholarships and securing outside grant funding (U.S. Department of Education National Resource Center and Foreign Language Area Studies) that has enabled us to offer new classes and design extracurricular learning opportunities. We also strive to ensure diversity within our MAAS student body, with 31% international students from 11 countries. Over the past year, we have reached new constituents and raised public understanding of the history, cultures, politics, and economics of the Arab world by hosting more than 2,785 attendees at 52 events and by making our events and educational materials available to global audiences through our online platforms. CCAS also offers robust programming to help educators teach about the Arab world in a nuanced and balanced way. We’ve been expanding our audience of teachers by offering travel grants and taking our content to multiple states and offering online webinars. In total, we partnered with 54 other academic departments at Georgetown, museums and cultural institutes, teachers’ associations, public schools, and community colleges. CCAS is a vibrant, productive place because of our faculty and staff ’s dedication to our educational mission for students at GU, public audiences, and teachers at the K-12 and community college level. You make it possible through your generous donations, your commitment to education at the highest level, and your participation. CCAS thanks you.



The CCAS Newsmagazine is published twice a year by the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, a component of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Core Faculty

Rochelle A. Davis Associate Professor; Director, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies Fida J. Adely Associate Professor and Clovis and Hala Salaam Maksoud Chair in Arab Studies; Director, Master of Arts in Arab Studies Program Osama W. Abi-Mershed Associate Professor Marwa Daoudy Assistant Professor Daniel Neep Assistant Professor Joseph Sassoon Professor and Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Chair Judith Tucker Professor

Affiliated Faculty

Mustafa Aksakal Associate Professor Mohammad AlAhmad Assistant Teaching Professor Belkacem Baccouche Assistant Teaching Professor Bassam Haddad Adjunct Professor and ASJ Editor Yvonne Y. Haddad Professor, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding Noureddine Jebnoun Adjunct Associate Professor Suzanne Stetkevych Sultan Qaboos bin Said Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies; Chair, Arabic & Islamic Studies Department


Dana Al Dairani Assistant Director Susan Douglass K-14 Education Outreach Coordinator

Maddie Fisher Events Coordinator Jacqueline Garner Office Manager Kelli Harris Assistant Director of Academic Programs Vicki Valosik Multimedia & Publications Editor

CCAS Newsmagazine Editor-in-Chief Vicki Valosik Editorial Assistant Isabel Roemer Design Adriana Cordero


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

An online version of this newsletter is available at: http://ccas.georgetown.edu

In This Issue Welcome to the MAAS Class of 2021! This fall, CCAS was pleased to welcome 23 incoming students to the Master of Arts in Arab Studies program. The diverse cohort includes students from across the United States, as well as from China, Gaza, Japan, Jordan, Spain, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates. Please join us in welcoming the MAAS Class of 2021!

FEATURE ARTICLES 6 Visiting Scholar Feature

Renewable Energy in the Gulf Arab States

8 Alumni Feature

Refugees and Water Security

10 Faculty Feature

Climate Change and the Syrian Conflict?

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHTS 13 Winds of Change

Catalyzing Jordan’s renewable energy sector

14 From the Saddle

A Unique Viewpoint on Diverse Landscapes

REGULAR FEATURES 4 Faculty News 5 Center News 16 Public Events

Q&A with The Lived Nile author

17 Education Outreach

Enlightenment as Global Phenomenon

18 MAAS on the Move Leen Alfatafta Joud Al Marar Anas Almassri Marcos Bartolome Ashley Brooks Mohan Chen Yasmeen El-Hasan Frank Faverzani

Michaela Gallien Chris Grinley Jonah Klempner Brian Koval Jérémie Langlois Jacob Leedy Aleia Maculam Hannah Markey

Paul McKinney Annalise Pflueger Yosuke Terada Kaitlyn Wagner Azim Wazeer Nicholas Wernert Gefan Zhu

News from our Alums

20 Dispatches

Enhancing Development with New Teaching Approaches

Mohammed Alhammami

The Environment Issue THIS THEMATIC ISSUE of the CCAS Newsmagazine showcases how the center engages with vital concerns surrounding the environment. CCAS Assistant Professor Marwa Daoudy debunks the theory that climate change caused the Syrian uprising, reminding us that the protestors were seeking an end to repression and injustice. CCAS Visiting Researcher Aisha Al-Sarihi provides a comparison of renewable energy adoption across Gulf states. We hear from several MAAS alums: Samar Judeh, who founded Jordan’s first privately-funded windfarm; Jennifer Derr, who recently authored a book on the environmental history of the Nile; Skylar Benedict, whose research uncovers the historic roots of Jordan’s water scarcity narrative; and Uma Mencía Uranga, who provides a personal glimpse at what animals can teach us about both natural landscapes and human cultures. MAAS student Sima Aldardari provides a “dispatch” from Lebanon, where she taught a class this summer on critical issues surrounding development work, including water and sustainability. And as always, you’ll find news from our faculty, students and alums, and details on the many activities at CCAS. We are grateful to the Barjeel Art Foundation and to Uma Mencía Uranga for the compelling photography that illustrates these pages. We hope you enjoy the issue. Vicki Valosik, Editor

About the Cover Art

The cover photo of this issue was taken by MAAS alum Uma Mencía Uranga (’17) inside an abandoned housing village in the United Arab Emirates. The village was built in the 1970s or 80s in the desert a few kilometers from the nearest town, al Madam in the Emirate of Sharjah. Though the exact reasons for the village’s abandonment more than a decade ago are unknown, it likely had to do with the encroachment of sand dunes. Today, the empty village is partially covered by dunes, which stretch into the interiors of abandoned houses, leaving striking images like this one where the human-made geometric structures contrast starkly with the organic shapes and hues of the desert. Find more of Uma’s photography on pages 6-8 and14-15.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬

Assistant Teaching Professor Mohammad Alahmad’s article “Aristotle’s Influence on the Concept of Metaphor Among the Ancient Arab Rhetoricians” has been accepted for publication by the journal ‫( عالم الفكر‬Aalam Elfiker). This article represents part of a larger research project on the history of Arab rhetoric. This fall, Dr. Alahmad is teaching a new Arabic content course that he designed, “Arab Feminism Through Literature.” Through the study of two Arabic novels, the class will help students understand how female authors in the Arab world handle women’s rights in their writing, while also deepening students’ Arabic reading, writing, and discussion skills.

In June, Assistant Professor Daniel Neep published a policy brief titled “Why hasn’t the Asad Regime Collapsed? Lessons from Syria’s History of Tyranny” (Middle East Brief no. 128) with the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. He was selected as a participant in the International Policy Summer Institute’s “Bridging the Gap” professional development program, designed to assist professors in international affairs build the tools and networks to disseminate policy-relevant academic research.

Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬ Professor Joseph Sassoon participated in a workshop last May at St. Antony’s College, Oxford on globalization in the 19th and 20th centuries. In June, Dr. Sassoon presented his forthcoming book, The Global Merchants and the World of the Sassoons, as the invited speaker for the annual Martin Norton Talk at the Jewish Museum in London. This fall Dr. Sassoon chaired two panel sessions at the conference “Iraqi Jews: History, Politics, and Culture” hosted by the British Library and School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He also participated in a workshop held at the University of Pennsylvania on philanthropy in history.

Board Member Profile

Assistant Professor Marwa Daoudy’s book, Origins of the Syrian Conflict: Climate and Human Security, is under production with Cambridge University Press and will be published in spring 2020 (learn more on page 10). In August 2019, she published a chapter titled “The 2011 Collapse of Syria-Turkey Relations: through a Realist Constructivist Lens” in the Routledge book The War for Syria: Regional and International Dimensions of the Syrian Uprising. The book was edited by Raymond Hinnebusch and Adham Saouli.


Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

Meet our Fall 2019 Visiting Faculty

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi is an Emirati columnist and researcher on social, political, and cultural affairs in the Arab Gulf States. Sultan was an MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow from 2014 to 2016, a practitioner in residence at the Hagop Kevorkian Center of Near East Studies at New York University in the Spring of 2017, a 2018 Yale Greenberg World Fellow, and a lecturer at the Council of Middle East Studies at Yale University. Sultan is currently conducting research for a book that documents the modern architecture of the city of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. This fall he is teaching “Politics of Modern Middle Eastern Art” at CCAS.

Staff News

Welcome to Jacqueline Garner

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

We would like to extend a warm welcome to Jacqueline Garner who joined the Center this November as the CCAS Office Manager. Ms. Garner has enjoyed a twenty-year career as an administrator within both academia and the finance industry. Originally from New York, Ms. Garner earned her bachelor’s degree from the Metropolitan College of New York. She has lived in Georgia for the past seven years and recently relocated to the Washington D.C. area.

Education Outreach ‫لتثقيف التربوي‬

Khaled Elgindy is an independent consultant and a nonresident senior fellow in the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, from Balfour to Trump (Brookings Institution Press, April 2019). Khaled is a graduate of the MAAS program (‘94) and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Indiana University-Bloomington. This fall, he is teaching “The U.S. and the Palestinians,” which looks at the role of the United States in the Israel-Palestine conflict, with a focus on the evolution of U.S. policy and American political attitudes toward Palestine over the past century.

CCAS IS ON In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬ INSTAGRAM!

CCAS recently launched an Instagram page to engage with new audiences and to showcase the diverse and interesting things our students and alums are doing. Check us out at @ccasgu. And as always, you can find us at:

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬


Twitter: @ccasGU

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ccasGU Youtube: www.youtube.com/c/ccasgu

Faculty Research: ‫حاث هيئة التدريس‬

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


Center News ‫أخبار المركز‬

‫ب‬ MAAS alumni gathering a huge success!MAAS News (Student News) Celebrating Last May, the center kicked off our 40-45 celebration (40 years of MAAS and 45 years of CCAS) with an alumni reception and dinner. The Copley Formal Lounge was festively decorated with Egyptian tent fabric and pictures of past students and faculty. Professor Belkacem Baccouche was honored for his many contributions to the MAAS Arabic program over the past 43 years. A few of the 150 attendees are pictured here: (Left) Neriman Cavdar, Marissa Emory; (Top) Thomas Gorguissian, Liz Kepferle; (Right) Grace Benton, Sarah Almuhairi, Addy Bryan, Benan Grams, Alberto Ramos, Reena Nadler, Kevin Davis.

45 Years of the Cen 40 Years of the Mas

Visiting Scholar ‫باحث زائر‬ Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬ Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬


Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi; Jinsuel Jun; Randall Cedillos; Liwan Zhang; William Min

Board Member Profile

In November, Visiting Adjunct Instructor Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi took a group of MAAS and GU students to New York, where they visited the MoMA, Met, Met Breuer, Grey Art Gallery, and Guggenheim. The trip coincided with the opening of the exhibition “Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011” at the MoMA PS1.

Students in the class “Politics of Modern Middle Eastern Art,” taught by Visiting Adjunct Instructor Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi (fourth from left), toured Maryland’s Glenstone Museum in October.

Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

Students in Assistant Professor Marwa Daoudy’s class “International Relations of the Middle East” attended the annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference organized by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in October to explore contemporary IR issues.

The MAAS Student Council represents the student body and facilitates collaboration between students, faculty and staff. This year’s council members are (L to R): Marcos Bartolome, Jérémie Langlois, Sami Rafidi, Michael Reeves, Rashid Karriti.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Visiting Scholar ‫باحث زائر‬


Renewable Energy Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬ in the Gulf Arab States

Since the 2014 drop in oil prices, Gulf countries have begun to shift their attention toward renewables. By Aisha Al-Sarihi

Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬ Board Member Profile



Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

espite the abundance of oil and gas resources, and decades of high economic dependence on their export revenues, the hydrocarbon-rich Gulf Arab states—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—have recently shifted their attention toward renewable energy. Between 2014 and 2018, the total renewable electricity installed capacity in the Gulf Arab states increased by almost 313 percent, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization that supports countries transitioning to sustainable energy. Dubai’s planned 5,000 megawatt Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which will be one of the largest solar parks in the world, is just one example of how this shift in governmental priorities is resulting in ambitious renewable energy projects across the Gulf.

The nearly-completed Innovation Centre at Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The Center will offer educational programming on green energy.

$155 a barrel, leading to reduced oil export revenues and state budget deficits. At the same time, the surge in domestic demand for oil and gas, especially for electricity and water desalination, has posed a serious challenge to pursuing ambitious economic diversification plans, such as downstream oil industries and the production of petrochemicals, which also require oil and gas resources for their operations. Together, the domestic energy demand and the expansion of diversification projects have necessitated a search for alternative energy sources including natural gas (both exploration and imports) and renewable energy. However, given the uncertainties associated with new natural gas discoveries and escalating geopolitical tensions with neighboring natural gas-rich states like Qatar and Iran, it makes sense for Gulf Arab states to promote the development of local and more sustainable energy sources. Furthermore, the significant decline in the cost of renewable energy technologies has enabled Gulf states to develop both small and largescale renewable energy projects. Over the last decade, the global average levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from solar panels and onshore wind decreased by 73 and 22 percent respectively between 2010 and 2017. In fact, Gulf Arab states have broken global records in terms of the cost of energy produced from renewable energy projects. For example, the LCOE for Saudi Arabia’s first solar project, Sakaka, was 2.34 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour, one of the lowest costs in the world.

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

Education Outreach ‫ف التربوي‬

Why have the Gulf Arab states experienced such growth in renewable energy over the past five years?

Renewable energy adoption has been promoted around the world as a way to tackle global warming and meet the goals set by the Paris Climate Agreement. Across the Gulf Arab states, however, the main drivers of this new focus on renewables have been the need to keep up with growing domestic oil and gas demands while also increasing exports, and to free up fuel needed for downstream economic diversification projects. Addressing these needs has become even more urgent since 2014, when oil prices plunged by more than 56 percent from a peak of 6

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Uma Mencía Uranga

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

Solar panels at the Jumeirah Public Beach in Dubai

Are all six Gulf Arab states progressing equally toward renewable energy adoption?

Although the six Gulf Arab states have all faced the discussed energy-policy challenges, their responses and progress toward renewable energy development vary, falling into the following four categories:

have been negligible. Since the technical and financial capacities required for deploying new renewable energy projects have proven challenging for Oman and Kuwait to meet, it has made sense for both countries to adopt a wait-and-see approach. After starting with small pilot projects to learn more about the renewable energy sector’s technical, regulatory and financial challenges, the governments of Oman and Kuwait have gained the confidence to pursue commercial solar roof-top projects and establish international business partnerships. For example, Oman has forged an agreement with Masdar, the Abu Dhabi-based energy company, to fully finance and install a wind farm in the country’s southern district. Ambitious but reluctant developer Among the Arab Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia has released the most ambitious but reluctant renewable energy targets. In 2016, the Kingdom set a target to source 9.5 GW of its electricity from renewables by 2023, but this actually represents a scaled back figure from the original target of 54 GW of electricity from renewables by 2040. Similarly, the government has established multiple joint ventures with international partners to facilitate the transfer of renewable-energy technology to Saudi Arabia, but many of these have been terminated before meeting their goals or producing actual renewable energy. Despite the abundance of funding to support renewable energy research initiatives, the Kingdom’s priority on increasing oil prices in international markets

Leading Developer With the largest total installed renewable energy capacity of 589 megawatts (see Table 1), the United Arab Emirates is leading its neighboring countries in terms of renewable energy adoption. The UAE has been proactive in supporting the developInstalled renewable Installed renewable Share of renewable Renewable energy Percentage ment of renewables since as early as 2008 when it esenergy capacity as energy capacity as energy within total target by year of target Country of the end of 2014 of the end of 2018 energy mix (megawatts) achieved tablished Masdar City to foster international knowl(megawatts) (megawatts) edge sharing and research collaboration, including with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and 6 6 0.1% 196.05 (2025) 3% Bahrain international business partnerships. Renewable energy 0 79 0.4% 11,000 (2020) 0.88% Kuwait projects in UAE have also enjoyed the support of political leaders who want to reverse the country’s inter1 8 0.1% 2,600 (2024) 0.3% Oman national reputation of having a high per-capita carbon 42 43 0.4% 1,800 (2030) 2.4% Qatar footprint and the willingness of banks to fund such projects. As a result, UAE has expanded its renewable 24 142 0.2% 9500 (2022) 1.5% Saudi Arabia energy projects by 329.93 percent between 2014 and 2018. UAE has already achieved 5 percent of its goal 137 589 2% 11,880 (2050) 5% United Arab Emirates to source 44 percent of energy production from renewables by 2050. Table 1: Variation in Renewable Energy Adoption and Goals among Arab Gulf States

Uma Mencía Uranga

Stagnant Developers While Bahrain and Qatar have achieved 3 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, of their 2050 renewable energy targets (see Table 1), their progress in promoting the adoption of renewable energy has remained stagnant since 2014. Plummeting oil prices that pressured other Gulf countries to expand investment in renewables did not have the same effect on Qatar and Bahrain, neither of which rely on oil export revenues as their major source of income. The abundance of natural gas in Qatar has also meant that the country has little incentive to pursue renewable energy options. Progressive Developers Having achieved less than one percent of their renewable energy targets, Oman and Kuwait have shown slow but progressive adoption of renewable energy over the past five years. Both countries were highly impacted by the 2014 drop in oil prices, yet unlike in the UAE, the scope of their international research collaborations and joint ventures

in order to protect its export revenues has been pushing renewable energy lower on the political and economic agenda. Saudi Arabia’s current renewable energy installed capacity of 142 MW gives little indication that it will be able to meet its ambitious 2023 goal.

Looking forward, will Gulf Arab states continue to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and expand renewables?

The above analysis suggests that the Gulf Arab states’ progress in renewable energy development over the past few years has been strictly linked to oil price fluctuations, and the need to free up oil and gas for export and to fuel growing petrochemical industries. A future of 100 percent reliance on renewables or other non-fossil fuel resources, such as nuclear, is hard to imagine for the Gulf Arab states because profits generated from renewables are unlikely to outweigh those gained continued on page 19 from oil and gas exports.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Alumni Article

‫مقاالت الخريجين‬

Refugees and Water Security

Examining the historic roots of Jordan’s water management policies By Skylar Benedict

New research

‫ابحاث جديدة‬

As you know, the country suffers from a shortage of water. Suddenly, millions and millions of refugees came to Jordan…we have approximately 42 nationalities in Jordan. The real Jordanian people have now decreased, ya’ani; they’ve become a percentage of the total. Imagine with me a country that suffers from a huge water shortage problem, when suddenly, [an additional] ten percent of the population comes and sits down inside the towns.

ties or the young Hashemite monarchy at the time of Transjordan’s independence in 1923. Historian Tariq Tell suggests that it was in fact the Peel Commission—dispatched in 1936 to investigate a six-month Arab general strike in Mandatory Palestine—and its call for partition (and the partition’s subsequent likelihood of displacing Palestinians) that turned British and Hashemite attention to the necessity of developing Transjordan’s waters resources. This initiative gained broader international support when the 1948 Nakba forced hundreds of thousands of Arab Palestinians to leave their homes and seek sanctuary in the surrounding countries, intensifying the need for investment in water resource development. In the aftermath of 1948, the United States began to devote major resources to transforming the Jordan Valley, identifying water-resource development as an essential method to stabilize the refugee population. The 1955 Jordan Valley Unified Water Plan, which would later bear the name of its diplomatic broker, American Special Ambassador Eric Johnston, established water allocations between the riparian states of the Jordan River Valley: Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. Johnston’s plan was intentionally modeled after the Tennessee Valley Authority’s strategy of harnessing natural water resources to drive economic development and proposed expanding irrigation capabilities in the Jordan Valley as a way to stabilize and support the region’s expanding population. Thus, from a very early moment in its national history, Jordan’s security policies revolved around intertwined concerns with the economic development of the Jordan Valley and the settlement of Palestinian refugees within it. As the support of such a sudden population increase would require the valley to yield a much higher amount of water than it did naturally, these security concerns also compelled Jordan to push for increased water extraction and economic development.

Faculty spotlight


from a conversation I had with a spokesperson at Jordan’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation during the summer of 2016. His remark highlights some of the key aspects of the official narrative around Jordan’s current water challenges. First, Jordan deals with natural water scarcity arising from the country’s arid, semi-desert climate and seasonally fluctuating surface water sources. Second, Jordan currently depends on costly water projects such as the Disi Water Conveyance Project and the King Abdullah Canal to meet its municipal, agricultural, and industrial water needs. Third, the sudden influx of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war has led to an increased strain on water resources. While realistic, this narrative’s exclusive focus on the present hardships obscures a much longer history of water management in Jordan—one characterized by successive political conflicts and increasingly centralized and unsustainable water extraction policies—that has equally contributed to the country’s current scarcity challenges. In striking contrast to the priorities of present-day policy makers, developing Jordan’s lands and waters did not figure prominently in the decisions of either the British mandate authorihis quote is

‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬

A driver carrying non potable water to the Al Marmot Desert Conservation Reserve in Dubai

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Uma Mencía Uranga


Artist: Farah Al Qasimi United Arab Emirates, b. 1991 Landfill Flowers 2014 Archival Inkjet Print 69 x 54 cm Image courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation

The Six Day War of 1967 and the subsequent Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza drove a second influx of Palestinian refugees into this shifting context of land use and resource development. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank cut Jordan’s access to substantial water resources. In response to PLO raids conducted from Jordan, Israel launched air strikes in December 1969 that destroyed the intake valve of the East Ghor Canal (now the King Abdullah Canal), crippling Jordan’s agricultural economy for more than six weeks. The occupation also displaced an additional 200,000 Palestinians into the Jordan Valley, further exacerbating concerns over water and food scarcity that had been growing in Jordan since 1948. Israel’s attacks on Jordan’s water infrastructure damaged the Jordan Valley’s capacity to provide agriculture and water to the rest of the country. It ultimately drove Jordanian farmers and Palestinian communities alike out of the valley and into urban areas where tensions between the groups were building; it also emptied the Valley of much of the population responsible for cultivating it. Together, these factors damaged waterintensive crops like bananas, oranges, and tomatoes, and badly hurt the country’s economy. In the early 1970s, Jordan dealt with the demographic upheaval and devastated water infrastructure of 1967 by revisiting a familiar strategy of exploiting water resources to fuel the extension of agriculture and provide water to growing urban areas. In May 1977, the Jordanian government established the Jordan Valley Commission, which later became the Jordan Valley Authority ( JVA), to centralize and coordinate this resource development program and to steer economic and social development in the Valley through the implementation of massive water projects. These projects often took the form of large-scale irrigation schemes and piped water infrastructure, which the Jordanian government depended upon to stave off mass unemployment and starvation by revitalizing the Jordan Valley’s agricultural and hydrological infrastructure. Paradoxically, even though the conflict of the late 1960s had demonstrated the dangerous extent to which Jordan’s security depended on the continuity of its water infrastructure, the following decades saw an expansion of this dependence and its existential importance to Jordan. Regional conflicts from 1948 to 1970 and the resulting influxes of Palestinian refugees into Jordan forged together three key elements that continue to shape Jordan’s water policies. First, refugee populations created pressure on the country’s finite resources, resulting in tensions between refugees and host communities. Second, because of Jordan’s historically sparse water resources, refugee influxes fueled both governmental and public concerns over the sufficiency of Jordan’s water resources and the potential for any scarcity to spark political unrest. Finally, the Jordanian government called for and relied upon international aid to support Jordan’s water resource develop-

ment and to stabilize the country against the potential of these two interrelated factors to threaten the state’s security. This relationship between water development and refugee stabilization has grown over the past decades into a set of compounding imperatives to increase the extraction of Jordan’s groundwater resources. And the relationship is still visible today in the Jordanian state’s reliance on vast water conveyance schemes and calls for international aid to support these projects as a means of countering the increased pressures placed on the system by refugees. Jordan no longer relies so heavily upon agriculture for its economic growth, but water resources remain essential to the health of its population and political stability. At present, numerous governmental and non-governmental entities fund projects to support and manage Jordan’s water resources, echoing the political and environmental history of the past century. These environmental circumstances are neither new nor apolitical. They rest on a long history of relying on unsustainable water resource policies to counter regional conflict and population displacement. Providing a stable future for Jordan depends on acknowledging the environmentally detrimental legacy of past regional conflicts and politics and integrating strategic and environmental thinking moving forward. 

Skylar Benedict is a graduate of the MAAS program (’17). He works in the fields of conservation and international development with a focus on watershed protection and coastal resilience across the MENA region. This article is informed by field research that he conducted in Jordan in 2016 as part of his master’s thesis.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬

Climate Change and the Syrian Conflict? Debunking the climate-conflict nexus


ver the past few decades, a new narrative has emerged that seeks to link climate change with political and social unrest. This idea of a climate-conflict nexus is similar to the “water wars” scenario of the 1990s, in which the media and some scholars predicted that water scarcity would be the major driver of inter-state conflict in the 21st century. More recently, this climateconflict narrative has been applied to the Syrian case. According to this logic, climate change caused the 2006-2010 drought in Syria, the drought caused agricultural failure, agricultural failure caused poverty, and the resulting displacement and discontent culminated with the

By Marwa Daoudy

2011 uprising. My forthcoming book, The Origins of the Syrian Conflict: Climate Change and Human Security (Cambridge University Press, spring 2020) questions this line of reasoning, arguing that government policies were at the heart of Syria’s vulnerabilities in the buildup to the uprising. Although global warming is real and international action is urgently needed, climate change was not what was at the forefront of the minds of Syrians in 2011. Instead, most people were focused on a moral ideal: the end of repression and injustice.

10 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

My book draws on extensive field research and my own background as a Syrian scholar to present primary interviews with officials and citizens, activists, and refugees, as well as the research of in-country Syrian experts, to provide unique insight into Syria’s environmental, economic, and social vulnerabilities leading up to the 2011 uprising. In doing so, I identify the ideo-

population in the decades that preceded the uprisings of 2011. Long-term pressures on water and food security were playing out in a context of intensive irrigation, increased poverty, low wages, high unemployment, and rising corruption. My analytic comparison of data from two different periods of drought (1998-2001 and 2006-2010)—which draws on information from official government reports, international scholars and organizations, interviews with Syrian experts, and policymakers—supports the claim that climate change alone was not the cause of food and water insecurity. The book concludes that political

tive to consider the role of economic and sociopolitical factors in the 2011 uprising. This framework seeks to move beyond deterministic narratives that focus on population growth and resource depletion and reinforce notions of the core-periphery divide. Instead, the HECS framework positions vulnerability and sustainability at the center of environmental and climate risk. It defines climate security as a series of threats and vulnerabilities posed not only by variation in climate conditions but also by political decisions that impact human and ecological life. Working in connection with the concept of vulnerability, resilience is a critical component of a community’s susceptibility to climate insecurity, but in Syria, resilience

and socio-economic factors were ultimately more important than a climate-induced drought in the build-up to the uprising, a lesson that may find application in other case studies on the interaction between climate change and human insecurity.

was relatively low due to poor governance and institutional weaknesses.

Artist: Akram Zaatari Lebanon, b. 1966 Saida June 6, 1982 c. 2009 Composite digital image, Lambda print 92 x 190 cm Image courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation

logical and policy drivers of human insecurity that impacted Syria’s water and food security. I explore how the policy decisions of the Syrian government under Hafez alAssad and Bashar al-Assad significantly contributed to the vulnerability of the rural

Methodological Framework

I reach these conclusions by designing an innovative multi-disciplinary framework called Human Environmental Climate Security (HECS), which builds on a critical environmental security perspec-

The Path to Vulnerability

Water resources have determined the rise and fall of great civilizations in the region, as well as the development of rules and norms that have framed local practices around water sharing. Due to Syria’s arid environment and dependence on agriculture, water has been subject to legislation

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


for as long as the country has had agriculture. Market Economy (SME), which aimed to ruption with new networks of profit derived Local norms were often based on Islamic le- model Syria’s economic transition on that of from war economies, entrenched political gal principles and were not codified until the Germany following World War II. Under and economic domination by the military late 19th and early 20th century introduction Bashar al-Assad, the regime tried to cater and security services, as well as profits generof modern legislation—though these laws to urban businessmen and neoliberal inter- ated by businessmen living inside and outside themselves were often inspired by prevailing national organizations like the World Bank of the country. Rather than building intrinsic local mores. The norms surrounding water use and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) resilience, the current post-war reconstrucand sharing during early Islam included what by cutting key food and fuel subsidies and tion phase is paving the way for regime resilwould be considered best practices in sustain- removing safety nets for farmers. While the ience based on structural inequalities and the ability and social-justice today: ensuring that state did follow IMF recommendations for broader population’s increased vulnerabiliwater was accessible to all and practicing wa- subsidy reform, it did not do so gradually—as ty—particularly that of refugees who have no ter usage that avoided environmental degrada- advised. These new policies coincided with a choice but to return home under politically tion. These customs were passed unsafe conditions. into law following Syria’s indeThis analysis, detailed in pendence, but in the 1960s, the Although global warming is real and international my forthcoming book, allows government began shifting away action is urgently needed, climate change was not for an understanding of secufrom these ideals until they were what was at the forefront of the minds of Syrians rity that considers the deteriono longer upheld. in 2011. Instead, most people were focused on a ration of natural resources as Promising food security was a clear and present threat to moral ideal: the end of repression and injustice. human security. It reveals the one way that new Ba’athist elites of the 1960s established potential role of policy solulegitimacy in their rural constituencies, and historically severe drought, cutting subsidies tions in limiting the consequences of droughts fulfilling their promises required new agri- at a time when farmers needed support more on vulnerable populations. In the case of Syria, cultural and economic policies. The “Rural than ever. The governorates of Hassake, Deir particularly effective policies could consist of Contract” led to the intensification of land ez-Zor, and Raqqa were particularly vulnera- targeted agricultural subsidies, the elimination reclamations starting in 1958. Under Hafez ble because of unusually high levels of poverty of corruption, job creation, and civil-society al-Assad’s Ba’athist regime (1970-2000), the and unemployment and a high dependence on development initiatives in rural communities, government collectivized agriculture. Agrar- the agricultural sector. By the time the major especially in the northeast. This framework ian reforms enhanced living conditions in the drought of 2006-2010 hit, the populations of seeks not only to focus on vulnerable populacountryside but came at the expense of sus- these governorates exhibited high environ- tions but also to outline unequal power structainable water use. Large-scale irrigation in mental, economic, and social vulnerability and tures that cause or encourage human suffering. rural areas depleted groundwater resources low resilience, setting the stage for a crisis. Where environmentally deterministic narraand degraded soil quality, ultimately resulting By 2010, it was clear to renowned Syrian tives remove people’s agency by placing it in in human insecurity in the form of land tenure economists, water engineers, agricultural ex- the hands of external developments, this book disputes and population displacement. Be- perts and others involved in the Syrian As- gives them a voice. yond the economic costs to the government’s sociation for Economic Sciences that the water management approach, there were also neoliberal reforms had not been successful. A personal endnote: Several past and current social costs, such as the forced relocation of The SME was ineffective in terms of agricul- graduate students of CCAS, as well as BSFS unlocal populations due to intensive dam con- tural production, social welfare, employment, dergraduate researchers, have been an important struction. Additionally, land reform policies competition, crisis management, corruption, part of this journey. Their outstanding research that furthered Arabization, such as the “Arab migration, and poverty, particularly during skills, keen interest in my project and renewed Belt” policy, excluded Syrian Kurds from ag- droughts. In the early 2000s, it was estimated enthusiasm contributed at various times and ricultural gains during the second half of the that 200 billion lira were lost to corruption stages to turn a mere idea into a book. I warmly 20th century. Ba’athist preferences also led to every year, amounting to between 20 and 40 thank all of the following: Ghazi Ben Hamid the implementation of water, food, and fuel percent of GDP. Al-Sharif, David Bagley, Caris Boegl, Agathe subsidies that distorted market prices. The stress on water and agricultural re- Christien, Ryan Folio, Helen Lunsmann, Laura De-collectivization started early under sources aggravated human insecurity and Pedersen, Jonathan Thrall, Jacob Uzman, and, Hafez al-Assad but intensified when his son became difficult to reverse. A certain path of in the crucial last stages of completion, Eliza Bashar gained power in 2000. Liberalization dependency had set in. In 2009, the govern- Campbell, Juliette Leader and Bushra Shaikh policies of the 1970s through 1990s aimed to ment attempted to reinstate some of the sub- whose commitment and rigor have been instruincrease the role of the private sector—includ- sidies to severely affected agricultural com- mental. All the students enrolled in my courses ing in the provision of welfare services—by munities but failed because the community “Environmental Security and Conflict” and introducing market mechanisms, limiting the had already dispersed due to the drought. “Politics of Water” have contributed to shaprole of state intervention, offering a place in Today, Syrians continue to mourn over one ing this intellectual process with their insightful decision-making to business elites rather than of the most tragic episodes of their history. comments, critiques, and questions. trade unions and other corporations, and in- The war has intensified patterns of human creasing privatization while keeping public insecurity that began during the previous ownership. In 2005, a major ideological shift decade: drastic regional disparities in the Dr. Marwa Daoudy is Assistant Professor of occurred with the introduction of the Social northeastern provinces and increased cor- International Relations at CCAS. 12 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

‫ﺿﻮء ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺨﺮﯾﺠﯿﻦ‬


Alumni spotlight


Winds of Change

‫ﺑﺎﻷﻣس ﻛﺎﻧـوا ھـﻧﺎ‬

elcitra tneduts

‫ﻣن ﻣﻧﺷورات طﻼﺑـﻧـﺎ‬

MAAS alum Samer Judeh built Jordan’s first windfarm and catalyzed the country’s renewable energy industry.

MAAS News (Student News) ‫أﺧﺒﺎر اﻟﻄﻼب‬ Visiting Scholar ‫ﺑﺎﺣث زاﺋر‬

Faculty News ‫أﺧﺒﺎر ھﯿﺌﺔ اﻟﺘﺪرﯾﺲ‬

By Diogo Bercito

Staff Updates ‫آﺧﺮأﺧﺒﺎر اﻟﻤﻮظﻔﯿﻦ‬ Board Member Profile

‫ﺧﺎص ﻣﻦ اﻟﻤﺠﻠﺲ اﻷﺳﺘﺸﺎري‬

Dispatches ‫ﺑﺮﻗﯿﺎت‬ Public Events ‫اﻟﻤﻨﺎﺳﺒﺎت اﻟﻌﺎﻣﺔ‬ Education Outreach ‫ﺗﻌﻤﯿﻢ اﻟﺘﺜﻘﯿﻒ اﻟﺘﺮﺑﻮي‬ In the Headlines ‫ﻓﻲ اﻟﻌﻨﺎوﯾﻦ‬

Samer Judeh discussing the turbines at his windfarm in Tafilah, Jordan


Samer Judeh


turbines stand upright in the Jordanian governorate of Tafilah, 120 miles south of Amman. Towering at 150 meters tall across yellow hills, these turbines are part of the Jordan Wind Project Company, which was created by MAAS alum Samer Judeh (’88) and helped spark Jordan’s growing renewable energy industry. Judeh, who was born in Amman, says he became interested in the energy sector starting in 2006 when the Jordanian government was debating a draft law to regulate renewable energy. The law passed in 2010, requiring that within a decade at least ten percent of all energy produced locally must be renewable. Judeh had been following the success of wind energy projects implemented abroad and saw the potential for a wind farm in Jordan. However, with no precedent of renewable energy projects of that scale in Jordan to point to, the windfarm wasn’t an easy sell. Judeh set about commissioning studies on the viability of the project and working to convince authorities and private-sector investors of its economic feasibility. “We had to convince ourselves too,” he notes jokingly. The 2011 uprisings that stirred protests and toppled governments across the Arab

world added further complications, scaring investors who thought that Jordan might be next. On the other hand, pipelines transporting gas from Egypt to Jordan were cut during the unrest, reinforcing the need for securing other sources of energy, including renewables. Despite the challenges, Judeh raised $287 million to launch the project. He credits his fundraising success, in part, to his time at Georgetown, first as an undergraduate business major and then in the MA in Arab Studies program. “As a student at Georgetown University, I learned a lot about the Middle East—knowledge that helped me negotiate with banks and investors in the region,” says Judeh. To determine the best place for his turbines, Judeh conducted a two-year wind measurement study. He decided on Tafilah, a town about 180 kilometers southwest of Amman, due to the strength and constancy of its winds. The construction of the windfarm would also bring approximately 450 needed jobs to the area. Tafilah—once the seat of the Edomite Kingdom and the site of important battles during the 1916-1918 Arab revolt—is known today for high poverty and unemployment rates that have motivated protests in recent years.

With funding and a site for the windfarm secured, the next step for Judeh was an environmental assessment. There were concerns that turbines might impact bird migration in the region due to Tafilah’s proximity to the Dana Nature Reserve, as well as its location within an important migration corridor. When studies showed that the wind farm could jeopardize kestrels, buzzards, and vultures, the company moved its planed turbines to another location. As part of his contract with funders, Judeh says he continues to maintain a team of on-site, expert bird monitors who shut down the turbines if they see bird flocks flying too close to the farm. After two years of construction, the windfarm was inaugurated in 2015 with a production capacity of 117 MW. This represented roughly three percent of all energy—not just renewable—generated in Jordan at that time and enabled the government to save $50 million a year in reduced oil imports. Judeh, who is now exploring the prospect of founding other renewable energy projects, says that creating the first and largest project of its kind in the region was like “breaking through stones.” And yet, his efforts paved the way for approximately 30 new renewable-energy projects that have since been launched by other companies. “We created this industry in Jordan,” says Judeh. “Officials and lenders became more comfortable with it, and we put the country on the map of renewable energy.” 

Diogo Bercito, originally from Brazil, is a journalist and second-year student in the MAAS program.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


‫ﺿﻮء ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺨﺮﯾﺠﯿﻦ‬


‫ﺿﻮء ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﺨﺮﯾﺠﯿﻦ‬

From the Saddle

A Unique Viewpoint on Diverse Landscapes

By Uma Mencía Uranga

14 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Uma Mencía Uranga

MAAS alum Uma Mencía Uranga’s career as an endurance horse racer has introduced her to new landscapes and peoples and deepened her connection to the natural world.


horse races across the deserts of the United Arab Emirates has served as a unique gateway through which I’ve been fortunate to gain a deeper understanding of this particular area of the Gulf. A MAAS graduate (’17) and horse rider at Al Aryam Endurance Team in the UAE, I was born and raised in the Basque Country, northern Spain. I moved to Dubai in 2008 following an opportunity to ride and race while on a scholarship to study fine arts at the American University in Dubai. Horses have been and continue to be the key interlocutors between my environment and me, introducing me to new landscapes, nature, and people while sparking my curiosity for the culture that surrounds them. Endurance racing consists of horses running distances of 120 to 160 kilometers across open landscapes. Divided into loops in between which veterinarians determine if the horse is fit to continue, races usually last anywhere between seven and ten hours; training involves many more hours still. Spending so much time “on the hoof ” not only builds a close bond between rider and horse, but also with the landscapes that both navigate. ompeting in endurance

Opposite: Uma walking her mare Kim Belle on the dunes as Kim Belle’s daughter tags along; This page clockwise from left: Enjoying the company of a group of curious young horses, the offspring of retired endurance racing mares; A view of Dubai from the saddle; Taking the young Umaimah on a walk with the help of Kim Belle at Al Aryam stables; Racing a 120km endurance race in the desert of Abu Dhabi as the crew team stands ready to cool down the horses with cold water

Most of the horses that compete in endurance races are Arabian horses or an Arabian crossbreed. Their metabolism and light but sturdy bodies make them the best horses for enduring long distances. Although you can trace their origins to the Levant, North Africa or other parts of the Arabian Peninsula, most of the Arabian horses racing in the industry today are bred in places far from their original habitats. The UAE sits at the nexus of a truly global endurance horse racing industry: horses are imported from as far afield as France, Argentina, South Africa, and Australia. Thanks to horses, I have learned to appreciate the rich biodiversity of the desert and developed a fascination for the flora and the fauna that resiliently inhabit this ecosystem. At my team’s stables, we share our tracks with racing camels and often cross paths with gazelles, oryx, the timid desert fox, and many birds such as the bulbul, the hoopoe, or the blue-winged Indian roller trying to catch insects near a Ghaf tree (prosopis cineraria).

I began to study Arabic in part so I could communicate with and learn from my Emirati and Arab colleagues from Sudan, Yemen, and Egypt. I was also genuinely interested and soon developed a passion for the language and culture, which is what eventually led me to CCAS. The M.A. in Arab Studies program at CCAS helped equip me with the advanced Arabic language skills necessary to connect and more meaningfully engage with my environment while propelling me to think with greater freedom and empathy. It has heightened my awareness of the complex layers of the spaces I inhabit—of the diverse cultures, both global and local in scale, we as humans have created with one another and with animals. 

Uma Mencía Uranga is an endurance horse rider at Al Aryam Endurance Stables in Dubai, UAE. She graduated from the MAAS program in 2017.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

The Lived Nile: Environment, Disease, and Material Colonial Economy in Egypt

Education Outreach ‫قيف التربوي‬

An interview with MAAS alum Jennifer Derr (‘10)


By Maddie Fisher

October 10, MAAS alum Jennifer L. Derr, Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz, came to CCAS to speak with students in Prof. Judith Tucker’s “History of the Middle East” class and give a public talk on her recently published book, The Lived Nile: Environment, Disease and Material Colonial Economy in Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2019). Based on years of research that Derr conducted in Egypt, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States, the book approaches political economy from the vantage point of environmental history. It argues that the Nile is not a singular entity, but a realm of practice and a set of temporally, spatially, and materially specific relations that structured experiences of colonial economy in nineteenth and early twentieth-century Egypt.

subjects. The Lived Nile traces the stories of engineers, physicians, cultivators, scientists, and colonial capitalists who understand their positions in the world in part through the character of their relations with the Nile River.

For people who have not heard of the book, how would you describe the thesis of The Lived Nile?

The Lived Nile is about environmental history in Egypt, but also so much more. Why do you think people who would not normally be drawn to read about the environment can benefit from reading the book?


In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

What was the book-writing process like and what surprised you?

Historians often reference the quote from L.P. Hartley that, “The past is a foreign country: They do things differently there.” In our work, we try to be mindful that we cannot treat the past as an extension of what we know, but must approach it with fresh eyes and an open mind. Despite my deep belief in this approach to historical methodology, I am very aware that the approach that animates my work continues to be relevant in the present. Whether we speak of global climate change or local environmental threats, the relationships among capitalism, environmental change, and health persist.

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫ث هيئة التدريس‬

The Lived Nile is an argument that we need to think about the environment when we consider questions of political economy. In the book, I demonstrate how our relationships with the material environment are important to what we know and how we understand ourselves as

When I describe the book and what I do more broadly, it is a challenge. My scholarship does not fit neatly within a single field but rather lies at the intersection of environmental history, political economy, the history of science, and the history of medicine. I see the environment and questions of materiality as central to a wide range of his-

Making Levantine Cuisine: A Critical Food Studies Symposium


16 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Mohammed Alhammami

A sampling of dishes from Aleppo and Gaza

he Levant is home to some of the most storied cuisines in the world, from the refined cuisine of Aleppo to popular street foods like falafel. Yet much of its centuries-old history remains unwritten, and there are few academic studies of its contemporary food cultures. What is Levantine cuisine––historically, gastronomically, and culturally? Can studying the region’s food and foodways help us better understand what constitutes “the Levant” and how it came to be? On June 7th and 8th, CCAS hosted a two-day symposium, bringing together academics of many disciplines, journalists, and food writers to explore these and other questions. The first day was dedicated to workshopping papers on these topics and concluded with a cooking demonstration and dinner based on dishes from Aleppo, Syria (designed by Chef Antonio Tahhan) and from Gaza, Palestine (designed by Chef Laila El-Haddad). The second day’s public events, in which six scholars presented their work, were held at the Freer|Sackler Gallery with over 250 people in attendance. Laila El-Haddad, Adel Iskandar, and Anne Meneley spoke on themes related to food and displace-

Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬ EDUCATION OUTREACH

Summer Teacher Institute 2019:

In the

The Enlightenment as Global Phenomenon Headlines ‫العناوين‬By Susan ‫ في‬Douglass

The Enlightenment is a topic that looms large in world history, though it is usually discussed primarily within the context of European thought without considering the wide range of global influences that shaped its development. The 2019 CCAS Summer Teacher Institute, “The Enlightenment as Global Phenomenon,” held August 5th-9th, sought to challenge this narrow perspective and highlight the diversity of intellectual exchanges that shaped

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Derr presenting her research on the environmental history of the Nile at CCAS

Participants of the 2019 Summer Teacher Institute

Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬

torical questions that include the history of the economy, the production of scientific thought, the outbreak of disease, and the emergence of ideas and practices surrounding health. One of my goals for the book was to move the environment out of the traditional realm of environmental history and make an argument for the significance of materiality in the other fields in which I work. While the project sounds complex, it was motivated by the objective to erase a set of divisions that separate historical fields from one another in order to craft a narrative that was in tune with how people in history have experienced the worlds in which they moved. 

Mohammed Alhammami

Maddie Fisher is the CCAS Events Coordinator.

Chef Antonio Tahhan leading a cooking demonstration during the “Making Levantine Cuisine” symposium

ment, while Annia Ciezadlo, Reem Kassis, and Antonio Tahhan discussed the personal and political aspects of writing Middle Eastern cuisine. Attendees then enjoyed a tasting of regional dishes from local restaurant, Syriana. 

Enlightenment thought. These exchanges—which happened both within and beyond Europe, including with Asia, Africa, and the Americas—opened Europeans’ horizons and exposed them to different linguistic, philosophical, historical, literary, and religious traditions. Merchants, missionaries, and administrative officials of the trading companies encountered social settings in which people of multiple ethnicities and religions mingled and engaged in business transactions—unlike in Europe, which was still in the throes of religious conflicts between Catholics and Protestants, and where Jews and Muslims found only limited and contingent tolerance. As ties with Asia deepened, Europeans were exposed to unfamiliar legal and administrative models of governance, which stimulated deeper learning. Artistic traditions and a host of new products, technologies, and styles flowed into Europe, fueling new industries and innovations. These topics and more were discussed by the Summer Institute’s 15 speakers from a wide range of academic disciplines: Ahmed Dallal, Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Qatar; Ian Almond, Georgetown University; Denise Spellberg, University of Texas at Austin; Bernard Cooperman, University of Maryland; Ho Fung Hung, Johns Hopkins University; Justin E. H. Smith, Universite Paris Diderot; John Saillant, Western Michigan University; Dorinda Outram, University of Rochester; Farid Azfar, Swarthmore College; Rajeev Kinra, Northwestern University; Sebastian Conrad, Freie Universität Berlin; Cemil Aydin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Shireen Hamza, Harvard University; Alexander Bevilacqua, Williams College; and Christopher de Bellaigue, journalist and author. The Summer Institute was made possible by a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Thirty-eight educators—primarily high school history and humanities teachers—from the greater D.C. area attended, in addition to 17 teachers from across the United States who were awarded travel grants.  Dr. Susan Douglass is the CCAS Education Outreach Coordinator.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Alumni News

‫أخبار الخريجين‬

➠ Alumni Article ‫مقاالت الخريجين‬ MAAS ON THE MOVE Harald Fuller-Bennett, 2009

Harald recently began a new position as a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) analyst at the USDA Office of General Counsel. FOIA analysts help to ensure a transparent government and informed citizenry by responding to requests for information from members of the public, journalists, NGOs, and others.

News from our Alums

MAAS alums, we want to hear from YOU! Send your news items to ccasalum@georgetown.edu or through the form on the Alumni Resources page of our website (ccas.georgetown.edu/resources/alumni). We look forward to sharing your achievements with our readers. Michael Fischbach, 1986

Sam Dolbee, 2010 New research

Sam is a fellow at Yale University’s Program in Agrarian Studies for the 2019-2010 academic year. He is working on his book manuscript, Locusts of Power, which follows locusts, nomads, and refugees to discuss agriculture, borders, and empire from 1860 to 1940 in the borderlands region stretching across Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.

‫ابحاث جديدة‬

Michael published his fifth book, Black Power and Palestine: Transnational Countries of Color, in 2018 with Stanford University Press. The book uncovers the hidden history of the Arab-Israeli conflict’s role in African-American activism and the ways that a geographically distant struggle has shaped the fight for racial equality in the United States. Michael is Professor of History at Randolph-Macon College.

Anny Gaul, 2012

Anny began a postdoctoral fellowship in Culture, History, and Translation at the Center for the Humanities at Tufts University this fall. She completed her PhD at the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University in August. During her fellowship, Anny’s main focus will be developing a book manuscript tentatively titled Kitchen Histories of Modern North Africa.

Faculty spotlight

Lina Annab, 1990

‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬

H.E. Lina Annab was appointed Ambassador to Japan for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan earlier this year. Prior to that, she served as Jordan’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities from 2016 to 2018. Ambassador Annab is a member of the CCAS Board of Advisors. Sinan Antoon, 1995

The English translation of Sinan’s fourth and latest novel, The Book of Collateral Damage, was published in May by Yale University Press and has been longlisted for the Arabic Booker Prize. Sinan is a poet, novelist, scholar, and literary translator, as well as an associate professor at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. See page 19 for details on his upcoming book talk at CCAS. Nadya Sbaiti, 1999

Reena Nadler, 2014

Reena works as an Organizational Learning Specialist for the U.S. Agency for International Development, where she helps USAID offices around the world be more effective at using the data they collect to adapt and improve programming. She is based in Washington D.C. but travels regularly to Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Anthony Adamowicz, 2016

Anthony recently started a position as senior research specialist at Gartner Inc., where he identifies and analyzes best practices in support of Chief Communication Officers’ business priorities using root cause analysis, hypothesis generation, survey design, bench-marking, and other qualitative and quantitative methods. His clients include Fortune 500 companies across a range of industries.

Nadya is an assistant professor at American University of Beirut’s Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies and also the current co-president of the Lebanese Studies Association. She is a founder and editor of the e-zine Jadaliyya and former editor of the Arab Studies Journal. Nadya founded, along with Ziad Abu-Rish (MAAS ‘05), the Lebanon Dissertation Summer Institute, an interdisciplinary research bootcamp for PhD students. During the spring, she was a research fellow at CCAS, completing her book manuscript, Pedagogical Constituencies and Communities of Knowledge: Gender and Education in Mandate Lebanon. Maya Mikdashi, 2004

Maya is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and a lecturer in Middle East Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She teaches and writes on sovereignty, the war on terror, sexual difference, and settler colonialism. Maya is currently writing a book on state power, citizenship, and law in contemporary Lebanon and continues to work in film and online publishing and editing.

Timothy Loh, 2016

Timothy was an invited speaker at the Institute for Middle East Studies 2019 Symposium at George Washington University. His talk was titled “Lazim yisma3 3ashan yi7ki: Promissory Logics in Hearing Technologies for Deaf Children in Jordan.” Timothy is a PhD candidate in History, Anthropology, Science, Technology and Society (HASTS) at MIT. Will Todman, 2016

Will is working as an associate fellow in the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where he recently helped to launch the podcast “Babel.” Will serves as one of the hosts of the podcast, providing analysis on current events in the MENA. MAAS alum Majd Al-Waheidi (‘19) and second-year student Michael Reeves (‘20) are also contributors to the podcast.

18 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Skylar Benedict, 2017

In November, Skylar began a new position as the Washington D.C. Office Manager for the Palestinian American Research Center.

Alumni Speakers at CCAS

As part of our 40/45 celebration (40 years of MAAS and 45 years of CCAS), we are inviting alumni back to speak at CCAS and Georgetown. During the fall semester, the following alums have returned to campus to give talks on a wide range of topics: Reem Al-Masri (Certificate of Arab Studies alum), 7iber In the Name of Cybersecurity: Controlling the Online Public Sphere in Jordan, Sept. 12 Finding, Scraping and Telling Data-driven Stories, Sept. 14 Khalid Medani (MAAS ’86), McGill University Sudan’s Popular Intifada and the Prospects for Democracy: From Revolution to Resolution, Sept. 26 Hoda Yousef (MAAS ’06), Denison University Before the Father of Egyptian Feminism: Qasim Amin and Nahda Masculinity, Oct. 3

Anela Malik, 2016 & Ahmed Zuhairy, 2017

Alums Anela and Ahmed married on August 3rd, 2019 in Portland, Oregon! They currently live in Washington D.C., where Anela is learning Urdu before moving to Pakistan for a diplomatic assignment and Ahmed continues to do research and analysis on the Middle East. Agathe Christien, 2018

Agathe is the 2019-2020 Hillary Rodham Clinton Research Fellow at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS). She recently appeared on BBC Afrique to discuss GIWPS’ Women, Peace and Security Index, which measures women’s well being in 167 countries by looking at their levels of inclusion, justice, and security. 

Upcoming in the Spring! MAAS Alum Sinan Antoon (’95) will give a talk at CCAS on his new novel, The Book of Collateral Damage, on January 23rd at 6:30pm. Antoon’s novel follows Nameer, a young Iraqi scholar tasked with documenting the devastation of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Nameer encounters an eccentric bookseller who is trying to catalogue everything destroyed by war—from objects, buildings, books and manuscripts, flora and fauna, to humans. Entrusted with the catalogue and obsessed with the bookseller’s project, Nameer finds his life in New York movingly intertwined with fragments from his homeland’s past in this thoughtful meditation on the wreckage of war and the power of memory.

Jennifer L. Derr (MAAS ’01), University of California, Santa Cruz The Lived Nile: Environment, Disease, and Material Colonial Economy in Egypt, Oct. 10 Khaled Elgindy (MAAS ’94), Brookings Institute Trump and the Palestinians: “Deal of the Century” or End of the Road?, Nov. 4 Sara Scalenghe (MAAS ’00), Loyola University Brown Bag Series on Disability in the Arab World: Histories of Disability in the Arab World, Nov. 11 Laurie Fitch (MAAS ’94), PJT Partners and Yusuf Alireza (SFS/ MAAS ‘93), ARP Global Capital SFS Centennial Panel “The Past is Easier to Predict than the Future: Rethinking US-Gulf Relations,” Nov. 16 Michael Fischbach (MAAS ’86), Randolph-Macon College Black Power and Palestine: Transnational Countries of Color, Nov. 18 Dorothee Kellou (MAAS ’12), Independent filmmaker and journalist Workshop on Documentary Filmmaking in the Arab World, Nov. 19

NEW LAW continued from page 7

Nonetheless, it is advantageous for Gulf Arab states to maintain momentum in pursuing renewable energy projects and advancing strategies and policy frameworks that support their development. Promoting renewables in the Gulf would not only ease economic vulnerability from fluctuating oil prices and enhance energy security, but also put Gulf states in line with the Paris Climate Agreement goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions and prepare the region to compete in a fossil-fuel constrained future. 

Dr. Aisha Al-Sarihi is a Research Associate at King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center and a Non-Resident Fellow at The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. She was a Visiting Researcher at CCAS during the Spring 2019 semester.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

DISPATCHES Notes From Abroad

Enhancing Development with New Teaching ApproachesPublic Events ‫ت العامة‬ By Sima Aldardari


his summer I had a teaching opportunity like never before. I designed and taught a course in Lebanon on international development as part of an independent study with Professor Fida Adely. The two-and-a-half-week course aimed to offer youth in Lebanon the base knowledge necessary for understanding a wider scope

Development and later as a student in the MAAS program with a concentration in development. Having seen the importance of community solidarity and support, regardless of the scale of the project, I wanted to share the knowledge gained from my academic experiences with those who could actually apply it—people working on the ground in the development field.

because it is absent from many local development interventions in Lebanon and Syria, despite its tremendous importance. Professor Marwa Daoudy kindly recorded a short video on the politics of water, shedding light on a critical issue in the region. One student reported in her personal reflection, “I always considered water an environmental issue and a basic need without noticing the sociopolitical conflicts that could result out of a lack of water availability.” Another wrote, [the course] “helped me realize that a plan without water in mind is not compatible with effective development. It is important for safeguarding not only one’s health, but also one’s security, community, culture, hygiene and livelihood.” Although I had previously taught children, teaching youth and adults from an academic and research-led perspective was both exciting and intimidating. As a young woman, I was afraid of not being taken seriously, but that was not the case. In their anonymous evaluations, students described the course as “enriching” and “informative.” One student wrote, “I was very happy that I attended this course. I have learned a lot. I thought I had a ground knowledge of development, but realized how little I knew.” Another wrote, “I was able to understand that sustainable development means development that meets present needs without comprising the ability of people to meet their own needs in the future. So, when development is sustained, the world will be a better place to live.” Leading this course gave me confidence to continue in both academia and the development field, while the students’ responses encouraged me to pursue opportunities to repeat this project in new contexts around the Arab world. 

Education Outreach

In the Headlines ‫اوين‬ Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬ Sima (center) with her students after distributing their course completion certificates: (L to R) Nuria Aldao, Louis Enebeli, Leen Shoukair, Rami Mehio, Kevin Kenechukwu, Ali AbuAwad, and Nour Nahhas (not pictured)

My class included seven students from varying backgrounds: two Nigerian immigrant workers, one Spanish United Nations employee, a young graduate from Syria, two Lebanese youth, and a Palestinian who grew up in Lebanon. The mixture of positionalities and experiences brought the course to life and enriched the discussions. Several had development work experience, but most had little historical or contextual knowledge of the field. The course, which incorporated expert guest speakers and examples from across the Arab region, covered four main topical areas: the politics and history of development; education; labor and livelihoods; and water and the environment. I chose to make water an integral topic

20 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Sima Aldardari is a second-year student in the MAAS program. She holds a B.A. from the American University of Beirut and an M.A. in Conflict, Governance, and International Development from the University of East Anglia.

Anthony Zahr, Chams Network

of development approaches and theories and the opportunity to engage with development professionals. The local organization Chams Network provided space and marketing for the class. My previous work in the development field in Syria and Lebanon—volunteering with local NGOs, teaching Syrian children in Sabra camp, and organizing charitable events—provided me with practical knowledge and experience. However, I remained unaware until grad school of the value that an academic perspective derived from regional knowledge could add to this work. I was introduced to a research-based development approach first through my prior M.A. in Conflict, Governance and International

Faculty Research: ‫يس‬

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