Page 1



Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Georgetown University


Summer - Fall 2013


2 Letter from the Director 3 MAAS News: Class of 2013 Graduates

4 Board Member Feature: Laurie Fitch 5 Faculty and Staff News: Recent faculty and staff publications, news, and awards

Publications: Arab diaspora essays published in Arab Studies Journal

6 Feature Article: Dr. Rochelle Davis on Syria’s civil war and the refugees now displaced by it (continued from cover) 8 Faculty Showcase: Dr. Hannes Baumann on sectarian strife in Lebanon

Syrian refugee seeks shelter in Iraqi refugee camp.

Seeking Refuge from War

10 Public Events: CCAS convenes a symposium on Mediterranean studies with a tribute to former Georgetown professor Faruk Tabak

As Syria’s uprising degenerates into a bloody conflict, hundreds of thousands flee to the borders.

12 Educational Outreach: Winter, Spring, and Summer 2013 workshops and activities

16 Faculty Feature: Dr. Rochelle Davis on recent research


he ongoing refugee movements

© Younes Mohammad/Metrography/Corbis

15 Students Abroad: Georgetown undergraduate Anna Miner writes about her studies in Qatar

By Rochelle Davis

out of Syria have their genesis in a number of multiple, intertwined causes. Through decades of repressive economic and political policies, the regime impoverished the countryside and smaller cities. Five years of severe drought (2006–2011) in the country sent between two and three million people into “extreme poverty” and displaced more than a million people from their farms and villages to urban centers. Thus the uprising that began

in February and March 2011 spread quickly across the country, particularly in rural areas and the smaller cities. Demonstrations for the release of political prisoners and for more political freedoms attracted thousands of ordinary Syrians to the streets to demand democratic reforms, the lifting of emergency laws in place since 1963, and multi-party elections. Some protesters emulated their counterparts in Tunisia and Egypt by calling for the fall of President Bashar Assad’s regime. From the outset, continued on page 6

‫ﻣﺮﻛﺰ اﻟﺪراﺳﺎت اﻟﻌﺮﺑﻴﺔ اﳌﻌﺎﺻﺮة‬


Growing, Developing, and Engaging


June 29, 2013, we learned with sorrow of the passing of CCAS board member and friend Ambassador Roscoe “Rocky” Suddarth. Rocky enjoyed a long and storied career in the US foreign service, and he served as chairman of our advisory board for more than a decade. All of us at CCAS are deeply saddened by his sudden loss, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. As I look upon the past academic year, I am heartened by the Center’s accomplishments in the face of ongoing budgetary constraints and deep cuts in federal funding. In the current financial context, I have sought to reinforce the recognized academic distinction of the CCAS by growing and diversifying its endowed faculty lines, by developing novel educational programs and initiatives, and by engaging in international ventures that expand the Center’s global reach. As always, each and all of our achievements in 2012-2013 were made possible by the hard-working and dedicated staff of the CCAS. I thank them for their continued collegiality and enthusiasm in fulfilling our educational mission, and take this opportunity to introduce our newest staff member, Elisabeth Sexton, who stepped flawlessly into her new responsibilities as public affairs coordinator at a most taxing period. I also extend my deepest gratitude to my colleague, Judith Tucker, who is stepping down as director of our graduate program after countless years at its helm. Judith’s stewardship of the master’s program has made it the center of excellence that it is today, and one cannot overstate her unwavering commitment over the years to the Center, its students, and its staff. By the same token, I welcome Rochelle Davis into the position and look forward to working with her to maintain the high standards that Judith has set for us. Lastly, I have been very fortunate to benefit from the support and wisdom of our new board chairman, Mr. David Jackson (MAAS 1983). His efforts have been critical in add-




ing strength and depth to the board’s distinguished roster, culminating most recently with the propitious addition to its body of Ms. Laurie Fitch (MAAS 1994) and Mr. Ali Shihabi, both stalwart supporters of our program with strong personal connections to the CCAS.


n faculty news, I congratulate my colleagues Rochelle Davis and Fida Adely for their well-deserved promotion to the tenured rank of associate professor, and I am delighted to announce the appointments of Marwa Daoudy and Daniel Neep as the Center’s incoming tenure-track professors in international relations and comparative politics, respectively. Marwa and Daniel bring to CCAS a superlative record of scholarship and teaching on the contemporary politics of the Arab world, with well-defined trajectories for continued academic development and productivity in Arab studies, and a proven ability to mentor and advise graduate students in our politics and political science concentration. Their addition to our faculty roster will greatly bolster our curricular offerings and enrich the intellectual life of the Center and the Georgetown community of scholars. Also, in November 2012, the Center finalized its agreement with the State of Kuwait for the enhancement of the Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al-Sabah endowment. The renewal supports the appointment in 2013-2014 of a professor in the field of political economy of the Arab States of the Gulf. The Al-Sabah Chair has enriched the Center’s teaching and research on the Arab world since 1981, and my personal recognition goes to SFS Dean Carol Lancaster, board member Dr. Yousef Al-Ebraheem, and Ambassador Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Sabah, for their leading role in facilitating the agreement. On this note, the Center’s longstanding academic partnership with Kuwait was further fortified in June 2013 with the endowment by the Kuwait-America Foundation of a fund for merit-based graduate scholarships at CCAS. The scholarship fund, dedicated to the edu-

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

cation and empowerment of young scholars from the region was the brainchild of Sheikha Rima Al-Sabah, who spearheaded the fundraising campaign with her husband, Ambassador Salem Al-Sabah. The KAF programs, which Sheikh Salem and Sheikha Rima AlSabah have been organizing since 2005, are unique in that they raise funds in the US for initiatives that benefit recipients in or from the Arab world.


s for developmental initiatives, the CCAS joined forces with the American University of Beirut and George Mason University in May 2013 to launch the Arab Studies Consortium. The Consortium recognizes the special opportunities provided by strengthening exchanges in teaching and research among the three institutions, and aims to cooperate in promoting knowledge production about the Arab World through the development of educational and research programs and activities.


inally, the Center is continuing to develop public events that suggest new areas of research and that offer our students and general audiences opportunities to interact with renowned and budding specialists on the contemporary Arab world. In March 2013, we dedicated our annual symposium, “The Mediterranean Reimagined,” to our late colleague Faruk Tabak, and in the wake of the Arab uprisings, we co-sponsored an interdisciplinary lecture series on sociopolitical transformations in the Arab world, as well as a series of workshops on Egypt’s revolution. In the coming year, we plan to co-sponsor a joint conference with SFS-Q on religious and secular trends in the Arab world, a roundtable on political transitions in North Africa, a distinguished lecture by Talal Asad, and a lecture series on Arab youth and on the making and unmaking of the modern Middle East. While the past year has been very busy, it has also been infinitely rewarding, and I wish a productive year to all CCAS faculty, staff, and students. 



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


Mabrūk, MAAS Class of 2013!

Core Faculty

Osama W. Abi-Mershed Associate Professor; Director; Center for Contemporary Arab Studies Fida J. Adely Associate Professor Marwa Daoudy Assistant Professor Rochelle A. Davis Associate Professor; Director; Master of Arts in Arab Studies Program Daniel Neep Assistant Professor Joseph Sassoon Visiting Professor Judith Tucker Professor

Affiliated Faculty

Belkacem Baccouche Visiting Instructor Elliott Colla Associate Professor; Chair; Arabic and Islamic Studies Department Noura Erakat Adjunct Assistant Professor Bassam Haddad Adjunct Professor and ASJ Editor Yvonne Y. Haddad Professor; Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding Noureddine Jebnoun Adjunct Assistant Professor


Rania Kiblawi Associate Director Zeina Azzam Director of Educational Outreach Brenda Bickett Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Bibliographer Steven Gertz Multimedia and Publications Editor Kelli Harris Academic Program Coordinator Elisabeth Sexton Public Affairs Coordinator Liliane Salimi Grants and Program Scholarship Administrator Courtney Smith Grant Administrator Newsletter Design by DesignCordero

Front row (left to right): Wadah Al-Shugaa, Samantha Brotman, Jennifer Nehus, Line Zouhour Adi, Nada Soudy, Elizabeth Guthrie, Elizabeth (Bailey) O’Bagy, Basma Rayess Back row (left to right): Graham Griffiths, Claire Anderson, Julia Bimler, Christopher Scott, Joseph Cederquist, Scott Cole, Samuel (Eli) Gentle, Candace Gibson, Grant Hunter, Seth Luxenberg, Gregor Nazarian, Thomas Smith

By Kelli Harris


Friday, May 17, 2013, CCAS congratulated 20 students on their graduation from the Master of Arts in Arab Studies program with an after-ceremony reception. As she did the previous year, CCAS Professor Judith Tucker introduced each student by reading sections of their applications to the program, and asking the graduates to guess who wrote which statements. Dr. Tucker then went on to summarize what the students actually studied during their programs and what they intend to do after graduation. Students are listed by alphabetical order, along with their thesis topics, if they had one. Asterisks indicate distinction. n

Wadah Al Shugaa* Claire Anderson* - “Be a Man: The Exploration of Expressions and Practices of British Masculinity, A Comparison of Transjordan and Mesopotamia” Lizette Baghdadi* - “Lesbanon: The Lesbian Experience in Lebanon”

Grant Hunter

Samantha Brotman

Elizabeth (Bailey) O’Bagy

Joseph Cederquist

Basma Rayess

Scott Cole

Graham Griffiths*

Thomas Smith Nada Soudy* - “Expatriates Versus Immigrants: A Comparative Study of Secondgeneration Egyptians in Qatar and the United States”

Elizabeth (Basma) Guthrie*

Line Zouhour Adi*

Samuel (Eli) Gentle* Candace Gibson*

Stephanie Lella Seth Luxenberg Gregor Nazarian* - “A Common Vision: Contesting History and Education in Postwar Lebanon” Jennifer Nehus

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Business Sense Arab Style New CCAS Board member Laurie Fitch brings to her role a wealth of business acumen that has its roots in her experience of the Middle East. By Steven Gertz



Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Fitch’s experience in the Middle East shaped her in other ways. She notes that one must develop a healthy skepticism of people’s claims if one hopes to arrive at the truth or succeed in one’s goals. “Anywhere there is a lot of ideology and propaganda,” she observes, “one needs to be cynical.” She particularly found this to be true when she traveled in Tunisia during the time Ben Ali was in power. “This little country where Europeans love to vacation and which seemed so progressive was actually suffering under one of the most repressive regimes in the Middle East. The Tunisians I met were intelligent, ambitious, and full of life; yet they were stifled politically and would not even refer to the regime out of fear of recrimination.” As Fitch joins the CCAS board, she looks forward to the contribution she can make as one of the program’s alumni. Along with Board Chairman David Jackson, a fellow alumnus of the MAAS program, Fitch wants to increase interaction between the board and the program’s faculty and students. She is also looking forward to working more closely with CCAS Director Osama Abi-Mershed, who has a background in business and brings a financial expertise to the Center that is rare among academics. And she is keen to see the Center expand what it is doing for scholarships for students, having benefited from one herself during her master’s program at Georgetown. “I would never have been able to go to Georgetown without a scholarship,” she notes, “and feel that it is incredibly important that we continue to provide these to the Center’s students.”

Steven Gertz is Multimedia and Publications Editor at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.

Peter Matthews / Folio Photography

Laurie Fitch entered Ameri- gan Stanley is now on European industrial can University as an undergradu- manufacturers and utilities, her work does not ate freshman in 1988, she encoun- often take her to the Middle East. Yet she has tered a problem. She wanted to major in at times worked with Arab investors in Europe Russian studies and focus particularly on the and the US, and is hopeful that Morgan StanCold War, but with perestroika and the re- ley will provide her with more opportunities forms of Mikhail Gorbachev underway, the to engage in business with the Arab world. Cold War was just then coming to an end. A Fitch credits time spent in the Middle East class in contemporary Middle Eastern poli- during her undergraduate years with teachtics, however, piqued Fitch’s interest, and ing her some important life skills that she has the following year, she started taking Arabic since applied to her career. A successful inclasses alongside her Russian. By the third vestor or investment banker, she notes, needs year, she decided to drop her Russian alto- to have a greater than average tolerance for gether and change her major to Arabic and risk. Fitch went to Egypt to study Arabic at Middle East Studies. Then came the decision the American University of Cairo in the fall to apply to the Master of Arts in Arab Studies of 1990, a time when most Americans were (MAAS) program at Georgetown University. avoiding the region due to the outbreak of the As one of CCAS’s newest board mem- first Gulf War. In fact, enrollment in her probers, Fitch brings to her role both a love for gram dropped from an average of 60 students the Arab world and decades of business sav- that year to four. But no amount of pleading vy. At Georgetown, Fitch focused her studies from family and friends could dissuade Fitch on international business diplomacy with the from going. goal of entering the corporate world. Such Another skill she learned in Cairo was teambition was unusual for a program whose nacity and resourcefulness when presented graduates tend to go into public sector work, with a challenge. At the time, American non-governmental University did organizations, and Fitch credits time spent in the not have any academia. Howmutual exchange ever, Drs. Judith Middle East with teaching her program for stuTucker and Bar- important life skills that she dents, so Fitch bara Stowasser in had to arrange particular encour- has applied to her career. her own accomaged her to pursue her interests, no matter modation in Cairo, finding first a hotel and how different they might have been from later an apartment. She also decided to spend those of her classmates. a summer learning advanced Arabic in JeOver time, Fitch has realized most of her rusalem (even though the first Palestinian goals. After many years as an investor, she intifāḍa had begun); to get there, she imnow works as a managing director in the In- provised by making her way via four differvestment Banking Division of Morgan Stan- ent service taxicabs from Cairo. She really ley in London, England. Previous to this, she wanted to study Arabic at Birzeit University was a partner at Artisan Partners LP in New in the West Bank, but Israeli security made York, and before that, she was a managing it impossible to travel to and from the West director at TIAA-CREF. As her focus at Mor- Bank at the time. hen

FACULTY NEWS Assistant Professor Fida Adely received tenure in July 2013 and was promoted to Associate Professor. Assistant Professor Marwa Daoudy joins the faculty of CCAS this fall, and will begin teaching international relations at CCAS in the spring of 2014. She received her PhD from the Department of Political Science of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. Her book The Water Divide Between Syria, Turkey, and Iraq: Negotiation, Security, and Power Assymetry was published in French by CNRS Editions in 2005. Assistant Professor Daniel Neep joins the faculty of CCAS this fall to teach comparative politics of the Arab world. He received his PhD from the Department of Politics and International Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, and recently published Occupying Syria Under the French Mandate: Insurgency, Space, and State Formation (Cambridge, 2012). Professor Judith Tucker recently stepped down as Director of the Master of Arts in Arab Studies program, a position that Dr. Rochelle Davis is assuming, and is returning to her full-time position as Professor in the Department of History. Among her various research projects, Dr. Tucker will be pursuing new scholarship on piracy in the Mediterranean. Associate Professor Rochelle Davis published “The Many Roles of Turkey in the Syrian Crisis” in MERIP on January 28, 2013, and co-authored an article with Amy Roth and Brian Carver titled “Assigning Wikipedia editing: Triangulation toward understanding uni

PUBLICATIONS Arab Diaspora Essays Published in the Arab Studies Journal CCAS contributed three essays from its 2011 symposium on the Arab Diaspora to the Spring 2013 issue of the Arab Studies Journal. These essays were as follows: Louise Cainkar “Global Arab World Migrations and Diasporas” Simon Jackson “Diaspora Politics and Developmental Empire: The Syro-Lebanese at the League of Nations”


Wendy Pearlman “Emigration and the Resilience of Politics in Lebanon”

versity student engagement.” First Monday [Online], 18.6 (2013), in June 2013. She also reviewed Salim Tamari’s Year of the Locust: A Soldier’s Diary and the Erasure of Palestine’s Ottoman Past (Berkeley: UC Press, 2011) in the Journal of Palestine Studies 42:2 (Winter 2013), 93-4. Visiting Professor Joseph Sassoon delivered on June 6, 2013, the Annual Memorial George Antonius Lecture at St Antony’s College, Oxford, with the title “The Arab Republics of Authoritarianism.” Adjunct Professor (and Associate Professor at George Mason University) Bassam Haddad co-edited with CCAS Qatar Post-Doctoral Fellow Adel Iskandar Mediating the Arab Uprisings (Tadween, 2013). Iskandar also published Egypt in Flux: Essays on an Unfinished Revolution (AUC Press and Oxford University Press, July 2013), and “Teaching the Arab Uprisings: Between Media Maelstrom and Pedantic Pedagogy” in Political Science and Politics 46:2 (April 2013), 244-47. Adjunct Assistant Professor Noureddine Jebnoun co-edited with Mehrdad Kia and Mimi Kirk, Modern Middle East Authoritarianism: Roots, Ramifications, and Crisis (Routledge, July 2013). He has also published “Tunisia’s Security Syndrome” with the Portuguese Institute of International Relations and Security (IPRIS Viewpoints, May 2013). In April, Dr. Jebnoun participated as keynote speaker in a panel discussion about the “Arab Uprisings: Causes and Implications” at the eleventh Annual Central and Southwest Asian Conference at the University of Montana in Missoula.

STAFF NEWS The Center’s Director of Educational Outreach, Zeina Azzam, graduated in May with an MA in Arabic from Georgetown University. Her academic work focused on Arabic literature, and she wrote her research paper on symbolism in the early poetry of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Ms. Azzam completed her degree while working full time at CCAS. As part of his editorial duties at CCAS, Steven Gertz joined the staff of the Arab Studies Journal as an associate editor with the printing of the Spring 2013 issue. Elisabeth Sexton replaced Marina Krikorian as Public Affairs

Coodinator in March 2013. She comes to her position with a MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London and experience as an event planner for Partners In Health in Boston. 

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


FEATURE ARTICLE REFUGE continued from cover

the non-violent uprising that began more than two years ago reflected popular expressions of people’s desires to change repressive state policies. Syrians have long resisted these state policies, but recent movements of similar character in Lebanon, Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Bahrain inspired Syria’s masses to participate in the 2011 protests. The Syrian government responded to these demonstrations as it had in the past: widespread arrests of young and old, brutal interrogations and torture, paid informer networks, plainclothes government forces intimidating and beating people, and the use of live ammunition and snipers to dissuade and kill protestors on the streets. By June 2011, it was estimated that the regime had killed 1,400 people and arrested over 10,000.

urged the UN to take steps and impose sanctions, even calling for Assad to step down, but Russian and Chinese vetoes kept the UN from action. The US also froze all Syrian assets under US jurisdiction, and Turkey imposed an arms embargo. As a result of this international censure, pro-Assad crowds attacked the Turkish, Saudi, American, and French consulates or envoys in Damascus. About six months after the largely non-violent uprising began, rebels started seeking weapons and backers to arm them. A number of states volunteered resources, and for nearly two years, funding and supplies for the rebels has come regularly from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the EU, and the US. The regime receives supplies and training from Russia and Iran. Global jihadi movements have also sent fighters to Syria to join the struggle, hijacking what was a nationalist revolutionary struggle and turning it into an Islamist and sectarian war. While Hizballah sent fighters in early on as well, it was not until May 2013 that Hizballah declared openly that it would participate on the side of the regime. How all of these international interests and actors will influence the war, and what happens to Syria, the civilians in Syria, the political structures and powers of Lebanon, and the environmental and economic situation in Jordan, remain to be seen. REFUGEES

Islamic Relief workers distribute food coupons for Syrian refugees in Wadi Khaled, Lebanon.


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Both photos: Natalia Sancha

Over the past two years, the regime has wreaked widespread destruction on its population, flattening homes with mortars and shells dropped from airplanes, and using shabīḥa (militias) to root out, incarcerate, and execute dissenters. By September 2011, a large body of dissidents had formed the Free Syrian Army to battle with the regime. In a cycle that repeated itself multiple times in 2011 and 2012, the regime responded to demonstrations and attacks with more violence, which the international community then condemned. The Arab League made a number of unprecedented attempts to intervene by brokering a ceasefire, and it eventually censured Assad’s regime after Assad failed to implement an agreement to withdraw his forces from cities and end his attacks on civilians. From mid-summer 2012, both the US and the European Union

People did not leave the country as soon as the fighting began but rather trickled out as their villages or cities became battlegrounds. By August 2012, some 123,000 refugees had fled Syria for other countries, with Turkey serving as the largest refugee host. However, by June 2013, the number of refugees living in surrounding countries had climbed to more than 1.8 million, with Lebanon and Jordan hosting the two largest concentrations of refugees (each officially over 500,000), and Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt hosting most of the others. The only border country that has not allowed in refugees is Israel. Also, untold numbers are unregistered and/or displaced inside Syria. Some estimate that four million are displaced inside the country (together accounting for about 25 percent of the population). As the fighting continues, life is somewhat normal in certain parts of Damascus, while other parts of the country suffer ongoing destruction, lack of access to services, and the instability of war. The UN estimates that over 90,000 have been killed, and schools and other public buildings host thousands of internally displaced persons. These in turn put an incredible strain on food markets, educational facilities, and health services where they still function. It is clear that there is a great deal of movement

back and forth across borders and inside the country— people leave to escape the violence and then return if they can when it has subsided. However, many others are now leaving with their families because of reduced access to food, healthcare, and work. The World Food Program’s goal is to feed 2.5 million people inside Syria each month where they distribute food in government- and oppositioncontrolled areas. All of the surrounding countries have kept their borders open (with the exception of Israel), although Turkey and Jordan have had periodic closures, and Jordan stopped allowing Palestinians and Iraqis to enter via the Syrian border. The majority of those hosted in Iraq are Syrian Kurds living in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, which raises other political issues in both countries. Egypt, Armenia, and Libya, among others, also began to receive people displaced from their homes. Because the Syrians do not control many of the borders any longer, people cross it as funds and the tides of war allow. Of recent note is that slightly more men than women are refugees, probably because families or individuals are trying to shield the young men from fighting in the war in Syria, and thus they flee outside the borders. Host governments, UN organizations, humanitarian aid groups, and other organizations (both local and international) are trying to alleviate the poverty caused by the war and their flight outside the country, the lack of housing and healthcare faced by many of the refugees, and the extreme stress placed on the host communities by the refugees. Jordan hosts the largest camp for refugees, which has more than 100,000 in the north. In addition, refugees from the rural areas in the south of Syria have turned to family networks across the border, which in turn puts strain on their hosts as their displacement continues. The refugees from Jordan come from the areas with the fiercest fighting—Deraa, Homs, and the countryside of Damascus. Many are rural farmers or laborers with low levels of education and in some cases literacy, revealing the Syrian regime’s neglect of the countryside over the years. In other cases, Syrians with money are opening up shops and restaurants, whether large capital enterprises or small stores. Jordanians fear that Syrians’ willingness to work for low pay and their reputations as skilled laborers will put Jordanians out of work (although there is not much evidence that this has happened). Jordanians have been positive in spite of the challenges, as they understand the incredible hardship suffered by the Syrians during the uprising and as displaced populations. Jordan has hosted hundreds of thousands of Iraqis since 2005, some of whom are still there. Also, some 50

The relief organization Islamic Qatari distributes food to Syrian refugees during Ramadan in Wadi Khaled, Lebanon.

percent of Jordan’s population is of Palestinian origin, people that were displaced in 1948 and 1967. However, in recent months, Jordanians have protested the increasing numbers of refugees and the local strains on resources and work opportunities. In April 2013, the parliament debated whether Jordan should shut its borders with Syria. As Jordan expands the number of camps beyond Cyber City and Zaatari to include sites in Azraq, the government seems intent on making sure that Syrians remain a refugee population and that more do not take up residence in Jordan’s urban areas. Lebanon has also opened its doors to the refugees, but because the government has not provided camps for them, refugees live wherever they can find housing. This includes schools and other public buildings, Palestinian refugee camps where the rent is lower, homes that people either rent or allow them to live in, and on the street. Some Lebanese fled to Syria when Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, and so there is some sense of reciprocal hosting among people, in particular among Lebanese from the south. Also, local NGOs and the international community are providing services for refugees throughout the country, thereby easing the strain on any one host community or area. 

Rochelle Davis is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. Building on previous research, Dr. Davis and Abbie Taylor (MAAS graduate 2012) spent May and June 2013 interviewing refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



In the Shadow of War How does conflict “spill over” from Syria into Lebanon? By Hannes Baumann


yria’s descent into civil con-


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Lebanese mourners carry the coffin of a Hizballah fighter killed in the Syrian town of Qusayr in May 2013.

ticians to stake their claim to office on the grounds that they represent “their” sects. Even technocratic ministers and bureaucrats secure their positions because their confessional and political allegiances happen to match the calculus of those political leaders in control. Formalized sectarian power sharing creates an elite cartel in which a small number of politicians made up of prominent families, wealthy contractors, and former militia leaders negotiate on behalf of “their” sects. These leaders appropriate a large share of the country’s resources and redistribute them through

AP Photo / Mohammed Zaatari

affects its smaller neighbor. Since the start of the Syrian uprising, Lebanon has seen violence in Tripoli, in the border areas with Syria, and also in Beirut. The assassination of a prominent security chief in October 2012 was only the latest in a string of political murders. A rocket and a car bomb have struck at Hizballah’s heartland in Beirut’s southern suburbs. In Sidon, Salafi gunmen have taken on the Lebanese army, which they accuse of being in league with Hizballah. The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is now estimated at over 500,000. Although the Lebanese government has officially disassociated itself flict

from the conflict next door, various Lebanese parties have become implicated in the actual and ideological battles over the fate of Syria’s dictatorship, which in turn harden rift lines in Lebanon’s internal conflicts. Spillover goes both ways. In May 2013, Hizballah’s engagement in the battle for the Syrian town of Qusayr on the side of the Syrian military and pro-Assad militias raised the profile of Lebanese involvement in Syria. Lebanese Salafi groups have also engaged in fighting. It is not clear that Lebanon’s system of sectarian power sharing can cope with a potential conflict between Hizballah and Salafis within Lebanon. Lebanon’s state apparatus forces top poli-

United States Department of State

clientelism. Leaders thus use a mix of sectarian rhetoric, clientelism, and bullying to maintain a stable following. They need this popular support to shore up policies that elites constructed. What puts the system under stress is thus not only tension between different sects but also the weakening power of political bosses. As alternative power centers rise in importance, elite politicking becomes increasingly irrelevant to managing conflicts. Sunni parties have especially suffered a loss of influence in recent years, since the Sunni community is not united behind one single politician. Bashir Gemayel achieved dominance among Lebanon’s Christians in the early 1980s (although now Lebanon’s Christians are again divided), Walid Junblat enjoys the support of Lebanon’s Druze, and in recent years, Hizballah has emerged as the sole movement setting the political agenda for the Shia community. (The Amal movement is handicapped by its over-reliance on the Syrian regime for political support.) Lebanon’s Sunnis enjoyed only a brief moment of united political leadership. Following the assassination of Sunni politician Rafiq Hariri in 2005, Hariri’s son Saad managed to temporarily unite Sunnis behind his leadership. His father’s assassination was regarded

sides, led to bitter fighting in Beirut in May 2008. Hizballah and its allies defeated militias associated with Hariri, and moved into areas previously dominated by Hariri’s movement. A weakened Hariri reconciled with the Syrian regime in 2009, and later stated that it was a mistake to accuse Syria of his father’s murder. This turnabout eroded Hariri’s support base. Although Hariri supported the Syrian protests that started in 2011, other Sunni movements used the influx of weapons and Syrian refugees to seize the initiative. Neither Hariri nor then-Prime Minister Najib Miqati could control the actions of Tripoli’s Salafis. In May 2012, Salafis staged local protests following the arrest of Sunni cleric Shadi al-Mawlawi, and they escalated fighting with Alawis living in Tripoli’s Bab al-Tebbaneh area. Meanwhile, Salafi preacher Ahmad al-Assir began openly challenging the authority of the Hariri family in their hometown of Sidon. In June 2013, his followers took on the army, killing several soldiers. Saad Hariri is still a central figure in Lebanese politics, but he does not dominate Sunni politics as he did in the past. The new Sunni prime minister, Tamam Salam, comes from a well-established Beiruti political family, but he lacks a substantial grassroots following. Salam has It is not clear Lebanon’s system of sectar- few tools to rein in the violent actions of Salafi groups. The elite ian power sharing can cope with a poten- cartel that shares power is losing tial conflict between Hizballah and Salafis. its ability to contain the conflict stretching across the Syrian-Lebas an attack on the community. He also imple- anese border. Meanwhile, on the other side of mented a vast patronage system and designed the political spectrum, Hizballah is firming up a political agenda to force Syrian withdrawal, its alliance with the Assad regime and risking disarm Hizballah, and convict his father’s as- confrontation with Israel as well as Lebanon’s sassins in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Salafi groups. Hizballah remains a reluctant (STL). Although the younger Hariri’s appeal participant in Lebanon’s power-sharing game, was by no means confined to Sunnis, his lead- viewing itself as a resistance movement with ership within that community cemented his regional significance. If Lebanon’s Sunni polipolitical success. ticians are unable to rein in Salafi militants, As an ally of Saudi Arabia, Saad Hariri tied Hizballah may no longer consider it worth its his fate to support from the United States and while to play by the rules of power sharing. France, thereby opposing Iran, Syria, and HizIn some respects, the current situation ballah in Lebanon. Amid this confluence of echoes the run-up to the Lebanese civil war sectarian and international tension, low-level in 1975. The conflict was then preceded by a violence among Sunnis and Shias in Beirut “spillover” of the Arab-Israeli conflict via the mirrored the much more intense sectarian rise of the Palestinian armed struggle after the fighting in Iraq. This mobilization at the popu- Six Day War of 1967. The slow process of lar level, including a militarization of both descent into civil conflict occurred as Sunni

Saad Hariri meets with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on April 26, 2009. Hariri also met with President George W. Bush in 2007 when Hariri was Majority Leader in the Lebanese parliament.

political families lost control of popular urban movements mobilized by economic inequality. However, there are also important differences. The widespread popularity of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) among large sections of the Lebanese population challenged the sectarian elite cartel, while today Salafi groups have a narrow appeal even within their own religious community and are unable to garner support beyond their sect. Their ability to disrupt the Lebanese system therefore depends on events in neighboring Syria: a long drawnout conflict may strengthen transnational networks, while a swift resolution would benefit Lebanon’s elite cartel. Hizballah, meanwhile, remains cautious. While the movement seeks to avoid confrontation, it would be prepared to move militarily against any Lebanese challengers that threaten its ability to confront Israel. Whatever happens, the Syrian crisis once again illustrates that Lebanon’s sectarian power sharing not only props up unaccountable elites, but it is also highly vulnerable to regional crises. 

Hannes Baumann is a Jamal Daniel Levant Post-Doctoral Fellow for the Study of the Levant at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. CCAS previously interviewed him about his research on Rafiq Hariri (see ccas.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Re-Imagining the Mediterranean CCAS’s 2013 annual symposium reexamines the history of the Mediterranean through the lenses of environment, piracy, and colonialism. By Elisabeth Sexton


March 20 and 21, 2013, scholars of the Mediterranean convened at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies 2013 Annual Symposium, titled “The Mediterranean Re-Imagined,” to present some of the most outstanding research currently being conducted in this field of Mediterranean studies. The symposium, a commemoration of the work of the late Georgetown professor, Faruk Tabak, provided participants with an opportunity to “re-imagine” the region’s identity as a distinct geo-historical and cultural space. n

Opening the symposium with a keynote lecture, Edmund Burke III challenged the audience to place Mediterranean studies into the context of world history and to understand that the problems people faced in the Mediterranean were shared by those in other parts of the world. Drawing on the work of Tabak, Burke focused particularly on the decline of the Mediterranean through the lens of environmental changes. Understanding these changes help scholars appreciate the Mediterranean’s decline as Judith Tucker (left) and Molly Greene (right) part of global processes rather than perceiving the West (as Orientalists did) to be fated in its superiority and the East to be a realm of stagnant tradition.


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

the Little Ice Age, which, combined with deforestation and soil erosion, provided ground for a malaria regime. When combined with the introduction of new crops from the Americas (specifically maize and potatoes) that grow well at high altitudes, these environmental shifts led to the population’s retreat from the lowlands beginning in the late sixteenth century and lasting until the early nineteenth century. Julia Clancy-Smith defined identity in the Western Mediterranean region by its north-south migratory patterns, shared lack of narrative, and patterns of dissimilation among those in transit. Rochelle Davis discussed refugee movements in the Eastern Mediterranean, namely Syriac and Armenian movements from Turkey into Syria following the massacres there, Palestinian refugees from the formation of Israel in 1948, and Syrian refugees now flooding into all of its neighboring countries. Nabil Matar then reflected on the fractured image of the Mediterranean for many of those living along its coasts by analyzing chronicles in Arabic writing between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. He explained how this played out in the various names attributed to the sea until Europe’s domination over the waters when it became the “Mediterranean.” The second panel highlighted the Mediterranean’s history of piracy. Joshua White presented on what he calls “slave laundering” whereby Ottoman pirates captured


Conference participants expanded on Burke’s observations according to the various disciplines in which they are engaged (history, sociology, anthropology, literature, and geo-science). The first panel examined how one might define the Mediterranean. John McNeill defined the region using Tabak’s environmental historical analysis in The Waning of the Mediterranean, 1550-1870: A Geohistorical Approach (Johns Hopkins 2008). Tabak emphasized the importance of climate change, specifically

Khalid Bekkaoui

non-Muslim Ottoman subjects and forced them to cross the Mediterranean to North Africa, where they then illegally sold them into slavery. Khalid Bekkaoui spoke about the experiences of European women captured by Barbary pirates, and he argued that in many cases women willingly chose to remain in captivity and passed up opportunities to return to Europe and their families. Judith Tucker reflected on the unregulated “theater of action” in which pirates operated, where states could not easily intervene and pirates could break the rules of international treaties and commerce. Despite the lack of regulation, however, empires on both sides of the Mediterranean recognized their activity as legal, and encouraged the raiding of enemy coasts for the benefit of those at home. Molly Greene concluded the panel by explaining the relationship between piracy and paperwork, using court case documents to illustrate the dependence on rule of law and paperwork to many seafarers who took corsairs to court following attacks. The third and final panel shifted attention toward more recent times with a particular focus on the connectivity of ideologies and interactions around the Mediterranean. Osama Abi-Mershed spoke about the Saint-Simonian doctrine, articulated by Michel Chevalier in Système de la Méditerranée in the early nineteenth century. Chevalier characterized the Mediterranean region as a product of constructed networks of communication and transmission such as railway lines and steamship routes. Chevalier believed that the positive effects of technological modernization on cooperation and reform would occur on the sea, dubbed “the nuptial bed” on which the Orient and Occident would reconcile. Ilham Khuri-Makdisi focused much of her talk on the activity of Italian anarchists who fled opposition from Italy’s authorities for the more lib-

eral environment of British-controlled Alexandria. Noting that many of these anarchists were Italian or European immigrant workers, she discussed their relationship with the indigenous populations as well as with the global network of anarchists. William Granara reflected on the character of national Tunisian literature by comparing the writings of the twentieth-century novelist Zin al-Abidin al-Sanusi with the contemporary French novelist Louis Bertrand. Granara noted that while both writers took opposing ideological

views, Bertrand representing the French colonial era and Al-Sanusi representing Tunisian intellectual nationalism, each writer shared the sentiment of the Mediterranean as their homeland, each staking their literary claim. Lastly, Timothy Beach returned to a similar subject from the earlier presentation on environmental history with his own analysis of Tabak’s 2008 book, and he highlighted the fact that soil erosion and deforestation occurred not only during the Little Ice Age but also during the Roman period.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬





Embracing the Middle East in the Classroom

CCAS Annual Symposium, the CCAS Public Affairs program hosted several lectures, ranging in topic from Islamic civil society in Turkey to land tenure in rural Morocco. A few highlights are listed below. n addition to the

AUB: Student Activism and National Identity

On February 7, 2013, Dr. Betty Anderson presented a lecture at CCAS titled “AUB: Student Activism and National Identity,” which delineated the transformation of the Arab narrative at the American University of Beirut (AUB). She argued that AUB at first suffered an absence of Arab identity in the classroom due to its founding by American Protestant missionaries in 1866. However, with the renaming of the university in 1920 and the removal of the missionary goals from the statement of purpose, the university went on to serve An aerial view of the American University of Beirut as a center of intellectual and political development for the region during the 20th century, with the movement of Arab nationalism serving as a key intellectual guidepost and energies directed toward the Palestinian cause. Many alumni went on to form political parties and organizations in the region based on these ideas.

Local educators benefit from annual CCAS teacher workshop. By Lauren Coughlin


Algerian Motifs: Reflections on Algeria’s Years of Independence

On March 12, 2013, CCAS and the Algerian-American Association of Greater Washington hosted a panel of scholars to discuss the languages and modern history of Algeria. Nour El Houda Amri spoke about the three main languages of Algeria (Arabic, Berber/Tamazight, and French) and the various ways in which languages interact with one another as foreign words are adopted into the native lexicon and new technologies make their impact. Fadéla M’rabet, an Algerian journalist and novelist, spoke on the power of language—that certain words in French or Arabic have special power to provoke. M’rabet celebrated the hybrid of languages that Algerians know, and she appealed to her audience to drop the distinction between French and Francophone writers. Dr. Osama Abi-Mershed concluded the panel by giving an overview of Algeria’s modern colonial and post-colonial history. Islamism vs. Secularism: The Arab Spring, Phase 2

On April 17, 2013, CCAS hosted Ahmed Benchemsi, a US-based Moroccan journalist, founder, editor, and publisher of TelQuel and Nishan in Morocco. Benchemsi provided his thoughts on the reasoning behind the sweep of Islamist movements in elections following the rise of the young secular activists who sparked the Arab Spring. Benchemsi then went on to discuss the gap between the Moroccan government’s enforcement of Islamic practices and the everyday lives and practices of the Moroccan population, and the efforts of magazines such as TelQuel and Nishan to bring these issues to a public arena.  Elisabeth Sexton is Public Affairs Coordinator at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

uring the week of June 24-28, 2013, CCAS came alive

with 28 DC-area teachers attending the 2013 summer teacher workshop titled “Approaches to Teaching the Middle East.” Scholars and professionals presented on a number of engaging topics and offered resources to help teachers integrate the workshop’s content into their curricula. Participants received books and resources from the Center, based on each presenter’s topic, and were treated to Middle Eastern food each day of the workshop. Dr. Osama Abi-Mershed (Georgetown University [GU]) began the week with a lecture on Emir ‘Abd Al-Qadir of Algeria, featuring the book The Compassionate Warrior by Elsa Marston, which the teachers had received and read in preparation for the workshop. Dr. Abi-Mershed explained in his talk that historians have presented ‘Abd Al Qadir as both “George Washington,” a revolutionary father of a nation, and “Pocahontas,” a pacified agent of an occupier. This in turn prompted discussion about the relationships between orientalism, nationalism, and colonialism. Dr. Fida Adely (GU) then presented on women in the Arab world, drawing from her own ethnographic research in Jordan. Her talk carried over themes from the morning session by addressing the effects of colonialism on the women of the Middle East and North Africa. She discussed where and in what ways the situation for women is changing; how class, geography, and personal history shape their experiences; and how these are reflected in marriage, divorce, education, suffrage, and fertility statistics. The following day’s sessions started with Dr. Scott Johnson (GU), who discussed the spread of Christianity in the Middle East before and after the arrival of Islam. He tracked certain Christian traditions (such as Nestorianism) that were cut off from the Western Church, gained followers in the Middle East, and spread along the Silk Road as far east as Xian Dynasty China. Teachers then took a field trip to Dumbarton Oaks, a research library and museum in Georgetown, to view artifacts from the Byzantine Empire. The knowledgeable docents lectured on the Byzantine collection that spanned the imperial, ecclesiastical, and secular realms from the fourth to the fifteenth centuries.


Next was a lecture by Dr. Emma Gannagé (GU) on the spread of philosophy and science via the translation movement sponsored by the Abbasids in the ninth century. During this time, scholars produced translations of thousands of books by such authors as Galen and Aristotle from Greek, Aramaic, Syrian and Persian sources into Arabic. She explained how these exchanges were facilitated by the spread of Islam, and how the codification of the Qur’an and collection of Hadith occurred at the same time as the translation movement. On the following morning, Dr. Karen Rignall (GU) led two discussions: “Environment and Society in the Middle East and North Africa” and “Case Studies for Teaching and Research: Urban and Rural Experiences.” She began by asking the teachers to brainstorm what they envisioned when asked to think about the environment and society in the Middle East and North Africa. She then addressed and explored these attitudes in her presentations, and emphasized that teachers need to explain to students the role that diversity, heterogeneity, and change have on the environment of the region. She also explained that conservation efforts (both Western and Arab) often disregard people’s needs, and that the Middle East’s environment is both fragile and resilient. Dr. Rignall offered specific ideas for teaching, such as focusing on certain communities and personalities and showing photographs that include them; connecting issues specific to the region (like conflicts over water rights) with students’ experiences in the United States; and using geography as a building block for understanding. Dr. Rochelle Davis (GU) and MA in Arab Studies student Grace Benton (GU) then presented on the concept of forced migration and refugee studies, using the situation in Jordan as a case study. Dr. Davis started with a historical overview of the people who sought refuge in Jordan, especially Palestinian refugees in the twentieth century, and more recently, large numbers of Iraqis and Syrians. She also spoke about the social, political, and economic challenges that refugees face within the context of international organizations and conventions. Ms. Benton presented her work on a participatory video project with refugees in Jordan, which will accompany a

teaching unit for American students. The pair reached out to teachers further by offering to connect American classrooms with refugee programs to facilitate international and crosscultural dialogue. The following day, lecturers provided more of a practitioner’s perspective. Nadia Bilbassy of MBC TV discussed her career as a journalist, which she began in Gaza. She

Alexa Klein-Meyer, a secondary education major at Northwestern University, unexpectedly reunites at the workshop with John Green, her former sixth-grade teacher, who still teaches at Washington’s National Presbyterian School.

talked about what it meant to be a woman covering a war zone, the challenges inherent with various types of media, and opportunities for individual activism. “If you’re not there, nobody will tell the story,” she said when explaining the importance of foreign correspondents. She also addressed journalism in the Arab world from a more historical perspective by chronicling the formation of the freedom of the press and various TV news stations in the region. She talked about covering the Arab Spring and compared the situations in the Gulf and other states with those of Palestine and Syria, discussing the experiences of refugees and war from a more personal perspective. Next, Laila El-Haddad, an activist, writer, and famous blogger (known as “Gaza Mom”) discussed the relationship between food and identity. Teachers received a copy of what she calls her “documentary cookbook,” The Gaza Kitchen, which features recipes from Gaza while also presenting Gaza’s people and culture, with food as a point of departure. She addressed the political history, agriculture, geography, environmental issues, and lifestyle of Gaza through the lens of gas-

tronomy. Ms. El-Haddad’s aim was to document the heritage of Gaza through vignettes of women’s experiences and interviews with experts within the context of sustainable agriculture and overarching political challenges. The last speaker, Dr. Hannes Baumann (GU), presented a lecture titled “A Very Political Economy: Development in the Arab World.” It encompassed explanations and analyses of the economies of the Middle East and North Africa, the history and effects of the oil boom, the legacy of colonialism, American interests in the region, and the Arab Spring. He offered data through various socio-economic indicators that the teachers could utilize in their own lessons to help students contextualize modern history and current events. Dr. Baumann gave special attention to the process of Egypt’s economic and political reformations and the concept of “rentier states” in the Arabian Gulf. The final afternoon session comprised a series of presentations from local organizations that provide their own outreach programs for teachers. Visitors included representatives from various centers at Georgetown, including the Asian Studies Program; Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies; and the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Representatives from outside the university came from Face to Faith, Middle East Connections, the National Council on US-Arab Relations, Qatar Foundation International, and the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center. Workshop attendees were made aware of local lending libraries, workshops, and opportunities for their students to connect with others on topics and events concerning the Arab world. After a tour of the lending library at CCAS, many teachers also checked out movies and books to use in their own classrooms and for their personal development. 

Lauren Coughlin is a summer intern at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.

more Educational Outreach news 

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Exploring the Rich Diversity of the Arab World By Zeina Azzam



lished picture books that can be used in the elementary classroom. The teachers were grateful to receive Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad (by James Rumford), Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books (by Susan Roth and Karen Leggett Abouraya), and Mirror (by Jeannie Baker). Zeina Azzam, the Center’s outreach director, engaged the educators in a hands-on session. After a brief introduction to the principles of Islamic art, she led the attendees in a project of making coasters from an Islamic art design—coloring the geometric shapes, then laminating and pasting them to felt. The teachers enjoyed this activity, and many said they would try it in their classes. Ms. Azzam then presented the character of Joha, the wise fool in many Middle Eastern folktales. She shared with the group a short play she had composed based on a Joha story, and three teachers read it aloud in front of the group and discussed its possibilities in the classroom. The Islamic art project and the Joha play will be uploaded to the outreach section of the CCAS web site. Weaving an Interconnected World

“When did the Madonna step out in Muslim robes?” This and other questions illustrating the interconnectedness of civilizations took center stage in a Saturday Seminar on May 4, 2013, titled “Weaving an Interconnected World: Islamic Trade and Cultural Networks.” The program explored the global connections across pre-modern Eurasia, North Africa, and the Americas by tracking the progress of goods, ideas, and influence across different societies. Though there were

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

DC-area teachers try their hands at Islamic art during the April 27, 2013, workshop.

many paths that connected eastern Asia, the Middle East, the European “West,” and the Americas, almost all trade passed through Muslim hands and lands due to the central geographical location of the Middle East. Participants learned about interwoven cultures whose exchanges resulted in a global tapestry of traded commodities and cultural memes: raw materials and luxury goods, crops and cuisines, techniques and technologies, and germs and innovative genius. Three experienced presenters provided a lively, engaging, and educational day full of classroom resources and activities. Christopher Rose, Outreach Director at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, presented “Tracking Cultures: Exploring the Diverse Roots of Spanish America.” Susan Douglass, an education consultant at the SQCC and at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, spoke about “Knowledge Networks and Trading Webs Across the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Worlds.” Barbara Petzen, the Founder of Middle East Connections, led a session titled “Interwo-


Saturday, April 27, 2013, twenty-four area elementary-level educators attended “Teaching About the Arab World and Islam: A Seminar for Elementary School Teachers.” Three speakers covered many topics and explored a myriad of resources dealing with the society and culture of the region. The Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center (SQCC) in Washington, DC generously cosponsored this outreach program. Karen Rignall, an anthropologist and a 2012-13 CCAS post-doctoral fellow, offered a presentation titled, “A Walk Through the Arab World: History, Politics, Society.” She emphasized the diversity of the region and its peoples, noting that when we call it a “world,” we are invariably saying that the Arab region is homogeneous, which is far from reality. She examined religious practices, ways people live, the political uprisings, language and ethnicity, poverty, urbanization, and a host of other social and cultural aspects of life in the Arab world. Dr. Rignall also showed photographs of people in southern Morocco, where she did her fieldwork, and talked briefly about the Arab American community. Jean Campbell, an education and evaluation consultant with many years of experience in educational outreach about the Middle East spoke about “Broadening Student Perspectives on the Arab World and Islam.” She started with a group exercise, asking participants to name similarities and differences among those present in order to highlight those characteristics that establish people’s identity. She facilitated a discussion about the problems with stereotyping cultural groups, especially focusing on the stereotyping of Arabs and Muslims. Dr. Campbell introduced the group to several resources about Arabs and Muslims, especially recently pubn

ven Cultures: Artistic, Musical, and Culinary Ties That Bind the Middle East and Europe,” which included tracing the origins of the different elements of the Turkish lunch the participants enjoyed. The educators in attendance all received a wealth of information, including a CD of documents and resources compiled by the three speakers that will aid their students in studying connections among cultures. Kathleen Ridolfo, director of the SQCC, also brought publications and a sample of incense for attendees to take to their students. These resources demonstrate both the significance and uniqueness of each culture’s social, political, and economic organization and institutions, and their place in a wider global context of change, trade, and competition. The program also provided a comfortable venue for the teachers to network with each other and share ideas about teaching about Middle Eastern history.

Courtesy Anna Miner

Arabic Without Walls

On May 9, 2013, the Center welcomed Kirk Belnap and Maggie Nassif, Director and Administrative Director, respectively, of the National Middle East Language Resource Center at Brigham Young University. They spoke about the online Arabic instructional program for middle and high school students, “Arabic Without Walls,” which was developed with US Department of Education funds. Twenty-one community members attended this session, fifteen of whom were Arabiclanguage teachers in K-12 schools in the DC metropolitan area. Drs. Belnap and Nassif facilitated a discussion with these teachers about learning methods and best practices, with examples from Arabic-language teaching and learning. The discussion, which continued over an Arabic dinner, also covered issues such as teacher certification and the need for appropriate resources. For more information about Arabic Without Walls, visit Drs. Belnap and Nassif will be returning to Georgetown in the early fall 2013 semester to offer a session for middle and high school students who are interested in enrolling in the program.  Zeina Azzam is Director of Educational Outreach at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.


Learning Arabic in Doha A Georgetown Qatar Program Scholar reflects on her fellowship year at Qatar University. By Anna Miner


2012-13 in Doha Qatar University through Georgetown’s Qatar Scholarship Program (QSP). As an American, I had studied Arabic with teachers who assumed a Western cultural worldview. However, this program was a rare opportunity to break from that norm as it gave me the opportunity to learn from native Arabic speakers immersed in their own culture and pedagogy. This I did alongside classmates with diverse backgrounds (Indian, American, European, Ghanian, and even Yemeni Italian). One of the program’s objectives is to introduce its students to the role Arabs have played in human history. Our teachers achieved this objective in several ways. We learned and analyzed poems from medieval Muslim authors in our “Classical Literature” class. In our “Listening and Speaking” class, we absorbed Arab culture through academic or policy talk shows in the Arab world, which were then used to generate class discussions. Our class discussions were always rich with an array of viewpoints much broader than the normal American spectrum. I often found myself re-assessing my most basic assumptions. Our teacher prompted us with questions like: is the evil eye (alḥasad) real? What is the right role for each spouse in a marriage? And what is the role of religion in government? To complement the Modern Standard Arabic we studied in class, my friend and fellow QSP recipient Amanda Angri founded the Language Exchange Program at the female dorms to practice the Qatari dialect. We gathered together weekly to give brief, spent the school year studying at

extemporaneous speeches in Arabic on a chosen theme, after which we critiqued each other’s pronunciation, grammar, and overall speaking ability. Not only did we improve our speaking over the course of these exercises but we discovered a multiplicity of worldviews. For example, when we discussed the meaning of family, an Arab classmate said that to her, “family was life,” meaning that her family gave her identity and happiness. Meanwhile, we Americans expressed that we might accept distance from our families

Anna Miner (left) stands at the Pearl, a man-made island residential complex complete with yacht harbor and upscale shops. Above, some of Miner’s class visit Al-Jazeera.

for career reasons. We come from families of small numbers, while most Gulf students have five or more siblings, so necessarily family is an essential, ever-present part of their lives, whether or not they are abroad. Through this experience in Doha, the word “foreign” has lost much of its meaning for me. United by the same academic pursuit, I connected with people from Oman, India, Turkey, Japan, and Russia in the midst of the increasingly globalized and cosmopolitan climate of Qatar. 

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


FACULTY FEATURE INTERVIEW with ROCHELLE What did you focus on in graduate school, and how did you come to CCAS?

My graduate work was focused on refugee studies, Palestinian social and oral history, and modern Arabic literature. I finished my dissertation in the departments of Near Eastern Studies and Anthropology at the University of Michigan on the subject of Palestinian narratives of life before 1948. After teaching at California State University, Hayward, a post-doctorate fellowship at UC Berkeley, and two years of teaching at Stanford University, I came to CCAS as an assistant professor teaching in the Culture and Society track of the MA in Arab Studies program. My position is located, however, in the School of Foreign Service, so I also teach classes for the undergraduate Culture and Politics (CULP) program as well as for the anthropology department. Given your expertise in Palestinian social and oral history, what drew you to study refugees?

Egypt. Refugees from Palestine, and more recently, Sudanese, Somalis, Iraqis, and Syrians are now living in cities like Amman, Beirut, and Cairo, where they have become part of the fabric of the cities, whether temporarily or permanently. How has the uprising in Syria impacted your research?

The Syrian uprising started as we began our research, and it limited us to working in Jordan and Egypt. The reports of our findings on access to healthcare, educational services, housing, labor, and social life were jointly published by CCAS and ISIM and can be downloaded from CCAS’s website (http://ccas.georgetown. edu/urbanrefugees/cairoamman/). In addition to the Jordanian government offices, international non-governmental organizations, and national non-governmental organizations, we got to know the refugee service provision in Jordan very well. Thus, when Syrian refugees started pouring into Jordan last year, I thought it important to bring our knowledge of what was happening on the ground, as well as my experience and knowledge of Syria (I lived there in the summers of 2008 and 2009) to analyzing and commenting on the events occurring in and around Syria. This summer I am working with Abbie Taylor (MAAS 2012) on a project examining Syrian refugees in Jordan, the local host community, and their visions of the future. We have published a short report on our findings in English and Arabic, and will be publishing longer pieces in the late summer. In addition, Grace Taylor (MAAS 2014) and I have created secondary-school teaching units and videos reflecting on what a “refugee” is as well as considering issues specific to refugees in Jordan that are available on my website. These grew out of a presentation we did for Zeina Seikaly’s summer outreach workshop in June.

Let’s talk a bit about the refugees themselves. As the uprising has turned bloody, what have you found to be the primary needs of the refugees, and are relief organizations effectively meeting them? Also, does the massive scale of the problem mean many refugees are not being cared for, or are neighboring governments and NGOs rising to the challenge?

Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq have all allowed refugees from Syria to cross their borders and in varying levels also provide for them. This fact in and of itself is hugely important in allowing people to find safety and security from war, hunger, and disease. Each country is different: Jordan allows Syrian refugees into the country, and as of the end of July, there are some 510,000. Jordan’s government allows registered refugees free access to governmental educational and health care facilities, but it has, since January, not allowed in refugees from Syria who are of Palestinian origin. Turkey hosts over 200,000 Syrians in 20 camps and provides them with food and other aid, while another 200,000 are in urban areas. In Lebanon, which is hosting over 660,000 refugees, local communities and NGOs have mobilized to aid the refugees. And the UN and NGOs and other governments are providing large amounts of funding and aid, although the donations lag far behind the need. But aid is never enough for people who have been driven from or left their homes and families, their crops, and businesses. These people are devastated, and so is Syria. What refugees and those displaced inside Syria need most (and what we all need) are for the factions to end the fighting and arrive at a solution that will ensure a peaceful future for all Syrians. 

An online version of this newsletter is available on CCAS’s website:


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Justin Secor

I came to the issue via my research on the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent flood of refugees from Iraq that began to enter Jordan and Syria after 2005. In 2009, I organized a project with Omar Shakir (one of our MAAS students at the time) to bring 20 medical professionals to partner with healthcare providers in Syria in training medical staff working with refugees. We worked with the Syrian Ministry of Health, Ministry of Higher Education, UNHCR, UNRWA, the Palestine Red Crescent, and local groups to provide lectures and training on issues related to psycho-social, hereditary, and chronic healthcare. After this project, which we designed and funded, I participated in a project with Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) to examine urban refugees as compared to local populations in Syria, Jordan, and


CCAS 2013 Summer/Fall Newsletter  

Bi-annual publication of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you