CCAS Fall/Winter Newsmagazine

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CCAS Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Georgetown University

Fall-Winter 2015


6 0, 0 0 0 , 0 0 0 Understanding the largest global forced displacement since World War II




Dear friends of the CCAS,


from Washington, DC. The current academic year has already witnessed several changes and beginnings at CCAS and SFS. First and foremost, I wish to extend my sincerest gratitude to Mr. David W. Jackson for his effective leadership of the Board of Advisors since October 2012. David was exceptionally selfless with his energy and time in reinvigorating the membership of the Board and the Center’s philanthropic networks. I benefitted greatly from his counsel and vision, and I look forward to his continued contributions to the well-being of the Center. By the same token, I am thrilled to welcome Ms. Laurie Fitch to the stewardship of the Board for 2015-2018. Like David, Laurie is a graduate of our MAAS program, and has been a staunch and involved supporter of the Center. I am confident that she will only preserve and bolster the standards of excellence that David has set. I also extend my heartfelt congratulations and welcome to SFS Dean Joel Hellman who joins Georgetown after 15 years of service at the World Bank as Chief Institutional Economist and Director of the Center on Conflict, Security and Development in Nairobi, Kenya. I look forward to working with him as he implements his personal vision and direction for the SFS. On the academic front, our capacity to recruit gifted graduate students from the Arab world or working in the field of Arab studies has been greatly augmented by a number of recently endowed scholarships —namely the Kuwait-America Foundation Scholarship, the Suad Husseini Juffali Scholarship, the Yusuf and Dina Alireza Scholarship, and the Laurie Fitch Scholarship. As a result, our MAAS program was able to offer an unprecedented level of financial aid and assistance to the incoming and current class of students in 2015-2016, and to admit 29 incoming students in 2015-2016, up from 23 in the previous year. A principal ingredient in the sustained strength and appeal of our MAAS program is the growing academic distinction of the CCAS faculty, their outstanding commitments to enriching the educational and intellectual life of the CCAS, and the spirit of collegiality and togetherness with which they work towards our common goals. Professors Fida Adely, Marwa Daoudy, Rochelle Davis, Daniel Neep, Joseph Sassoon and Judith Tucker have responded admirably to the changing socio-political realities of the MENA. As in previous years, they have continued to fine-tune their courses and curricula of instruction to address the rapid pace of developments in the region. They have organized public educational programs that clarify to wide audiences the current sociopolitical landscapes of the Arab world. Finally, they have stepped up their practical involvements in the region in order to effect positive transformations. In light of deepening sociopolitical crises in the Arab world, the Center as a whole has sought to capitalize upon the achievements of previous years to strengthen its engagement with the region, its peoples, and its many challenges. In addition to establishing scholarships to provide residents of the MENA region with financial aid, the Center has sought to participate in programs that promote academic freedoms and protect the rights of scholars in the MENA. We collaborated with the Al-Walid Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and other local institutes to retain for a second year Professor of Public Policy Emad Shahin, formerly of American University in Cairo. Likewise, through Georgetown’s sustaining membership with the Scholars-At-Risk Network, the Center and the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies were able to host as visiting lecturer Professor Mohammad Shawkat Al-Ahmad, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs in the Raqqa campus of Al-Furat University, Syria. ➝

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

send you warm greetings

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 Associate Professor and Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Chair Judith Tucker Professor

Affiliated Faculty

Cover artwork by Syrian cartoonist Juan Zero; CCAS


Core Faculty

Mustafa Aksakal Associate Professor Mohammad AlAhmad Visiting Lecturer Belkacem Baccouche Visiting Instructor Elliott Colla 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 Imad Harb Adjunct Assistant Professor Noureddine Jebnoun Adjunct Assistant Professor Emad Shahin Visiting Professor


Rania Kiblawi Associate Director Kelli Harris Assistant Director of Academic Programs Susan Douglass K-14 Educational Outreach Coordinator Tareq Radi Events Coordinator Vicki Valosik Multimedia and Publications Editor Elyssa Skeirik Program Manager Brenda Bickett Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Bibliographer An online version of this newsletter is available at:

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

In This Issue None of the Center’s accomplishments is attainable without the efforts and dedication of our administrative team: Associate Director Rania Kiblawi, Assistant Director for Academic Programs Kelli Harris, Educational Outreach Coordinator Susan Douglass, Public Events Coordinator Tareq Radi, and Multimedia and Publications Editor, Vicki Valosik. I owe each and all of them my deepest appreciation for making the CCAS a most rewarding and enjoyable workplace and I am delighted to welcome to our ranks our new Program Manager, Elyssa Skeirik. I would like to close with a message of solidarity and condolence to the family, friends, and classmates of Nina Brekelmans, who was tragically taken from us last June within mere weeks of her graduation from the program. To honor Nina’s memory and her accomplishments, the CCAS and her family and friends have established the Nina Brekelmans Scholarship Fund to promote the empowerment of women in the Middle East. I can think of no better way to keep, Nina in our thoughts and on the path that she had set for herself. ♦

Welcome to the MAAS Class of 2017!

ON THE COVER 7 Faculty Feature Forced Migration and Internal Displacement in the Arab World and Beyond REGULAR FEATURES 4 Faculty News 5 Visiting Scholars Syrian Scholar Finds Safe-Haven at CCAS 13 Board Member Profile Peter Tanous: Looking Back, Giving Forward 14 Educational Outreach The Extraordinary Story and Discovery of Yarrow Mamout 16 Public Events CCAS Teach-in Highlights History, Economy, and Politics of Gaza 18 MAAS News CCAS Launches Morocco Summer Arabic Program 20 Dispatches Exiled in Babylon: Refugees and the Politics of Language SPECIAL ESSAYS 6 Learning through Helping Others 9 Empowering Refugees to Tell Their Own Stories 10 Turning Statistics into Stories 12 Being Present in a World Stacked with War and Pain

CCAS Welcomes New Chair of the Board of Advisors



he CCAS is pleased to welcome Ms. Laurie Fitch as the new Chair of the Board of Advisors. Fitch, a longtime friend of CCAS and a graduate of the MAAS program (’94), is the Managing Director in the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley in London. The CCAS is grateful to Mr. David Jackson, president of Northridge Capital and also a graduate of the MAAS program (’83), for his energetic and effec-

tive leadership of the Board of Advisors since 2012. “I’m proud to follow David Jackson as board chair, and to give back to the place that gave me so much,” says Fitch. “The multidisciplinary approach to complex, critical thinking that the Center demands and reinforces has served me well throughout my career. CCAS is the leading interpreter of the region to the Georgetown community, to the newswatching and journal-reading public and to K-12 students. Looking ahead, our goal is to sustainably broaden the Center’s impact as there has never been a more critical need for thoughtful scholarship and

nuanced understandings of the contemporary Arab world.” 

Outgoing Chair David Jackson with Incoming Chair Laurie Fitch

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬

Associate Professor Rochelle Davis conducted research over the summer in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon on Syrian refugees. She is working—along with MAAS Alumna Abbie Taylor, MAAS student Will Todman, and BSFS student Emma Murphy—on publications related to 350 interviews they have amassed of refugees from several countries. She is also working on a book on the US military’s conceptions of culture in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Davis served on the search committee for the new Dean of SFS and is also on the 2019 Centennial Vision Committee for SFS.

Washington University. Neep also served as jury chair for MESA’s Malcolm H. Kerr 2015 PhD Dissertation Award and was appointed to the editorial board of the journal Contemporary Levant.

Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬ Associate Professor Joseph Sassoon spent three weeks over the summer at the American Academy in Berlin as one of 12 professors from different American universities invited to a working group on “popular support” for authoritarian regimes across the globe. The “retreat,” under the auspices of the Richard Holbrook Forum, focused on the varying policies authoritarian regimes in different parts of the word adopt. Following his fellowship year at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Sassoon is back at Georgetown.

Board Member Profile

Assistant Professor Marwa Daoudy delivered a keynote lecture at the Morgan Stanley Women in Leadership Conference in London and spoke at the Experts and Funders Meeting on Transnational Militant Movements and the Arab Region at the Carnegie Corporation in New York. She will be presenting a paper titled “The Politicization of Identity: Sectarianization and the ‘New Struggle’ for Syria” at MESA’s annual conference and has been invited to speak at the United Nations ESCWA’s conference, Governance of Transformation in the Arab Region: Strengthening Peace Enablers in Beirut. She was recently interviewed for articles in the National Post and Politico.


Visiting Professor Emad Shahin delivered a lecture on “Authoritarianism and the End of Democracy in Egypt” at DePaul University. He was also a guest speaker at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington DC and at the 2015 Series on US/Middle East Challenges for the Ad Hoc Committee for Peace and Justice in the Middle East. He published articles on Egyptian parliamentary politics for Foreign Affairs and Aljazeera. His essay “Egypt’s Revolution Turned on its Head” will be published in the international affairs journal Current History in December.

Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

Adjunct Assistant Professor Noureddine Jebnoun published “Beyond the Mayhem: Debating Key Dilemmas in Libya’s Statebuilding” in The Journal of North African Studies. The volume that he co-edited with Mehrdad Kia and Mimi Kirk, Modern Middle East Authoritarianism: Roots, Ramifications, and Crisis (Routledge 2013) was released in paperback in June 2015.

Professor Judith Tucker gave a plenary talk titled “Pirates and Power: Transformations on the Middle East Margins” at a conference at Northwestern University, entitled “Theorizing Transformations in the Middle East and North Africa” and will serve as discussant for two panels at MESA’s annual conference this fall: “Shari`a in Flux: Islamic Divorce and the Modern State,” and “Gender Trouble in the Gulf and Palestine: Challenges of Approaching Gender Issues in the Classroom and Society.”

Education Outreach ‫لتثقيف التربوي‬

Assistant Professor Daniel Neep presented papers at the annual conferences of the American Political Science Association, British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, British International Studies Association, and Social Science History Association. Neep was invited to speak at the London School of Economics’ Middle East Center, the Center for the Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland, and the Project for Middle East Political Science at George

Welcoming Imad Harb

STAFF UPDATE‫في العناوين‬ In the Headlines

Dr. Imad Harb is a political and strategic analyst specializing in the Levant, Arabian Peninsula, and Egypt. He and is the founder of Quest for Middle East Analysis, a research and consulting firm, and worked for several years in Abu Dhabi as a senior researcher at the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research. A Distinguished International Affairs Fellow at the National Council on U.S.Arab Relations, Dr. Harb joins CCAS for the fall semester, where is teaching Politics and Security of the Gulf.

Welcome to Elyssa Skeirik!

We are pleased to introduce Elyssa Skeirik, the new Program Manager at CCAS. Elyssa hails from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania and recently earned her BS in Culture and Politics from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service with a certificate in Islam and Muslim-Christian Relations. As a student, Elyssa worked at the Georgetown University Library and spent time in Jordan.

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬


Faculty Research: ‫حاث هيئة التدريس‬

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

‫زائرون باحثون‬


Syrian Scholar Finds Safe-Haven at CCAS

A Conversation with Visiting Lecturer Mohammad AlAhmad By Will Todman



April 22, 2015, CCAS Visiting Lecturer Dr. Mohammad AlAmad and his family left their home and lives in Syria behind. “Human smugglers drove us to the Turkish border,” says AlAhmad, “and then my wife and I carried our two young children, walking through barbed wire and muddy water into Turkey. We were full of trepidation, fear, and the pain of being displaced.” Though AlAhmad left Syria because he had been accepted to participate in the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund, which provides support for threatened scholars and places them with visiting appointments at partner academic institutions, he did not yet know his family’s ultimate destination. Once in Turkey, AlAhmad learned that his appointment would be at Georgetown, starting in August. AlAhmad was born and raised in the town of al-Tabqa, part of the governorate of Raqqa in north-eastern Syria. In 1992 he moved to Aleppo to pursue his bachelor’s degree at the College of Arts and Humanities at Aleppo University, where he went on to earn his MA and PhD in Arabic language and literature with specializations in modern and contemporary Arabic poetry. After completing his PhD in 2008, AlAhmad moved back to eastern Syria and became a faculty member and he Vice Dean of Academic Affairs at Al-Furat University’s campuses in Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, where he remained until 2014. Living in Raqqa, AlAhmad witnessed the different stages of the Syrian revolution that began in the spring of 2011. “Like millions of Syrians, I hoped that the totalitarian, authoritarian regime would be replaced by a pluralistic democracy that respected freedoms and human rights,” says AlAhmad. However, as the revolution transformed into an armed conflict, AlAhmad began to lose hope that things would change for the better. Though the Free Syrian Army seized Raqqa from government control in the spring of 2013, over time radical militants infiltrated and overran areas of the city. By 2014, the most extreme of these factions had gained control of the whole city, proclaiming themselves n

the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and subsequently designating Raqqa as the capital of their self-declared caliphate. ISIS soon shut down colleges and institutes of higher education, replacing secular education with a system of religious indoctrination and leaving AlAhmad without a job. He held on to hope that other opposition groups would be able to defeat ISIS and expel them from his city, but the situation deteriorated as ISIS enforced an extreme interpretation of Islamic law and Asad’s regime bombarded the city with airstrikes. In the summer of 2014, AlAhmad found information online about the Scholar Rescue Fund and applied. When he found out he had been accepted, he—like thousands of other Syrians trying to flee from ISIS territory—had to hire smugglers to help him and his family cross the border to Turkey. After arriving in Turkey, he met with MAAS Alum Ava Leone (2010), who was working there for the US Department of State and with CCAS Associate Professor Dr. Rochelle Davis, who had been responsible for securing AlAhmad’s appointment at Georgetown. “We saw the opportunity to work with the Scholar Rescue Fund to bring a scholar at risk to a place of safety, as well as to fill our needs here at Georgetown for someone to teach Arabic literature in Arabic to our students,” says Davis. “Dr. AlAhmad has made a smooth transition to teaching non-native students and we are delighted to have such a gentle, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable scholar among us.”

Visiting Lecturer Dr. Mohammad AlAhmad at CCAS

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


AlAhmad and his family arrived at Dulles of mutual understanding and widespread acInternational Airport on August 21. “After arceptance of others as part of a civilized diariving in America, I felt safer and experienced logue,” says AlAhmad. a tangible sense of peace for the first time AlAhmad will continue teaching at Georgein four years,” says AlAhmad. He had only town during the spring semester, introducing a few days to acclimate to life in DC before new courses in modern Arabic novels and the start of the fall semester, when he began poetry. After that, he hopes to remain in the teaching contemporary Syrian literature, but United States by working with the Scholar AlAhmad’s first impressions were favorable. Rescue Fund to find an appointment at an“Georgetown’s beauty amazed me,” he says, other university.  “and I was surprised by how kind people Dr. AlAhmad worked at Al-Furat University in Raqqa (pictured) and Deir ez-Zor, Syria were and [by] their friendly personalities.” AlAhmad says that the opportunity to teach until 2014 when ISIS closed the university. Will Todman is a student in the MAAS proat a respected university like Georgetown and gram ('16) with an interest in conflict resoluthe welcome he has received on campus have prompted him to recon- tion and issues pertaining to refugees. Will is currently working as a sider some of his former preconceptions about what life is like for research assistant to Professor Rochelle Davis and had the opportuArab and Muslim Americans in the United States. He was surprised nity to conduct research with her in Jordan in 2014. He has previously not so much by the rights and freedoms that these groups experience, worked for the office of the UN’s Special Envoy to Syria and for the but rather by their relationships with other Americans. “I see the depth British Embassy in Beirut, and has translated for the Sunday Times.

Learning through

Helping Others By Dana Dairani



Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Dana Dairani is a first year MAAS student from Syria. Prior to coming to Georgetown, she lived in Jordan, where she worked to promote economic empowerment for female Syrian refugees.

Dana Dairani

unisian poet Aboul-Qacem able to recognize the person I had beEchebbi once wrote, “When come.” the people decide to live, desNadia and a number of other womtiny must surely respond.” My expe- en who were refugees decided to rience working in Jordan with Syrian look for opportunities to overcome women who had become refugees their reliance on aid and to achieve made me realize the financial independence. truth in these words. With economic empowNadia, one of the erment the goal for our women I worked with, work, I met with these left Syria with her chilwomen and, together, dren to settle in Jordan we designed a series with hopes that she of activities that would would be able to return enable them to use their once the security conskills in cooking, knitting, ditions improved. She and embroidery to creonce told me, “When ate quality products Nadia, a Syrian refugee I was called a refugee living in Jordan, demonthat would be promoted for the first time, only strates her embroidery. within Jordan and bethen I felt that I have yond. The initiative was changed as a person. My identity, my supported by a number of trainers, social status, the people I knew—it mentors, volunteers, sponsors, and was all changed and I was no longer NGOs. A few months after launching

the production cycle, the core team expanded to incorporate additional refugees. We also integrated a support program to help the women cope with and grow beyond the inner barriers resulting from the trauma they experienced in Syria. When I first started volunteering for this project, my goal was to help underprivileged women from my country. I didn’t realize how much I would gain in the process. Listening to the individual stories of these women— what they went through, the pain and fear they endured—and then seeing how they met all this with courage, commitment, determination, and a smile is what gave meaning to my efforts and made the project a success. Crises often change who you are, but my work with these women showed me that the choice of the person you will become is yours. 


Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬

Forced Migration and Internal Displacement in the Arab World and Beyond Since 2010, Professor Rochelle Davis has conducted research among the refugee communities in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, working with MAAS Alum Abbie Taylor. Artwork by Diala Brisly

By Rochelle Davis


60 million people counted as refugees or internally displaced, we are currently witnessing the largest global forced displacement since World War II. These displaced millions are primarily fleeing war, conflict, and persecution, but a host of other factors also contribute to the unstable conditions they face in their ith

home countries: forced conscription; lack of access to health care, jobs, and education; drought and environmental degradation. More than half come from the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Horn of Africa. Despite the news of migrants arriving daily in Europe, the overwhelming majority of those displaced remain in or near their home countries.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Conflict-driven displacement

aged to survive the fighting. Syrians (and others) fleeing to Europe are middle class, educated, and disproportionately young. Many of those left behind—in addition to those who refuse to leave their homes—are the poorest and most marginalized who do not have the resources or connections to flee farther. Because of the four years of conflict, many of the Syrian refugees arriving in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Kurdistan, and Egypt have not had access to essential medical care or vaccinations, and children have missed school for a year or more. In Turkey, staterun camps for refugees have been called “model camps,” but they house only around 10% of the more than 2 million Syrians in Turkey. In Lebanon, there are more than 1 million Syrians in the country of 4.5 million (though the exact number is not known since the Lebanese government asked the UNHCR to halt refugee registration in May 2015). The Lebanese government has not allowed for the establishment of formal refugee camps, so Syrians live in rented housing, in empty structures as squatters, or in informal tented settlements (essentially camps but without provision of services by UNHCR or the government). Jordan hosts one Syrian refugee for every nine Jordanians, in addition to a growing Iraqi population and refugees from Sudan and Somalia. Jordan’s refugee camps for Syrians house 15% of the total, while the rest live among Jordanians. Although the host countries have opened their school systems to Syrians (and other refugees), government schools are understandably overwhelmed by the numbers. The addition of more children affects the quality of education and the ability of teachers to manage classrooms, and has disproportionately affected the lower income citizens of host countries (who send their children to public schools). The violence connected to the spread of the Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS), as well as the brutal takeover by ISIL of Kurdish areas of Syria and Iraq, has displaced hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Syrians. The displaced include ancient communities of Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Yazidis, alongside Kurds, Arabs, Turcoman, and oth“MAYBE THE PERSON who leaves his country can also ers. The conflicts in Iraq (1980-88, 1991, 2003-present) and Syria (ongoing since feel the suffering in the country in which he finds safe2011) have amplified the unstable situation ty. One is not comfortable in exile; it is called ghurbeh of Kurds across Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and [alienation, homesickness, feeling estranged] for a reaIran. The creation of Iraqi Kurdistan has son. That feeling pushes him back to his own country. As contributed to growing Kurdish aspirations someone who has migrated, a refugee, I miss my home of autonomy. At the same time, Kurdish and want to return. I am displaced here, but my parents parties’ and militias’ roles in fighting ISIL have strengthened their political organizing. are still there, and so the fear is overwhelming and I exTurkey has attacked these Kurdish militias, pect bad news every day to upset and overturn our lives.” both within Turkey and in Syria, as part of — A 32-year-old Syrian refugee living in Jordan its long-running antagonism toward Kurdish culture, politics, and ambitions.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), conflict is the primary reason that such staggering numbers of people have been forced to leave their homes and countries. In 2010, conflict displaced 10,900 people globally per day. By 2014, the number had grown to 42,500 people daily. In the Arab World, the vast majority of people who have fled or are fleeing are doing so because of conflict. Not since 1948, when half of the Palestinian population was dispossessed and displaced, has the region seen such wholesale displacement of entire communities, cities, and sectors of society. An estimated half of the 22 million who make up the population of Syria no longer live in their homes, with more than 4 million Syrians registered as refugees outside the country and another 6-8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) remaining within the country’s borders. While the rise of the Islamic State has driven a fresh wave of people out of northern Syria, most have fled because direct attacks on their neighborhoods by the Syrian regime have made them fear for the well-being of their families. Many more have fled to care for loved ones or in the hope of a better future elsewhere as the country’s infrastructure has been destroyed and basic services—primarily health and education—have collapsed. Men over the age of 18 are also fleeing to avoid forced conscription into the Syrian Army. The UN’s decision in 2014 to provide aid across Syrian borders without the Syrian government’s supervision or permission undercut the regime’s practice of using food aid as a weapon of war. It has also enabled some people to be able to stay where they are and still receive aid, as opposed to having to leave the country as refugees before receiving assistance. This policy has helped those who were at risk of becoming refugees purely out of material need, yet the prolonged nature of the conflict continues to push out others who have man-

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Artwork by Diala Brisly


Another recent conflict, the Saudi-led war on Yemen, which started in March 2015, has resulted in at least 2,500 deaths. With the direct bombing of schools, hospitals, and other civilian spaces, as well as the Saudi blockades of ports and humanitarian aid, the estimated 1.5 million displaced Yeminis will surely grow as the humanitarian situation worsens. Since 1992, Yemen has hosted Somali refugees, with over 250,000 Somalis registered and living in Yemen, but due to the current conflict many Somalis, as well as Yemenis, have fled on boats to countries across the Red Sea—or farther for those who have the means. Protracted displacement dominating refugee and IDP lives

“I LEFT MY country because of the war. I am from the western part of Sudan [Darfur] and the situation there is bad. I went to Bahrain and then came to Jordan because it is difficult to come directly. I was conscripted into the army. If you do not enter the army, you cannot study at university. It’s hard to escape conscription as they do a search at each period of conscription. The war in my country has lasted ten years. Before the war, life was very natural. After the war, we lost all of the ingredients of a full life. . . . I can say that the generations which have been destroyed in the past ten years are lost generations without education. . . . The thing I am most afraid of is that I will encounter the same situation I am currently living in Jordan in whichever country I eventually settle in. I am not lying to you; my dreams have died.” —A 26-year-old Sudanese refugee living in Jordan

While Syrians and Iraqis are the largest and latest group to enter the global conflict-driven displacement crisis, decades-old conflict and accompanying instability continue for Palestinians, Somalis, Sudanese, South Sudanese, and Western Saharans. In fact, the majority of the 60 million people displaced today are in situations of protracted displacement, meaning that they have been in exile for more than five years. Of those, Palestinians continue to be the largest (5.1 million) and longest displaced (starting in 1948 and now including their descendants). Palestinian refugees caught in the conflict in Syria have suffered doubly; due to their status as Palestinian refugees they are denied entry into Jordan and face increasingly restricted entry into Lebanon and Turkey. Some 60,000 of almost half a million Palestin-

Empowering Refugees To Tell Their Own Stories: A Chat With Interviewer Fowzia Abdullahi Abukar Fowzia, a refugee herself, is one of 40 people Professor Rochelle Davis trained to conduct interviews with refugees in Jordan. Can you tell us a little about yourself? I am from Somalia and am 20 years old. I live in Amman, Jordan with my mother and brothers. I studied in the UAE, but when we came to Jordan, I didn’t go to formal school. I took English classes and then I was given the opportunity to study for a diploma through a new program called Jesuit Com-

ians once living in Syria have made it to Lebanon, filling the camps and low-income housing and making the already marginal situation of Palestinians in Lebanon even more difficult. The vast majority of Palestinians living in Syria remain there, however; or they have made their way to Europe. Starting in 1991, Somalis have fled numerous places: Kenya, Yemen, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and the Gulf States. The vast majority of Somalis are internally displaced (1.1 million), and thousands more have been resettled in Europe and the United States. Two decades-long civil wars in Sudan led to a peace accord in 2005 and the referendum to create South Sudan. Welcoming back returnees from the north and

mons: Higher Education at the Margins that Georgetown University participates in. I was in the first class that just graduated in May of this year with five other students from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Jordan. I finished with the education concentration, and in my free time I like to write stories and draw fashion designs. What did you learn by interviewing other refugees in Jordan? Professor Davis trained twenty of us to do semi-structured research with refugees and displaced people, and I learned new things about human-subject protection, and confidentiality. But I also learned how to ask questions and not rush for an answer, given the difficult subjects we were discussing, and to not inter-

rupt, to pause, and to give them the time they needed to answer each question. Because the interviews were with different refugees—Somali, Palestinian, Iraqi, Syrian, and Sudanese—we had to learn to be flexible in asking questions and getting the responses. I did also get emotional about the sad stories they shared with me. I would respond with positive words encouraging them to stay strong and never give up. I became aware of how the lives of refugees are really neglected and how hard it is for them to get help, especially if they get sick. While it was difficult, I benefitted in doing the interviews and learned skills like listening carefully, not interrupting, feeling empathy, and offering help. I believe those skills are not only needed in doing interviews, but are necessary for life in general, in relationships, in the work place, and at home. 

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


surrounding countries, South Sudan began a new and hopeful history, but internal fighting among the different political factions spurred on by outside interests, the mobilization of ethnic identities, and easy access to weapons is creating serious suffering, displacement, and loss of life. Refugees from the Western Sahara continue to live in camps in southern Algeria or within the Western Sahara itself, which is largely under Moroccan control. Their struggle, which began in the 1970s following Spain’s handover of its colonial territory to Morocco and Mauritania, is one for political independence. Despite a 1991 UN-brokered

cease-fire and the provision for a referendum to decide the fate of the region’s autonomy, Moroccan authorities have refused to give up the territory, and thus the situation remains unchanged. Host Countries, Resilience, and Hope

The responses of refugees and IDPs to conflict, protracted displacement, instability, and untold suffering show their unwillingness to be seen only as victims. Instead their responses reveal their resilience, ingenuity, and generosity to others. Refugees all tell stories of those— known and unknown—who assisted them. Throughout modern his-

Turning Statistics

into Stories By Emma Murphy


For the past two years, I have worked with Dr. Davis on an ethnographic study of urban refugee populations in Jordan and Lebanon. We are currently drawing on approximately 250 interviews with refugees living in Amman, Irbid, and Beirut. I have contributed to published works examining what Syrian refugees identify as the things they miss the most, and the particular vulnerabilities of young men fleeing the Syrian conflict due to forced conscription. In 2014, I studied in Amman, Jordan, where I assisted Dr. Davis with the collection of additional interviews with refugees and the gathering of information from a range of local actors to assess the impact of refugees on host communities. I also volunteered with

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Collateral Repair Project, a Jordanian NGO in that facilitates a community center for refugees. To me, where my experience working on these projects gains particular value is turning the statistics and theory of forced displacement into individual stories. The international discourse often loses sight of the human lives behind the numbers. It is important to recognize the agency of forced migrants to help inform humanitarian responses, think about political solutions, and rebuild their lives. As I look forward to a potential career in humanitarian field work post-graduation, I hope to work with refugee populations in the MENA region. 

Artwork by Juan Zero

Emma Murphy is a senior at Georgetown. She is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in International Politics and a Certificate in Arab Studies from CCAS. As a recipient of the Mortara Undergraduate Research Fellowship, which supports students in developing academic research projects, Emma has worked with Dr. Rochelle Davis on her research of refugee populations.

tory, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Algeria, Sudan, Yemen, and Egypt have all allowed refugees to stay in their countries at significant costs to their own populations and infrastructures, though international aid has helped to ease those burdens. All of these countries could do better by formally allowing refugees to work and therefore support themselves with dignity and without reliance on aid, but it is the rare country (Uganda, for example) that has such a labor policy. While host governments and communities are often overwhelmed by the numbers, important global trends have seen the opening, rather than closing, of possibilities. European countries have, for the most part, not shut their borders to the massive influx of refugees over the last few years (600,000 are estimated to have arrived in 2015 alone). Yemenis have found safety in Djibouti and Somalia, places already strained by other conflicts. The United States has added 10,000 places for Syrian refugees to the 70,000 asylum seekers it takes each year. Following the massacre in Kenya of 147 Garissa University students by Somali Shabaab militants, Kenya threatened to close down the refugee camps hosting Somalis and forcibly return them. Had it done so, Somalis who were born and raised in the camps would have had to go back to a country they had never known, and one not yet peaceful. Overall these acts are small, but they are significant in the lives of those affected. More can be done, of course—most importantly to stop the conflicts that have led to displacement. Another approach that has been suggested is to normalize migration—forced or otherwise—and to create ways to facilitate rather than restrict the movement of people who are seeking labor, safety, education, etc. The outgoing United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, when speaking at Georgetown on October 28th advocated that we view migration as a solution to global issues, and not as a problem. Likewise, Pope Francis counseled in his address to the U.S. Congress in September of this year that as we approach refugees and migrants, “We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.

. . . Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.” And while we see the exact opposite of this spirit in the conflicts that rage around us—in the people who kill, destroy, and maim, and in the rise of fearful sectarianisms, intolerant ideologies, and blind xenophobia—we also see that many do seek to live in peace. They protect their friends and neighbors of different religious sects and ethnicities, they provide them places of refuge in times of need, and they advocate for new policies that allow for legalizing the status of refugees. Perhaps then the massive numbers of displaced we see today and the protracted nature of displacement mark the beginning of a global shift…a shift that—as it pushes more and more people out of their homes and countries—will force the international system to rethink creatively and with courage about how it deals with the stateless, with refugees, and with the displaced. 

“I HAVE LIVED in many countries and the main reason I left my country was the civil war that began 23 years ago. Every day there were explosions, people killed, and kidnappings, and there hasn’t been a government for that whole period. I also left because of my own safety, but I would not have left my country if there had been security and I had been able to live without fear. I came to Jordan via a long path. Most recently I lived in Yemen with my mother for a year and five months. I also used to live in Kenya, but then left Kenya for Somalia. I miss it, but I was afraid there.”— A 27-year-old Somali refugee living in Jordan

Dr. Rochelle Davis is Associate Professor of Anthropology at CCAS and Director of the Master of Arts in Arab Studies program.

Artwork by Diala Brisly


Artwork featured in this article and on the cover are by Syrian artists Juan Zero (cover, 10), and Diala Brisly (7,8, and 11). By using Syrians’ own representations of and commentary on their lives, we hope to allow them some agency to represent themselves and their own situation rather than being depicted by outsiders and as victims, as is so often the case in the photographs of the ongoing tragedies. The long tradition of vivid and expressive art in Syria has not dimmed, despite the war and displacement.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Alumni News

‫أخبار خريجينا‬

Being Present in a World Stacked with War and Pain MAAS Alum Katherine Dunn shares her experiences working with refugees in Jordan By Katherine Dunn


“Do you see? When this employee comes to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). All but about 1,000 of my house, he is a guest. I will make sure that them live outside of refugee camps, spread throughout towns and villages. For many of he sits in the best chair, and that he is offered them, the UNHCR help desk is the frontline of contact with the organization’s staff; we a drink. Nothing on the wall will be a centianswer over 20,000 inquiries annually in Irbid alone. People come to ask about monthly meter off. These employees will never know financial assistance, which is available to the most vulnerable, and also to seek advice on other to what extent we are suffering.” protection issues. Amid such daunting numbers, we risk becoming mechanical in our apIn the face of the relentless dignity of Syrproach. Each person brings reminders, however, of his or her particular needs and experiences. ians, we can hardly mention the difficulties that we face sometimes as humanitarian workers. That was a trying day, however—a One day, a 63-year-old Syrian woman ap- woman revealed that she had no photograph day of watching strong people break down peared at the help desk of the UNHCR in of her husband other than his ID photo on into tears: a father telling of the hunger that Irbid to inquire about assistance. My col- the old document. They had fled together taunts his children, a mother telling of the league, noticing that this elderly woman into Jordan without any of their belongings, violence that she suffered before fleeing. A still had her old asylum-seeker certificate in and he had since passed away. Learning this, day of my often not knowing what to do, not hand, asked her to return the old copy, as a my colleague turned to others in the regis- knowing what palliative thing to say. A day new certificate had been issued. The woman tration unit. They pulled up the photograph of shared anguish—what it means for peoprotested. When pressed for the reason, the from the registration file, printed a full-page ple’s families to be waiting at home for food color version of the photo, and presented it that may or may not come; what it means for to her as a gift. us to be the face of a humanitarian front with Sometimes work in the humanitar- insufficient funds, working amidst the largian field seems daunting, stacked against est refugee crisis in decades. the massive destruction and pain of war. In these times when I feel like the world But such moments, which show the im- is stacked with war and pain, I realize that pact that some of our smallest gestures the only thing I have done, the only thing I can have, give us fuel to keep going. could do, was just to be present with these Since 2012, UNHCR has distributed over people as another human being and to lis120 million US dollars in cash assistance to ten. It is such a small thing—in some way refugees in Jordan. The system of delivery nothing—and yet such a core expression of uses cutting-edge technology—refugees ac- what humans are. The world still needs an cess this cash via iris scan at ATMs—and a end to the war, and we still await significant robust infrastructure allows 97% of dona- funds for humanitarian aid. In the meantions to end up directly in refugees’ hands. time, we continue here the best that we can, Eligibility for monthly financial assistance is and we listen.  determined by home-visit assessments, over 200,000 of which have been conducted since 2012. A series of questions are designed to Katherine Dunn has served as Associate gauge each family’s level of need, and field Field Officer for UNHCR in Irbid, Jordan staff apply a set of objective criteria. The since 2014. She previously worked in Senecomplexities of refugees’ conditions can gal, Liberia, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq and make these criteria challenging to apply. graduated from the MAAS/JD joint-degree One day, in a focus-group discussion program in 2009 with a Certificate in Refuabout distribution of aid, a Syrian man said, gees and Humanitarian Emergencies n the northwest part of Jordan, approximately 160,000 Syrian refugees are registered with

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

© UNHCR / M. Hawari


Board Member Profile


‫خاص من المجلس األستشاري‬

Looking Back, Giving Forward

After three generations of Hoyas, CCAS Board Member Peter Tanous is investing in future students through new MAAS scholarship

Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

By Vicki Valosik


Peter Tanous walked across the stage to accept his diploma from Georgetown University almost thirty years after his father had done the same in 1932, he was establishing a family tradition—becoming the second of three generations of Tanouses to graduate from Georgetown, including two of his own children who would later attend. Now Tanous, a member of the CCAS Board of Advisors, is making it possible for others to gain a Georgetown education. The new Tanous Family Endowed Scholarship Fund, which Tanous established at CCAS earlier this year, will support students of the Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) program. From top: Tanous’ father’s After earning his BA in econom- campaign poster for class ics in 1960 and serving as a Second president at Georgetown; Lieutenant at Fort Benjamin Harri- Tanous (class of ‘60) with son near Indianapolis, Tanous took daughter Helene Bartilucci a job at Smith Barney, launching (class of ‘87); Georgetown campus in late 1920s ,when what would become a 50-year ca- Tanous’ father was a student reer in finance and money management. Today, Tanous—founder and Chairman of Washington-based Lynx Investment Advisory LLC— is a leading investment expert and has written several acclaimed books on money management, including Investment Gurus, The Wealth Equation, Investment Visionaries, and Kiplinger’s Building a Winning Portfolio. He has recently completed two more books that are forthcoming this spring: The Thirty Minute Millionaire and The Secret of Fatima, a novel about “the second biggest miracle in the Catholic church.” Though he is better known as a financial writer, The Secret of Fatima is Tanous’ third fiction book. In 1975, Tanous published The Petrodollar Takeover, a novel co-written with neighbor Paul Rubinstein about a takeover of General Motors by Saudi Arabia, followed a few years later by The Earhart Mission, Tanous’ fictional reimagining of the Amelia Earhart story. Also among Tanous’ diverse list of accomplishments is the major role he played in the 1987 founding of the American Task Force for Lebanon, an organization that lobbies for American support and assistance for Lebanon and works to expand awareness of the country’s economic and political conditions. hen

Like Tanous’ love for Georgetown, his penchant for writing, activism, and business savvy all seem to run in the family. Tanous’ grandfather on his mother’s side, Naoum Mokarzel, who was both a man of letters and an activist for Lebanese independence, immigrated to New York in the 1880s and started the first Arabic language newspaper in the United States. Tanous’ father, whose campaign poster for freshman class president was recently part of Georgetown University Archives exhibit, was also an entrepreneur. After World War II, he started a chewing gum import/export business in Paris, where Tanous graduated from the American School of Paris before heading to Georgetown. Tanous says a lot has changed since his days at Georgetown, when it was still an all-male college. “We had bed checks every night,” says Tanous, “and we used to have to go to mass five times a week.” Though he loved Georgetown just as it was back then, he sees the changes the school has undergone over the past few decades as overwhelmingly positive. “I think there is a reason that Georgetown is among the most sought after and selective schools in this country,” says Tanous. “And it’s not an accident. It’s because of the judgment of leaders like [President] DeGioia and the brilliance of the faculty and their open-mindedness to the world around us.” That’s why Tanous gives so much back to the Georgetown community—through serving on the Georgetown Investment Committee, the Library Board, and the CCAS Board of Advisors, and through generous gifts, such his most recent one to establish a scholarship fund at CCAS—though he prefers to think of his “giving back” as an investment in the future. “I think of it as giving forward,” says Tanous. “Even a small scholarship may make the difference between a student’s ability to pursue his or her education or not. If I can periodically help just one student to achieve that goal, I’ll know that whatever contribution I made is being put to the best possible use.” 

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬

From Top: Georgetown University Archives; Peter Tanous; Georgetown Library

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬ Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬

Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬

Vicki Valosik is the Multimedia and Publications Editor at CCAS.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬


The Extraordinary Story and Discovery In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬ of Yarrow Mamout: From African Slave to Georgetown Property Owner By Susan Douglass

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

become a property owner. He bought a house on what is now Dent Place, just blocks from Georgetown University. Mamout’s integrity while enslaved, his devoutness as a practicing Muslim, his skill as a brick-maker, his ability to make the most of his situation and strive toward his goals, and even his swimming prowess in the Potomac River, made him a known and respected figure among the freed black population in Washington DC. Despite his good standing in his community, Mamout’s name would likely have been long forgotten if not for two portraits that were painted of him during his lifetime. Though it was uncommon for freed slaves to sit for portraits, Mamout had gained notoriety not only for his achievements as a freed slave, but also as someone (inaccurately) rumored to have lived more than 100 years, a rare achievement in those days. As a result, the painters Charles Wilson Peale, famous portraitist of George Washington, and James Alexander Simpson both requested a sitting, which Mamout willingly gave. Their two portraits survived for more than a century. Simpson’s painting, the lesser of the two in artistic quality, hangs in the Peabody Room of the Georgetown Neighborhood Library where it was spotted several years ago by the journalist and lawyer James Johnston. Curious about Mamout, Johnston followed a slim trail of evidence that connected the Simpson painting to Peale’s remarkable portrait of Mamout, which was hanging in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Johnston found that not only did Peale record in his diary the conversations he had with Mamout during his portrait sitting, but also that Peale had been so impressed with this freedman of Georgetown that when Mamout died, Peale wrote and published his obituary. Johnston eventually unearthed more of the story—finding the names of Mamout’s relatives and descendants—and wrote a biography of Mamout’s life.

Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬

Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬


as such humble individuals likely drew little public notice during their lifetimes. Yarrow Mamout, a citizen of Georgetown who died in 1823, is one very notable exception. Mamout was brought to Maryland from West Africa on a slave ship in 1752. After being freed in 1796, and then losing his hard-earned savings three times due to unreliable banking practices of the day, he remarkably went on to

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Washington Post


figures depicted in legends and memorialized in statuary, most inhabitants of this earth have lived their lives—and passed away—invisible to history. Occasionally, the stories of ordinary people do emerge from the shadows of history, but the evidence left behind rarely tells us much about their personalities or characters, nlike the few great

Clockwise from far left: Charles Wilson Peale’s famous painting of Mamout; Assistant City Archaeologist Chardé Reid gives teachers a tour of the archeological dig site; Mamout’s obituary written by Peale; Speakers from the September event: Muhammad Fraser-Rahim, James H. Johnston, Maurice Jackson

But even that is not the end of Mamout’s story. Earlier this year, a passage from Mamout’s obituary which states that, “He was interred in the corner of his garden, the spot where he usually resorted to pray,” became the inspiration for an archaeological dig on the narrow lot on Dent Place that was once the site of Yarrow’s home. City Archaeologist Dr. Ruth Trocolli and Field Director Mia Carey, a PhD student at the University of Florida, are leading the ongoing dig in

conjunction with the DC Historic Preservation Office. They hope to discover whether Mamout is indeed buried on the lot, as Peale’s obituary says, and to shed light on the day-to-day lives of residents who have lived in the neighborhood over time. Though the land was recently purchased by a developer, he—a Muslim like Mamout—allowed the dig to move forward. On September 26, 2015, CCAS held a daylong seminar on the life and rediscovery of Yarrow Mamout and hosted a visit to the dig site. James H. Johnston, author of the book From Slave Ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamout and the History of an African American Family (Fordham University Press, 2012), delivered the keynote address. Other speakers included City Archaeologist Dr. Ruth Trocolli, Georgetown history professor Maurice Jackson, and Howard University PhD student Muhammad

Fraser-Rahim, whose presentation on African American history provided a wider context for Yarrow’s story. Approximately 150 educators, students, and members of the public attended the Saturday event, which was co-sponsored by the Department of History and the African Studies Program at Georgetown University, Howard University’s African Studies Center and School of Education, and George Mason University’s Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies Studies, and funded in part by a Title VI grant from the US Department of Education.. CCAS will continue to follow developments in the rediscovery of Yarrow Mamout and hopes to hold a future event on this remarkable figure.  Susan Douglass is the K-14 Educational Outreach Coordinator at CCAS.

Additional Summer and Fall CCAS Education Outreach Events The Summer Institute for Educators,

Beyond Ibn Battuta: the Indian Ocean across Time and Disciplines, took place


August 3-7, 2015. More than 30 educators from around the greater Washington DC area engaged with 11 speakers on topics related to the Indian Ocean geographically, historically, and culturally. Participants enjoyed meals from five regional cuisines during the week, along with discussions of culinary history.

The event Ethiopia and Eritrea: History, Migration, and Community, explored the significant diaspora community in the region surrounding Washington DC and the difficulties faced by these immigrants during their journeys. Held in collaboration with Howard University’s African Studies Center and School of Education, the event was attended by 25 educators and faculty from both Georgetown and Howard.

The day-long Teach-In on Gaza: History, Politics, and Economics was the third public/educator event of the semester focusing on important issues facing the Middle East. Co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Washington DC and the Jerusalem Fund, the event was attended by 25 educators and more than 150 members of the public. More on this event can be found on page 16.

Resources from these and other past workshops are available at:

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

CCAS Teach-in Highlights

History, Economy, and Politics of Gaza

Education Outreach ‫ثقيف التربوي‬


October, the CCAS hosted “A Teach-in on Gaza: History, Politics, and Economics,” a day-long event for teachers and the public sponsored jointly by the Public Events and Education Outreach programs at CCAS. The teach-in began with a workshop for K-14 educators, which included a screening of the film Seeds of Conflict and a discussion by Georgetown professor Dr. Mustafa Aksakal on the historical context of the film. The public portion of the teach-in began with Georgetown doctoral student Seraje Assi’s lecture “Clipping the Claws of the Colonizers: Gaza under the British Mandate,” which provided a historical account of life in Gaza during British occupation, as told by Palestinian historian Aref al Aref (18921973). Aref’s historical analysis of the many attempts to conquer Gaza by the ancient Philistines, Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Turks, Greeks, and British highlighted the strategic importance of this narrow strip of land and deepened the audience’s understanding of the suffering imposed on presentday Gaza. Following Assi’s historical contextualization, attorney and professor Noura Erakat of George Mason University provided a contemporary legal analysis of Israel’s political use of international law in her talk, “Gaza n

By Tareq Radi

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

Under Perpetual Attack: Legal and Political Context.” She argued that by labeling the territory of Gaza as a “hostile entity,” Israel has arrogated the right to wage war against a civilian population while simultaneously denying Palestinian fighters the right to claim combatant status, effectively criminalizing all use of force, whether for defensive operations or against military targets. Erakat provided a detailed analysis of other political uses of international law made by Israel and pointed out that the laws of war are established not only through treaties, but also through customs, meaning that if other states do not refuse Israel’s “innovations” in international law we may witness incursions much worse than those of summer 2014 (Operation Protective Edge). The final speaker was Harvard University’s Dr. Sara Roy, whose talk “Dynamics Without Precedent: Whither Gaza?” detailed the physical destruction and the social and economic impact that Operation Protective Edge (OPE) had on the lives of over 1.8 million people in Gaza. Citing various military experts and UN

reports, Roy compared the enormous scale of force used during OPE in the summer of 2014 to Israel’s 2008 offensive against Gaza—Operation Cast Lead (OCL). In the more recent OPE, an estimated two-tons of munitions were used against each of Gaza’s 365 square kilometers—approximately three times the amount of artillery used in 2008—leaving at least 17,000 homes damaged and 19,000 completely uninhabitable. Roy highlighted that 50,000 Palestinians were displaced during OCL, while OPE displaced more than 500,000. She cited UN reports indicating that Israel’s 2014 onslaught killed 2,131 Palestinians and orphaned 1,500 Palestinian children. In addition to quantifying the devastation, Roy read a message from a Palestinian living in Gaza to reveal the shift in attitudes taking place there. It read: The Gaza Strip is “more devoid of hope than it has ever been

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫اث هيئة التدريس‬

Faculty Feature ‫ص من هيئة التدريس‬

Right and below: Dr. Sara Roy of Harvard University and Georgetown doctoral student Seraje Assi speak to a full audience at the Gaza Teach-In. Left: Colorfully painted houses in Gaza’s Zeitoun neighborhood are part of an initiative to improve daily life in Gaza.

CCAS, The Arab Weekly


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

in my experience here. Gazans are afraid of a war with Israel, they are afraid of violence, they are afraid that nothing will change. The main focus is day-to day-survival. The war has devastated conditions in Gaza making a difficult life even more impossible. Although people express relief that they survived, for many, the task at hand is naked existence.” Concluding the day, Tareq Radi (author of this article) presented “Defying Colonization: Resistance, Resilience, and Innovations,” in which he highlighted current initiatives to improve day-to-day life in Gaza, such as project in the village of Zeitoun to beautify neighborhoods by painting houses in vibrant colors and adorning them with flowers. Radi’s talk ended the day on a hopeful note, high-

lighting the unique methods of engagement Palestinians have utilized in film and art, sports, green technology, medicine, and resistance economies, as well as pointing to historical and contemporary examples of cross-movement building between Palestinians and oppressed communities all over the world. The event was the third in a series of teach-ins, the first two being on Syria and Iraq. It was co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council and the Jerusalem Fund, and partially funded by a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education. 

CCAS Film Series

Tareq Radi is the CCAS Events Coordinator.

Fall Public Event Highlights During the fall semester, CCAS hosted 17 public events, including a weekly film series. These were a few of the highlights. Yemen in Conflict September 17, 2015

Panelists Dr. Sheila Carapico, University of Richmond; Ambassador Barbra Bodine, Georgetown University; and MAAS Alum Lara Aryani provided an analysis of the current conflict in Yemen that included an overview of Yemen’s political history and the various players in the conflict, as well as a discussion of US-Saudi relations and developments in Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaigns in Sana’a. The Battle of Algiers: Past as Prologue in the “War on Terror” November 3, 2015

Following a screening of The Battle of Algiers to commemorate the 61st Anniversary of the Algerian Revolution, Dr. Sohail Daulatzai, professor of Film and Media Studies and African American Studies at UC Irvine, discussed the film’s resurgence during the post-9/11 “War on Terror.” This event was part of the Fall Film Series at CCAS, showcasing classic and modern films from the Arab world.

A Sea of Protection: Piracy, Trade, and Regulation in the Western Indian Ocean November 14, 2015

University of Michigan Anthropology Professor Dr. Jatin Dua, discussed his research on maritime piracy as an economy of protection and the ethical debates that have been raised regarding the nature of work and trade in oceanic space. A Discussion with Women Activists Living and Working on the Frontlines of the Syrian Conflict November 17, 2015

In an evening with journalist Zaina Erhaim from the Institute for War & Peace Reporting and three Syrian women, the CCAS screened five of Erhaim’s short films highlighting the challenges facing women living and working in Syria today. Following the screening, the women discussed how the constant threat of aerial bombings by the Assad regime has exacerbated the injustices of patriarchy within the state.

CCAS shows classic and modern films from the Arab world every Tuesday night at 6 pm. Most are followed by discussions with Georgetown or visiting faculty. The fall lineup of films includes Where do We Go Now?, Alexandria Why?, Battle of Algiers, Bab Sma Meftouh, The Time That Remains, Trials of the Spring, and the short films Chicken, Karama Has No Walls, Socotra: H’er wa Imshin, and a selection of short documentaries from citizen journalists in Syria. More information available at

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



MAAS News (Student News) ‫أخبار الطالب‬

CCAS Launches Morocco Visiting Scholar ‫باحث زائر‬ Summer Arabic Program


By Vicki Valosik

May CCAS launched a new Morocco Summer Arabic Program for students in the Master of Arts in Arab Studies program (MAAS). Students who participated in the five-week language immersion program, based in Agadir, were able to choose between studying Tashelhit (Shilha), a Tamazight language commonly known as Berber and spoken by around 4 million people in southwestern and central Morocco, and a combination of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Darija, the dialect of Arabic spoken in the Maghreb. Tashelhit was taught by a local teacher and supplemented by additional sessions with a Tashelhit conversation partner, while the MSA and Darija course was taught by Fatima Kharbouche, an Arabic teacher from Georgetown. Fatim-Zohra El Malki, a MAAS student who grew up in Morocco before coming to Georgetown, opted to study Tashelhit and says, “studying Tashelhit made me feel more included in the Moroccan cultural patchwork. Being able to make small talk with non-Arab Moroccans created a solidarity network between them and me, and made me feel closer to the Amazigh community.” For cultural programming, CCAS partnered with the non-profit organization Dar Si Hmad, which is based in Agadir and promotes local culture and sustainable initiatives through education. Students participated in a variety of cultural activities such as workshops on Arabic calligraphy and Moroccan cooking and music, and excursions such as a visit to a women’s cooperative to learn how argan oil is produced. Students also participated in service learning projects by volunteering with organizations in and around Agadir, including leading a LinkedIn workshop for Moroccan college students and young professionals. Through academic lectures taught in Arabic by local subject-matter experts, students also learned about contemporary issues facing southern Morocco. Over the course of the five-week program, students spent several days in Sidi Ifni and visited Taroudant, Tiznit, Guelmim, and a few othhis

er villages. “Travelling in the south was a great opportunity to explore a region of Morocco that is rich in history of trans-Saharan trade, and in the formation of the modern Moroccan state,” says MAAS student Adam Amrani. In Sidi Ifni, students had the opportunity to work with Dar Si Hmad’s “water school,” which provides summer programming for rural children to teach them about the environment, sustainability, and hygiene. Students also took an excursion to the top of Mt. Boutmezguida in the Anti Atlas range, where Dar Si Hmad manages an innovative “fog harvesting” project. The project provides drinking water to approximately 300 households in seven surrounding villages by capturing and disseminating fog’s natural moisture. On the way up the mountain, students were hosted for breakfast at the home of their Tashelhit conversation partner, who lives in one of the villages that receives water from the fog harvesting project. For El Malki, these excursions helped her see her own country from a new perspective. “As a Moroccan, this trip was an amazing eye opener for me,” she says. “It was not only my first time going so far south, but also my first time interacting so closely with the Amazigh community. I noticed a dangerous social gap between northern-urban and southernrural Morocco that needs to be filled. This trip incentivized me to start working on issues pertaining to Moroccan citizenship and politics of inclusion.” For MAAS student Anthony Adamowicz, living in Agadir, which he describes as “a city with a little bit of everything,” was a highlight of the program. Agadir suffered a devastating earthquake in 1960, after which

Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬

Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬ Board Member Profile

‫ص من المجلس األستشاري‬

Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University



In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬


From left: Entering the town of Sidi Ifni, where students spent several days of the program; Students and Georgetown Arabic teacher Fatima Kharbouche having breakfast at the home of their language conversation partner; Visiting Dar Si Hmad’s fog harvesting project on the top of Mt. Boutmezguida; MAAS student Fatim-Zohra El Malki practices her Arabic calligraphy at a student workshop


much of the city was rebuilt, creating the unique blend of old and new that the city is now known for. “The most interesting place that I visited in Agadir was the beach front,” says Adamowicz. “This area of the city was a great place to see the diversity of Agadir. At night, the area came alive with people dining and enjoying the cool night air.” “I would recommend Agadir to students who want to explore on their own; taxis are plentiful and the city is generally safe,” says Adamowicz. “I walked around at night and never felt any danger.” He adds that Agadir is connected to many towns and cities by bus, making it easy and affordable to visit other parts of the country. Adamowicz, along with several other students, added extra days at the end of the program to explore more of Morocco on their own. CCAS hopes to continue and expand the Morocco Summer Arabic Program in the coming year. 

Vicki Valosik is the Multimedia and Publications Editor at CCAS.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

DISPATCHES Notes From Abroad

Exiled in Babylon: Refugees and the Politics of Language Public Events ‫ت العامة‬ By Noga Malkin


Mardin, the Tower of Babel cliché holds particular relevance. The old city—a beautiful array of historic stone houses stacked on a mountain slope in southeast Turkey—is located at the northern edge of Mesopotamia, once the land of Babylon. More than geography, the linguistic panorama of the area evokes the Genesis Babel story, the myth used to explain the variation of human tongues. Mardin is a microcosm of the Ottoman Empire’s ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural diversity, largely eroded by nationalism’s drive for homogenization. A large Kurdish population lives in Mardin, holding on to their mother tongues despite decades-long Turkish “assimilation” policies. A sizable Arab population lives here too, separated from Arabs in Syria and Iraq after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Linguists classify their language as “Mesopotamian Arabic,” relatn the city of

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in the old city through one of the only international humanitarian NGOs in the area— most organizations have been too wary, or unable to obtain permits, to work in this volatile area. One of our first challenges has been to hire local staff with both professional and linguistic qualifications, which in this area means quadrilingual candidates. Even though it has only been a few months, already the towering Babel has raised exceptional questions: In which language will we hold staff meetings? Or conduct the center’s activities? Turkish excludes the refugees, while Arabic overlooks many local Kurds and Turks. Kurdish—a language shared by most locals and refugees—is, alas, out of the question, banned as a language of instruction in Turkey for nearly a century. Unfortunately, the same diversity that makes Mardin so remarkable also makes it vulnerable to Turkey’s language politics and necessitates creative, sensitive humanitarian programming that can meaningfully serve the diverse refugee and local populations. As more and more countries in Europe receive refugee populations that unsettle ideals of national homogeneity, the challenges faced by local and international actors trying to thoughtfully address Mardin’s mishmash of languages, cultures, and religions may become more relevant elsewhere, and worthy of our attention. 

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Faculty Feature ‫دريس‬ Noga Malkin graduated from MAAS in May 2015, where she focused on refugee studies and gender. She previously worked for the UNHCR and Human Rights Watch on refugee and human rights issues. Over the summer of 2014, on a MAAS summer fellowship, she conducted research at a community center for Syrian refugees run by a Turkish humanitarian NGO, and later published her analysis in the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development. Since September 2015, she has been working for humanitarian NGO Welthungerhilfe (World Hunger Aid) in southeast Turkey, leading the establishment of a new refugee community center.

Noga Malkin


ed to bygone Iraqi dialects. Most Mardinites grow up speaking at least two—sometimes three—languages, learning either Kurdish or Arabic at home, the other on the streets, and Turkish at school. Further adding to the linguistic diversity, there remain several hundred neo-Aramaic speaking Assyrians and even fewer Armenians who once made up the majority of the city’s population; despite their now meager numbers, they attract tourists who come for the locallyproduced Assyrian wine and traditional Armenian and Assyrian silver crafts. Not all is as romantic as it sounds. Syrian, Iraqi and Yazidi refugees have flooded the area recently. The two-year truce between the Turkish government and the Kurdish movements was broken last summer, and tourists are absent from the nicely renovated wine, spice, and silver shops on the old city’s main road. Hidden from view are decaying stone houses, now overcrowded by Syrian refugees who suffer through snowy winters in unheated homes. Most locals live down the hill in New Mardin, a typical-looking modern Turkish town. The Turkish government has been exceedingly generous to refugees—more so than any other country in the area, and certainly more than Europe—but it has not allowed refugees work permits, thereby forcing them into the informal market which pushes down wages for both citizens and refugees, leaving refugees too poor to afford New Mardin prices. Unlike most Syrian refugees in Turkey, those in Mardin communicate well with the locals, since many of them come from bordering Kurdish areas in Syria. Even so, the ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity compounds the challenges of designing good refugee programs. For instance, I recently began running a new project establishing a refugee community center

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