CCAS Newsmagazine Summer 2017

Page 1

CCAS Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Georgetown University

Summer 2017




honor to be the new Director of CCAS. My predecessors—Michael Hudson, Barbara Stowasser, and Osama Abi-Mershed, among others—have all been outstanding scholars and leaders. I spent my first week on the job going through saved files, where I found Dr. Stowasser’s teaching evaluations. They provide important reminders of our mission and the meaningfulness of a job well done. “Professor Stowasser,” one student wrote anonymously, “is the coolest, smartest, most amazing woman ever. I want to be just like her when I grow up.” Another penned, “The best instructor/teacher I have ever had in my life and will ever have. Completely representative of Georgetown’s goal to educate and make ‘a complete person.’” Our educational mission is part of all that we do at CCAS, whether with our students, through our K-14 outreach program, this newsletter, or our public events. That mission is appreciated and valued by many. The files offered a 1985 report that quoted Oxford Professor Albert Hourani (whose books I read throughout my education) as saying the following about CCAS: “With wise and sympathetic direction and support from inside and outside Georgetown University, the Center has become one of the few institutions in the United States where students can receive a thorough preparation for careers, whether in public service, business, or teaching, that will bring them into contact with Arabs and Arab countries.” This educational mission centered on the Arab world has also made us the target of misplaced vitriol. Another file was labeled “Hate Mail 2001” and documents the unsolicited messages staff and faculty receive, such as “Arabs=Pigs” and “We, in America, pray and hope for the destruction of the Arab race by the US and Israeli military.” While 2001 was a different time in American history, the Trump administration’s “Muslim ban” barring seven countries from receiving visas to the U.S. has unleashed a similar ignorant and hate-filled response directed towards Arabs, Muslims, and people of color. We tried to address these issues through town hall meetings and a concert featuring music, dance, and poetry performed by youth who originate from the banned countries (see pages 18-19). We know that our supporters are far more numerous, powerful, and strong than the haters. Senator J. William Fulbright (of the Fulbright fellowship) wrote that “with remarkable foresight Georgetown University moved to fill the need for understanding the Arab people by creating the Center for Contemporary Arab studies […] It is a privilege to join in congratulating the Center on its significant contribution to our country.” With such friends and supporters, the CCAS community will persevere, as we have done over our more than four decades as a center. As we look forward, we continue to evaluate our mission, so that we are learning new material, reaching new audiences, and creating innovative teaching techniques. My goals for the coming years are to enhance our standing as the premier academic center on Arab issues, to open new avenues to degrees, and to find new projects and funding to build our faculty and student research opportunities.* I would love to have your feedback, suggestions, and contributions­—please reach out at any time. t is an incredible

*Read an interview with Dr. Davis on page 4 to learn more about her vision for CCAS.



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, Georgetown University.

Core Faculty

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

Affiliated Faculty

Mustafa Aksakal Associate Professor Mohammad AlAhmad Assistant Teaching Professor Belkacem Baccouche Assistant Teaching Professor Felicitas Opwis Associate Professor; Chair; Arabic and Islamic Studies Department 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


Alison Glick Assistant Director Azza Altiraifi Events Coordinator Susan Douglass K-14 Education Outreach Coordinator Kelli Harris Assistant Director of Academic Programs Grace LeVally Office Manager Vicki Valosik Multimedia & Publications Editor Brenda Bickett Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Bibliographer, Lauinger Library

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:

Preview of CCAS Fall 2017 Events Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter Book talk with Zohra Drif, Ret. Algerian MP; Lahra Smith, Georgetown University September 19, 6:15 pm The Politics of Arabic in Israel Camelia Suleiman, Michigan State University September 28, 6:00 pm CCAS Fall Film & Discussion Series: 1948: Creation & Catastrophe – Oct. 17 National Bird – Oct. 18 No End in Sight – Nov. 1 Nowhere to Hide – Nov. 8 Clovis Maksoud Lecture Series: Charis Boutieri, King’s College; Fida Adely, Georgetown University November 28, 6:00 pm Syrian Literature Teach-In Malu Halasa, London-based writer; Georgetown’s Mohammad AlAhmad, Elliott Colla & Rochelle Davis December 2, 9:00 am

The Education Issue This Education Issue of the CCAS Newsmagazine looks at education in the Arab world from a variety of angles and includes articles on how flawed quality measures shape our understanding of education in the region by Prof. Fida Adely, the obstacles to higher education facing Syrian refugees by Prof. Mohammad AlAhmad, and the role of textbooks in shaping global literacy and national pride by CCAS Education Outreach Coordinator Susan Douglass. The back page “Dispatch” is from MAAS alum Steven Keller who writes about the challenges and rewards of doing educational development work in Palestine.

The Quotes

In addition, the issue features reflections on education from more than twenty MAAS alums who work in a variety of educational fields. You’ll find their quotes sprinkled throughout these pages. We hope you enjoy.

Check out the CCAS website for more detail and the full roster of fall events.

In This Issue 8 Faculty Feature Education in the Arab World: Measuring Up or “Upping” our Measures? REGULAR FEATURES 4 Faculty News Davis Begins Appointment as CCAS Director 5 Faculty & Staff Updates 7 MAAS News 12 Faculty Spotlight The Crisis of Higher Education for Syrian Refugees 14 MAAS on the Move News from our Alums

15 Alumni Article What Post-WWII Children Learned about the World 18 Education Outreach Celebrating the Cultures of the Excluded 19 Public Events Rapid Response 20 Dispatches Transforming Futures in Palestine SPECIAL SECTIONS 6 New Research Partnering for Solutions Throughout the Issue: Reflections on

education from MAAS alums

Cover artwork by Rik Olson from the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project. More on page 9.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Rochelle Davis Begins Appointment as CCAS Director Prof. Davis discusses challenges & opportunities moving forward in her new role as CCAS Director. By Matt Raab*


Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬ Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬ Board Member Profile Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

July 1, Professor Rochelle Davis, a 12year veteran of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, began her appointment as CCAS Director. Davis, an associate professor of anthropology with an extensive career of scholarship on the Middle East, succeeded Professor Osama Abi-Mershed after his 6-year stint as director. Davis previously served as Academic Director of the Master of Arts in Arab Studies program. CCAS faces a number of opportunities and challenges that Davis looks forward to diving into. “We teach amazing MA students and BSFS Certificate students, and I’m very excited to work with them and create new opportunities for them to be part of the larger work of CCAS and SFS,” Davis said. “We have a K-12 outreach program that works with teachers in local schools and community colleges, a public events program, and a growing social media and web presence where we showcase much of the knowledge production happening at CCAS, from student and faculty publications to curriculum units to videos of our public lectures,” she said. “I see my role as continuing to grow these educational programs and offer students more learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom.” Davis must also face a changing landscape for academic funding. The potential elimination of the Department of Education Title VI grant, which funds scholarships and language study for CCAS and other centers at Georgetown, is an immediate concern for Davis. “President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget eliminates Title VI funding across the board, along with other programs relevant to what we do,” she said. “So, in addition to advocating for the importance of these programs to the education of our students, we will be looking for partnerships and grants to make sure that our students and other constituents can continue to learn and debate about the Middle East.” Looking further ahead, Davis expects to work with faculty and students to maintain a productive and updated atmosphere across CCAS’s academic and research programs. Founded in 1975, CCAS offers both its flagship MA in Arab Studies (MAAS) program and an undergraduate certificate program alongside its research efforts. n


Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

Education Outreach ‫لتثقيف التربوي‬ In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬


Wikimedia Commons

“Our program gives students both knowledge and skills,” Davis said of MAAS. “Their fluency in Arabic makes them a rare breed among U.S. graduates, and by the time they graduate they have had classes with professors, practitioners, and ambassadors, thus gaining a well-rounded approach to regional knowledge as well as analytical methods.” “Our students emerge confident and capable of jumping into things without hesitation, and able to take on the challenges of the global market.” Davis also noted that CCAS offers all the benefits of its placement within Georgetown and Washington, D.C., an advantage seen in research and engagement opportunities. “Faculty scholarship is enriched by the wealth of colleagues with whom they collaborate in comparative and interdisciplinary ways. Through our colleagues and our location in D.C., our work thus gains greater relevance inside and outside of the academy,” she said. “And

Faculty Research: ‫حاث هيئة التدريس‬

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

this makes both our teaching and our students’ educational experiences richer, more applicable to the present and the future. It also exposes our students to the most critical issues of the day and to a variety of approaches for addressing them, making our students well-positioned for life after graduation.” Personally, Davis noted that her attraction to CCAS was driven by the diverse array of experiences it brought together. “I’ve been at Georgetown for 12 years now, and reconnecting with the students I have taught over the years, and our earlier graduates, is thrilling and inspiring,” she said. “Among our alums we have human rights advocates, journalists, diplomats all over the world, intelligence analysts, humanitarian aid workers, professors, teachers, business and finance gurus, lawyers, and more.” Her interest in the mission of CCAS is also bolstered by personal academic experience. Time spent abroad as an undergrad highlighted what she now sees as critical elements of impactful education. “These experiences showed me the importance of learning about subjects and issues from people who live them and the places where they are happening, and how myopic we are when we only listen to ourselves talk about faraway places,” Davis said. “Georgetown and CCAS also break through that myopia by pushing our students to learn languages and travel abroad, and to learn from different disciplinary traditions.” With her extensive perspective on both Arab Studies as a discipline and Georgetown as an institution, Davis most looks forward to continuing the tradition of excellence at CCAS that supports students and continues to engage with the community around it. “Ultimately, our priorities are to continue to graduate excellent students, to provide faculty with the support they need to be top-notch scholars and teachers, to serve our non-GU communities with programming that helps them do their work, and for all of these things to be interconnected and to build on one another,” she said. ♦

Dr. Jennifer Derr (MAAS ‘01), Assistant Professor of History at University of California Santa Cruz I think that now, more than ever, educators need to convince students that the ideas we explore in the classroom are central to the everyday worlds in which we live. Area studies programs, like the MAAS program, provide a holistic and complex view of the Middle East, expanding what students learn of the region to include more than a narrow field of study or what appears in the news. Dr. Frances Hasso (MAAS ‘90), Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies at Duke University As a first-generation college student from a working-class and immigrant background, MAAS offered me a rigorous education that helped hone the necessary skills to my becoming a serious scholar. In addition, I had the privilege of studying with committed and brilliant professors and mentors who changed my life because they cultivated skills and opened questions and doors I hadn’t considered. For these and other reasons, I am a committed teacher and mentor with high expectations of every student (not only the privileged), which usually translates into students producing their best work. Ariel Ahram (MAAS ‘06), Associate Professor at Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs It is easy in higher education to work in a single silo and become more and more of a specialist in a small area of knowledge. MAAS exposed me to an interdisciplinary tradition of area studies that is often neglected. I was—and still am—a political scientist, but MAAS encouraged me to consider issues in Arab history, sociology, literature, and linguistics that rarely enter disciplinary-bound political science.

*A version of this article by Matt Raab was previously published on the SFS website.

Vicki Valosik


Associate Professor Fida Adely was a keynote speaker at the 2017 Annual Southwest Graduate Conference in Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona and served as Capstone Advisor to two graduate students in Global Human Development. Dr. Adely continued conducting field research for a collaborative project with Prof. Betty Anderson of Boston University: “Mapping Amman, Jordan: Living and Moving in a 21st Century City.” She also co-authored an article on higher education in Jordan with MAAS alums Afaf Al-Khoshman and Angela Haddad.

Associate Professor Marwa Daoudy was invited by the Arab Center Washington to join their Academic Advisory Board. She was also an invited speaker at Duke University and had a paper accepted for the International Studies Association’s annual meeting. Adjunct Professor Noureddine Jebnoun participated in a research and discussion workshop organized by the Hicham Alaoui Foundation on “Tunisia’s Democratic Transition since 2011-2012,” in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Jebnoun’s book Tunisia’s National Intelligence: Why “Rogue Elephants” Fail to Reform was published in August by New Academia Publishing.


CCAS welcomes Grace LeVally, who joined the Center as Officer Manager in July. Grace received a B.A. in International Relations from Gonzaga University where she focused her studies on religion, as well as the Syrian refugee crisis. She studied in Amman, Jordan in the spring of 2015 and continues to develop her language skills in Arabic and Spanish. Prior to joining CCAS, Grace spent a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the American Red Cross in Washington state, working in disaster preparedness and response. ♦

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


New research

‫ابحاث جديدة‬


Partnering for Solutions

Faculty spotlight

CCAS, in partnership with the University of Kurdistan, brought together 40+ researchers this spring to discuss durable solutions to forced displacement in Iraq.

‫لى الهيئة التعليمية‬

By Vicki Valosik


from massive internal displacement for several decades, but with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) the numbers of those displaced have grown drastically. More than three million Iraqis—or ten percent of the country’s population—currently live as internally displaced persons (IDPs). In an effort to address this crisis, the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) at Georgetown recently joined efforts with the University of Kurdistan, Hawler (UKH) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to host the conference “Migration and Displacement in Iraq: Working Towards Durable Solutions.” The conference took place April 19-21, 2017 on the UKH campus in Erbil, Iraq with additional funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. The goal was to create a forum for considering approaches and solutions to the forced displacement crisis based on the lived experiences of Iraqi IDPs. The conference brought together more than 40 researchers— including academics from several universities in Iraq—development practitioners, and local leaders to discuss various aspects of forced migration, such as durable solutions, local governance, social cohesion, transitional justice, housing and property issues, living conditions of internally displaced peoples (IDPs), and obstacles to return. Among the presenters was CCAS Professor Rochelle Davis, who gave a talk with Lorenza Rossi of IOM titled “Durable solutions for Iraqi IDPs: a longitudinal study.” Their presentation discussed the findings of a joint IOM-GU longitudinal study of 4,000 IDP famiraq has suffered

Dr. Sean Foley (MAAS ‘00), Associate Professor of Middle East & Islamic History at Middle Tennessee State University

Vicki Valosik is the Multimedia and Publications Editor at CCAS. 6

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Vicki Valosik, IOM

The most important thing that I learned from MAAS was a fresh questioning, a constant reminder of the complexities of the Arab World, the Middle East, and the Muslim World. In my classes, I expose students to a similarly diverse set of frameworks to train them to independently understand the Middle East and the wider world. Fundamentally, I am trying to awaken the consciousness of my students to something new, to enlarge the boundaries of what they believe to be real.

lies in Iraq on the ways in Clockwise from top: View of downtown which Iraqi IDPs experi- Erbil; Opening remarks from university ence displacement, adapt and government officials at Citadel reception; Vicki Valosik, Prof. Rochelle to their circumstances, Davis, and Grace Benton at UKH and create durable solu- campus tions. Davis also presented “Social cohesion and displacement in Iraq: Historical perspectives, Contemporary narratives,” which was authored by Davis and Rossi, along with Grace Benton, then Project Manager and Research Associate at ISIM and a 2014 graduate of the MAAS program at CCAS, and Michael Cohen, Research Assistant to the project and 2017 MAAS graduate. Professional development workshops were offered on the last day of the conference, including one led by Vicki Valosik, the Multimedia and Publications Editor at CCAS, on “How to Publish in Peer-Reviewed Journals.” An evening reception at the historic Citadel in Erbil was a highlight of the conference. Following the conference, presenters were invited to submit papers for a special issue of International Migration, the refereed journal of IOM. The issue will be guest-edited by Davis and Valosik and will center on the theme of migration and displacement in Iraq and the larger Levant. “The findings and conclusions from the research presentations provide new and insightful material for policy and programming, and give voice to the experience and needs of Iraqi IDPs,” said Davis. It is the hope of CCAS that the special journal issue will elevate this voice and further the overall goals of the conference: to share research findings on IDPS and returnees with relevant stakeholders and to provide information that can be used “to produce an evidence-based road map for the alleviation and progressive resolution of internal displacement in Iraq.” ♦


MAAS News (Student News) ‫أخبار الطالب‬

Mabrouk to the MAAS Class Visiting Scholar ‫باحث زائر‬ of 2017! Members of the MAAS class of 2017 have accepted positions in the United States and abroad with a wide range of employers, including the U.S. Department of State, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Exiger Diligence, Justice Rapid Response, McKinsey & Company, Questscope, and Tesla Government, while others are beginning PhD programs this fall. 2017 graduates in alphabetical order: Ethan Abensohn Dana Al Dairani Hidenori Aoshima Kathleen Bahr Skylar Benedict Kristina Bogos

Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬ Nicholas Brumfield Zhong Jie Samuel Cheam Michael Cohen Jenny Curatola Amy Davis Richard Fischer Diana Galbraith Angela Haddad

Thayer Hastings Charles Jamieson Daniel Joly-DeMars Madison Marks Uma Mencia Uranga Sarah Mink Rebecca Murphy Ana Nikonorow

Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬

Board Member Profile MAAS Student documented the oppressive living and working conditions of low-income migrant Theses workers from South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Migrant Worker Resistance in Qatar”


AAS students in their second year have the option to take oral comprehensive exams or to conduct original research and write a thesis. This year, the following five MAAS students wrote theses. Skylar Benedict

and Sub-Saharan Africa in Qatar. The research argued that the Qatari government’s neoliberal urban governmentality, or the division of the capital city of Doha by socioeconomic class, shuttles low-waged workers to the city’s outskirts and has produced spatial zones of exception where migrant workers engage in informal and black market economic activity as a means of subversion.

Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

“Save the Water, Save the State: The Politics of Population Pressures and Water Awareness in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”

Nathan Shuler Becca Smith Justin Smith Lea Thurm Zoya Waliany Haydn Welch Chadd Wish Ahmed Zuhairy

‫اص من المجلس األستشاري‬

Thayer Hastings

“The Social Life of the Bayanat of the First Palestinian Intifada (1987-1993): Revolutionary Rupture and Post/Colonial Nostalgia” is based on research conducted in

Palestine and describes some of the central elements of the bayanat, or communiques, that work in tandem with the historical context of the first Palestinian Intifada to produce the contemporary social life of the bayanat—one that informs the political imagination of Palestinians today. Becca Smith

Vicki Valosik

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

explored the origins of Jordanian public awareness campaigns around water conservation and their possible political motivations. The two main conclusions were that the Jordanian state developed water-awareness programs linking state security with water security to coerce the public into using water resources in accordance with state guidelines and that these awareness campaigns were ineffective because civil society organizations, which must also deal with international donors, do not always implement them according to state guidelines.

Nicholas Brumfield

“Governing Charitably: The State, Civil Society, and Welfare in Jordan” focused on how

state and charity associations interact to provide social services to citizens of Madaba, Jordan and found that—contrary to popular conceptions of civil-society, social-service providers as capable replacements or supplements to state welfare provision—charities in Jordan are highly dependent on state support to operate effectively. It also showed how providing welfare through charities, rather than the state, gives individual providers significant latitude in who receives state resources, raising the possibility of discrimination as well as the ability to circumvent restrictive state laws around citizenship and entitlements.

“Rejecting America’s Cold War: Sayyid Qutb’s Nationalist-Islamist Agenda and the Failure of U.S. Efforts to Win Over Egyptian Muslims Following World War II” explored

the contradiction between Qutb’s anti-American sentiments and the U.S. government’s apparent oversight of the 1953 publication of Social Justice in Islam in English. The main conclusion of the research was that the U.S. government likely promoted Qutb’s work during this period because he was both a staunch anti-communist and an emerging Muslim leader in Egypt. Despite this apparent support, Qutb rejected the Cold War binary and subjected foreign government propaganda to his own nationalist and Islamist agenda. ♦

Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬

Kristina Bogos

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

“Space and Subversion: Precarious Labor

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬

Education in the Arab World:

Measuring Up or “Upping” our Measures? Professor Adely discusses how flawed quality measures often shape our understanding of education in the Middle East and what a closer look at these measures can tell us. By Fida Adely

“Presence and Absence” Screenprint by Csilla Kosa


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


regional reports about education in the Arab world is that, while the region has made remarkable strides in extending public education to its citizens in a relatively short period of time, education overall faces serious quality challenges. Typically, the empirical basis for such conclusions are limited. Absent data about what actually transpires in schools and what students are learning, youth unemployment is often held up as the best evidence of the poor quality of education—the assumption being that unemployment is a “skills mismatch” problem. In other words, if only the right skills were taught in schools there would be jobs for the taking. common theme in

What are we told about education in the Middle East?

The Road Not Traveled In the 2008 World Bank flagship report, “The Road Not Travelled: Education Reform in the Middle East and North Africa,” the authors acknowledge educational achievements in the Middle East, but go on to argue that the region “has not capitalized fully on past investments in education, let alone developed education systems capable of meeting new challenges.” While the authors admit that “measuring the quality of education is illusive,” they attempt to do so using literacy rates, fields of study in higher education, and scores on international tests as indicators, each of which are problematic in their own ways. Literacy rates are a poor proxy for quality since the prevalence of adult illiteracy among older adults typically reflects the later start many countries in the region had to mass-based education, and even the huge strides made by some countries are not a reflection of quality per se but rather of increased access to education. Using fields of study in higher education—specifically the percentage of students studying science or engineering—to approximate quality is even more problematic. The authors defend this measure by arguing that “scientists and engineers are likely to contribute more to economic growth than are social scientists and students of humanities,” a problematic assertion in its own right. Also, they do not assess the quality of education in these fields, but rather focus only on the number of students enrolled. The third quality measure used by the report is the performance of nine Middle Eastern countries on “Trends in International Math and Science Study” (TIMSS), an international comparative assess-


The art featured on the cover of this issue and on pages 8-12 are part of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project. The project was founded by Beau Beausoleil in response to the 2007 car bombing of Baghdad’s historic Al-Mutanabbi Street, the heart of the city’s intellectual community and home to numerous booksellers. The project engages artists and writers from around the globe to create works that serve as witness to the bombing and express solidarity with the Iraqi people and other arts communities in the MENA region. Beausoleil has said that wherever someone sits down and begins to write towards the truth, or picks up a book to read, it is there that Al-Mutanabbi Street starts. You can contact Beau Beausoleil at The artists featured in this newsmagazine are Rik Olson (cover), Csilla Kosa (pg. 8), Kathy Aoki (pg. 9), Carol Brighton (pg. 10), and Elizabeth Ashcroft (pg. 12).

“Read” by Kathy Aoki. Both the press and the woman’s sleeve include the words “I am Iraqi. I read.”

ment developed by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. International standardized exams such as TIMSS have been critiqued for their “translatability” across countries, their use of global averages as benchmarks, and for reducing learning to a set of measurable math, science, and literacy skills. Based on these measures, the authors conclude: “An important gap exists between what education systems currently produce and what the region needs to achieve its development objectives.” They go on to explain that this is because the school systems in the region tend to focus too much on “engineering education,” which they liken to a business production mentality. Thus, simplistically, it takes a classroom, a teacher, a textbook, and the like to educate a student. The quantity, quality, and mix of these inputs determine educational outcomes. When outcomes are not satisfactory, the engineering perspective suggests increasing the quantity of inputs, improving their quality, or changing their mix by means of more resources and better management. The authors argue that school systems in the region need to move from the engineering mentality on to the stuff of more advanced educational systems—namely incentives and public accountability, ironically the same types of policies that have been subject to lengthy debate in the United States. Given the great diversity of educational and economic contexts in the region­—including rural/urban differences and challenges such as major influxes of refugees­—inputs such as safe and secure school buildings, well-trained teachers, or quality curriculum are clearly still fundamental to providing education and for improving its quality throughout the region. Arab World Learning Barometer The 2014 Brookings “Arab World Learning Barometer” provides a more recent example of an education-focused regional report. The

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Barometer takes widely available data such as enrollment rates, “survival rates” in schools, youth unemployment rates, and the results from international standardized tests, to describe the state of education in the Arab World. While this report adds no new data about the quality of education in the region, it does employ new language to talk about quality, or the lack of it. Using the results for 13 countries on three different international assessments (TIMSS, PIRLS, and PISA), the authors make the bold claim that 56% of children at the primary level and 48% of students at the lower secondary level are “not learning” anything. This type of discourse, which is clearly meant to be provocative, is deeply problematic and yet is emblematic of reports like this. They make broad claims about a region with 22 very different countries on the basis of limited empirical data—data, in this case, that is drawn only from the 13 countries that have participated in one or more of these three international assessments. Also, the global benchmarks that the Arab countries are being measured against are averages based on the performances of countries who have taken these tests before, countries with often vastly different educational systems and histories.

What does it do to claim that over half of the children in the region learn nothing?

Most immediately, it paints a picture of twenty-two Arab countries as “failing to develop” or as “backward.” By extension, teachers are failures too, as are parents and students. Such conclusions also produce a very limited view of what learning entails and erases the many types of learning that happen in and outside of school—learning that cannot be measured by a test conceptualized in Amsterdam and designed in Boston. The Brookings report also points to the fact that girls consistently outperform boys yet almost immediately dismisses the signifiKristin Smith (MAAS ‘14), Cultural Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy in Beirut I’d like to think that I have not only the most rewarding job in the embassy, but also the coolest. I manage our cultural affairs team and together we build relationships with Lebanese youth who are motivated and capable of using their skills as teachers, computer programmers, civil society activists, or other specializations to implement regional or national informal educational projects. Using arts and culture as a base, these projects increase the capacities of [the] Lebanese to develop their own communities. Dr. Brian Siebeking (MAAS ‘08), Assistant Professor at Gonzaga University The MAAS program introduced me to the collaborative nature of good teaching and learning. This extends beyond the classroom. Many of my most formative educational experiences as a student of the Arab world began with a dynamic class discussion followed by further exchanges with my fellow students. This is what the best teachers do: they model a habit of collaborative inquiry, showing how our own understandings are enriched by attending to the perspectives of others.

“Medicine for Memories”—Engraving by Carol Brighton

cance of this reverse gender bias because women are less likely to be employed. We are told to disregard this female advantage from the outset, and yet quality education and valuable learning cannot be reduced to labor force participation rates, even though much of the policy discourse of recent decades tries to do so. Education and learning serve many other purposes in human life, such as defining the communities we want to live in, the values and habits we want to reproduce, and sometimes the ones we want to change. The Brookings report acknowledges that rural/urban discrepancies are significant (urban students have significant advantages when it comes to enrollment, longevity in school, and performance on such standardized assessments). What the report fails to do is discuss why this may be the case or make the links to rural poverty that need to be made. Socio-economic status, irrespective of geography, is a significant issue that is hardly mentioned in the report. Finally, the report concludes with a discussion of unemployment—a factor that is not empirically linked to the discussion of quality education but is assumed to be the logical outcome of the rates of students “not learning.”

What is the purpose of such regional sweeps based upon thin, if not questionable, measures?

Clearly the agencies that produce these reports are interested in shining the spotlight on particular issues. In this sense, the reports serve as advocacy pieces or rallying cries. Whether in fact they are ever effective in changing priorities is less clear, but the discursive effects of such reports can be quite negative—contributing to an essentialization, if not denigration, of the Arab world. Such reports typically de-historicize and draw on comparisons that seem almost meaningless when we consider the very short trajectories of formal public education in countries such Oman, Qatar, or the UAE. None of the Arab Gulf countries except for Saudi Arabia even had a ministry of education before 1970. Even Jordan, which by the weak measures available in these reports seems to do relatively well, had only a handful of public schools before 1950. Even more problematic, they mask the resource issues at the core of educational quality issues. Throughout the region educators and what they can accomplish are shaped by low teacher salaries and in-

10 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

creasing precariousness of teaching jobs. If we have learned anything from international and comparative education, it’s that teaching matters—and not just in the training of teachers, or in teaching methodologies, but also the status of teachers as laborers and professionals. These reports also tend to elide or simplify the costs of war, weaponry and militarization. For example, male tertiary education rates in Palestine have decreased by nearly 5% in the last ten years, and male secondary enrollment rates by 7% (UNESCO; Brookings). While educational infrastructure has suffered from Israeli military attacks, especially in the recent wars in Gaza, something much more systematic is happening throughout the territories due to prolonged occupation (50 years) and the more than ten-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. Major setbacks in education have also been documented in Iraq, which suffered years of sanctions, the U.S. invasion and the on-going violence that the invasion unleashed. In the 1970s and 80s, Iraq had among the strongest educational indicators (in terms of access) in the region with secondary net enrollment of 45% in 1982. While many countries in the region have continued to increase secondary enrollments over the last three decades, Iraq has yet to reach the levels of secondary enrollment it had in 1982. By 2007, secondary enrollments were only 44.7 %, a significant improvement from a low of 30% in 1999. While regional reports don’t ignore the reality of conflict, it is often treated as a somewhat unconnected issue—too political to reckon with.

What do we know about education in the Arab world beyond enrollments and graduation rates?

We know that socio-economic status (SES) is the biggest predictor of educational survival and “success,” as it is just about everywhere in the world (with SES often dovetailing with geography). Indeed SES and/or family background explains almost all of the within-country variability on test outcomes from international assessments. But beyond this basic structural reality that shapes the opportunity of children in DC as much as it does in Riyadh, or Amman, or Casablanca, what do we know? In recent years, scholars of education working in the region have made important progress toward emphasizing inequality and understanding the structures and processes that lead to different opportunities for students in the region. They have drawn our attention to the importance of school-based factors, to community solidarity in overcoming adversity, and to the effects of labor market opportunities in fields like tourism or the military for male drop-out rates. Much more work needs to be done in this vein.

What do we mean by “quality” when discussing education?

This discussion still begs the question of what we mean by “quality.” Robin Alexander argues in Essays on Pedagogy that what is measureable has come to denote quality education. For Alexander and others, quality education is about process, and process is fundamentally about pedagogy—or the practice of teaching. But rather than placing pedagogy at the center of our inquiries about quality education, Alexander argues “pedagogy has been made to fit the available measures rather than the other way around.” These measures have now become global in the form of international standardized tests. “What

Gareth Smail (MAAS ‘15), PhD student in Educational Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania Formal schooling is among the most consequential state systems that citizens must navigate, and this has become increasingly the case as enrollment rates in the Arab world have gone up and states have allowed the proliferation of private and semi-private institutions. Despite the enormous importance given to education by both individuals and society, the effects of schooling are often taken for granted (learning, literacy, development, social cohesion, etc.). By studying education up close, we look carefully at whether and how schooling addresses social and economic problems. Dr. Silvana Toska (MAAS ‘05), Assistant Professor of Political Science at Davidson College As American culture – students included – has become increasingly politically polarized, the need for effective education, especially about sensitive topics, is ever greater. But for those of us who studied and now teach the Middle East, dealing with very sensitive discussions is our stock and trade. Until fairly recently, there were few topics in an American classroom that were as predictably difficult as the Arab-Israeli conflict. Having already navigated those discussions, I feel better prepared to deal with students’ sensitivities and political allegiances, while simultaneously engaging them in a discussion that is loyal to facts and history. Dr. Shadi Hamid (MAAS ‘06), Senior fellow in the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at Brookings This is a contentious time, even more so than usual, in both American politics and Middle East politics, which makes the work of an analyst even more challenging. At Brookings, I write, research, and speak on the role of Islam in politics. One thing I’ve come to accept is that when you’re dealing with questions of identity and ideology, it can be extremely difficult to get people to truly shift their perspectives. But it is possible to challenge certain narratives, and if you can get someone to read something you’ve written and come out of it disagreeing with 70 percent of it, but unsettled (in the positive sense) about 30 percent of it, then that’s a success.

happens to be within the bounds of statistical computation comes to define the very nature of teaching itself.” This is clearly evinced in the overwhelming reliance on international assessments to say something about quality education in the Arab world. Given the critical challenges we face today in supporting the learning and intellectual and emotional lives of millions of children and youth affected by war, there is also a desperate need to broaden our frameworks—our vision of learning and quality—so that these children too do not get written off as failures. ♦

Dr. Fida Adely is Director of the Master of Arts in Arab Studies program and Associate Professor at CCAS.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬

The Crisis of Higher Education for Syrian Refugees Between Relief Work and Strategic Planning By Mohammad AlAhmad


the eduThe necessary regional and cational needs international response of refugees and Certainly, there are international displaced people, organizations, academics, groups, particularly the and individuals in civil socineed for higher education, is conety working to provide refugees sidered one of the greatest humaniwith education. These people tarian challenges facing the interare aware of potential long-term national community in its response impacts of the crisis and call for to the Syrian crisis. UNHCR esthe consideration of higher educatimates that globally, only 1% of tion as a priority, alongside food, refugee youth are able to access shelter, and primary education. higher education. Although the considerable supWhen the Syrian revolution port that has been given to Syrian broke out in March 2011, universtudents and academics is both sity students joined the peaceful praiseworthy and highly appreprotests calling for the fall of the ciated, all of these organizations regime. Students and academics and bodies acknowledge that it were exposed to a campaign of bruis not enough, given the scale tal repression, which took hundreds of the crisis. of thousands of students as victims, The number of all the grants either martyred or arrested. Proand scholarships given to Syrfessors were not spared either, as ian students since the start of the many of them were detained and crisis and that have been promothers were forced to flee. When ised for the coming years, does the international community abannot exceed several thousand, acdoned the peaceful protesters, the cording to the Al Fanar report. uprising evolved into an armed As such, there is a huge gap conflict, towns and cities were sysbetween opportunities provided tematically destroyed, and instituand the demand, leaving more tions of higher education collapsed. than 100,000 Syrian refugees The most significant consequence and more than 120,000 IDPs of the conflict has been that dur- “Absence Has Presence”—Rubbing by Elizabeth Ashcroft without higher education. IDPs ing the past six years, Syria has in particular cannot access these witnessed the largest wave of disgrants, nor are they likely to be placement seen in modern times. Nearly 5 university-qualified students, while a cross- able to in the future since they are unable million refugees have registered abroad and organizational study published by Al Fa- to leave Syria and often do not have the reroughly 7 million Syrians have been inter- nar Media* estimates that roughly 120,000 quired documents in their possession. nally displaced. There is no accurate data on -140,000 of Syria’s internally displaced peoExperts and practitioners cite several reathe number of university-qualified students ple (IDPs) are university-qualified students. sons for this opportunity gap. Efforts to among these figures, but certain reliable orprovide educational opportunities for Syrian ganizations provide estimates. For example, * refugees entail, according to Karsten Valber the Institute of International Education says com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/22084138/ from the HOPES program, “a strange mix of rethat more than 100,000 Syrian refugees are ARABIC-Al-Fanar-Media-Workshop-report.pdf lief work that has to be done quickly and higher eeting

12 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

education that has to be planned on a long term basis.” Some attribute the gap to barriers refugees face to enrolling in universities in the region, such as conditions for residency and the difficulties of obtaining academic documents such as transcripts. This is in addition to well-known obstacles like English-language barriers, the difficulty of obtaining travel visas to Western countries, and the distrust of online education certificates among governments in the Arab world. Others attribute the gap to the lack of multi-level cooperation between government-sponsored universities, donors, scholarship programs, international organizations, and educational institutions. While all of these reasons are true and compelling, I believe that the main reason for the continuation of the crisis is the lack of strategic planning to deal with it. Towards strategic planning and sustainable solutions: Given this situation, it has become of paramount importance to hold an international conference with the mission to create a clear

strategy for dealing with the crisis, including a concrete timeframe that reflects the pressing need to act with speed. The conference should have appropriate representation from ministries of higher education, university leaders, and political representatives from various states, and the agenda should highlight the necessity of sourcing sufficient funding to solve the crisis of elementary, secondary, and university education for Syrian refugees and displaced people. Because of the widening gap between need and opportunity, the escalating numbers of refugees and displaced Syrians, and the unlikelihood of resolving the Syrian crisis in the near future—in addition to recent calls for universities in the region to provide higher education opportunities for Syrian refugees—I argue that the best sustainable solution is to set up a Syrian university in southern Turkey, where a large percentage of Syrian refugees reside. Ideally, such a university would have the ability to absorb more than 100,000 refugee and IDP students and would provide employment for displaced

Isabel de la Cruz (MAAS ‘87), Communications Officer at United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) As children all over the world return to school this month, my thoughts are with the hundreds of thousands of Palestine refugee kids across the Middle East who face challenges to education far beyond what is normal: war, blockade, occupation, armed clashes and poverty, just to name a few. In spite of these barriers, Palestinians continue to value education. UNRWA schools help to provide a sense of security, stability and normalcy despite the circumstances these children live in. After 65 years of providing primary education, UNRWA is able to do this thanks to its innovative and ground-breaking Education in Emergencies program, as well as psychosocial support which is offered to the kids in its schools, every day. Dr. Sumayya Ahmed (MAAS ‘06), Lecturer of Library and Information Studies at University College London - Qatar Since beginning to teach at UCL-Qatar, I have come to realize that education has to be locally sensitive. I try to be culturally astute when choosing the readings, examples, and discussions that I use for teaching here in Doha. Sometimes seminal texts in the field will not have the desired learning effect simply because they were written for a target audience unlike the students enrolled in my courses. It is an exciting challenge to overcome these cultural obstacles, and I encourage my students to produce research that speaks to their experiences.

Syrian academics. Students whose studies were disrupted should be allowed to continue their education from the point at which they left off. In order to make this possible, a university of this type should operate in Arabic to avoid creating a linguistic barrier, and the material, methods, structure, and ways of teaching should be the same as that to which Syrian students are accustomed. Making this vision a reality would not be easy, but the Turkish government has proven to be supportive of other educational projects for Syrian refugees. Given the vast numbers of Syrian refugees needing educational opportunities, it will take a project of this magnitude to even begin to address the crisis and enable a significant number of students to resume their studies after years of disruption. ♦

Dr. Mohammad AlAhmad is an Assistant Teaching Professor at CCAS. A previous version of this article was published by Brookings.

Dr. Michael Reimer (MAAS ‘82), Associate Professor of History at The American University in Cairo One thing I have learned in my teaching is that education requires faith on the part of both the student and the teacher. The student has to have faith that the material assigned by the teacher has value even when it seems to have no immediate utility; the teacher has to have faith that the student will profit from the instruction, also in the long term. I have little regard for the short-term assessment of “outcomes” or insistent demands for “relevance” because I know it was years, sometimes decades, before things I read or heard in certain classes - including those I took when a student in the MAAS program - really made sense to me. For this same reason, one of the most gratifying things I have experienced as a teacher is meeting students I had years before, and hearing how a class I taught or assignment I required was an important step in their intellectual and personal growth. Dr. Daniel Stoll (MAAS ‘85), Senior Associate Dean at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies One of the great challenges confronting higher education is the demand from students to take classes when they want, where they want. The model of students coming to a central place (a campus) for a defined period of time (four consecutive years) is becoming dated. U.S. institutions are going to have to become more nimble and creative in how they make rigorous, high-quality academic programs available to students who have lives and schedules that prevent them from being full-time students.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Alumni News

‫أخبار الخريجين‬

➠ Alumni Article ‫مقاالت الخريجين‬ MAAS ON THE MOVE Scott Bolz, 2000

Scott has been a diplomat for the last twelve years and is currently serving as the Country Public Affairs Chief in United Arab Emirates.

News from our Alums

Alistair Baskey, 2001

Alistair is a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of MAAS alums, we want to hear from YOU! Send your news items to or through a form at State stationed in United Arab Emirates. We look forward to to Kari Diener, 2003 sharing your achievements with our readers. New Kariresearch currently works in Amman, Jordan as the Director of Programs at Mercy Corps, a global development and humanitarian agency. Mary Neznek, 1982

Mary works with children of trauma as a special education teacher for District of Columbia Public Schools and volunteers with social justice groups who work for nonviolent conflict resolution in the Middle East and in U.S. policy.

‫ابحاث جديدة‬

Shadi Hamid, 2006

Shadi’s new book, Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World, was shortlisted for the 2017 Lionel Gelber Prize. Shadi also co-edited the book, Rethinking Political Islam, which was published in August. He is a Senior Fellow at Brookings.

Barbara Batlouni, 1983

Barbara has lived in Lebanon since 1994, and has served as Country Director of AMIDEAST in Lebanon since 1998. She oversees a diverse portfolio of projects focused on education, scholarships, English language and professional skills training, testing, and large development projects. In addition, she has served on the Board of Directors of the American-Lebanese Chamber of Commerce since 1993.

Faculty spotlight

Barbara Batlouni (MAAS ‘83), Country Director at AMIDEAST/Lebanon

Andrew Helms, 2009

Andrew recently moved to Chicago, where he is Product & Consumer Insights Manager at Home Chef, after spending the last 8 years in Egypt and the UAE working in Management Consulting and Corporate Strategy at Monitor Group and the Dubai World Trade Centre.

‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬

Having worked in the education sector in Lebanon for the past 19 years, I am still inspired by the high value Lebanese society puts on education for its children. The pressures on the educational system are extraordinary, though, and the challenge of hosting and educating 500,000 Syrian refugee children of school age is daunting for a country whose infrastructure and systems are stressed beyond capacity. More innovative methodologies and programs are needed to prevent a lost generation of Syrian youth. Isabel de la Cruz, 1987

In January, Isabel was awarded an MSc in Marketing from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. She has been working alongside Palestine refugees for 25 years and has served as a Communications Officer for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) for the past 10 years.

Dorothee Kellou, 2012

Dorothee was awarded the 2017 TRACE Prize for Investigative Reporting for her work on French cement giant Lafarge’s operations in Syria, including payoffs to armed groups and indications of covert dealings with ISIS. Isabella Snyder, 2014

Isabella is the Business Development Manager for United Way in the UK and volunteers with the Girls Network. Ellie Swingewood, 2015

After MAAS, Ellie spent a year working with the World Food Programme in Baghdad and Cairo before starting a new position as Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for an airline in the Gulf. Timothy Loh, 2016

In August, Timothy began a teaching fellowship at King’s Academy in Jordan, where he teaches upper-school history and middleschool Chinese.

David Chambers, 1988

David is the CEO of Carpamus Inc. and serves on the advisory boards of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the PostClassical Ensemble, and the University of Virginia’s Media Studies Department. Adila Laïdi-Hanieh, 1992

Adila recently published a biography of Turkish-Jordanian artist Fahrelnissa Zeid titled Fahrelnissa Zeid, Painter of Inner Worlds. Adila was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship by the Arab Council for Social Sciences to expand her doctoral dissertation into a book.

Timothy Loh (MAAS ‘16), Teaching Fellow at King’s Academy in Jordan

I have just begun working as a Teaching Fellow at King’s Academy in Madaba, Jordan, teaching Middle Eastern history to 10th-grade students and Mandarin Chinese to middle school students. Founded by His Majesty King Abdullah II in 2007, King’s is a boarding school providing a comprehensive liberal arts education to students from Jordan and the rest of the world. It represents a new model of education in the region, one that prioritizes critical thinking over rote memorization and creative problem-solving over information regurgitation. I’m excited to be here at King’s and shaping the minds of future leaders in the Middle East and beyond!

14 Center Centerfor forContemporary ContemporaryArab ArabStudies Studies- -Georgetown GeorgetownUniversity University


Alumni Article

What Post-WWII Schoolchildren New research Learned about the World

‫مقاالت الخريجين‬ Robyn Davis (MAAS ‘06), Director of Fellowships at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington

‫ابحاث جديدة‬

A look at the role of textbooks in shaping worldviews, global literacy, and national pride By Susan Douglass


Wizarat al-tarbiya wal ta’alim, 1960

twentieth century was a watershed period in history for many reasons, with one of the most significant being the rise of mass education systems across the world. As Britain shed its colonies, newly independent countries with influential leaders launched efforts to educate their masses—efforts that had been held back under colonial rule. India and Egypt, under Nehru and Abdel Nasser respectively, began using government schools to strive for social he middle of the

Illustrations from a 1960s Egyptian textbook portraying (Top) Nasser as mediator between Cold War powers and (Bottom) Egypt’s “march to progress”

integration and mold their citizens’ worldviews to enlist them in national economic development and modernization. Britain, too, launched a much-needed expansion of its secondary education system and revamped its elementary schools to meet the demands of the postwar baby boom. My recently completed dissertation in world history and education, “Teaching the World in Three Mass Education Systems: Britain, Egypt, and India, 1950-1970,” examined the expansion of these three countries’ mass education systems. It explored the role of teaching world history and geography in forming citizens’ worldviews and contrasted the degrees to which their schools imparted knowledge of the world as a whole versus teaching the national story alone. In using as evidence both textbooks and curriculum frameworks, the research revealed that India and Egypt taught students significantly more about the world beyond their national borders, and situated their own histories within a broader regional and global context than did British schools. During the decades after 1950, pupils in the United Kingdom were exposed to a history and geography curriculum that dated back to early twentieth-century concepts of what students should know, institutionalized through university entrance exams. David Sylvester, founder of the Schools Council History Project of 1972, characterized the teaching of history in Britain as a “great tradition” whose main features and methodology were fixed by 1900 and remained unchanged for at least 70 years. Pupils’ exposure to the world was limited by the perception that British history was the most important for students to learn. Elementary students learned stories from ancient civilizations (Greek, Near Eastern, Egyptian, and Roman), and then later about British medieval and imperial history. Exposure to the world was limited, unsystematic, and skewed toward the lens of “the West and the Rest.”

In the U.S., we are part of a culture that denies the inequalities of our society and of our relations with the world. The longer I work in the field of education, the more I perceive it as characterized by inequality and reflective of our national amnesia. The discourse of education as a door to opportunity masks the inequalities between students (and people generally), and we don’t sufficiently acknowledge or address these inequalities on our campuses or in our study abroad programs.

Faculty spotlight

‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬ One 200-page world history textbook featured only a few paragraphs on India and China, and barely mentioned Africa. Information in textbooks was often dismissive of other societies’ accomplishments, elided the role of the Eastern Hemisphere in medieval trade, and generalized the European absence after the fall of Rome, ignoring the advances that took place in Asian societies during the medieval period. The most striking finding was the persistence of racially charged and culturally deterministic language and imagery in the textbooks, which could not have prepared British youngsters to live in an increasingly multicultural society as immigrants from Eastern Europe and former colonies filled post-war labor shortages, and must have been devastating to immigrant children’s social and cultural integration. Eventually, teachers led efforts to redress such regressive content but faced significant political resistance. My research began with the premise that Britain’s colonial governance influenced the shape and content of colonial education systems, which were also influenced by the development of modern academic disciplines such as history and geography. From this starting point, my research aimed to gauge the extent of imitation vs. innovation in the history and geography textbooks produced in the education ministries of India and Egypt after independence. Surveying more than 100 textbooks showed that while British textbooks were clearly influential, Indian and Egyptian commissioned textbook authors had different stories to tell. British textbooks, played some role in the secondary-level humanities

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Dr. Michael R. Fischbach (MAAS ‘86), Professor of History at Randolph-Macon College My greatest joy as a history professor comes when students tell me how my classes prompted them to realize that life is far more complex and nuanced than they thought. They enter college so confined by their backgrounds and limited sources of information that they are not aware that they have a right, indeed a duty, to ask questions and interrogate the big world surrounding them as part of their personal search for truth and authenticity. Dr. Hadia Mubarak (MAAS ‘05), Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Guilford College The value of education cannot be quantified or measured. Its value lies in its capacity to transform the way we think and, in the process, to transform who we are. My time at the MAAS program left an indelible imprint on my academic thought. Now, as a professor of Religious Studies, I challenge my students to view the world and religions they’ve studied through a different lens, a lens that recognizes the nuances and complexities of religious communities, a lens that deconstructs superficial narratives that bifurcates human societies into false polarities.

track in Egypt, but history and geography textbooks written by Egyptian authors specially for elementary through middle school level, in contrast, conveyed an original point of view aligned with what the Egyptian state wished to convey. These textbooks told how Egypt played a crucial dual historical role in

Spring & Summer 2017 Public Event Highlights MARCH 2 Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation in the Middle East: Violence, Imperialism, and the CIA University of Kent Professor Ruth Blakeley, discussed her research on the CIA’s

the world—as bearer of the world’s original civilization in the Nile Valley and as a key player in the transition from classical to Islamic civilization. In the modern era, Egyptian textbooks portrayed Muhammad Ali as a nineteenth-century pioneer in the transition to modernization, and Gamal Abdel Nasser as leader of the post-colonial South and mediator between the Cold War powers due to Egypt’s leading role in the Non-Aligned Movement. Both history and geography textbooks portrayed Egypt’s leadership, not only among Arab and Muslim countries, but also among African nations in the Nile basin. Textbooks for upper elementary and middle school were particularly focused on inculcating this worldview, reflecting the government’s awareness that many pupils would not continue their education past the age of twelve or fourteen and that the best high school students would go on to pursue the ‘ilmi (science) track, limiting any further exposure to the humanities. This perhaps explains the intensity of the messaging in these texts. Indian social studies textbook authors were tasked with supporting social integration among India’s diverse ethnic, religious and linguistic population. The authors were young, energetic academics motivated to effect change and support Indian national development. They sought to undo the distortions wrought by British narratives of Indian history, but they also wrestled with the divisive Hindu nationalist narrative of India’s history. This narrative simplistically portrayed a Hindu golden age that had been extinguished by the arrival of Islam, while the British took credit for ushering India into the modern age. Social studies textbooks commissioned by the National Center for Education Research and Training (NCERT) navigated these conten-

tious topics and showed how India absorbed and transformed influences from outsiders and contributed to global civilization. They emphasized India as a source of desired products in world trade over millennia, the contributions of various groups to its culture over time, and the cultural sharing among Muslims and Hindus so as to portray the idea of a second golden age before British colonial rule began. Indian world history and geography textbooks covered civilizations and contemporary regions beyond India—from China to Africa to the Americas—more thoroughly than either British or Egyptian books. Finally, the Indian textbooks presented a devastating view of the effects of European imperialism and the realities of the post-colonial economic and political order for developing nations. In the context of modern mass education systems, social studies textbooks serve the interest of the state in shaping attitudes of future citizens. As tools of social integration, they portray the national origin story. This research shows how schooling conveyed a picture of the nation’s place in the world, along with the push to advance literacy in newly independent India and Egypt. Conversely, the study illustrates the foreshortened view of the world that was presented to British schoolchildren, and shows how slowly the textbook industry in Britain responded to Britain’s changing role in the world as it shed its colonial empire, and as the nation absorbed immigrants from around the world. As an educator, I believe the study points to the need for global literacy alongside the cultivation of national pride. ♦

RDI program—specifically on the use of rendition, secret detention and torture by the CIA and its allies in the “War on Terror” throughout the Arab world.

estinian Rights, CCAS hosted a discussion with NFL player Michael Bennett on social justice activism and advocacy in pro sports. The event was moderated by human rights attorney Noura Erakat and Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation.

APRIL 10 Silenced No More: Michael Bennett on Activism and Pro Sports In partnership with GWU Students for Justice in Palestine, Busboys & Poets owner Andy Shallal, the Arab Studies Institute, and the US Campaign for Pal-

16 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Dr. Susan Douglass is a 1993 graduate of the MAAS program and the K-14 Education Outreach Coordinator at CCAS.

FEBRUARY 16, MARCH 20, MARCH 30, AND APRIL 26 Clovis Maksoud Memorial Lecture Series During the spring semester, CCAS

Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬


East and North Africa explored Christianity’s vibrant Spring & Summer Education Middle and diverse history in the MENA region. The workshop was cosponsored by the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Outreach Highlights Understanding‫العناوين‬ and included lectures In the Headlines ‫ في‬by Yvonne Haddad, David

Grafton, and Kristian Girling, and site visits to Eastern Orthodox and Coptic Churches.

JANUARY 28, 2017

Exploring World Religions, Focus on Islam through the Exhibit “The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts” was held in collaboration with the Smithsonian Ar-

thur M. Sackler Gallery. Teachers toured the visiting exhibition on the art of the Qur’an with curators, heard a lecture on the significance and history of the Qur’an by George Mason’s Maria Dakake, were treated to a calligraphy demonstration, and received teaching resources. FEBRUARY 25

2017 SUMMER INSTITUTE FOR TEACHERS Food, Agriculture, Water, and Environment in the Middle East and North Africa

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Mapping Material Culture through Indian Ocean Trade: Cotton in the Global Economy over Time and Today took a unique

AUGUST 7-11 The 2017 Summer Teacher Institute focused on the cultures of food growing, food consump- Summer institute participants visit the Medition and global trade, terranean Room at the U.S. Botanic Garden. issues of sustainable agriculture in the Middle East and North Africa in the face of water use and climate change, and the resilience of the rich and diverse cultures of cuisine in the region and its global influence over time. The institute provided teachers with perspectives and tools to incorporate into their classrooms. The summer institute was made possible by a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education. ♦

Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬

approach to economic history by focusing on cotton. Presentations covered the origins of cotton technologies, the apprenticeship of European cotton production to Indian artisans, and labor issues in today’s fashion industry. Teachers were given a curriculum kit prepared by MAAS student Kaylee Steck, and heard lectures by Georgetown’s Irfan Shahid and Johns Hopkins’ Kimberly Elliott. MARCH 18

Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬

Teach-in on Yemen continued the series of CCAS teach-ins for edu-

cators and the public, focusing on Yemen’s struggles since the Arab Spring, its ongoing civil strife, and external intervention. Speakers included Amb. Barbara Bodine, scholars Jillian Schwedler and Sheila Carapico, and activist/filmmaker Rooj Alwazir. APRIL 11

Award-Winning Children’s Literature on Africa and the Middle East was a collaboration between CCAS and Howard University’s

Center for African Studies that focused on connections between North Africa and trans-Saharan Africa through children’s literature. The workshop included a talk by author Karen Leggett Abouraya and several scholars, and a multi-lingual performance by a Nubian singer. APRIL 22

Susan Douglass

The Heritage and Contemporary Status of Christianity in the

hosted Andre Mazawi, University of British Columbia; Jennifer Olmsted, Drew University; Ragui Assaad, University of Minnesota; and Adam Hanieh, University of London, to discuss topics centering on Arab human development and patterns of inequality throughout the region as part of the Clovis Maksoud Memorial Lecture Series. The series was launched by CCAS in memory of Ambassador Clovis Maksoud, who was instrumental in the establishment of CCAS. Fida Adely,

Dr. Natana J. DeLong-Bas (MAAS ‘93), Assistant Professor, Theology Department & Islamic Civilization and Societies at Boston College

Despite ongoing efforts to educate the general public about the Arab world and Islam since 9/11, there remains a lack of balanced information about both. Being able to present informed messages in accessible ways is critical to moving public discourse forward in ways that are both critical and constructive. One particularly helpful aspect of my MAAS education was the exposure I gained to working with a variety of audiences - businesspeople, government officials, NGOs, teachers, and fellow academics.

the Clovis Maksoud Chair of Arab Studies at CCAS, delivered the inaugural talk on February 16. The series will continue through the Fall semester. JULY 19 Gender and Development in the Arab World CCAS’ Dr. Fida Adely presented her field research on women’s education and labor migration in Jordan during a lunchtime talk hosted at Georgetown’s

downtown campus. She also discussed how demographic trends in the Middle East have shaped opportunities and challenges faced by young people in the region. The event brought together DC interns and students who share a passion for the Arab world and an interest in gender and education in the region. ♦ Check page 3 or events for a list of upcoming events.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬


In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

Performances by students of Washington International Academy and Silk Road Dance Company

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬

Celebrating the Cultures of the Excluded

Amidst the rising anti-refugee and anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, Muslim children in the Washington DC area took a stand this spring in an unconventional way: the expression of their cultures through song, poetry, and dance at Arena Stage in the Mead Center for American Theater. By Kristina Bogos

who also performed the song “The World Is a Rainbow” in English. The Al Fatih Academy, an Islamic school in Reston, Virginia, performed numerous Arabic works through song, dance, and spoken word poetry. Students of the Washington International Academy danced to traditional Somali music, performed the Syrian dabke dance, and sang to popular Yemeni music. “I believe we dehumanize by quoting numbers and not names. Whenever we remove the showing of faces we also make it easier for hurtfulness and unkindness to continue,” said N.J. Mitchell, Artistic Director at Mt. Gilead Baptist Church in Washington D.C. “You could tell the audience was pleased by their continued conversation, introductions, and excitement of being present to experience the production.” Other audience members like Grace Cavalieri, an award-winning American poet, playwright and radio host of “The Poet and the Poem” at the Library of Congress, recognized the need to continue these cross-cultural conversations and promote the cultures of the Middle East in order to counter stereotypes at home. “Something has to change in this city, this region, this world,” Cavalieri said. “This program brought us access. It opened the door for all of us to come in and for the children to reach out with their sweet voices.” ♦

Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬


n the evening of

“It was remarkable how this event came together. Everyone agreed that children’s performances could highlight the cultures of the banned countries in a positive way,” said Dr. Susan Douglass, K-14 Education Outreach Coordinator at CCAS. “The enthusiasm and creativity of everyone involved— from the co-sponsors to the wonderful artistic directors and the community leaders who prepared the performers, all the way to the children and youth themselves—brought the program together quickly. The excitement in the audience that evening, and the comments of those who attended, showed how worthwhile the event was.” Performances at the concert included the recitation of a poem by Avideh Shashaani, president of Fund for the Future of Our Children, entitled “Tell Me Where to Be Born” by the Medina Montessori Elementary Class,

18 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Kristina Bogos graduated from the MAAS program in May.

Vicki Valosik

Wednesday, March 22, CCAS and the Fund for the Future of Our Children co-hosted a concert to celebrate the hopes, dreams, and promises of refugees and immigrants from the seven Muslim countries affected by the Trump administration’s Immigration Executive Order, commonly known as the “travel ban.” At “Children of One World: Celebrating the Cultures of the Excluded,” more than 100 elementary and middle school children, who hail from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, celebrated their religion and heritage through cultural performances. By expressing and sharing the cultures of the Muslim countries targeted by the ban through the eyes and voices of children, “Children of One World” aimed to send a powerful message of unity and to foster peace and understanding with the wider public.


Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

Rapid ResponseEducation Outreach ‫التثقيف التربوي‬ Lindsey Cummings (MAAS ‘15), Social Studies Teacher at the Miami Valley School

Following the Trump Administration’s “Muslim Ban,” CCAS hosted rapidresponse town hall meetings to discuss the impact of the executive order. By Azza Altiraifi


One of the things I remind myself of every day is that it is far more important to teach high schoolers to be kind and thoughtful than it is to teach them dates, events, and facts. Of course it matters that they think critically and learn something about history while they are in my courses, but those things are only worthwhile if they graduate from high school with the ability to listen to others and engage thoughtfully with the world around them.

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

January 26, 2017 President Trump issued the Executive Order (EO) entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” This order was framed as a bold and decisive action by the new administration to curb terrorist activity in the United States. The order barred people from seven pre-dominantly Muslim countries from entering the country for 90 days. It also suspended the refugee resettlement program for Syrian refugees for a six-month period. While many members of President Trump’s base were elated to see the president acting quickly to make good on his campaign promises, for the minority communities who would be most directly impacted, this order triggered tremendous fear and uncertainty. It also sparked some of the most widespread and well-coordinated mobilization against a sitting president in decades. As this played out on a national stage, CCAS immediately issued a statement* and began discussions among faculty, students, and staff about how the Center, and the university as a whole, should respond. In partnership with the African Studies Program at Georgetown and the School of Foreign Service Dean’s Office, CCAS organized a rapid-response town hall to discuss the legal scope of the EO, the constitutional questions it raised, and its implications for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as how students, staff, and faculty could mobilize around the issue. The town hall took place just days after the issuance of the EO, and drew approximately 150 attendees from both Georgetown and the broader DC community. The first panel featured Robert McCaw (Council on American-Islamic Relations), Claudia Cubas (CAIR Coalition), and Yolanda Rondon (ArabAmerican Anti-Discrimination Committee). Each of the panelists n

Phillip Tussing (MAAS ‘83), Professor of Economics at Houston Community College

Somehow I seem to have gotten a job in the most interesting place in the world—teaching at one of the largest community colleges in the United States (70,000 students). Community colleges are at such a crossroads. Their enrollment has skyrocketed in response to the growing need from the workplace for better-educated workers. Most of our students are on their way to four-year institutions, and in my discipline we actually have higher basic economics skills among our students than are found on average in four-year institutions.

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫بحاث هيئة التدريس‬ discussed specific resources for impacted communities. The second panel featured Abiha Bilgrami (D.C. Justice for Muslims Coalition), Betsy Fisher (International Refugee Assistance Program), and Mamadou Samba (D.C. Mayor’s Office of African Affairs). As the number of lawsuits and constitutional challenges against the Administration mounted, the Center continued to facilitate dialogue on topics of concern to the CCAS community, with two subsequent events being spearheaded by MAAS students. The first was on the intersections of the “Muslim Ban,” the Trump Administration’s rhetoric and policies around undocumented immigration, and the “War on Terror.” This town hall featured Juan Manuel Guzman (United We Dream), Dr. Maha Hilal (Institute for Policy Studies), Sapna Pandya (Many Languages, One Voice), Darakshan Raja (Washington Peace Center), and award-winning poet and artist Tariq Toure. The second event focused on the history of U.S. refugee policy and was organized in partnership with Georgetown’s Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Bridge Initiative, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching, & Service, Mortara Center for International Studies, and BMW Center for German and European Studies. Students brought in speakers who highlighted the myriad ways in which certain groups have been targeted for exclusion over the course of American history. Panelists included Elzbieta Gozdziak (Institute for the Study of International Migration), Sandy Dang (Vietnam Education Foundation), Sean Bland (O’Neill Institute), and MAAS alum Noga Malkin (International Medical Corps). ♦

Faculty Feature ‫اص من هيئة التدريس‬

Vicki Valosik

Yolanda Rondon, Claudia Cubas and Robert McCaw discuss resources for communities impacted by the executive order.

* The CCAS statement on the Immigration Executive Order is available at Azza Altiraifi is the CCAS Events Coordinator.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

DISPATCHES Notes From Abroad

Transforming Futures in Palestine By Steven Keller


MAAS student in the mid-90s reading Sara Roy’s important book, The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-Development, little could I have imagined that I would one day have the opportunity to spend more than a decade (and counting) leading the Palestine portfolio of the respected education organization AMIDEAST. Nor could I have imagined that the grim picture of Gaza painted by Roy’s comprehensive research would seem so much better in so many ways than the Gaza that I encountered at the start of my tenure here in 2006—or how much worse it has become since then. My work as Palestine Country Director, which involves overseeing projects in scholarships and exchanges, education reform, English-language teaching, youth empowerment, and a range of services for Palestinians interested in study abroad, is a regular source of exacting challenges and heart-filling rewards. Our students face incredible obstacles, while AMIDEAST, as an orgas a

20 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Education Outreach

In the Headlines ‫ناوين‬ forever be an inspiration to me. An alumna of Access, the Kennedy Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, and other programs, Iman was a rising junior with a double major in literary studies and biology at Columbia College in South Carolina when she lost her parents and two brothers in an Israeli rocket attack in the Gaza Strip. Despite almost unfathomable personal trauma, Iman did not give up. She had made a pledge to her parents to graduate, and she was determined to do so. In fact, she graduated a year early and won first place in her college’s essay contest. Several years later, Iman is now a candidate for the prestigious Fulbright scholarship. There are many, many students from Gaza and other parts of Palestine whose transformational journeys through AMIDEASTadministered programs inspire me, fill my heart, and make me proud. I am grateful to the MAAS program for the role its faculty, coursework, internship opportunities, and consistently supportive environment played in getting me here. ♦

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫يس‬

Faculty Feature ‫دريس‬ Steven Keller graduated from the MAAS program in 2000 and has served as the AMIDEAST Palestine Country Director since 2006. Photos of educational program participants courtesy of AMIDEAST Palestine.

Tawna Fowler

nization, must also navigate a host of structural challenges, such as balancing adherence to U.S. policy in Gaza while being careful not to run afoul of the local government. For example, U.S. policy forbids engagement with the Hamasled government, making impossible such simple acts as meeting with a public-school principal in Gaza—the very acts that are necessary steps toward the type of education reform we are engaged in, with support from USAID, in the West Bank. Even what should be routine matters, like arranging the travel of scholars and exchange students from Gaza to their programs abroad, often requires very senior officials to move heaven and earth to secure necessary travel permissions and paperwork. Though the challenges are plentiful, so are the rewards. One of the most fulfilling parts of my job is providing opportunities for bright, talented young people to prove their capabilities and transform their successes into futures that they would otherwise not have been able to consider. This occurs through a process that we call “laddering,” in which one of our programs gives a student his or her first opportunity—to study English through the U.S. State Department-funded Access program, for example—which then helps him or her to qualify for another opportunity, and so on. One ambitious girl, Nada, from al-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah first participated in a summer camp we run with funding from the American Consulate in Jerusalem called “Camp Discovery.” Nada then took advantage of several other programs until she eventually landed a full scholarship at Mount Holyoke. Another “laddering” success story comes from a young Gazan woman named Iman, who will

Public Events ‫ت العامة‬

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