Spring/Summer 2021 CCAS Newsmagazine

Page 1

CCAS Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Georgetown University


newsmagazine Spring/Summer 2021

LEBANON TODAY A Century in Context



e have just ended an academic year of teaching virtually—from day one until the last day of the semester. This was the first time in our history that this has taken place. However, as things brightened and as COVID-19 cases fell, with more and more being vaccinated, we were able to gather recently for a reception on campus to honor the graduates of the MAAS class of 2021. It was wonderful to see students, staff, and faculty in person after a year of Zoom. We also hosted a livestreamed, virtual graduation for students and families who could not attend in person. As difficult as the academic year was for all (students, staff, and faculty), we made the most of the virtual environment. Last summer, faculty collectively and individually prepared for the school year by pursuing professional development to improve pedagogical tools for online teaching. Over the year they invited experts from around the globe to join their classes via Zoom. Students rose to the challenge as well, demonstrating resilience and the high level of engagement our MAAS students are known for. Staff stepped in to take on new roles and assist other departments in the School of Foreign Service. Thanks to their hard work and dedication, students and faculty were able to focus on the academic side. We continued to engage in scholarship and respond, through our public programming, to critical events happening globally. In late August 2020, we hosted an online event with ADF Fellow Ziad Abu-Rish to provide context on the devastating Beirut port explosion that happened earlier that month. In March, we hosted a panel of scholars for the event “100 Years of Lebanon” to coincide with Lebanon’s centennial celebrations and to discuss how the country’s history can deepen our understanding of contemporary events there. We explore those themes further throughout this issue of the magazine. We hosted, in collaboration with the African Studies department, six events as part of the “Race and Racism in Africa and the Middle East” series, and we are part of the year-long series “10 Years On: Mass Protests and Uprisings in the Arab World” in partnership with the Arab Studies Institute and a consortium of top Middle East studies programs across the country and the world. In all, we hosted 24 online public events this year with a total of 1,400 attendees. Our outreach activities for educators continued unabated. In collaboration with Georgetown’s Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, we hosted 20 virtual education outreach events, with a total attendance of more than 2,100 teachers and members of the public. These events included conferences, webinars, and professional development workshops. We look forward to hosting the 2021 Summer Teacher Institute, “The Arab Legacy in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America,” which will take place in early August (See page 19 for details). Georgetown University has announced that it will return to in-person teaching in the fall, so I hope we will all be back and can celebrate the achievements of our faculty and students together. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in the near future.

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

Joseph Sassoon Professor and Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Chair; 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 Associate Professor and Seif Ghobash Chair in Arab Studies

Rochelle A. Davis Associate Professor and Sultanate of Oman Chair Judith Tucker Professor

Affiliated Faculty Mustafa Aksakal Associate Professor

Mohammad AlAhmad Assistant Teaching Professor Belkacem Baccouche Assistant Teaching Professor Noureddine Jebnoun Adjunct Associate Professor

Suzanne Stetkevych Sultan Qaboos bin Said Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies; Chair, Arabic & Islamic Studies Department


Dana Al Dairani Associate Director

Susan Douglass K-14 Education Outreach Director Maddie Fisher Events Coordinator Jacqueline Garner Office Manager

Kelli Harris Assistant Director of Academic Programs Vicki Valosik Editorial Director

CCAS Newsmagazine Editor-in-Chief Vicki Valosik Design Adriana Cordero


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

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

About the Art ABOUT THE ISSUE Lebanon Today: A Century in Context

We are pleased to feature several Lebanese artists in this issue. You can read about each artist below. The cover mural, titled “Today, I would like to be a tree,” was created by artist Abed Al Kadiri in response to the tragic explosion at the port of Beirut last August. To learn more about this piece and about how Beiruti artists have been impacted by the port explosion, see page 5.

Abed Al Kadiri, Mural 1, 2020, Charcoal and acrylic on acid free cardboard, 370 x 700 cm. Photo Credit Laetitia Hakim. Courtesy of Galerie Tanit and the artist

Abed Al Kadiri is the cofounder of Dongola publishing house and a multidisciplinary artist whose practice explores themes of violence, cultural heritage, migration and belonging. His installations, paintings, sculptures, and video works have been exhibited internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions. www.galerietanit.com/artist/al-kadiri-0 Reem Bassous is an award-winning Honolulu-based Lebanese artist and educator whose work draws on memory, trauma and her childhood experiences in war-ravaged Beirut. Her paintings and installations have been featured in national and international exhibitions and reside in the permanent collections of several museums. www.reembassous.studio/ Mansour El Habre is a Beirut-based artist whose collaged paintings and drawings combine graphism and abstraction capturing ephemeral moments. His work has been exhibited internationally since 1993, most recently in a solo exhibition at the Lebanese Talent Gallery in Beirut. www.instagram.com/mansourelhabre

Lebanon recently celebrated its centennial anniversary while also reeling from the pandemic, the port explosion, and an ongoing economic crisis. For this issue, themed around “Lebanon today,” we reached out to members of the CCAS community to help provide context on contemporary events in the country. ADF Visiting Fellow Ziad Abu-Rish gives an overview of the Lebanese government’s response to COVID-19, while student Wissam Fakih examines the challenges school-age Syrian refugees in Lebanon face in continuing their education. Laila Jadallah, also a MAAS student, discusses how Beiruti artists are responding to last year’s port explosion. Alum Nadya Sbaiti shares a beautiful essay about the sci fi literature course she taught at AUB and how it became surprisingly pertinent during the events of the past year in Lebanon. Finally, alum Diogo Bercito brings attention to the Lebanese diaspora and its particular impact on Brazilian politics and culture. As usual, you’ll also find news from our faculty and alums and updates on recent events at CCAS. We hope you enjoy the issue! Vicki Valosik, Editorial Director

In This Issue FEATURE ARTICLES Student Spotlight 5 Beiruti Artists Rebuild & Reimagine Their Community Faculty Feature 8 Lebanon’s Pandemic in Context Alumni Features 11 Teaching Science Fiction While Living It in Lebanon 18 From Beirut to Brazil Student Feature 15 Educating Refugees in Lebanon

REGULAR FEATURES 4 Faculty News Education Outreach 19 Collaborations in Literature & the Arts

SPECIAL STORIES In Memoriam 6 Remembering Professor Michael Hudson 23 Congrats to the MAAS Class of 2021!

Public Events 20 100 Years of Lebanon 21 American Druze Foundation Roundtable MAAS on the Move 22 News from our Alums


‫أﺧﺒﺎر ھﯿﺌﺔ اﻟﺘﺪرﯾﺲ‬

FACULTY NEWS Associate Professor Fida Adely published a peer-reviewed article with three undergraduate research assistants: BSFS Scholars Ankushi Mitra and Menatalla Mohamed, and Mortara Fellow Adam Shaham. The article, “Poor education, unemployment and the promise of skills: The hegemony of the “skills mismatch” discourse,” appeared in the April issue of the International Journal of Educational Development. In December, Associate Professor Marwa Daoudy published a report with the Century Foundation titled “Syria’s Human Security is Inseparable from Its Environmental Security.” In April, she moderated the event “MENA Forum: The Syrian Uprising, 10 Years Later: A Decade of Resilience” in conversation with Omar Alshogre, who was formerly detained and tortured in Syria and is currently a Georgetown student. This semester Dr. Daoudy gave talks on her book The Origins of the Syrian Conflict: Climate Change and Human Security (Cambridge University Press, 2020) at Princeton University and at the Department of Political Science and International Relations, State University of New York. Her book was a co-winner of the 2021 Harold and Margaret Sprout Award, which is awarded annually by the Interna-

tional Studies Association’s Environmental Studies Section for the best book in environmental politics.

Left: Dr. Daoudy being honored at the virtual ceremony for the Harold and Margaret Sprout Book Award; Above: Professors Adely and Davis with students from their class “Introduction to the Study of the Arab World”

Associate Professor Rochelle Davis taught two classes this spring. The first was a new course, “Cultural Heritage and Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa,” and featured three alumni guest speakers, who joined the class via Zoom. The second was “Introduction to the Study of the Arab World,” a requirement for first-year MAAS students, which she co-taught with Dr. Fida Adely. Due to a lack of access to library resources, Davis and Adely pioneered a new

STAFF NEWS CCAS Education Outreach Director Honored by School Board Congratulations to CCAS Education Outreach Director and MAAS alum Dr. Susan Douglass, who is a recipient of Montgomery County Board of Education’s 24th Annual Award for Distinguished Service to Public Education. The awards are given by the Board of Education to recognize and show appreciation for exemplary contributions to public education. Dr. Douglass organizes and leads teacher workshops and professional development programs for educators in the public school systems of the greater Washington DC metro area, including Montgomery County, Maryland, and beyond. She graduated from the MAAS program in 1993.

assignment for students to write biographies and comparison papers examining intellectuals from or living in the Arab world. Dr. Davis also continued her work with the International Organization for Migration on a longitudinal study of 3,852 Iraqi families displaced by ISIS. The interview accounts of these Iraqi families who have endured displacement and political corruption, and are now enduring COVID-related illnesses, deaths, and economic devastation (again) are painful and heartbreaking. The team is preparing a website to share five rounds of data and other materials that will launch this spring. During the spring semester, Adjunct Associate Professor Noureddine Jebnoun taught the new course “Contentions Politics and Activism in the Arab World,” which focused on human agency, bottom-up politics, and non-institutionalized forces and spaces under the level of the state. Dr. Jebnoun is currently working on projects related to the impact of U.S. security assistance on democratizing Tunisia and to the reliance of some Arab states on private military, including non-citizen soldiers, military/security contractors, and mercenaries. This spring, Professor and CCAS Director Joseph Sassoon gave talks at Brandeis University, Georgetown’s History Faculty, and Georgetown’s Center for Jewish Civilization on research conducted for his forthcoming book The Global Merchants. He also taught a new course this year for students of the new undergraduate degree in International Business, which is a joint venture of the School of Foreign Service and the Business School. The course, “A History of Family Businesses,” dealt with ten global dynasties and the factors behind the rise or demise of these dynasties. In early June, Prof. Sassoon spoke at the Wilson Center panel “Challenging the Norms of Warfare: Historical Perspectives from Yemen and Iraq.” MAAS alum Michael Brill was also a speaker at the event.


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


Beirut Artists Rebuild & Reimagine their Community Laila Jadallah


or many of Beirut’s artists, curators, and gallery owners, the devastation of the August 4, 2020 port explosion—which took the lives of 208 people, injured thousands more, and left more than 300,000 families homeless—was both personal and professional. Located in a thriving cultural district, the port area is home to numerous arts venues. As a result, the homes and studios of many artists, as well as galleries and institutions like the Arab Image Foundation, Sursock Museum, Salah Barakat Gallery, and Galerie Tanit, were severely damaged or destroyed in the blast. Those in the Beirut arts community have responded in a variety of ways, some turning to their art to find solace. Within days of the blast, artist Abed Al Kadiri shifted his focus from trying to salvage his artwork from underneath the debris of the damaged Galerie Tanit to creating something new: an 80-drawing mural of a forest titled, “Today, I would like to be a tree.” The installation, which is featured on the cover of this issue, was a tribute to the friends Al Kadiri lost, as well as a fundraiser to support Bassma, a Beirut-based nonprofit helping affected families rebuild their homes. Although Beirut-based, multimedia artist Katya Traboulsi began—like many others—to rebuild her home studio within days of the explosion, she was unable to return to her art until several months had passed. Now Trablousi finds art to be a tool of mourning and survival, as well as a way for artists to bear witness to important events. She says, “I am so lucky to have my art. I locked myself in my studio, and I painted because I needed to be in touch with art.” In the days and weeks that followed the blast, artists and gallerists used their own resources to begin rebuilding their spaces, knowing that financial support from the government would likely never come. While still grieving the loss of his art handler, Salah Barakat, says he decided to rebuild and reopen 30-year-old Salah Barakat Galleries out of duty to the artists, fabricators, and staff. “Life goes on, not because we have hopes that things will get better,” says Barakat, “but because we are obliged by duty to continue on the mission to defend and promote an identity that is multidimensional and multi-ethnic.” Since reopening five weeks after the explosion, Barakat has staged three exhibitions, including an artist retrospective and a solo sculpture

‫ﺿﻮء ﻋﻠﻰ اﻟﻄﻼب‬

Above: Katya Traboulsi's studio near the port of Beirut after the blast. Left: A man paints the outside of Traboulsi's studio before the blast. Photo credit: Katya Traboulsi.

exhibit that speak to the events of the past year. Like Barakat, Galerie Tanit’s team has been steadily rebuilding. Their upcoming show featuring work by multiple Lebanese artists aims to uplift the community and move it forward while remembering and honoring those who lost their lives. Without recognition from the government about the explosion or the lives lost, grief remains just under the surface for many. Even before the explosion, Beirut’s arts sector, like those elsewhere in the world, was deeply affected by the pandemic. As the country went into lockdown last year, exhibitions were canceled or delayed, and galleries were forced to close. Despite many galleries moving exhibitions online, the art market in Lebanon took a hit. Now facing one of the worst economic crises since Beirut’s civil war, artists and gallerists are expressing uncertainty about the future. Artist Mansour El Habre (featured on pages 8 and 10 of this issue) describes the current situation as chaotic, like “living in another war, this time without a canon.” Despite the feelings of exhaustion, depression, and anxiety, artists and gallery managers expressed that staying hopeful and moving forward are the only options. For gallerists like Barakat, staying open is a form of cultural resistance. He says, “when you carry on, on a personal level, it becomes stronger because no one can stop us.” However, with increasingly expensive or limited access to art supplies, and no access to savings during a deepening recession, solidarity and support from the outside world are critical. A few ways that international arts communities can help are by recognizing the ongoing challenges artists face, purchasing artwork, sponsoring artists, and facilitating partnership opportunities and exhibitions abroad that will provide visibility for Lebanese artists. Galerie Tanit and Saleh Barakat Gallery have already begun to participate in international art fairs and partner with curators and art spaces to exhibit their artists abroad. However, gallery managers stress that even more work is needed to help sustain artists and the arts sector in Lebanon as the future remains uncertain.

Laila Jadallah is a rising second-year student in the MAAS program, Managing Director of the Washington Studio School, and an independent art producer/curator. 5

‫تخلیدا ً للذكرى‬


Remembering & Celebrating Professor Emeritus Michael Hudson


t is with heavy hearts that the CCAS community mourns the loss of Professor Emeritus Michael Craig Hudson, who passed away on May 25, 2021. Dr. Hudson was a founder of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and served as its director for many years (1976-1982, 19841989, 2004-2006, and 2007-2010). A Professor of International Relations at Georgetown University, Dr. Hudson also held the Seif Ghobash Chair of Arab Studies at CCAS.

“Mike was a brilliant political scientist of the Arab World, with a deep knowledge of the politics of Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt and Yemen, as well as U.S.-Arab relations,” writes his longtime colleague Professor Judith Tucker. “His was a knowledge informed by a lifetime of experience on the ground, empathy and respect for the people of the region, and warm collaborative relationships with his colleagues across the Arab World.” Dr. Hudson was born on June 2, 1938 in New Haven, Connecticut. His father, Robert Bowman Hudson, Jr. of Dublin, Virginia, 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, 6

studying with legendary political scientist He worked closely with his lifelong friends Karl Deutsch and influenced by anthropolo- Hisham Sharabi, Halim Barakat, Clovis gist Marshall Sahlins, with whom he took a Maksoud, Ibrahim Oweiss, John Ruedy and course as a high school student. Judith Tucker, among many others, to shape Dr. Hudson’s lifelong engagement with the field of interdisciplinary Arab studies. “As the Arab world was sparked when, as an ex- one of the founders and longtime director of change student in Beirut, he witnessed first- CCAS, he was the chief architect and major hand the U.S. military intervention in the force behind the Center’s rise to national and 1958 Lebanese crisis. He went on to focus his international prominence as the premier site study of politics and international relations for research, teaching, and study of the Arab on the Arab world and Middle East. His first World,” writes Judith Tucker. “Michael was a book, The Precarious Republic: driving force at CCAS, laying out plans and Political Modernization in Leb- building roads for so many others to travel,” anon (1968), was widely con- adds Professor Rochelle Davis. “As a founder sidered the pioneering English of CCAS, he helped create a Center whose language monograph on that vision remains one of ethical and in-depth country’s political fragility. engagement with the Arab world.” Similarly, his second book and Former staff remember Prof. Hudson as a master work, Arab Politics: The mentor and friend. “He was a true leader and Search for Legitimacy (1977), visionary as he guided the growth and develcrossed the entire Arab world opment of CCAS, with decisions based on and was a major contribution integrity, unwavering principles, and an abidto the exploration of identity, ing caring for the people of the Arab world,” history and power as contribu- writes former CCAS Assistant Director tors to regional instability. In Zeina Azzam. “Mike always looked out for addition to these two major works, which CCAS staff, bringing out the best in us and grounded the field of Middle East politi- opening doors to allow our potential to shine. cal science in qualitative research and com- He was an inspiring director, professor, and parative frameworks, he edited and authored scholar and a genuine humanitarian.” dozens of volumes, scholarly articles, and commentaries. Dr. Michael was a driving force at Hudson served as president of CCAS, laying out plans and building the Middle East Studies Association in 1986-87 and was a roads for so many others to travel. frequent and sought-after media commentator on Middle Eastern affairs “Mike was a rare individual: a combination and U.S. foreign policy for decades. of great intellect, open curiosity and genuine Dr. Hudson began his career as a lecturer fun,” recalls former CCAS Assistant Director at the City University of New York, later Rania Kiblawi. “You knew he was hatching moving to Washington, DC to teach at the some great idea by the twinkle in his eyes and School of Advanced International Stud- that funny way of rubbing his head. He was ies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. In a joy to work with, always thinking of ways 1975, he joined the School of Foreign Ser- to make CCAS stronger and better, and he vice of Georgetown University as director of taught us to embrace challenges on behalf of the the newly established Center for Con- a greater cause.” temporary Arab Studies and accepted a poAfter serving several terms as CCAS disition as professor of international relations rector, Dr. Hudson was recruited as the in the Government Department in 1979. founding director of the Middle East Insti-

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Clockwise from top left: Michael with Professor Judith Tucker at Souk Waqif in Doha; Michael with his wife Vera at a CCAS staff retreat in Aqaba in 1988; Michael with Prof. Rochelle Davis at a MAAS alumni gathering; a sketch by Michael, who was known as a prolific doodler and limerickist; Michael at his home with former CCAS editor Mimi Kirk and daughter Leila; Michael in Shibam, Yemen in 1994. Photo credits: (left page) Leila Hudson; (right page) Zeina Azzam, Judith Tucker, Marisa Tamari, CCAS

tute of the National University of Singapore from 2010 to 2014. Throughout his career he advocated for human rights and democratization throughout the Middle East and was a passionate supporter of Palestinian liberation. “Michael was always willing to stand up for what was right, whether it was to take a strong public stand on Palestinian rights, to protect junior faculty from unrealistic demands or to advocate for students,” writes Professor Fida Adely. Dr. Hudson lost his wife and beloved companion of forty-four years, Palestinian-Lebanese biologist and toxicologist Vera Wahbe

Hudson, in 2007. Michael was an avid bon vivant, delighting in fine food and drink, music, theater, literature and spending time with friends, old and new. He enjoyed running and swimming until his last days of life. He 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.

“Michael was truly a remarkable person with high intellect, and a keen sense for initiatives and management,” writes CCAS Director Joseph Sassoon. “His dedication for Arab studies knew no limit, and he will be remembered by his students for years to come.” Professor Hudson’s family, friends and colleagues will gather in Washington, DC in July 2021 to remember and celebrate his life. CCAS has created a memoriam page on our website to collect remembrances of Dr. Hudson from his friends, students, and colleagues.


‫ﺧﺎص ﻣﻦ ھﯿﺌﺔ اﻟﺘﺪرﯾﺲ‬




A deeper look at COVID-19’s spread in Lebanon and how it intersects with the country’s ongoing crises By Ziad Abu-Rish


ebanon has faced an avalanche of devastating developments since 2019: chronic budget deficits, economic stagnation, rising poverty and unemployment rates, infrastructural breakdown, a banking crisis, currency depreciation, political paralysis, and the August 2020 Beirut port explosion. These compounding and intersecting crises have made it difficult for outside observers and many local residents to keep tabs on and make sense of the overall trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. This article draws on insights from local public health 8

researchers, journalists, and activists to highlight the nature of the pandemic’s spread, the government response, and how they intersect with other critical dynamics in the country. Lebanese authorities announced the country’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 on February 21, 2020 and its first confirmed related death less than two months later, on March 10. As of June 1, 2021— fifteen months into the pandemic in Lebanon—the Ministry of Public Health claimed there were a total of 540,630 cumulative confirmed cases, 12,422 of which remain active, and another 7,735 that resulted in death. Among those active cases in Lebanon, 244 people were hospitalized, with 135 of those patients in intensive care units. The average 14-day positivity rate for the last two weeks of May was 2.6% (compared to 11% for the last two weeks in April). Such statistics are staggering in absolute terms, but also in relative terms. With an estimated total population of 6.5 million people, that means about 8% of the total population has caught the virus. Yet politiMansour El Habre, Uncal jockeying, systematic corruption, titled, 2021, Mixed Media and ineffective monitoring have on Paper, 11 ⅘ x 16 ½ combined to render problematic re- in. Courtesy of the artist cord keeping in the country. These and the Lebanese Talents government statistics in fact belie a Gallery, Beirut.

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

different, and direr, reality. First, there is far more information about the pandemic’s spread among Lebanese citizens than among refugee and migrant worker populations. Constituting more than two million of the roughly 6.5 million population count, refugees and migrant workers often live in more crowded spaces with less access to clean water, medical services, and personal protective equipment (PPE). They have been more vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks and have died at a higher rate. Second, a large number of potentially infected persons across the country could not secure access to COVID-19 tests due to either the expense or the long waits. Beyond the issue of misleading statistics, assessing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Lebanon cannot be reduced to a simple count of incidence and/or mortality rates. Such an assessment must factor in the country’s multiple pre-existing and overlapping crises: infrastructural, developmental, fiscal, and financial crises, to name the most prominent. While the COVID-19 pandemic did not cause these crises, it revealed their mutually-reinforcing nature. In some cases, it has exacerbated them. Perhaps the best example is the public health care system in Lebanon. Public health policies in the latter years of the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990) and its aftermath featured a dramatic increase in government reliance on the private sector and an abandonment of the more equitable prewar public healthcare system. In 2017, the four major public health insurance schemes in Lebanon accounted for only 44.8% of the population’s total healthcare expenditure, while private insurance and NGO programs accounted for another 22.1%. The remaining 33.1% were out of pocket. Furthermore, public health insurance schemes heavily rely on sub-contracting private health care institutions for preventative, diagnostic, and treatment care. In 2019, the 28 public hospitals accounted for roughly 36.7% of government-subsidized hospital visits and the same percentage of government-subsidized admitted patients. That year, the Ministry of Public Health contracted with 118 private hospitals. Such trends are in keeping with broader dynamics, especially when one considers public-private bifurcation of utilities such as electricity, water, telecommunication, and internet service, to say nothing of capital investment, employment, and other developmental trends. The spread of COVID-19 in Lebanon coincided with an acute state budget crisis, an economy characterized by a foreign currency shortage, local currency depreciation, and a banking sector that has effectively confiscated residents deposits made in U.S. dollars (approximately 75% of total bank deposits). In this context, the public-private “partnership” revealed the very limits and inequalities its critics had long lambasted. As the government failed to meet its financial obligations vis-à-vis public hospitals, public healthcare workers threatened strikes and work stoppages. In December 2019, at least two major public hospitals reported not receiving any of their budgeted funds for that year, including for salary payments. That same month, private hospitals claimed they were owed an outstanding balance of 1.3 billion U.S. dollars for services rendered on behalf of the government during 2011–19. Consequently, private healthcare institutions threatened to close their doors to individuals on public health insurance

plans. The dramatic spike in unemployment, first in the wake of the financial crisis and then intensifying during the pandemic, meant an increased burden on both the public health insurance scheme and the few public healthcare institutions that existed. This was all compounded by the shortage in foreign currency, which dramatically decreased and slowed down the import of medicines, medical equipment, and related supplies. This is to say nothing of the decrease in the number of healthcare workers as a function of intensified emigration and massive layoffs by private hospitals since 2019. In October 2020, several health officials and professionals were sounding the alarm on the shortage of COVID-19 designated regular and ICU hospital beds. By the following January, the reported occupancy rates exceeded 80% and 90%, respectively, and the healthcare infrastructure risked an impending collapse. Since then, much has been made about how the budgetary and financial crises in Lebanon prevented the private sector from “stepping up” and the state from “stepping in.” Lost in such rhetorical gestures was the fact that the public-private healthcare partnership was justified over the past three decades, in part, with reference to the private sector’s alleged ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. This is to say nothing of the fact that the current multiple crises in Lebanon are themselves partially a

The spread of COVID-19 in Lebanon coincided with an acute state budget crisis, a foreign currency shortage, local currency depreciation, and a banking sector that has effectively confiscated residents deposits. result of a particular type of public-private partnership. During the early months of the pandemic, many regional and international observers praised the Lebanese government for what they viewed as swift and effective lockdown measures. (These began in March 2020 but were increasingly rolled back beginning two months later in May of last year.) The lockdowns affected borders, schools, hospitality and entertainment establishments, government offices, and public spaces. Yet such praise belied two important realities. First, these lockdown measures came in the wake of historic mass mobilizations that erupted in October 2019 and showed signs of a potential resurgence in spring 2020. The government simultaneously carried out a wave of investigations, arrests, and prosecutions—both criminal and military—of participants in protests prior to the pandemic and those who sought to be active during the pandemic. Second, once the government effectively demobilized the threat of mass protests, it did not implement any serious or effective lockdown measures until January 2021, when the pandemic in Lebanon reached “crisis” proportions. The government also failed to provide any meaningful social safety net for income earners affected by the pandemic. Between May 2020 and January 2021, the government prioritized attracting visitors (and thus foreign currency) and encouraging local spending at the expense of a prudent and targeted lockdown program. With the exception of an ineffective two-week lockdown in August 2020 and a series of short-lived municipal-level lockdowns in 9

different parts of the country, the government overwhelmingly abdicated its responsibility. The ever-shortening intervals between major milestones in the numbers of confirmed cases and related deaths is perhaps the best indicator of this fact. According to one tabulation, it took 283 days to reach the first 1,000 COVID-19 deaths in Lebanon,

whereas it only took an addi- Mansour El Habre, Untitled, tional 52 days to reach 2,000 and 2020, Mixed Media on Paper, 16 more days after that to reach 68 x 95 in. Courtesy of the 3,000. It wasn’t until strict lock- artist and the Lebanese Talents Gallery, Beirut. down measures were imposed in January 2021 that confirmed infection and death rates started to decline. Yet such downward trends only began to manifest in earnest this April, and the Ministry of Public Health has apparently and for inexplicable reasons decreased the frequency and amount of data it has published since then. So we cannot yet say with any certainty if Lebanon has permanently turned a corner after reaching the precipice. With COVID-19 vaccine production in full swing, Lebanon has now entered the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 Vaccines. The overall plan calls for an immunization rate of 80% or higher among the population of Lebanon, irrespective of citizenship status. So far, it has entered into vaccine-purchasing contracts to begin targeting the first 35% of the population through the combination of the World Health Organization-affiliated COVAX initiative and a bi-lateral purchasing contract with Pfizer. The plan is admittedly confusing: it does not specify if the plan targets 80% of the entire population or of those eligible (i.e., aged 16 years and older); it identifies several phases and sub-phases; and it has been changed several times since being launched in January 2021. For example, media workers (including journalists) recently became eligible for vaccination under the elaborated definition of “persons essential for the functioning of society.” This is ironic given how much of me-

dia infrastructure in Lebanon is tied to dominant political parties, while the few independent media workers and outlets in existence have been subjected to a barrage of government-led and/or politicianled intimidation, threats, and even prosecution. At the same time, as one colleague noted to me, it is troubling that many adults with two or more co-morbidities will not be vaccinated until the late summer while healthy adults in their fifties or media workers in their twenties have already been vaccinated. The Ministry of Public Health claimed, as of June 1, that 513,694 people (10.8% of those 18 years or older) had received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Of these, 167,461 received their second dose. The government has primarily facilitated Pfizer (with some AstraZeneca) doses as part of its national COVID-19 vaccination program. The Lebanese government also recently received a donation of 90,000 doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine and announced it would distribute 50,000 to the armed forces and earmark the remaining 40,000 for public sector employees, media workers, and health insurance sector workers. Similar to other dynamics of the pandemic in Lebanon, the present moment promises to reflect the structural inequalities and institutional dynamics of Lebanon more so than it does any qualitative relief or meaningful public health strategy. While the national vaccination program is meant to be available to all, there is a disconnect between the demographics of those registered (registration in the program is required for vaccination) and that of the broader population. For example, the proportion of persons registered from each governorate is not reflective of those governorates’ respective shares of the population. Similarly, over 88% of those registered identify as Lebanese nationals, while less than 5% identify as Palestinian or Syrian, communities with COVID-19 infection fatality rates three and four times the national average, respectively. As of early June, less than 5% of vaccine doses went to non-Lebanese, even though non-Lebanese make up nearly 30% of the population. Relatedly, in late February and early March the Lebanese government tentatively agreed to allow the private sector to import an estimated one million vaccine doses (Sinopharm and Russian-made Sputnik V) directly or purchase others (AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sputnik V) through the Ministry of Public Health. The fate of this agreement is currently in question. More recently, the government apparently reached a deal with universities, private companies, and professional syndicates for an estimated 750,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccines to administer to their constituencies and their families. All of these arrangements reflect a privatized component of the government plan to eventually vaccinate “80% of the population.” One could claim that these are necessary measures in light of the public deficit that has rendered the government unable to shoulder the cost of purchasing and administering all the vaccine doses necessary continued on page 14

10 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


‫ﺧﺎص ﻣﻦ اﻟﺨﺮﯾﺠﯿﻦ‬


Science Fiction

While Living It in Lebanon

How science fiction can help us escape upside down worlds and empower us to reimagine—and rebuild—better ones By Nadya Sbaiti


o be in Lebanon in the fall and winter of 2019 offered something that neither protesters on the street nor taxidermied naysayers in power had anticipated. As hundreds of thousands of people flooded cities and towns, their presence was an embrace of the unknown, a decided desire to create a world in which they would not have to leave family, friends, and country in search of opportunities elsewhere. The new future would have space for them all. The popular uprising began the evening of October 17, 2019. It was sparked by the government’s plan to impose taxes on the popular mobile application WhatsApp. But this came on the heels of uncontained wildfires that had blazed through the mountainous Shuf region earlier in the month. Firefighting helicopters sat in idle disrepair due to government neglect, symbolic of what plagued decades of successive Lebanese governments—political polarization, mismanagement of public funds, and rampant corruption and waste. That same noxious mix would once again culminate, hardly a year later, in disregard for residents’ lives and well-being with the Port of Beirut explosion on August 4, 2020. Explosions, popular and port, appear to bookend the last year in Lebanon. This is to say nothing of the country’s economic implosion and the global pandemic, in between and persisting since. To live through it all has felt surreal; to work through it, often impos-

Reem Bassous, Moribund Outlivers VI, 2017. Acrylic on Canvas. 16”x20” Courtesy of the Artist.


sible. So when I found myself last spring teaching a course on science fiction while also living it, I could hardly have anticipated its pedagogical possibilities.

New Courses of Action In the fall of 2019, unbounded imagination structured protesters’ demands for a better life in Lebanon—one that once and for all made political, economic, and moral sense. Demonstrators and activists offered concrete plans to revise the constitution and overhaul the judiciary, called for public reclamation of privatized spaces, and insisted on broadbased collective actions that would bring about an end to sectarianism, patriarchy, homophobia, and racism. But by the beginning of December, faced with increasing violence from army, police, and militia groups, organizing efforts felt stymied, if not downright crushed. The feeling was brutal. The protests exposed the impoverishment of a certain epistemological hegemony that had “explained” Lebanon as, paradoxically, exceptional in its purported westernized modernity while also hopeless in its oriental sectarianism. The inadequacy of these frameworks echoes those applied to the region as a whole—ones that were quickly dispatched by the revolutionaries in the streets almost a decade ago. Those mass movements in 2011 reminded the world of the more than century-long history of popular action across the Middle East and North Africa. And yet still, when Lebanon was itself enveloped in revolution late last year, the extended moment belied nearly all of the conceptual tools I had amassed as an educator in and of the region. It became clear to me that we needed new ways to capture and process what we were witnessing and living. What I was really looking for was hope. Something to ground my desire for sustenance. Methods that I could offer students at the American University of Beirut, for whom the stakes of the protests resonated so personally, to help them imagine different possible futures. Long an avid reader of fantasy, science fiction, and speculative fiction, all I could think about were the ways in which these literary genres were constituted by expansive imagination and world-making through their play on time and space. Revolution, I thought, was not so different. In the spring semester of 2019, I offered a new interdisciplinary graduate seminar called “Science Fiction in/and the Middle East” or MEST-318. Engaging a range of historical, legal, and cultural works of scholarship, film, and literature, we delved into sci fi’s deep historical roots in the Middle East. Situating these works within genealogies and landscapes of the global south produced critical thematic assemblages around colonialism, imperialism, social justice, and climate change. Significantly, we considered what the contemporary sci fi output from the region indicates about current political needs and desires, and the centrality of gender, race, and class dynamics to re-envisioning futurity. We were exploring the methodological possibilities that science fiction could offer everyone—including scholars, activists, and creative writers—in imagining alternative and emancipatory futures in the region. But that goal, it turned out, would be almost immediately tested.

Reem Bassous, Toxic Waters, 2013. Acrylic, Charcoal and Fireworks on Canvas. 24”x24” Courtesy of the Artist.

Combatting COVID-19 with MEST-318 Just three weeks into the semester, the first COVID-19 cases were reported in Lebanon. By mid-March, we were plunged into lockdown—what state authorities referred to as General Mobilization ta‘bi’a ‘amma. Weeks turned into months, each day seemingly ripped out of the pages of the most dystopic science fiction. The lethal and still mutating virus with no known cure appeared, at least briefly, to flatten people’s experiences across the globe: exponential rates of infection and death, shortages of food and supplies, social isolation, and inept political leadership. But in Lebanon, the pandemic also came on the heels of a popular mobilization. Demonstrations continued sporadically into 2020 as people sought an end to a broken political system whose embedded corruption led to one of the world’s most remarkable state-sponsored Ponzi schemes. As the monetary house of cards came crashing down, so too did the national currency, which devalued by the week through the first half of the year. Commercial banks allowed most customers only tiny cash withdrawals. Meanwhile, like their counterparts around the world, Lebanese politicians did not let these nested crises go to waste. They cynically used the pandemic to roll back the ideological gains of the demonstrations and reinforce sectarian patronage systems. The lockdown exacerbated the already precarious lives of large swathes of the population, and the response of the political and economic elites exposed not just the rotten innards of the spaces we

12 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

inhabited but also the impoverishment of an elitist political imagination. We were settling in not just for social distancing but for something far more dystopic. During the initial fortnight of the lockdown, as I adjusted to the twinned shocks of national crises and global infection and death, I wondered whether my course still had any relevance. What was the point of reading dystopian science fiction when we were actually living something just as terrifying? The answer comes in part by recognizing that the pedagogical power of science fiction sits in its simultaneous utopian and dystopian refractions. There is an immanent tension between inspirational possibilities and bleak futures that Lebanon seems to exemplify, lodged

Reem Bassous, Night Experiment, 2013. Acrylic, Graphite and Charcoal on Canvas. 24"x24" Courtesy of the Artist.

in the cleft between a utopian revolution and its dystopian likeness. I began to imagine the possibility that this class—in this place and at this time—might resolve some of this tension. Over the remaining nine weeks of class, engaging with sci fi’s emancipatory aspects while simultaneously living its more menacing version equipped my students and I with an unexpected sense of control. Whether we read Ahmad Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad, Ibtissam ‘Azem’s The Book of Disappearance, or watched Larissa Sansour’s sci fi Palestine trilogy, the Age of Corona no longer seemed alien. As COVID-19 metastasized, MEST-318 became our escape pod. Embedded within the comfort of our familiar dystopia was the sense that we might at least predict the next “real-world” plot twist. That feeling of control extended to harnessing the uncertainty of more unfamiliar, otherworldly elements in the texts so as to construct our own

possible exits. In an important sense, the class revealed how sci fi rests on conceptual and lived entanglements between familiarity, control, and escape.

Method in Madness Sci fi’s literary and artistic interventions help us imagine ourselves out of a world that is itself increasingly hostile to imagination. But also, to paraphrase doyenne Octavia Butler, to write ourselves into a world of our own making, one that more precisely responds to our needs and legacies.* In the Age of Corona, with the near-total uncertainty around the future—including whether we will even live to see it—science fiction and its emphasis on future building offers us a lifeline. It does so by re-expanding our dramatically shrunken world. COVID-related lockdown has confined us at home for so long that venturing six blocks can feel like interplanetary travel. As our very bodies stretch across couches and not countries, those of us with suddenly useless passports are now experiencing an iota of the ways in which others, incarcerated or undocumented, move through space—or don’t. Time continues to feel non-linear. But unlike Revolutionary Time, Corona Time makes every day seem both fleeting and interminable, beset by the same routine and occurring between the same walls, floors, and ceilings. Spacetime compression is made real with Zoom. Our classrooms contract to tiny boxes on a screen. We are all talking heads. So with its vast universes and myriad realms, characters, and outcomes, science fiction reminds us that we can, in fact, exist in dimensions more expansive than our physically and temporally circumscribed present suggests. Reframing the present, then, is also vital to sci fi’s promise. It is no coincidence that within the last 15 years, science fiction, speculative fiction, and fantasy have proliferated in parts of the world that had previously not elicited such a critical mass of works. Alongside authors in West Africa, South Asia, and South America, those from the Middle East and North Africa use these genres as a way to imagine other Palestines, Yemens, Irans, or Algerias, for example. As author Basma Ghalayini points out (in her introduction to Palestine + 100: Stories from a Century After the Nakba), with leaders regularly jailing writers for their opinions on the present, “the option of recasting that present—reframing it through fantasy or science fiction—is becoming more and more popular.” And, I would add, more urgent. Sci fi’s multiverse disrupts claims to a so-called universal human experience. Sci fi literary and artistic output increasingly serves as a witness for the lives of those who have long existed on the political and social margins of society and who have been the targets of technological, medical, social, and political experiments. Escaping into science fiction can thus feel like the re-righting of a world that has hitherto constantly felt upside down. Meanwhile, re-writing oneself, or one’s communities, empowers the critique of status quos and the struggle for more promising futures. 13

Of Ports and Portals Yet Lebanon’s residents are still living dystopic science fiction. The August 4 explosion in Beirut, considered one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in modern history, leveled the port area and destroyed buildings in neighborhoods as far as 17 kilometers away. For certain generations, explosions are familiar; today’s devastation, however, is utterly unfamiliar in its incomprehensible and apocalyptic scale, scope, and impact. And in a cruel plot twist, COVID-19 saved lives: during healthier times, at 6:08 pm on a balmy August evening, shops, bars, restaurants, and streets of the neighborhoods nearest the port would have been infinitely more crowded, the port itself bustling with more employees. A pandemic as lifesaver from thousands of tons of explosive ammonium nitrate—would such a story have even made my syllabus? In her widely regarded Financial Times article “The Pandemic is a Portal,” Arundhati Roy argues for thinking about the coronavirus pandemic as a one-way portal that allows us to “break with the past and imagine [our] world anew.” In Lebanon, however, the pandemic—and now the explosion—confirms continuity through contrasts. We are simultaneously living in three temporal frameworks: revolution, corona, and explosion. During Revolutionary Time, bodies tightly packed into squares and streets signify a demand for life; we wear masks to protect us against

tear gas while shielding our popular movement. During Corona Time, bodies tightly packed into any space are a harbinger of conceivable death; we wear masks to protect us from one another. And during Explosion Time, we wear masks to protect us from the toxic fumes of destruction and decay—a sign of shared political vulnerability. For her part, Roy is as compelling as ever. But in Lebanon, the past is always of our presents and our futures. As the horizon of possibility transforms into a cage through whose bars we glimpse what lies beyond, MEST-318 taught me that pedagogy, not pandemic, must be the portal.

Dr. Nadya Sbaiti is Assistant Professor at the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies at the American University Beirut. She is a co-founder of Jadaliyya and a 1999 graduate of the MAAS program. A longer version of this article was first published in the magazine Society and Space in November, 2020. * Huntington Library (2017). Octavia E. Butler: Telling My Stories. Available at: http://media.huntington.org/uploadedfiles/Files/PDFs/Octavia_E_ Butler_Gallery-Guide.pdf

continued from page 10

to reach the plan’s target. But these measures are also part and parcel of a longer history of chosen public-private “partnership” and a broader pattern of unequal access based on economic and political privilege. For example, a scandal erupted this February when it was revealed that sixteen parliamentarians received their first vaccine doses despite the country officially being in a vaccination phase for which several of them were ineligible. Additional examples abound. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 40% of vaccination centers breached the priority order in the first week of roll out. More recently, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri appears to be maneuvering to donate vaccine doses to particular constituencies. These and many more dynamics continue to raise questions that we are only beginning to consider. Finding out the answers will depend on the continued diligence of independent journalists and healthcare researchers in Lebanon. Despite the death, illness, and various forms of dislocation the pandemic has produced in Lebanon, those in positions of power and authority have approached the pandemic like they approach most everything else that should rightly be considered a matter of public good, public benefit, and public safety. Only time and, unfortunately,

the deepening of Lebanon’s multiple crises will reveal the lengths to which these political and economic elites are going in order to maintain their authority, privilege, and networks. That being said, it is worth noting a shift in the public discourse on public health services. On one hand, the pandemic has forced the government to invest more money directly into public hospitals than it has since the end of the civil war. On the other hand, the combination of the pandemic and other crises has reoriented many people away from private hospitals and to public ones. This has resulted in a significant increase in firsttime visits to some public hospitals. These changing patterns of public investment and seeking out public healthcare might—despite everything—help reconstitute the balance of power for a greater and more meaningful role of the public sector.

Ziad Abu-Rish was a 2020-2021 American Druze Foundation Fellow at CCAS. He is also Director of the MA Program in Human Rights and the Arts at Bard College and Co-Editor of Arab Studies Journal and Jadaliyya e-zine.

14 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


‫ﺧﺎص ﻣﻦ اﻟﻄﻼب‬

Educating Refugees in Lebanon

MAAS student Wissam Fakih explores how Lebanon’s triple crises—economic collapse, the Beirut port explosion, and the COVID-19 pandemic—have impacted the education of thousands of Syrian refugee children living in the country.* By Wissam Fakih

* This article is a shortened version of a much longer research project Wissam conducted for her MAAS class “Development in the Arab World” and later published with Jadaliyya. To read her full report, including a list of sources, visit Jadaliyya.com.

Reem Bassous, We Live By Chance, 2015. Acrylic, Latex, Flashe, Milk Paint and Charcoal on Canvas. 72"x84" Courtesy of the Artist.



ince the start of the Syrian uprising in 2011, Lebanon's population has experienced a mass influx. This influx has made Lebanon home to more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees, of which 488,000 are school age. Lebanon’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education initially took a laudable leadership role in refugee education. In 2014, it established Reach All Children with Education (RACE)—with UNICEF serving as the program’s leading technical and financial partner—to ensure that vulnerable children in Lebanon, including refugees, had access to affordable education. As part of the RACE plan, public schools created “second shift” afternoon classes specifically for Syrian refugees. However, since RACE’s launch, a series of national and international calamities have upended the government’s ability to educate.

Lebanon’s Triple Crises In 2019, a regulated Ponzi scheme between the Lebanese government and its central bank caused large numbers of people to lose access to their bank deposits. The resulting approximate 80% devaluation of the Lebanese lira caused massive financial losses for the population. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and succeeded in paralyzing most global economies. Lebanon was among the severely impacted countries with businesses shutting down and unemployment rates surging under an already defaulted economy. And then, on August 4, 2020 at 6:07 pm, one of the world’s largest-ever, non-nuclear explosions occurred at the port of Beirut, shattering homes and businesses and causing physical damage for tens of miles beyond the capital. The explosion killed more than 200 people, left 300,000 people homeless, and damaged 70 public schools and 50 private schools in Beirut and neighboring areas. The whole country has been impacted by these back-to-back catastrophic events and the ensuing economic crisis, particularly those living near or below the poverty line. Syrian refugees have also been among the most adversely affected due to the difficult living circumstances inside unofficial camps, the exploitative practices of some employers who hire refugees illegally for extremely low wages, and their dependency on local and international aid. More importantly, Lebanon is currently witnessing a significant rise in a xenophobic ideology that blames Syrian refugees for the economic collapse, making their lives in displacement even harsher and subjecting them to constant violence and threat.

Virtual Learning and Shifting Donor Support As the global pandemic spread, the Lebanese government decided to emulate the education systems of many other countries by shifting to distance learning. This decision was made despite Lebanon’s poor internet infrastructure, regular power cuts, and the widespread lack of virtual learning tools like laptops, tablets, or internet-capable phones. As a result of these deficiencies, which disproportionally affect refugees, approximately 200,000 Syrian refugee students who receive their

education through RACE were effectively excluded from the Ministry of Education’s pandemic plans and lost access to education. NGOs that supplement the Ministry’s work by supporting Syrian refugee education have achieved varying levels of success in mitigating the impact of the pandemic—depending on the support of their donors, their ability to adapt, and the closeness of their collaboration with the Ministry. For example, International Humanitarian Relief (IHR), which provides non-formal schooling, used to receive funds from international donors like the Austrian Development Agency ADA, OPEC’s Fund for International Development, and the MBC Foundation. However, organizations and individuals are no longer contributing to IHR since the economy defaulted in Lebanon. According to IHR Regional Manager Houda Atassi, the Ministry of Education refused to step in and support IHR’s education programs and also denied all of IHR’s requests for certification, which would have made their programs eligible for Ministry funding. As a result, IHR finds itself today deserted by donors and unable to create a virtual learning environment for its beneficiaries, essentially abandoning around 2,800 students in Syrian camps and leaving tens of teachers jobless. In contrast, the Norwegian Relief Council (NRC), which works closely with the Ministry and RACE, followed a contingency plan that allowed them to migrate to a non-formal education curriculum and to provide Syrian beneficiaries living in camps with internet cards. The non-formal program was pre-approved by the Ministry and RACE to be accessible to families via smartphones using the mobile application WhatsApp. Teachers use WhatsApp to send their 2,000 students educational videos three times a week. NRC’s program has had the added benefit of enabling caretakers and parents to become more engaged with their children’s education through these learning videos, which are viewed at home. Sawa for Development and Aid, a grassroots organization that also works closely with the Ministry and RACE offers another success story. Sawa operates through non-formal education centers in the Bekaa that provide Syrian refugees of neighboring camps with a level of education that would qualify them to transition into the public school system or vocational training programs. Following the start of the pandemic, Sawa staff created a hybrid plan to print out lessons and move their commuting budget toward financing connectivity solutions like buying internet cards in order to top off parents’ mobile phones. Sawa’s team delivers printed handouts along with internet cards for their students inside camps and ensures that they receive their online material via WhatsApp. Between Sawa and NRC, around 3,000 refugee students participating in non-formal education projects are able to still receive their education without interruption. However, almost 200,000 others who were previously beneficiaries of the RACE’s second shifts are left with no solutions. Despite these financial challenges, RACE representative Sonya El Khoury claims that the main problem impacting the education of Syrian refugees is not the economic crisis in Lebanon. Instead, she blames the pandemic and the ramifications of the port explosion. “You would think that refugees should be a priority but they’re not. After the blast, much of the support of international donors went to NGOs for the rehab of residences or buildings,” she said. After nine

16 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

years of the Syrian conflict, El Khoury explained, donors are in what she called a “state of fatigue” and are reassessing their interventions and priorities. However, a representative from NRC confirmed that they have not noticed any appreciable shifts in donor priorities. Similarly, a representative from Sawa stated that none of their funders— which include international donors and the Japanese government— have changed their levels of support. Instead, Sawa’s biggest challenge came when the banks started blocking withdrawals. Their finance team managed to open several accounts with different banks so that in case one bank blocked access to funds they would still have liquidity in another account.

The Impact of the Lira’s Devaluation The impact of the devaluation in the local Lebanese currency is reflected in all dimensions of society. The inability of daily workers to earn a salary, mixed with price increases through the sharp devaluation of the Lebanese lira and a severely limited social welfare system, put many residents at risk of life-threatening hardship. In 2019, one kilogram of locally grown apples cost between 750 and 2000 liras. Today, the same quantity sells for 25,000 to 30,000 liras. A pack of diapers increased from 22,000 to 149,000 liras. Basic needs are now out of reach for many, including public school teachers. Conversely, the devaluing has benefited those whose salaries are still paid in U.S. dollars, like the RACE management, who receive their funds from donors through the Ministry of Finance. However, this does not include the RACE “second-shift” teachers, as they continue to be paid in lira. In November 2020, the Ministry of Education issued an order to resume physical learning on campuses, and the morning-shift students soon resumed classes accordingly. However, the second-shift refugee students did not because their teachers went on a strike demanding that their salaries be paid in U.S. dollars like the salaries of RACE managers. RACE’s team explained that teachers’ paychecks are issued by the Ministry of Finance making it impossible to pay them in American dollars since the government budget is in local currency. Teachers were skeptical of such explanations given RACE’s dependency on foreign currency. The teachers’ negotiations failed, the teachers yielded, and second-shift students were able to commence in-person learning. However, they were on campus for only a single week before a nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 forced everyone home again. This situation, alongside other budget controversies, raises an array of questions about who is responsible for paying wages and how finances are structured. On top of that, such questions lead to skepticism about the RACE plan and its commitment to refugee education, given that funds are not fulfilling their allocation purposes. This dilemma remains ongoing; teachers went on strike again from December, 2020 to March of this year. Strikes are likely to reoccur and escalate until a new government is formed and the Ministry fulfills teachers’ demands. Meanwhile, most Syrian refugee students remain under threat of being out of school.

Guaranteeing a Path to Education In the midst of these three calamities, many government officials, organizations, and donors still prioritize their mission of aiding refugees and educating children. However, in a country with a struggling economy, there are no guarantees that funds will keep coming or that funds will be accessible in the event that banks default. As a result, Syrian refugee children are forced into further instability. A representative from Sawa confirmed that some of their students have already surrendered to the economic crisis and dropped out of school in order to work, while some female students were forced into early marriages that would save families their daughters’ expenses. Saddling a host country with 1.5 million refugees while it is already struggling to accommodate its own population is fair to neither the refugees nor the country and its people. While experts foresaw the economic consequences of such a large human influx on a weak country like Lebanon, education programs—even those resulting from collaborations between the international community and the Lebanese government—were not able to meet their intended goals or the needs of their students. This was due, in part, to the practices of public servants at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and the overall rooted government corruption. To address corruption, the Ministry of Education should begin by issuing transparent annual reports about their achievements and spending, in order to show the qualitative and quantitative benefits of the RACE plan and to ensure that donor funds are used appropriately. Following that, the Ministry must consider paying second-shift teachers in U.S. dollars, not only for obvious economic reasons related to inflated living costs but also to halt the teachers’ open strike so that refugee students can return to their physical or virtual classrooms. To address Lebanon’s surging number of COVID-19 cases, the RACE plan should migrate some of its budget to virtual learning solutions that would make it easier for refugee students to access online models. This could include placing routers inside refugee camps, providing internet cards through NGOs, or a supplying internet-capable devices to households that do not already own them. Most importantly, there must be a guaranteed and continuous path to education for Syrian refugee children. This path must be protected and monitored by the international community and any government or organization accepting responsibility for educating the next generation. Doing so is key to ensuring that every child has sustained access to the basic human right of a solid education.

Wissam Fakih is a Washington DC-based broadcast producer and a student in the MAAS program with a concentration on Women and Gender in the MENA. Her research focuses on female and child refugees, and the repositioning of media/film to provide a voice to marginalized communities.


‫ضوء على الخریجین‬


From Beirut to Brazil At Lebanon’s centennial, it’s time for scholars to take a closer look at the country’s historic ties to Brazil, argues MAAS alum Diogo Bercito. By Diogo Bercito


ith the recent centennial of Greater Lebanon, scholars of different fields have been gathering in panels across the world to discuss and commemorate Lebanon’s history. Given that the centennial coincides with the crumbling of the Lebanese economy and the lingering effects of the 2020 explosion in Beirut, there is a sense of urgency to understanding how the country’s past can better situate its current events. Despite the extensive discussions of Lebanon’s past, a significant part of the country’s history is rarely accounted for: the mass migration of its people in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—a period marked by the collapse of the silk industry and intercommunal tensions. Similarly, scholars seldom acknowledge the role of the Lebanese diaspora, failing to incorporate the vibrant migrant communities of places like Brazil, where millions claim Lebanese descent, into these discussions. Around 150,000 people migrated from the Eastern Mediterranean to Brazil starting in the late 1870s. Most came from areas that would later become parts of contemporary Lebanon and Syria. Now their descendants may measure in the millions. Last year, the Arab-Brazil Chamber of Commerce released the first-ever census of this community, claiming that there are 12 million people of Arab descent living in Brazil. According to Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, between 7 million and 10 million people of Lebanese descent, specifically, live in the country. These estimates need to be read with a grain of za‘tar, as taking them at face value would mean that more people of Lebanese descent live in Brazil than in Lebanon, which has a total population of under 7 million. Yet, regardless of their precise numbers, it is hard to deny the impact that Lebanese migrants

have had in Brazil over the past century, or the ways they have deeply entangled the histories of the two countries. One of the most obvious examples of these entanglements is the large number of Brazilian politicians of Lebanese descent. Among them are former president Michel Temer, former São Paulo governor Paulo Maluf, and former São Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad—whose parents migrated, respectively,

Reem Bassous, Ocean Graveyard, 2018. Charcoal on Paper, 30"x40" Courtesy of the Artist

from Btaaboura, Hadath Baalbek, and Ain Atta. During some periods, the percentage of representatives of Lebanese descent in Brazil’s Congress has reached ten percent. As I heard from Lebanese people during my research over the past years, it is ironic that Lebanon has spent long periods without a president while people of Lebanese descent have often ruled Brazil. The history of Lebanese descendants in Brazil goes beyond politics, however. For example, Lebanese migrants and their descendants published a trove of Arabic-language newspapers in Brazil, contributing to the nahda (a cultural movement around the turn

18 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

of the twentieth century, often translated as “Arab Renaissance”). Between 1880 and 1929, there were 82 Arabic newspapers and magazines published in Palestine, whereas the number reached 95 in Brazil. By 1944, Arabs in Brazil and their descendants— mostly Lebanese—had published at least 156 books in Arabic. The existence of a vibrant Arabic press was directly related to a rich literary scene, organized around a group of writers who called themselves the Andalusian League. Their Arabic poems, short stories, and novels remain underestimated by scholars due to a lack of systematic research and our still incipient understanding of the transnational quality of the nahda. Lebanese migrants also impacted Brazilian foodways, a term for the ways food is produced and consumed. Since the late nineteenth century, Lebanese migrants and their descendants have been cooking their dishes in cities like São Paulo and Rio. Kibbeh—which later became one of Lebanon’s national dishes—is so widespread in parts of Brazil that it is eaten side by side with local staples like pão de queijo (cheese bread) and coxinha (fried dough filled with shredded chicken). Evidence of the reach of Lebanese cuisine in Brazil can be found at one of the country’s largest fastfood chains: a restaurant called Habib’s, which has a genie as its mascot and sells 600 million units of sfiha meat pies a year. The fact that Habib’s owner is a man of Portuguese descent, not Lebanese, speaks to the rooted presence of Lebanese food in Brazil. The examples of Lebanon’s impact on Brazil’s politics, food culture, and publishing scene may make the influence appear one sided. This assumption, however, stems from a lack of scholarship on the Lebanese diaspora. Take Arab continued on page 21

‫ﺗﻌﻤﯿﻢ اﻟﺘﺜﻘﯿﻒ اﻟﺘﺮﺑﻮي‬


Collaborations in Literature and the Arts By Susan Douglass


his spring CCAS Education Outreach continued to use a virtual format for all of its programming, which included annual events, collaborations with other university centers and partners, and multiple customized workshops for school districts and individual schools. Over the semester, our 11 major outreach events reached more than 500 educators across the country. Following last year’s interruption due to the pandemic, we were pleased to resume our annual event on children’s and youth literature conducted in partnership with Howard University’s Center for African Studies and School of Education. This year’s event, held virtually in April, was themed around “asserting identity in children and youth literature.” The diverse roster of speakers included Dr. Muhammad Fraser Rahim, who discussed his autobiography of enslaved African Omar bin Said; award-winning authors Aya Khalil (The Arabic Quilt) and Patricia Elam Walker (Nana Akua Goes to School); and educator and linguist Dr. Rabiah Khalil Abdullah, who presented on classroom approaches to Masoud Hayoun’s memoir When We Were Arabs: A Jewish Family’s Forgotten History. Also among the spring online events was the third annual webinar for the World Area Book Awards, which showcases authors from five world regions’ book award programs. This year’s event featured author Danny Ramadan, Middle East Outreach Council book award winner for Salma the Syrian Chef. The book, which is intended for readers aged four to seven, beautifully represents Syrian culture through a meal that protagonist Salma prepares, while the diverse cast of characters speaks to the power of cultivating community in challenging circumstances. CCAS also embarked on a renewed partnership with the Arab American National Museum (AANM), jointly hosting three

events: the AANM virtual open house, and two Arab Heritage Month events for Montgomery County, Maryland. An event with Montgomery College featured presentations on Arab-American heritage by Dave Serio and Matthew Stiffler of the Smithsonian Arab American National Museum. Laila Jadallah, MAAS student and curator of the Middle East Institute (MEI) art exhibition “Art in Isolation,” presented on art by Arab artists at MEI in Washington DC. This year was marked by increased collaboration with other Middle East outreach centers, including regular Zoom meetings, sharing speakers, and co-sponsoring one another’s events. This has reaped dividends of increased audiences and cost sharing.

Dr. Susan Douglass is the CCAS Education Outreach Director.

Summer Teacher Virtual Institute: The Arab Legacy in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America August 2-6, 2021 This year’s Summer Teacher Institute, “The Arab Legacy in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America,” will be co-sponsored by Georgetown University’s Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in collaboration with the American University of Beirut’s Center for American Studies and Research. The content for the week-long institute will be based on a forthcoming multi-author volume on the same topic under publication through AUB. The volume’s authors will speak at the institute. The virtual institute is free and open to the public. Find more information and registration on the CCAS website.



‫اﻟﻤﻨﺎﺳﺒﺎت اﻟﻌﺎﻣﺔ‬


100 Years of Lebanon

An interdisciplinary panel discussion on the continuities and key shifts in Lebanon over the last century of its existence as a state By Maddie Fisher


n March 22, CCAS and the Arab Studies Institute partnered to present the scholarly panel “100 Years of Lebanon.” The panel was organized and moderated by Ziad Abu-Rish, a 2002 MAAS alum and one of the 2020-2021 American Druze Foundation fellows at CCAS. Dr. Abu-Rish is working on a book manuscript entitled The State of Lebanon: Popular Politics and Institution Building in the Wake of Independence (1943–1955).

Panelists clockwise from top left: Maya Mikdashi, Carol Hakim, Ziad Abu-Rish, Eric Verdeil, Hicham Safieddine

Dr. Carol Hakim, Associate Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, opened the panel, tying in research from her book The Origins of the Lebanese National Idea 1840-1920 (University of California Press, 2013) She offered various interpretations of the Lebanese nationalist project and how it has changed over the past 100 years, particularly given a shift in the historiography of Lebanon following the civil war. Hakim argued that early historiography reveals that

the origins of Lebanese nationalist thought was born out of a clash of early Lebanese, Syrian, and Arab nationalist movements. The nascent state’s claims to legitimacy were highly contested by conflicting historical narratives in the different nationalists movements. She explained, “Nationalist visions were not formed outside the political field… but they emerged during and from the various interactions and engagements between different movements, political programs, and nationalist visions within the political field.” Dr. Eric Verdeil, Professor of Geography and Urban Studies at Sciences Po, discussed the Lebanese diaspora, migration within and out of the country, and how these factors affect sectarian divisions in Lebanese society. His framework of “territorial disjunction” shows how many Lebanese do not vote in their place of residence, but rather in areas where they are only administratively attached. For example, eighty percent of Beiruti voters voted in absentia in 2016. Verdeil highlighted that territorial disjunction has been an issue since the beginning of the national project. This lack of connection between voters and the areas where they are registered is mobilized to strengthen the interest of various groups and serves to exclude some groups in Lebanon from political participation. While much of the discussion in academia related to Lebanese state formation is about what has changed, Dr. Maya Mikdashi wanted to shed light on consistencies in Lebanon’s legal and bureaucratic systems. A 2004 MAAS alum, Mikdashi is Assistant Professor at the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and a lecturer in the program in Middle East Studies at Rutgers University. She shared research related to her

20 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

forthcoming book with Stanford University Press, Sextarianism: Difference, Power, and Sovereignty in Lebanon. Building on ten years of archival research at Lebanon’s highest civil court, Mikdashi analyzed a 1932 inheritance court case of a Lebanese woman who lied to a census taker in order to erase her marriage from the legal record. Examining veracity in the 1932 census in Lebanon through this case reveals how the Lebanese “may have used the world-making technology of the census to make new worlds for themselves. A lie becomes the origin of a origin story parallel to the state,” Mikdashi explained. The census intertwined the stakes of sexual and sectarian difference—what Mikdashi calls “sextarian difference”—at the time of state formation. Dr. Hicham Safieddine, Lecturer in the History of the Modern Middle East at King’s College, questioned how scholars working today at the crescendo of the crisis in Lebanon can make their work relevant. In 2019, he published Banking on the State: The Financial Foundations of Lebanon with Stanford University Press. Less than two years later, the collapse of the Lebanese lira and closure of banks has led to wide-scale impoverishment in the country. Safieddine examined the longstanding and institutional tie between the banks and the state, which had largely been ignored before the recent financial crisis. He posited, “Since Lebanon’s formal political independence in 1943, the bankers have counted on the state more so than the market to produce the uneven structure of Lebanon’s economy. In doing so, the banking system preserves the power of the mercantile financial class that benefits from this inequality.” The panelists from this event are expanding their talks into a series of articles that will be published by Jadaliyya in the coming weeks.

Maddie Fisher is the CCAS Events Coordinator and a first-year student in the MAAS program.

American Druze Foundation Roundtable on Teaching Race & Ethnicity


CAS was honored to host two American Druze Foundation Research Fellows during the 2020-2021 academic year: Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish and Dr. Daniel Neep. Abu-Rish is an historian of the modern Middle East and North Africa. In addition to being an ADF Fellow, he is Co-Director of the MA Program in Human Rights and the Arts at Bard College. This year as an ADF fellow, he taught the inaugural course on “Race and Ethnicity in the Modern MENA.” Neep is a political scientist who specializes in the politics of Syria. He was previously Assistant Professor at CCAS and has taught at the University of Exeter, School of Oriental & African Studies, London School of Economics, and Georgetown University – Qatar. This year as an ADF fellow, he taught the course “Politics of Syria.” On Saturday, April 24, CCAS hosted a virtual panel discussion with both fellows about how the ADF fellowship at Georgetown is opening up new avenues for knowledge production about ethnicity and minorities in the Arab World. During the panel, Neep outlined two ways in which minorities in the Arab World are highlighted in teaching at CCAS: in specially-designed, thematic courses devoted to minority issues, and in generalist courses on politics, society, and history into which discussions of minorities are integrated in holistic fashion. Neep noted that the question of minorities was prominent in political science in the 1990s, but

since then is more commonly addressed with the concept of “ethnicity,” which encompasses a range of identities based on kinship, sect, culture, class, and geography. Neep gave examples from his graduate seminar on the politics of Syria, which highlights the importance of understanding the role of the Druze, Alawis, Kurds and other groups in Syrian society, both historically and today. During his remarks, Abu-Rish discussed knowledge production on minorities, ethnicity, and race, outlining important differences across disciplines and how research and publication agendas on the topics change with respect to on-the-ground realities. For example, he noted how there has been a new wave of scholarship on Kurdish communities of the Middle East in the wake of the uprisings, counter-revolutions, and wars that have taken place in Syria and Iraq since 2011. Abu-Rish also discussed how graduate student training is particular to disciplines and departments. History programs with Middle East concentrations, for example, tend to focus on familiarizing students with the development of sects and sectarianism more so than with questions of race and ethnicity. However, many such U.S.-based programs are actively integrating scholarship on race and antiBlackness in the wake of the Ferguson protests and Black Lives Matter movement. Abu-Rish concluded by calling for greater attention to cross-disciplinary learning and borrowing in graduate student training, and for concerted efforts to support and elevate new and critical research agendas on race and ethnicity in the Middle East.

continued from page 18

nationalism, for example. A great deal of the intellectual debates of the early twentieth century occurred in the diaspora, and Brazil provided an important stage for that transnational conversation. Antoun Saadeh, for instance, spent several of his formative years in São Paulo before returning to Beirut and founding the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP). Another telling example comes, again, from food. Syrian and Lebanese migrants took yerba mate, an herbal drink, from Argentina and Brazil to their homeland as they returned from the diaspora. Yerba mate

is now a common sight there, particularly among Druze populations. In the Beqaa Valley, one also finds villages like Sultan Yacoub, Ghazze, and Kamed El Laouz, where Portuguese is spoken and the inhabitants are what Roberto Khatlab––a professor at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik––calls “brazilebanese,” or people of mixed Lebanese and Brazilian descent. Brazilian supermarkets dot the roads connecting these villages to Beirut. In celebrating one-hundred years of Lebanon, it is time for scholars to also celebrate the Lebanese community that, albeit across

an ocean, still thinks of itself as part of the homeland. The cultural, economic, and political ties between Lebanon and Brazil could be strengthen as a result.

Diogo Bercito is a Brazilian journalist and scholar, and a 2020 graduate of the MAAS program. At MAAS he focused on the Arab mass migration to Brazil between 1870 and 1930––research he now pursues as a Ph.D. candidate at Georgetown University’s Department of History.


‫أﺧﺒﺎر اﻟﺨﺮﯾﺠﯿﻦ‬


MAAS ON THE MOVE Judith Mendelsohn Rood (MAAS ‘80)

Judith’s book Sacred Law in the Holy City: The Khedival Challenge to the Ottomans as Seen from Jerusalem, 18291841 (Brill, 2004) was re-released in paperback and e-book format in late 2020. Her book utilizes careful analysis of the archives of the Islamic law court of Jerusalem to shed new light on the political culture of Palestine as a subprovince of the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century. Dr. Rood is Emeritus Professor of History and Middle Eastern Studies at Biola University. Stephanie Turco Williams (MAAS ‘89)

Stephanie recently published the article “Why There’s Hope for Libya” with Newsline magazine and appeared as a special guest for the podcast “Diplomacy and the Arab Spring at 10,” which is produced by Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. Stephanie served as UN deputy special representative for political affairs and acting special representative of the secretary-general at the UN Support Mission in Libya. Susan Douglass (MAAS ‘93)

Susan was a recipient of the Montgomery County (MD) Board of Education Award for Distinguished Service to Public Education. Dr. Douglass is the CCAS Education Outreach Director. Ziad Abu-Rish (MAAS ‘02)

Ziad was a 2020-2021 ADF Fellow at CCAS. He is also Co-Director of the MA Program in Human Rights and the Arts at Bard College. As part of his fellowship, he taught a course at CCAS and gave several talks. See page 21 for details. Alexander Thurston (MAAS ‘09)

Alexander published a new book, Jihadists of North Africa and the Sahel, with Cambridge University Press in late 2020. The book utilizes

case studies from North Africa and the Sahel and a critical analysis of Arabiclanguage jihadist statements to examine the inner workings of jihadist movements. Dr. Thurston is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati. Omar Shakir (MAAS ‘10)

Omar, the Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), was lead researcher and author for the landmark report “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution” published by HRW in April. The report draws on years of research and documentation by HRW and other rights organizations, including fieldwork conducted for the report. Timothy Loh (MAAS ‘16)

Timothy’s paper “Language in Medical Worlds: The Politics of Hearing Technology, Speaking, and Arabic for Deaf Children in Jordan” was awarded both the 2020 Graduate Student Paper Prize by the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) and an Honorable Mention for the 2020 Student Paper Award from the Middle East Section (MES) of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Timothy is a PhD candidate at MIT’s Doctoral Program in History, Anthropology, Science, Technology, and Society. Michael Brill (MAAS ‘17)

In June, Michael spoke, along with Professor Sassoon, at the Wilson Center panel “Challenging the Norms of Warfare: Historical Perspectives from Yemen and Iraq,” which was part of the center’s Global Middle East Seminar series. Michael is a PhD candidate at Princeton University. Zoya Waliany (MAAS ‘17)

Zoya published her review of the book Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia by Dr. Shenila Khoja-Moolji in the journal Feminist Theory (2020, Vol. 21(2), 253-260).

22 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

MAAS Alums Speak at CCAS This year, we were fortunate to host multiple MAAS graduates as guest speakers for our classes and public events. PUBLIC EVENTS

Andrew Farrand (Arab Studies Certificate ‘06)

“Andi Hulum: Youth Entrepreneurship in Algeria” Ziad Abu-Rish (MAAS ‘02) Maya Mikdashi (MAAS ‘04)

“The Beirut Explosion: Context and Developments” Dorothée-Myriam Kellou (MAAS ‘12)

Screening of Kellou’s documentary In Mansourah, You Separated Us Ghazi Bin Hamad (MAAS ‘16) Kari Jorgensen Diener (MAAS ‘03) Richard Fischer (MAAS ‘16)

“The Impact of COVID on Humanitarianism and Development in the Arab World” Bassam Haddad (MAAS ‘94)

“Syria’s Political Economy Incarnations: Centralized, Crony, and War Economy” Abel Lomax (MAAS ‘11) Susannah Cooper (MAAS ‘97)

“State Department Economics” CLASS SPEAKERS

Sinan Antoon (MAAS ‘95)

“Uprisings & Activism under Occupation” for Noureddine Jebnoun’s course “Contentious Politics & Activism in the Arab World” Anny Gaul (MAAS ‘12)

“Kitchen Histories: Gender, Food, and the Making of Modern Egypt and Morocco” for Graham Pitts’ course “Food, Agriculture, and Labor” Caroline Zullo (MAAS ‘20)

“Civil-Social Activism in the Arab Middle East: Civil society, and humanitarian/development cooperation in Jordan” for Noureddine Jebnoun’s course “Contentious Politics & Activism in the Arab World” Sherene Seikaly (MAAS ‘00)

For Judith Tucker and Graham Pitts’ core course “History of the Arab World”


to the MAAS Class of 2021!

Leen Alfatafta Joud Al Marar Anas Almassri Collin Berill Caris Boegl Ashley Brooks Randall Cedillos

Mohan Chen Aviselle Diaz Yasmeen El-Hasan Frank Faverzani Michaela Gallien Marcos Gonzalez Bartolome Christopher Grinley

We were thrilled to be able to welcome many of our graduating students back to campus in May for a MAAS commencement ceremony. We also hosted a live streamed, virtual graduation for families and students who could not attend in person.


Brian Koval Jérémie Langlois Jacob Leedy Aleia Maculam Hannah Markey Paul McKinney Annalise Pflueger

Michael Reeves Kaitlyn Wagner Ahmed Wazeer Nicholas Wernert Gefan Zhu

The in-person MAAS commencement took place in Red Square on the afternoon of May 22. CCAS Director Joseph Sassoon (Top) welcomed students and faculty. In keeping with tradition, MAAS Director Fida Adely said a few personal remarks about each graduate (Left with student Mohan Chen). Students gathered on the steps of Healy Hall after the ceremony for a group photo (Far left). Earlier that same day, the class of 2021 gathered for a virtual commencement (Below left) while family and friends watched on YouTube. Guest speakers included SFS Dean Joel Hellman and CCAS Board Chair and MAAS alum Laurie Fitch. The floor was opened to students, who used their time as a platform to express solidarity with the people of Palestine and condemn the attacks on Gaza. Pictured below: Students Yasmeen El-Hasan, Jérémie Langlois and Marcos Gonzalez Bartolome



newsmagazine Spring/Summer 2021


Join our mailing list

Watch our events online

Follow us on social media

Read the CCAS Newsmagazine

Are you a MAAS alum?

Sign up to receive notices about upcoming events at https://ccas.georgetown.edu Miss an event? Watch videos of past lectures and workshops at www.youtube.com/c/CCASgu Learn about the latest activities of our faculty, students, and alums at: Facebook: facebook.com/ccasGU/ Twitter: twitter.com/ccasGU/ Instagram: instagram.com/ccasgu/ Find the latest issue of our biannual magazine at https://ccas.georgetown.edu/resources/newsmagazine Alums, please visit https://ccas.georgetown.edu/resources/alumni or reach out to us at ccasalum@georgetown.edu


Contributions from generous donors like you make our work possible. Please consider supporting our ongoing efforts with a tax-deductible contribution. You can give either of the ways below.

◆ ◆

Visit https://ccas.georgetown.edu and click on “Support CCAS” to donate by credit card. Send a check made out to Center for Contemporary Arab Studies to the following address.

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies Intercultural Center 241 3700 O Street NW Washington DC 20057