CCAS Spring/Summer 2015 Newsletter

Page 1

CCAS Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Georgetown University

Spring/Summer 2015


The Future of Authoritarianism in the Arab Republics


Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬


Mabrūk, MAAS Class of 2015!

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

Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬ Core Faculty

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

Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬


Friday, May 15, 2015, CCAS congratulated 26 students on their graduation from the Master of Arts in Arab Studies program with an after-ceremony reception. CCAS Professor Rochelle Davis continued the tradition of reading sections of each student’s application to the program, and asking the graduates to guess who wrote which statements. Dr. Davis then went on to summarize the students’ pursuits and accomplishments during their programs and what they intend to do after graduation. n

Affiliated Faculty

Students are listed by alphabetical order, along with their thesis topics, if they had one. Samyah Alfoory

Andrew Gabriel

Dana Barakat*

Silvia Anna Rosa Irace

Kathleen Bouzis*

Faisal Kattan (“A Review and Critique of the Saudization Metanarrative: Bringing ‘The Citizen’ into Focus”)

Nina M Brekelmans Norman Bright Craig Browne (“The Salience of Sectarianism: Making Sect Stick in Syria and Iraq”) Lindsey Cummings (“Economic Warfare and the Evolution of the Allied Blockade of the Eastern Mediterranean: August 1914 – April 1917”) Sarah Drury Ryan Folio


Ahmad Soliman Xuhui Sun Eleanor Swingewood

Jennifer Melis*

Erica Vasquez (“La Badil La Badil: The Effects of Military Occupation on Gender Dynamics in Sahrawi Political Resistance”)

Emily Parker Alexandra Robehmed* (“Developing Apps, Developing Jordan? ICT Startup Entrepreneurs as Subjects of International Development in Amman’s ‘Silicone Wadi’”) Lindsey Schmidt

Caoyu Xu Mehmet Yurtcicek- not pictured *Expected to graduate August 31, 2015

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


Samia Errazzouki

Gareth Smail (“Good Teaching in Provincial Morocco: Global Knowledge and Local Practice”)

Noga Malkin Shadia Murad

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


Rania Kiblawi Associate Director Kelli Harris Assistant Director of Academic Programs Susan Douglass K-14 Educational Outreach Coordinator Tareq Radi Events Coordinator Vicki Valosik Multimedia and Publications Editor Julie Yelle Program Manager Brenda Bickett Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Bibliographer

Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬

Faculty NEWS

Associate Professor Fida Adely was awarded a Senior Research Faculty Fellowship for the fall of 2015 and spoke in May at the New York University Abu Dhabi conference on Women in Computing in the Arab World.

Assistant Professor Daniel Neep was awarded a Junior Faculty Research Fellowship to spend the spring semester on sabbatical in Lebanon, where he was a visiting researcher at the Centre for Arab and Middle East Studies at the American University of Beirut. He published an oped entitled “The Middle East, Hallucination, and the Cartographic Imagination” in the e-magazine Discover Society.

Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬

Assistant Professor Marwa Daoudy was awarded a Junior Faculty Research Fellowship to spend the spring semester on sabbatical in the UK, where she was appointed Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and Sr. Fellow at the University of St Andrew’s. She organized and/or spoke at conferences at King’s College, the London School of Economics, the International Studies Association, and CCAS. Dr. Daoudy participated in two televised interviews with France 24 on topics related to Syria.

Joseph Sassoon was appointed Associ-

ate Professor and Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Chair at CCAS. As a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, he spent the academic year working on the manuscript for his forthcoming book, Authoritarianism in the Arab Republics. He will attend a summer retreat on authoritarianism at the American Academy in Berlin.

ws (Student News) ‫الطالب‬ ‫أخبار‬ Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

holar ‫باحث زائر‬

Visiting Professor Emad Shahin published articles this semester in the Washington Post​,​The Atlantic, The Conversation, and a policy brief for POMEAS. He was also interviewed by several major news outlets, including National Public Radio, AFP, Al Jazeera​English​, Huffington Post, CCTV America, Vice N ​ ews, Democracy Digest​,​Die Welt, a​ nd ​El Mundo​.

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

ews ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬

tes ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬

transitions over the past year, CCAS is excited to once again have a full team of staff dedicated to its many projects and new initiatives. Since the last newsletter, CCAS has welcomed three new staff members:

7 Public Events 9 Visiting Scholars

10 In the Headlines 12 MAAS News

14 Educational Outreach 16 Dispatches Check out our new Dispatches column featuring notes from scholars abroad. Our first Dispatch is from Lebanon, where Dr. Daniel Neep takes us on a tour of Beirut bookshops, revealing the secret pleasures of a bibliophile on sabbatical. An online version of this newsletter is available on CCAS’s website:

an Arab Studies Institute project, where he engages with scholars and activists on issues concerning academic freedom.

fter several staff

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

mber Profile

Vicki Valosik joined CCAS as

the Multimedia and Publications Editor in November. Vicki previously worked at AMIDEAST, where she managed educational exchange programs for students and professionals from the MENA region. She has written for a number of media outlets and holds an M.A. in Nonfiction Writing from Johns Hopkins University and an M.A. in Sociology from the University of South Alabama.

‫خاص من المجلس األستشاري‬

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

s ‫برقيات‬ as the Events Coordinator in Tareq Radi joined CCAS

August. He is a recent graduate of George Mason University’s School of Management with a B.S. in Finance and brings to the position a background in community organizing. Tareq is also a host on Status audio journal,

CCAS Staff left to right: Rania Kiblawi, Osama Abi-Mershed, Vicki Valosik, Tareq Radi, Susan Douglass, Kelli Harris, Julie Yelle

ary. She previously worked on MENA affairs at Search for Common Ground, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and the Woodrow Wilson Center. She holds an M.A. in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of Texas.

‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬ nts ‫ العامة‬Faculty ‫ المناسبات‬Research: Julie Yelle became the CCAS CCAS

5 Faculty Feature

Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬

Staff Updates


4 Board Member Profile

‫خاص من المجلس األستشاري‬

Board Member Profile

Adjunct Assistant Professor Noura Erakat delivered the President’s Lecture keynote at California State University Fullerton and was included among the 2015 Women’s History Month Honorees by Harvard Law School’s Women’s Association and International Development Society. She published “Palestinian Refugees and the Syrian Uprising: Filling the Protection Gap During Secondary Forced Displacement” in the Oxford International Journal of Refugee Law.


Program Manager in Janu-

CCAS congratulates Kelli Harris, Assistant Director of Academic Programs, for completing her M.A. in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Islam and Muslim-Christian Relations and for her induction into Theta Alpha Kappa, an honor society for religious studies and theology.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Board Member Profile

Board Member Profile

‫خاص من المجلس األستشاري‬

George Salem: Dispatches ‫برقيات‬ A Mission of Love

For more than three decades, CCAS Board Member George Salem has sought ways to improve the lives of Palestinians and Arab Americans.

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

By Vicki Valosik


hen you ask CCAS Board member Mr. George Salem what he is up to these days, get comfortable. When I spoke with Mr. Salem, a private attorney in Washington DC who also serves on the board of numerous nonprofits—several of which he helped to establish—he had recently hosted three fundraisers, including dinners for a senator and a member of the House of Representatives, spoken at a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, and attended the annual gala for the Arab American Institute (AAI), for which he is Chairman of the Board. “And that was just this week,” he said. “The major issue I’ve been focusing on though,” he continued, “is economic development in Palestine.” Salem is a founding member of the Palestinian Business Committee for Peace and Reform, which meets four times a year with congressional staffers and think tanks in Washington DC to discuss “issues concerning the Palestinian economy and creating job opportunities.” In addition, Salem has been heavily involved in the Middle East Investment Initiative, which is an offshoot of the Aspen Institute, and in particular, its Loan Guarantee Facility, which stimulates lending to Palestinian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Although SMEs are crucial to the local economies of the Palestinian territories and make up ninety percent of Palestinian businesses, they typically have had limited access to credit due to conservative lending policies. The Loan Guarantee Facility lowers the risks to banks and facilitates by guaranteeing the loans, with the backing of

he realized that these communities had little representation in the nation’s capital. “When I first arrived in Washington in 1980,” said Salem, “you could count the number of Arab American lawyers in Washington on the fingers of one hand. Now there are hundreds. There were no established institutions.” So Salem set about creating institutions: the Arab American Institute and the United Palestinian Appeal just celebrated their thirtieth and thirty-fifth anniversaries respectively. Salem went on to litigate and successfully settle some of the most significant cases in the field of labor law, to serve on several presidential delegations and diplomacy missions, and to become the first Palestinian Arab American not only to serve as the Solicitor of Labor but also to be nominated by a president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to any national position. Even then, he said, “there was a real need to mainstream the word ‘Palestinian,’” recalling the time he was working with the Reagan-Bush campaign to recruit Arab American voters and they asked Salem to call himself Lebanese instead of Palestinian. “Of course I refused,” he said, “because I told them the whole reason I am doing this is so that the American people can become accustomed to dealing with accomplished professional Palestinians like me.” “However,” he added, “we’ve come a long way since then.” 

Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬ In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Above: Artistic rendering of craniofacial surgery center the United Palestinian Appeal plans to build in Ramallah by the end of 2015.

the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). “We’ve loaned well over a hundred and thirty million dollars, we’ve created well over eleven thousand jobs, and are making a meaningful difference,” said Salem. Salem is also heavily involved in the work of the United Palestinian Appeal (UPA), which provides aid to Palestinians, including emergency relief and medical supplies and equipment. Salem helped to found the UPA in 1980 and has served as Treasurer of its board. One of the fundraisers he recently hosted was on behalf of the UPA’s Embracing Life project, which organizes international medical delegations to train Palestinian doctors to treat cleft palates and other craniofacial anomalies and is raising funds to build a state-of-the-art craniofacial surgery center in Ramallah. Salem, whose Palestinian parents immigrated to Jacksonville, Florida, where he was born and raised, has always had an interest in empowering other Palestinians and Arab Americans. When he first came to Washington DC,

In Memoriam

Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬

Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

United Palestinian Appeal

CCAS was saddened by the news that Nancy Elizabeth Farley, a longtime member of the Georgetown community, passed away in April of this year. During Nancy’s 28-year career at Georgetown, which included five years at CCAS, she devoted herself to supporting the institution she so loved. Prior to her years at Georgetown, Nancy served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia, where she met her husband, Frank Farley, who preceded her in death in 2003. Nancy is survived by her daughter, Farrah (Georgetown BSFS, 2006), sister, Mary Ellen, and a large extended family. A memorial service for Nancy was held at Georgetown on Mother’s Day. 

faculty feature

Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬

Examining the Future of Authoritarianism in the Arab World

For Joseph Sassoon, uncovering the inner mechanics of authoritarian regimes in the Arab world is a critical step toward creating free and open societies in the region.



Joseph Sassoon has spent the past few years working to improve our understanding of authoritarian governments that are typically inscrutable to outsiders, focusing first on the Ba‘th Party under Saddam Hussein for his book Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime and, more recently, conducting a comparative analysis of eight authoritarian regimes in the Arab world. Dr. Sassoon’s comparative analysis, which he recently finalized during a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, looks at differences and commonalities among these coercive governments and will be published in his forthcoming book, Anatomy of Authoritarianism in the Arab Republics.

You were a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars for the 2014-2015 academic year. Can you describe the research you conducted there?

I am currently working on completing a book that will be published in the spring of next year by Cambridge University Press, titled: Anatomy of Authoritarianism in the Arab Republics. Being a fellow this academic year at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars has given me the time and the space to work on this manuscript. The book deals with eight republics – Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, and Yemen – which have long been characterized as authoritarian regimes. The book seeks to deepen our understanding of the authoritarianism and coercive systems that prevailed in these countries in the belief that such knowledge is critical to making a successful transition to a more open and free society. How did you become interested in comparing authoritarian regimes in the Arab world?

When researching my previous book, Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime (Cambridge University Press: 2012), which was based on the archives of the Ba‘th Party regime in Iraq that ruled from 1968–2003, I kept asking whether or not the other Arab republics were

similar to Iraq and to each other. To answer that question, I would have ideally examined the archives of other authoritarian Arab regimes. Unfortunately, they are inaccessible to any researcher. Consequently, I turned to memoirs written by those who were embedded in the system: political leaders, ministers, generals, security agency chiefs, party members, and businessmen close to the centers of power. I also examined memoirs of people who were on the outside: political opponents of these regimes and political prisoners. I hoped that a combination of the two groups—insiders and outsiders—would help in the endeavor to learn about the coercive tyrannies of the Arab world in spite of being unable to tap into their closed archives. What questions were you seeking to answer in your research?

The book is thematic, rather than allocating a chapter to each republic. It does not intend to be a historical review of events, but zooms in on certain episodes and trends through the prism of memoirs. It begins in 1952 with the Egyptian Revolution and ends with the Arab uprisings of 2011, with a final chapter devoted to the difficult process of transition from authoritarianism that begun after 2011. The book addresses a myriad of questions. How did the different regimes operate? What was the role of the ruling party in countries with a multi-party system, like Tunisia and Egypt? To what extent were repression and violence used, and how did the security services control opposition and coopt other influential groups such as labor and student unions? How was the executive branch structured, and how were decisions made? Was Saddam Hussein’s personality cult similar to or different from that of Hafiz al-Asad in Syria or Habib Bourguiba in Tunisia? How did economic planning differ? And how did these regimes tackle their economic problems?

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Needless to say, there is a wide variety in history, politics and economy among these countries, but the book strives first of all, to find common features or dissimilarities. Second, I examine the role of coercive organizations such as the military and security services, and whether that role changed over time. Third, I explore what kinds of institutions were established and what their legacies are, going forward. Obviously, this is very pertinent to the chances of a successful transition from despotism. Fourth, I raise the more hypothetical question of whether authoritarian rule might return to these republics. Will institutions like the oppressive security services continue to act as before, and will the new leaders reinstate a cult of personality to serve their needs and ambitions? By investigating an extensive collection of memoirs and testimonies from across these countries, the book will answer those questions judging from how those on the inside (and to some extent from the outside) perceived these systems and described their functionality. As for post-authoritarianism, the book addresses the burning issues that continue to confront these republics

After suffering long, cruel, years of tyranny, the people of these republics deserve to live in more free and equal societies, and a commitment to increasing our understanding of these regimes is another step toward that goal.

What are some of the commonalities you found among the regimes?

While some dictators introduced significant social and educational reforms during their rule, such as improving the status of women, making education compulsory, and upgrading health services and infrastructure, the overall balance sheet of the ‘social contract’ between leaders and citizens for the six decades preceding the Arab uprising was negative. Furthermore, much of the progress achieved was obliterated by military conflicts and civil wars in most of these countries, for which a heavy economic and social price was paid. National resources were diverted to the military and the security apparatus rather than toward strengthening the initial reforms. I argue that military conflicts played a pivotal role in the state of these republics. The book will argue that the eight republics have far more in common than was previously envisaged. Variation in degrees of repression or denial of freedoms is an important distinction among them, but does not alter the final picture. Attitudes toward violence differed; some countries engaged in public hangings or assassination of political opponents, while others abstained from such activities. However, all the republics used systematic torture in their prisons, and the structure of their coercive apparatuses did not differ much. The systems of repression they created or ‘strengthened’ after coming to power were quite comparable; all penetrated their societies by planting informants at every level, including in the high echelons of power to ensure the loyalty of the elites. Leadership was characterized by its centrality and the decision-making process was in the hands of the leader with a small cohort of advisers. But, it would be a mistake to imagine these regimes could sustain power for such a long period without the critical assistance, to varying degrees, of ruling parties, security services, and military support. Economic management varied widely among those countries, but all leaders ensured that their economic cronies and networks of support would continue to support the regimes in return for financial benefits. Delving deeper into the phenomenon of authoritarianism, its roots, mechanisms, repressive apparatus, and implications for future generations needs to continue. After suffering long, cruel, years of tyranny, the people of these republics deserve to live in more free and equal societies, and a commitment to increasing our understanding of these regimes is another step toward that goal.  Dr. Joseph Sassoon is Associate Professor and Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Chair at CCAS. His fourth book, Anatomy of Authoritarianism in the Arab Republics, will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.

on their troubled path of transitioning from authoritarianism post-2011. Because only a few memoirs discuss this, the chapter engages in comparisons with other parts of the world to understand this process. For Tunisia, the only country that is truly undergoing transition, I interviewed senior people from the previous regime, as well as current politicians, academics, and businesspeople to gain an insight into current issues and challenges. 6

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Cover and pages 5-6: Bouteflika: Wikimedia Commons, Vikoula5, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license; Ben Ali: German Wikipedia, from official website of the Presidency of Argentina; Hafez al-Assad: Wikimedia Commons; Gaddafi: Wikimedia Commons; Mubarak: Wikimedia Commons; Bashar al-Assad: Wikimedia Commons, derivative (cropped) by Cesar, original by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr; Saleh: CarbonatedTV; Saddam Hussein: Wikimedia Commons; Omar Bashir: Atlantic Black Star With the exception of page 12, which includes photos by Tareq Radi, all photos credited to CCAS were taken by Vicki Valosik.


Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

Spring 2015 Public Events


Education Outreach ‫ثقيف التربوي‬

CAS hosted 22 public events during the spring semester, including literary readings, an Arabic film series, and lectures on topics ranging from the battle for women’s rights in the Egyptian constitution to Islamic bioethics to using art to express political dissent in Syria. These were a few of the highlights:

The Lady from Tel Aviv February 26, 2015

In an evening funded, in part, by a Title VI grant from the US Department of Education, Palestinian author Raba’i al-Madhoun discussed his book, The Lady from Tel Aviv, with the book’s translator, Georgetown’s Dr. Elliot Colla. Before leaving with a copy of the novel, the audience enjoyed listening to a bilingual reading of passages from the book in Arabic and English.

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

All According to Plan: The Rab’a Massacre and Mass Killings of Protesters in Egypt April 13, 2015 MAAS Alum, Omar Shakir discussed his

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Human Rights Watch report, “All According to Plan,” which investigates abuses in Egypt and documents the mass killings of protesters in 2013, including the Rab’a Massacre, one of the world’s largest ever killings of demonstrators in a single day.

Faculty Research: ‫ث هيئة التدريس‬

Discussion with Prince Moulay Hicham of Morocco March 27, 2015

Following his public event co-sponsored by CCAS, Prince Moulay Hicham Ben Abdallah El Alaoui of Morocco met with MAAS students and faculty privately for a discussion on recent developments in Morocco.

Extremism in the Balance March 18, 2015


Former President of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and Imam of the Umayyad Mosque Moaz al-Khatib discussed the current political climate in Syria while focusing on Islamic governance in an increasingly secular world.

Faculty Feature ‫ص من هيئة التدريس‬ Disclosing the Cover-Up of Atrocities in Darfur April 15, 2015 Aicha Elbasri, whistleblower and former

Why Did You Rename Your Son? Autobiography and Fictional Narratives in WWI Syria & Palestine April 9, 2015 CCAS visiting professor Dr. Salim Tamari

UNAMID spokesperson, revealed the UN’s cover-up of the atrocities in Darfur and how she was asked to relay misleading accounts to the press before she ultimately resigned from her position. 

discussed the use of fictional accounts as sources for autobiographical narratives of war by examining “A Page from the Great War,” which deals with the arrest, interrogation, trial and final exoneration of the writer Najib Nassar by the Ottoman military courts in Damascus.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

2015 Symposium Sheds Light Education on Complexities of Shale OilOutreach

‫ثقيف التربوي‬

By Tareq Radi


he CCAS has held annual symposia for nearly three decades. This year’s symposium, entitled “An Energy Revolution? Political Ecologies of Shale Oil in the Middle East, US, and China,” set out to assess the political, economic, human, and environmental impacts of shale oil and its technologies of extraction

self-sufficiency. Not all participants were as optimistic, however. Dr. Ziad Mimi of Birzeit University attributed his skepticism of the use of unconventional methods of extraction to the growing water scarcity in the MENA region. As a Palestinian, Dr. Mimi added an additional layer to the analysis by reminding the audience that developmental solutions are sometimes offered for what are actually deeply entrenched political problems. Ms. Babar’s and Dr. Mimi’s presentations brought home the (somewhat evident but often ignored) fact that shale oil development projects are amorphous and their success is dependent on many different variables. CCAS’ own Dr. Marwa Daoudy elaborated on the conference’s reoccurring theme of security in a discussion of the inextricable link between resources and security. While acknowledging the potential that shale oil extraction offers for economic growth, Dr. Daoudy emphasized the necessity for inclusive institutions to protect natural resources in the region from further exploitation. The two-day conference, made possible by a generous grant from Sheikh Abdullah Saleh Kamel, was successful in providing a platform for assessing the many factors affecting shale oil. At the same time, it highlighted the fact that there are numerous other possible outcomes and considerations—even beyond those explored at the symposium—that must be taken into account when discussing shale oil extraction, such as issues of transparency in the private sector. As the final panel came to a close, participants discussed under-researched areas that pose opportunities for future study and discussion.

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬ Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫اث هيئة التدريس‬

CCAS’ Marwa Daoudy moderates panel on environmental and socio-economic challenges of shale oil with speakers Ziad Mimi, Zahra Babar, and Jeremy Boak

Faculty Feature ‫ص من هيئة التدريس‬


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Tareq Radi is the CCAS Events Coordinator

Did you miss the 2015 Symposium? You can watch videos, listen to podcasts, and read summaries of all events at


globally, and particularly on the societies and economies of the MENA region. Dr. Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute and a leading expert on water and climate issues, inaugurated the twoday conference with a keynote address on the relationship between water and energy, and the necessity to preserve the two commodities. While Dr. Gleick’s address was rooted in ecological preservation and social justice, the conference hosted participants with a variety of opinions regarding unconventional methods of oil extraction. The diversity of the participants fostered an environment that broke free from the confines of the traditional discourse surrounding oil extraction allowing for new topics to emerge. For example, Zahra Babar of Georgetown UniversityQatar suggested the spillover effects of discovering unconventional hydrocarbon resources could bolster food security in the Gulf, ultimately leading to improved

‫زائرون باحثون‬

visiting scholars

Remembering and Making History in Egypt For Hoda Elsadda, the 2014-2015 Carnegie Foundation Centennial Fellow at CCAS, fighting for women’s rights and preserving women’s narratives go hand-in-hand. By Vicki Valosik




Hoda Elsadda has spent years documenting history—as it has been lived and experienced by women in Egypt—but this time she’s the one making history. Elsadda, a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cairo University and current Carnegie Foundation Centennial Fellow at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, served on the “Committee of 50” delegates who wrote the historic 2014 Egyptian constitution. Elsadda was selected to serve on the committee for her expertise in rights and gender issues and was one of only five women in the group. The constitution that the group drafted between September and December of 2013—though far from perfect, even according to the authors—is potentially historic for a number of reasons, including that it highlights the principles of citizenship and the rule of law under a republican democratic system and asserts the independence of the judiciary. In January, 2014, the new constitution was supported by ninety-eight percent of voters in a referendum that included significant participation from women. But for Elsadda, the Committee of 50’s biggest success was its inclusion of the chapter on Rights and Freedoms, as well as Article 11, which guarantee social and legal rights for women and other marginalized groups. As Elsadda wrote for Open Democracy: “There is consensus in feminist circles that Article 11 is an achievement, a significant step in the right direction for women’s rights in Egypt. It prescribes the state’s commitment to: ensuring equality between men and women; to implementing positive discrimination mea-

sures to achieve equality; and to combating violence against women. It is a rare example of negotiations that worked relatively well for women.” Elsadda knows well the importance of documenting this historic moment in Egypt’s history. In addition to being an academic and an activist, she is also a founding member of the Women and Memory Forum, which seeks to preserve women’s narratives and experiences by collecting oral histories, translating and republishing works by female and feminist scholars that would otherwise be lost, and “rereading Arab cultural history from a gender perspective.” During her time at CCAS Elsadda has not only been documenting her own experiences working on the Committee of 50 to draft the constitution and negotiate the inclusion of Article 11, but also working with the Women and Memory Forum to capture and record the oral narratives of women who have “engaged in the political sphere” in Egypt since 2011—”since this revolutionary wave in the Arab world.” “The idea is to create an archive of voices that captures the very important experiences of individuals throughout a very tumultuous period in our history,” says Elsadda. “And these stories actually speak about many, many things. They speak about women’s engagement with political processes for change, they speak about women’s experiences—that they can go out in the streets and protest for example—but also the way these upheavals have been perceived and experienced by different people. The stories construct narratives of what happened through the eyes of women who participated in the making of these events.”

Elsadda points out how oral histories have traditionally been used to record the stories of those who don’t make it into the history books. The first oral history project the Women and Memory Forum conducted (in the 1990s) was to collect the stories of women who were involved in public life in the modern period, such as teachers, doctors, engineers—women who graduated from universities and pursued careers or engaged with social work beyond the home. For Elsadda, these projects are about much more than preserving the past. They are about supporting women today in reclaiming their histories and their voice. “There are all these assumptions and narratives that have suggested that women’s rights issues were somehow an external idea or were imported, that they never had roots in Arab societies,” says Elsadda. “We felt that maybe it was time for women’s rights activists to speak from a position of power as owners of their own culture and traditions and therefore challenge these narratives.” The Andrew Carnegie Corporation’s Carnegie Foundation Centennial Fellowship supports social scientists from the Arab world who seek to conduct research in leading American universities and aims to catalyze innovative scholarship and to foster research collaboration across institutions.

Meet our 2014-2015 Qatar Post-Doc Dr. Fatima Zahrae Chrifi Alaoui, who holds a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Denver, was the 20142015 Qatar Post-Doctoral Fellow at CCAS, where she taught “Gender, Culture, and Identity in the MENA,” and worked on her book manuscript on the vernacular discourse of the Arab Spring. The Qatar Post-Doctoral Fellowship was established by a generous grant from the State of Qatar and supports a recent Ph.D. working on the topic of U.S.-Arab relations, Arab studies, or Islamic studies.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


in the headlines

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

Sentenced to Death in Egypt How I became Defendant 33—yet another casualty of the return to military rule By Emad Shahin


n January

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫ث هيئة التدريس‬

3, 2014, Egyptian security forces surrounded my house in Cairo at dawn, performing military drills and making noises that shook the building. I vividly remember my wife’s screams as her face turned purple: “They are here! They are here! They are coming to take you! They are here to arrest you!” For reasons still not entirely clear to me, the security forces

that had accompanied democratic elections. All of this, it seemed, had been lost in the face of a ruthless counterrevolution at home and complacency abroad. On Saturday, an Egyptian court convicted and sentenced me to death in absentia on the basis of false and fabricated charges. The court never specified the crime that I supposedly committed or produced a shred of evidence for my culpability. I was listed as “Defendant 33,” and the charges in my case were broadly defined as espionage—conspiring to undermine Egypt’s national security. On the same day that I was condemned to death, the court handed down the same fate to Morsi and more than 100 others in another case, including one Palestinian man who has been in an Israeli jail since 1996. Of course, he couldn’t possibly have committed the crime—organizing a 2011 prison break— for which he stood accused. But such details don’t appear to have troubled the court. Two of the Palestinian men sentenced to death on Saturday were already dead, according to Hamas; one had passed away years before the jailbreak. Egypt’s politicized judiciary, it seems, is as incompetent as it is corrupt. These sentences are just the latest in a long line of travesties of justice carried out by Egypt’s judges, who have been condemned by organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. This is, after all, the same judiciary that in March 2014 sentenced more than 500 people to death for the alleged killing of a single policeman. It was the first of four mass death sentences delivered over roughly one year by courts that continue to aid the current Egyptian government, led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in its bid to monopolize power and eliminate all voices of dissent. Those they cannot kill with live bullets, they kill with sentencing and executions. The essential conflict in Egypt isn’t between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood; it’s between military rule and democratic rule. It may seem strange to some that I, a scholar of political science, would be implicated in a high-profile legal case. Then again, it is hard to explain the irrationality of an insecure regime. After the 2013 ouster of Morsi, my research and writing described—in uncomfortable detail—the military government’s harsh policies of exclusion. I called what happened on July 3, 2013, a brutal and bloody military coup. I wrote and spoke of the deaths of hundreds of Egyptians, the arrests of thousands more, and the sexual assault of female students. The regime, I sus-

Faculty Feature ‫من هيئة التدريس‬

left after about half an hour, without so much as knocking on my door. At the first light, I decided to spare my wife this unbearable fear and leave. I purchased a ticket at the airport and haven’t returned to Egypt since. On the plane ride, I reflected on what is surely one of the shortest political experiments of our time. Just three years earlier, Egyptians had risen up and brought down a dictator, Hosni Mubarak, in one of the greatest manifestations of people power in modern history. But in the I will continue striving for the summer of 2013, the democratic aspirations just cause of democracy and of millions of Egyprule of law in Egypt. “Dignity” tians had been dashed when the ancien réand “social justice” were not gime regained control chanted in Tahrir Square in vain. of the country in a military coup against the nation’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. By the time of my departure, the military government had already committed numerous atrocities—including mass killings and mass arrests—as part of an unprecedented project of mass political exclusion. I thought back to the revolutionary Tahrir Square chants of “dignity” and “social justice,” and the high expectations 10

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Jonathan Rashad - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

pect, perceived me as a nuisance. I am well-known inside the academic community and my work is respected in the United States, where the military government has expended enormous energy (and financial resources) to try and restore its image. Moreover, I had access to international media outlets, which often turned to me for analysis of developments in Egypt. In an apparent effort to undermine my message, the Egyptian authorities have portrayed me as a treasonous and evil figure without Egypt’s best interests in mind. Since the coup, I have also participated in several efforts to establish a civilian governing coalition and restore democracy in Egypt. The coup leaders aren’t interested in such initiatives, and have instead opted for polarization, escalation, and exclusionism. They wage a “war on terror” as a pretext to commit state-sponsored violence and restore a military state. Yet six decades of military rule have left a bankrupt legacy. In 2013, Egypt was ranked last in the world in terms of the quality of primary education. It has been ranked 94 out of 175 countries for corruption and 112 out of 189 for ease of doing business.

In many ways, I am lucky. Thousands of Egyptians who remained in the country have been killed or jailed. Since the coup, I have encountered scores of Egyptians, some in exile, who have recounted tales of lost financial resources, lost jobs, lost property, and lost life. I still research and teach, and have embraced new hope in exile. The current Egyptian judicial system is devoid of due process, regard for evidence, and minimum standards of justice, which makes it futile to return to Egypt to appeal my sentence. The essential conflict in today’s Egypt is ostensibly between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood, but it’s really between military rule and democratic, civilian rule. I will continue striving for the just cause of democracy and rule of law in Egypt. “Dignity” and “social justice” were not chanted in Tahrir Square in vain.  Dr. Emad Shahin is a visiting professor at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.

This article was originally published online by The Atlantic on May 19, 2015.

An Outpouring of Support In May, an Egyptian court sentenced to death former president Mohamed Morsi, along with more than 100 other defendants. Among them was respected Egyptian scholar, Dr. Emad Shahin, a visiting professor at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies since August 2014. Dr. Shahin, who has spoken out against the military crackdown in Egypt, calls the charges of espionage brought against him a “message of intimidation” and a “travesty of justice.” An outpouring of support from the academic community demonstrates that his peers around the globe feel the same way. A letter of solidarity signed by two ambassadors and 43 scholars from 32 different institutions including Georgetown, Harvard, Stanford, American University of Beirut, Princeton, Oxford, Brandeis, and Alexandria University, calls the charges “so utterly alien to his character as to lack any credibility whatsoever.” The letter, which is available online, attests to Dr. Shahin’s integrity and dedication to his work and concludes by calling on governments throughout the world “to speak out and communicate their concern to their Egyptian counterparts and to rebuff any efforts to restrict Professor Shahin’s movements, speech, and activities.” Faculty at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies are among the letter’s signatories and join the international community in expressing their alarm and dismay at these spurious charges. Director Dr. Osama Abi-Mershed restated the Center’s continued support for Dr. Shahin and its commitment to promote and preserve academic freedoms. Despite the unjust and unsettling charges, Dr. Shahin continues his activism unfazed. In an interview with Al Jazeera after his sentencing, he maintained his previous calls for democratic governance and civilian rule. “Once we have been through a clear failure,” said Shahin, “we have to change course and allow for a democratic system to emerge, and the minimum requirements of good governance to flourish in Egypt: accountability, transparency, participation, rule of law.”

The full text of the letter and list of signatures can be found at at

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



MAAS News (Student News) ‫أخبار الطالب‬

MAAS Students Bring Scholars and Activists to Campus Visiting Scholar ‫باحث زائر‬ By Vicki Valosik


his semester, second-year students in the Masters of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) program planned several major campuswide events that brought together scholars and activists—some coming from as far away as Morocco—and gave these student organizers the opportunity to explore their academic interests outside the classroom. When Samyah Alfoory and Samia Errazouki saw a need for more dialogue about gender within the academic community, they organized a gender working group to read and discuss critical scholarship as well as to bring an impressive lineup of speakers to campus. Alfoory says she and Errazouki were inspired by their coursework in Dr. Fida Adely’s Women and Gender class during their first year in the MAAS program, and wanted to have the opportunity to further explore “how gender intersects with class, religion, political economy, culture, and international relations” once the class had ended. “We had a thirst for more and wanted a forum in which we could bring in speakers to benefit from their work but also to encourage student interest in the field,” says Alfoory. With a bit of logistical assistance from CCAS, Errazouki and Alfoory brought four scholars to speak with MAAS students over the course of the academic year: Mervat Hatem of Howard University, Zakia Salime of Rutgers University, Ernesto Vasquez of American University, and Farha Ghannam of Swarthmore College. One of the best parts, says Alfoory, was the way the guest lectures complimented their coursework in the MAAS program, since she and others had previously read some of the scholars’ work in class and have been able to apply what they . While the goal of the gender working group was “to raise the profile of gender and the importance of discussing it in relation to

other issues and events going Erica Vasquez (third from left) on in the MENA region,” says moderates panel discussion Alfoory, other events planned on Western Saharan Conflict by MAAS students focused on a single pressing issue, such as the panel discussion organized and moderated by Erica Vasquez on “Human Rights in the Western Sahara: The Role of International Organizations and Sahrawi Women.” The event, which took place in March and was sponsored by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, Sahrawi political resistance” for her thesis featured speakers from the Independent Dip- research, is passionate about, not only acalomat and the Kennedy Center for Justice and demically but also personally. “My interest Human Rights, as well as the guest of honor, began in 2011, after my first intensive sumSahrawi human rights defender and civil so- mer abroad in Tangier, Morocco, where I ciety leader Aminatou Haidar, who spoke discovered that the conflict existed, and was about her experiences as a human rights ac- shocked when my host families and instructors refused to engage in a conversation with tivist living within this conflicted area. “A major goal of mine,” says Vasquez, me about the conflict.” “was to get more people interested in the Sacha Robehmed and Ellie Swingconflict in the Western Sahara and spread as wood, both of whom completed a Certifimuch awareness regarding the human rights cate in Refugees and Humanitarian Assisviolations as possible.” This is a topic that tance while in the MAAS program, also had Vasquez, who focused on “the effects of the opportunity this semester to pursue their military occupation on gender dynamics in academic interests by serving as organizers

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

Farha Ghannam speaks at CCAS as part of student-led gender lecture series.

of the Humanitarian Innovation Jam that was hosted at Georgetown and sponsored in partnership with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) Innovation. The theme of the conference, which featured panel discussions, workshops, and “speakers from a variety of social enterprises, the private sector, UN agencies, and academia,” says Robehmed was on best practices for managing humanitarian innovation. “The flexibility of the MAAS program,” says Robehmed, “means that I’ve focused my thesis and courses on my interests: entrepreneurship and innovation in development and humanitarianism. The Humanitarian Innovation Jam, while it was not regionally focused, very much tied in with my interests which I was given the free rein to explore at MAAS.” 

In Memoriam


he CCAS community was deeply saddened to learn of the death on June 3, 2015 of Nina Brekelmans, who graduated from the MAAS program in May of this year. While at CCAS, Nina was involved in countless community activities, and she touched the lives of many individuals on and off campus. Nina was an intelligent, gracious, warm, and caring person, and she will be sorely missed by our faculty, staff and students. A memorial service was held on June 10 in the Dahlgren Chapel at Georgetown University and was attended by Nina’s family, as well as friends from within the Georgetown community and beyond. Nina was also loved and cherished by many in the Middle East, having lived in both Jordan and Egypt. A memorial service was held for Nina by her friends and peers in Jordan, and MAAS students studying in Morocco performed a sadaqa for her. They collected funds and food for a local mosque to distribute in Nina’s memory to the neediest people, who in turn offered their prayers for Nina and her family. Nina’s family and the CCAS will continue to honor her memory and her accomplishments by endowing a scholarship in her name to promote the empowerment of women in the Middle East, an issue that was very dear to Nina. For more information on the Nina Brekelmans Scholarship Fund, please contact Rania Kiblawi (

Vicki Valosik is the CCAS Multimedia & Publications Editor.

Art Meets Activism



n a unique project combining academics, activism, and art, MAAS students this spring sold T-shirts featuring Arabic calligraphy to raise money for the Collateral Repair Project (CRP), a grassroots organization based in Jordan that assists refugees and other victims of conflict by providing food, medical support, and clothing, as well as community-building workshops. After taking Dr. Rochelle Davis’ class “Refugees in the Arab World,” MAAS students Will Todman, Xuhui Sun, Andy Gabriel, and Casey Bahr wanted to do something that would provide meaningful help to refugees in the region and decided to organize a fundraiser on behalf of CRP for the class’ action-based project requirement. Todman, who had previously visited CRP while on a research trip with Professor Davis, says, “I chose to support CRP because I had seen first-hand the work they do, and I think they are having an amazing impact on one of the

most vulnerable groups of people living in Amman who often fall through the net and receive no support from larger NGOs and humanitarian organizations.” After considering several fundraising options, the group decided to produce and sell T-shirts featuring two different Arabic motifs. Xuhui Sun, nicknamed the MAAS program’s “resident calligrapher” by Professor Davis, provided the artwork for one of the shirts—the word “Georgetown” in Arabic calligraphy. The Fatim-Zohra El-Malki and Emma Murphy sell t-shirts to other T-shirt style, which raise money for Collateral Repair Project. showcased the work of raise more than $5,000 during the Syrian artist Muneer al-Sha’arani, read fundraiser and to donate $3,500 to the “Love is my religion.” A number of Collateral Repair Project after covering MAAS students volunteered to help their production costs.  sell the shirts, enabling the group to

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬

educational outreach

Innovative Approaches to Teaching In the Headlines About the Middle East ‫في العناوين‬ By Susan Douglass

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

K-14 teachers enjoy Smithsonian Castle gardens before an excursion to Freer & Sackler Galleries; Bottom: Teachers peruse children’s literature books at Howard University workshop.

Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬


Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬

Education Outreach program of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies hosted nine events for educators during the 2014-2015 academic year. As a National Resource Center, CCAS was able to support these programs, in part, with funding from a Title VI grant from the Department of Education. These events included the annual summer institute and a Teach-In on Iraq and Syria, while several other innovative events fell under three main themes: literature, anthropology, and cultural exploration through interactive museum excursions he



Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

CCAS; Courtesy of Howard University

In November and April, CCAS partnered with the Middle East Outreach Council (MEOC) (in the fall) and Howard University (in the spring) to hold two workshops on literature for children and youth, providing participating educators with a selection of books for their classrooms. The fall literature workshop was held in conjunction with the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) annual meeting in Washington DC and was attended by approximately forty educators. The program included presentations of the MEOC Book Awards by award committee chairperson Dr. Jean Campbell and an overview from Jenn Nina of the New York Council for

the Humanities on the Together Muslim Voices Project. CCAS Outreach Coordinator Susan Douglass presented the National Endowment for the Humanities Bridging Cultures Bookshelf/Muslim Journeys, a set of 25 books and films, which, along with an extensive website (http://, have been provided by the project to nearly 1000 libraries.Dr. Tammy Craft al-Hazza of Old Dominion University introduced numerous books and demonstrated techniques for engaging students with literature. Participants listened to award-winning youth author Elsa Marston describe her journey as a writer on Middle Eastern topics.

The second workshop under the literature theme was held at Howard University in collaboration with its School of Education and African Studies Center. The workshop was attended by approximately 40 teachers who had the opportunity to engage with nearly 100 children’s books on the Middle East and Africa. Dr. Karla Möller of the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana discussed teaching techniques, and Brenda Randolph, African Studies Center Outreach Director, presented books from the Children’s Africana Book Awards. Illustrator Elizabeth Zunon held the teachers entranced as she demonstrated the process of bringing a story to life with illustrations. An Ethiopian coffee ceremony added to the festive atmosphere. Anthropology

Over the course of the semester, CCAS, in collaboration with the Arabic and Islamic Studies Department and the Department of Anthropology, offered two educational seminars as part of the year-long series Islam and Anthropology. At the event “Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Healthcare and Social Work,” which was attended by healthcare and social workers, Sherine Hamdy of Brown University presented her work on the social context of kidney transplants in Egypt while Georgetown faculty Emily Mendenhall and Sylvia Onder spoke on the social context of disease and on the interface between traditional and modern medicine in Turkey, respectively. The second education workshop in the series provided teacher and student participants insight into

“Youth, Gender and Social Change in the Middle East,” as per the workshop’s title. University of Wisconsin anthropologist Hayder al-Muhammad discussed issues of family and society in Iraq, and Georgetown faculty Fida Adely and post-doctoral lecturer Fatima Zahrae Charifi Alaoui shared their expertise on gender issues. MAAS Students Gareth Smail and Faisal Kattan had the opportunity to present their thesis research on education in Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Museum Excursions

Two museum workshops rounded out this year. At the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the exhibits “Unearthing Arabia” and “The Traveler’s Eye” provided the platform for exploring archaeological discoveries in the Middle East and viewing representations of travel in East Asia. Krista Lewis of the University of Arkansas, Little Rock described excavations at UNESCO World Heritage site al-Baleed in Oman, and textile expert Carol Bier of the Berkeley Graduate Theological Seminary described her recent travels along the Silk Routes in China. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, which hosted lunch and the afternoon lectures. The final workshop of the year featured a tour of the new Textile Museum at George Washington University and a hands-on workshop and lecture by Research Associate Carol Bier. The event was co-sponsored by the museum’s education department.  Susan Douglass is the K-14 Educational Outreach Coordinator.

Announcing the CCAS 2015 Summer Teacher Institute


Robe and traditional dress from the “Unraveling Identity” exhibit at the Textile Museum

“Beyond Ibn Battuta: the Indian Ocean Across Time and Disciplines,” the CCAS 2015 Summer Teacher Institute, will take place August 3-7, 2015 at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. Although the Indian Ocean has become a common topic of study, classroom coverage is often restricted to the medieval period, during which Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta journeyed in the region. This institute will help upper elementary and secondary teachers envision much broader integration of the Indian Ocean, from the origins of human presence around its

shores to the impact of the region in the contemporary period of globalization, through interaction with scholars whose work explores various regions around the Indian Ocean and represents different disciplinary approaches such as history, marine archaeology, literature & the arts, religion, economics, environmental studies, and current strategic issues from multiple regional perspectives. As a bonus, participants will explore food history through daily lunches reflecting various regional cuisines from East Africa to India to Southeast Asia. The week-long institute is funded in part by a Title VI grant from the Department of Education, which names CCAS as a National Resource Center on the Middle East. Registration details can be found at https://ccas.georgetown. edu/2015summerinstitute.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


dispatches Notes From Abroad

Sabbatical Secrets & Buying Books in Beirut By Dr. Daniel Neep


cornerstone of the modern research university. Faculty are granted a semester away from the usual responsibilities of teaching and grading, supervising dissertations, and serving on committees, allowing professors to dedicate their energy to aspects of their work that can be neglected during the academic year. Sabbatical allows professors to immerse themselves in the field, bury themselves in archives, collaborate with colleagues at different institutions, and discover new ideas to enrich their research. At the same time—and this is a closely guarded secret among those initiated into the mysteries of academe—spending a sabbatical in a new place enables us to pursue one of the most sacred, most noble, and most enjoyable duties of our calling as scholars: the copious, hedonistic purchase of piles and piles of books. Beirut’s reputation for nightlife and glamour resounds across the region, but only the elite few, the sapioscenti, have explored the city’s secret side of erudition—its bookstores. Of course, even the casual visitor may chance upon the unsubtle charms of Librairie Antoine, the larg­ est he sabbatical is a

bookstore in Lebanon, which has several branches across Beirut. Well-designed and modern, Libraire Antoine is the one-stop shop for everything from fashion magazines to literary fiction, from cookbooks to children’s books. In the branch on Hamra Street you will find a respectable range of titles on politics and history, in both English and French. The Arabic section is home to volumes on modern Lebanon and Arab political thought, alongside translations of authors such as Lisa Wedeen, Raymond Hinnebusch, Steven Heydemann, and others who will be familiar to MAAS students from their classes. If Librairie Antoine is the Mercedes-Benz of Beiruti bookstores (it’s fast, sleek, and reliable, and will get you to your destination without any surprises), then the Bisan bookstore is your grandfather’s old jalopy: it’s on its last legs, stinks of cigar smoke, and even a routine trip could turn into an unpredictable journey of discovery. Mountains of books on communism, officers’ memoirs, and Nasserism (all in Arabic—no cosmopolitan pretentions here) look as if they might collapse at any moment. Climbing the rickety ladder to see titles on the higher shelves is a vertiginous endeavour, though less because of the height than the fact that the oxygen at this altitude has been

Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

crowded out by the tobacco smoke billowing from the desk of the manager (who is quite happy to smuggle in your book of choice from Damascus for a very reasonable fee). Some bookshops in Beirut are easily encountered, such as The Little Book Store on Maqdisi Street whose pine furniture and green bankers’ lamp provide a readerly haven for literary travellers. Other bookstores are hidden from sight. The activists and academics who make merry at Mezyan restaurant on Hamra Street, for example, seem unaware that beneath their feet lies al-Furat bookshop, home to a treasure trove of out-ofprint and difficult-to-find titles, yellow-paged government reports, and gazetteers from the 1950s. Meanwhile, Librairie Internationale, around the corner from the Gefinor Hotel, carries coffee-table books on Islamic art and modern architecture, accounts of journalists’ exploits in the Middle East, and (without any prompting on my part) copies of my own book on French Mandate Syria—that alone being sufficient grounds to merit inclusion in this list of esteemed locales. Unlike the number of unread books in the word, sabbaticals always come to an end. But when we return home, the books lining our shelves remind us of past journeys and represent promises to ourselves of more journeys to come. 

Public Events ‫ت العامة‬ Education Outreach

In the Headlines ‫ناوين‬ Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫يس‬ Daniel Neep is Assistant Professor at CCAS and was awarded a Junior Faculty Research Fellowship to spend the Spring 2015 semester on sabbatical in Lebanon.

From left: Librairie Antoine, the “Mercedes-Benz of Beiruti Bookstores;” Librairie Internationale, where Dr. Neep spotted his book (right), and alFurat bookshop


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

From left: courtesy of Librairie Antoine; other photos by Daniel Neep

Faculty Feature ‫دريس‬

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