Winter/Spring 2018 CCAS Newsmagazine

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CCAS Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Georgetown University

Winter/Spring 2018



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DIRECTOR’S NOTE Rochelle A. Davis


on Media in the Arab World, and we have gathered CCAS’ scholars and alumni working on this issue from around the globe. While we were only able to feature a fraction of them, their talents and trajectories detailed in this newsmagazine make us proud. We also use this issue to announce the launch of the CCAS YouTube channel and our new relationship with Status Hour/ Arab Studies Institute, which will host some of our videos and podcasts of past events, interviews with scholars, and material from the archives. CCAS is a vibrant and innovative place. Our faculty continue to write, teach, and speak on their research in the United States, the Arab World, Europe, and beyond. We are delighted to have the opportunity to host a variety of instructors and post-doctoral fellows who enrich our teaching offerings and intellectual life. Our students are increasingly working on projects that allow them to take what they are learning at CCAS outside of the classroom, through innovative courses, summer internships, and research projects. To those MAAS alums, former visiting scholars, and faculty whom we might have missed in our features or our “MAAS on the Move” section, please keep in touch with us (we have a simple form at and tell us of your accomplishments. We have a new website we’d like to fill with alumni profiles and newsmagazine issues being developed around arts/culture and diplomacy and would love to feature you. his newsmagazine centers

We look forward to hearing from you.

Mabrouk to the MAAS Class of 2018!



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

Core Faculty

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

Affiliated Faculty

Mustafa Aksakal Associate Professor Mohammad AlAhmad Assistant Teaching Professor Belkacem Baccouche Assistant Teaching Professor Felicitas Opwis Associate Professor; Chair; Arabic and Islamic Studies Department Bassam Haddad Adjunct Professor and ASJ Editor Yvonne Y. Haddad Professor, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding Noureddine Jebnoun Adjunct Assistant Professor

Staff We at CCAS extend our warmest congratulations to the Master of Arts in Arab Studies students who will be graduating this May. We look forward to hearing about your many future accomplishments! An online version of this newsletter is available at:

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

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


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Special thanks to Tithi Patel for her help with this issue



Kamal Boullata, Angelus I-1, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 100 cm Courtesy: Meem Gallery

Don’t Miss These Events! American Druze Foundation (ADF) Annual Distinguished Lecture with Dr. Amir Khnifess April 9, 4:30 pm Dr. Amir Khnifess, the 2017-2018 ADF Fellow will present his lecture, “The Conflict for Mandatory Palestine and Druze Politics of Survival.”

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Arab Studies Journal April 16, 6:00 pm A panel discussion on “Trends in Knowledge Production on the Middle East,” featuring ASJ founders and other guests, will be followed by a reception.

Kareema Khoury Annual Distinguished Lecture with Kamal Boullata April 19, 7:00 pm Renown Palestinian painter and writer, Kamal Boullata, will deliver the 2018 Kareema Khoury Annual Distinguished Lecture entitled “Reading the Arabesque,” which will focus on the correspondence between key features of Arabic grammar and the geometric structure of the arabesque. Can’t make it? Videos from these events, and many more, will be featured on the CCAS YouTube Channel (link on page 6). Check the CCAS website for all spring event details.

This issue of the CCAS Newsmagazine, themed around media in the Arab world, includes two articles on the intersection of media and the Arab Spring—one on how satellite television helped plant the seeds for revolution by Visiting Scholar Sania El-Husseini and another on the changing roles of social media leading up to and following the uprisings by MAAS alum Jeffrey Ghannam, who will be teaching a class on media in the Arab world at CCAS this summer. The section “MAAS In and On the Media” spotlights several alums whose work, whether professional or academic, intersects with the media—from an investigative report exposing wartime profiteering and corporate misconduct to the creation of a social media archive with more than 30 billion posts. The back page “Dispatch” is from MAAS student Majd Al Wahaidi, who writes powerfully about her experiences as a New York Times journalist in Gaza. The cover and interior illustrations come from political cartoonist Khalid Albaih, who shares his thoughts on art, political expression, and the evolving role of the Internet in an interview with CCAS, also published in this issue. And as usual, you’ll find updates from faculty and staff on the many activities at CCAS, including an announcement about our own new media projects! We hope you enjoy the issue. Vicki Valosik, Editor

In This Issue

14 A Case Study in Citizen Media and Internet Surveillance

18 MAAS on the Move News from our alums

15 Speaking Truth to Power, Giving Voice to the Voiceless

10 Revolutionary Seeds of Mass Media

16 The Big Takedown

20 Public Events Ancient Inspiration for New Marketplace of Ideas

8 Faculty Feature Media Technology and the Arab Spring SPECIAL FEATURE MAAS In and On the Media 11 In Newsrooms Today, Agility is the Name of the Game 12 More Than a Soundbite

Misreading New Modes of Knowledge Production

13 Understanding Social Movements through Social Media

17 Q&A with student & journalist Ada Mullol REGULAR FEATURES 4 Faculty & Staff News 6 Center News CCAS Launches New Media Projects 7 Faculty Spotlight MESA and the Muslim Ban

22 Education Outreach Engage Your Senses! 24 Dispatches Love, Death, and a Day’s Work NEW SECTION 19 Q&A with... Featured Artist: Khalid Albaih Cover art by Khalid Albaih (@khalidalbaih). Check out pages 8 and 19 for more examples of Albaih’s work and a Q&A with the artist.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬

During the Spring semester, Associate Professor Fida Adely and Associate Professor Rochelle Davis are piloting and coteaching a new class, “Development and Displacement in the Arab world.” The course is part of the SFS Centennial Labs, which are cross-curricular, experiential classes in the School of Foreign Service built around an issue, idea, problem, or challenge in a real community. As part of the lab, Professors Davis and Adely traveled with students to Jordan over spring break to meet with development and humanitarian organizations from a range of sectors, including education, civic engagement, agricultural development, and economic development. They met with representatives of well-established international organizations, as well as grass-roots and community-based organizations. They were accompanied by MAAS Graduate Assistant Samar Saeed.

conferences of the Social Science History Association and the Middle East Studies Association in Fall 2017, and was hosted by the University of Manitoba to give a public talk in Winnipeg, Canada in winter 2018. He served as Ph.D. examiner in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 2017-18 Professor Neep taught the graduate courses “Comparative Politics of the Middle East,” “Politics of Syria,” and “Studying the Arab World: Theories and Approaches,” in addition to “Understanding the Arab World,” the new core course for students pursuing the Undergraduate Certificate in Arab Studies.

Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬ Board Member Profile

‫س األستشاري‬

Professor Neep was also awarded a prestigious 12-month fellowship from the Public Scholar Program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which he will take up in the 2018-19 academic year to complete his second book, The Nation Belongs to All: The Making of Modern Syria (under contract for UK publication with Allen Lane). “The NEH Public Scholar Program aims to break academic knowledge out of the ivory tower and bring it to a wider audience,” says Neep. “As a scholar who works on Syria, I consider it a moral as well as an intellectual imperative to refute the clichés that the media and policymakers like to parrot about the country and present intelligent, evidence-based analysis about Syrian politics and society. This kind of public scholarship seeks to foster a debate about the Arab World that is well-informed, outward-looking, and global-minded.”

Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

Assistant Professor Marwa Daoudy was on leave from CCAS in the fall, but she participated in two panels at MESA’s annual conference in November. She presented her paper “Domestic and Regional Drivers of Syria and Turkey’s Relations before and after 2011: A Realist Constructivist Lens” for the panel “The Future of Middle Eastern Regimes: At the Intersection of Domestic and International Politics.” Dr. Daoudy was also a discussant for the panel “Security Studies in the Arab World” and was invited by Dr. Mark Giordano to speak in his class titled “Water, Climate and People.” She was selected as a Mortara Faculty Fellow for 2018-2020.

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

In September 2017, CCAS Adjunct Assistant Professor Noureddine Jebnoun released a new book, Tunisia’s National Intelligence: Why “Rogue Elephants” Fail to Reform, with New Academia Publishing. The book focuses on the role of intelligence agencies in political transitions, investigating how they assisted Zayn al-‘Ābidīn bin ʿAlī in fortifying his 24 years of authoritarian rule. Jebnoun finds that the new sociopolitical dynamics of the post-uprising era provide unique challenges to old-guard intelligence organs. The transition away from state-centric security toward human-citizen security is an impediment to real, accountable reform. As such, the sector finds itself mending its technical operations instead of entirely restructuring to fit within a constitutional democracy.

Education Outreach ‫يم التثقيف التربوي‬ In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Assistant Professor Daniel Neep published a peer-reviewed article, “Narrating Crisis, Constructing Policy: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in Syria,” in New Political Economy (September 2017). He presented his research at the annual 4

Daniel Neep

Associate Professor Joseph Sassoon co-authored an article with MAAS alum (2011) and current Georgetown Ph.D. student, Alissa Walter. The article, “The Invasion of Kuwait: New Historical Perspectives,” was published in the Autumn 2017 issue of The Middle East Journal. Dr. Sassoon also wrote a chapter on China and Iraq in Red Star and the Crescent: China and the Middle East, which was published by the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University, Qatar. In addition, Prof. Sassoon delivered talks in November on the Sassoon family trade business and on violence in the Arab world.

Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

On September 14, 2017, Professor Sassoon was inducted into the Chancellors Court of Benefactors at the University of Oxford. The lifetime position is a rare honor designated for individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the university. Professor Sassoon—a graduate of the University of Oxford, member of the Bodleian Library’s Board of Directors for more than fifteen years, board member at the Middle East Center at St. Antony’s College, and longtime Senior Fellow at St. Antony’s College—was honored not only for his service and contribution to the University of Oxford, but also for his scholarship. Professor Sassoon is the author of four academic books and recipient of the prestigious British-Kuwait Prize for his 2012 book Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime.


Alaa Mufleh; Georgetown University

Susan Douglass Awarded Georgetown Presidential Honor

Dr. Susan Douglass, CCAS Education Outreach Coordinator, was a 2017 recipient of the President’s Excellence Award at Georgetown University, which recognizes distinguished staff members who have gone above and beyond in their work and have made significant contributions to the university. Dr. Douglass designs and administers educational workshops for K-14 teachers on subjects related to the histories, religions, cultures, politics, arts, and economics of the Middle East. She was honored for her innovative conception of new projects and her collaborations with other institutions and scholars within and beyond the university, including D.C. Public Schools, the Smithsonian, and experts from around the globe. Dr. Douglass graduated from the MAAS program at CCAS in 1993.

Meet our Spring 2018

Visiting Faculty

Bader Mousa Sulaiman Al-Saif is a History PhD candidate at Georgetown University with a focus on the modern and contemporary history of the Middle East and North Africa. He is teaching ARST 492: The Arabian Peninsula. Nejm Benessaiah is an environmental anthropologist whose current research focuses on the potential for upscaling ways to commonly govern important goods for humankind. He is teaching ARST 488: Water in the Middle East.

Irene Calis is a political anthropologist whose research and writing theorize emancipatory politics from

the perspective of everyday life. She is teaching ARST 509: Palestine and the Global South. Ambassador Susan L. Ziadeh enjoyed a 23-year career with the U.S. Department of State and served as Ambassador to the State of Qatar from 2011-2014. She is teaching ARST 318: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Gulf. Amir Khnifess comes from a political science background with a focus on the Israeli-Arab conflict and ethnic minorities of the Middle East. He is the CCAS 2017-2018 American Druze Foundation Fellow and is teaching ARST 464: Ethnic/Religious Minorities in the Middle East.

Kelli Harris Honored by GU Grad Students

Kelli Harris, CCAS Assistant Director of Academic Programs, received the Distinguished Staff Award at the 2018 Graduate Student Awards ceremony. The award, which is student-nominated and voted on by the Graduate Student Government, recognizes a staff member who shows dedication to the academic and personal wellbeing of graduate students. This encompasses providing guidance, knowledge, support, and advocating on behalf of students to improve the graduate community at Georgetown University.

Top: Dr. Douglass receives award from GU President John J. DGioia; Bottom: Harris with MAAS Director Fida Adely (left) and CCAS Assistant Director Alison Glick (right) at the Graduate Awards Ceremony

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



CCAS Launches New Media Projects


CAS is now on YouTube! Check out our channel for nearly 150 videos of past lectures, presentations, and events that have been hosted by the Center since 2012. You’ll find all the same great content previously hosted on Vimeo, plus plenty of new additions—all organized into playlists according to year and lecture series. These include playlists of past CCAS symposia, ranging from topics such as the Arab Spring to development and migration, as well as Summer Institutes for K-14 Educators, which are made possible by Title VI funding from the U.S. Department of Education. Be sure to subscribe to receive updates on our future uploads! In addition, CCAS is pleased to be partnering with the audio magazine Status Hour to showcase videos and podcasts from some of our most prominent events. With an emphasis on cultural knowledge production, Status Hour features interviews, reports, and reviews by activists, scholars, and citizens on topics related to the Middle East and North Africa. Status Hour is a project of the Arab Studies Institute, which was founded by MAAS alum Dr. Bassam Haddad (‘94). Status Hour regularly features graduates of the MAAS program as writers, hosts, editors, and guests alongside other prominent scholars and experts from around the world. In addition to our content on YouTube and Status Hour, CCAS continues to post audio podcasts from many of our events on SoundCloud. See below for links to all CCAS media sites.

Visit the CCAS YouTube channel to see our new welcome video!

Center News ‫أخبار المركز‬ MAAS News (Student News) ‫أخبار الطالب‬ Visiting Scholar ‫باحث زائر‬

Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬ Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬

What We’re Reading at MAAS

Board Member Profile

‫خاص من المجلس األستشاري‬

Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬ In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬ Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

We asked students, faculty, and staff to name the best books they’ve read on the Arab world this year. Here are a few of Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬ their favorites. Check our website for the full list!

Family Life in the Ottoman Mediterranean: A Social History by Beshara B. Doumani. Cambridge University Press, 2017. Resurrecting the Granary of Rome: Environmental History and French Colonial Expansion in North Africa by Diana K. Davis. Ohio University Press, 2007.

Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬ Shoot an Iraqi: Art, Life and Resistance under the Gun by Wafaa Bilal and Kari Lyderson. City Lights, 2008.

The Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun. Éditions du Seuil, 2001. The Impossible Revolution: Making Sense of the Syrian Tragedy by Yassin al-Haj Saleh. Hurst Publishing, 2017. The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar. Random House, 2016.

We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled by Wendy Pearlman. HarperCollins, 2017.

Where to find us: 6


Find the full list at


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Status Hour

Vicki Valosik; Dreamstime

CCAS Director Rochelle Davis reads from a teleprompter during filming for the new CCAS video.

Faculty spotlight

‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬


MESA and the Muslim Ban

Why the “Muslim Ban” is inimical to academic freedom and scholarly community, and what the Middle East Studies Association is doing about it By Beth Baron, former president of MESA, and Judith Tucker, CCAS Professor and current MESA president

Masha George, Public Domain


he Middle East Studies Association (MESA) recognized early on that the “Muslim Ban”—so called for its banning of individuals from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States— posed specific threats to its mission and its commitments to academic freedom, intellectual exchange, and the fostering of scholarly research. As the current and past presidents of MESA, we take great pride in the fact that the association decided to take a clear and active stand against all iterations of this ban. The impact of the first Muslim ban—an executive order signed by Donald Trump in January 2017 that included a 90-day ban on the entry of all nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and the indefinite suspension of entry of all Syrian refugees—was felt by our community of scholars immediately. At the CUNY Graduate Center, where Beth teaches and directs the Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center, a returning first-year PhD candidate in political science was barred from the United States

travel to conduct research, to recruit students, and to bring in colleagues to attend conferences, give talks, and collaborate on projects. The ban had endangered our ability to exchange ideas and produce knowledge, the very essence of scholarly life. The Scholars at Risk program, for example, was immediately prevented from placing at-risk academics from the proscribed countries in U.S. institutions, cutting American universities off from the valuable contributions these colleagues make to the intellectual life of their host institutions, such as those of our own Professor Mohammad Alahmad, who teaches Arabic literature courses at Georgetown. A second Executive Order was signed in March 2017, and MESA decided to join a case in Maryland, along with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and International Refugee Assistance Project. MESA filed a first declaration outlining the harm the ban caused to in a scene that played out similarly across the the association, fighting both on practicalities country. She had gone home to visit family in and principles. As scholars of the Middle East region, our Iran over break and attempted to fly back from Tehran via Abu Dhabi, a hub for DOI offi- mission is to study it, which means traveling cials. She was stopped, interrogated, had her there to gather material and exchange inforstudent visa confiscated, and was sent back mation with colleagues in the field. However, to Tehran after eighteen hours in the airport. our ability to interact with these colleagues Although she eventually was able to return to has been increasingly compromised, and the the U.S., the potential impact of the ban on list of countries where one can safely conduct our students, and American higher education research is growing shorter. Furthermore, our capacity to exercise our professional in general, was made quite clear. and ethical responsibility to stand up academic freedom has also been The ban had endangered our for challenged by our diminishing access. ability to exchange ideas and We take this responsibility seriously, in light of the fact that produce knowledge, the very particularly American imperial interventions have essence of scholarly life. played no small role in the violence and dispossession racking the Middle One of the most pernicious aspects of the East. The Muslim ban affects us abroad and order was that it created chaos and disruption at home. After the second iteration of the Muslim to so many plans, even after the order was blocked by a federal judge and the Ninth Cir- ban was overturned, yet another version was cuit Court of Appeals sustained the judge’s issued in October 2017. The new ban prevents order. It undermined the ability of scholars to nationals from eight continued on page 23

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬

Amplifying Voices, Responding to Crises

Media Technology and the Arab Spring

Freedom of expression briefly flourished in the early days of the Arab Spring—thanks in part to media technologies—but was swiftly followed by authoritarian crackdowns and a chilling effect on free speech. Now, for many affected by the ensuing wars and crises, these technologies provide lifelines to vital news and services. By Jeffrey Ghannam


ell before the Arab Spring protests erupted in late 2010, people in the Arab world were accessing Fall of State Mediathe Internet and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter at rapidly growing rates. These platforms became perfectly poised to amplify the demands that would soon be voiced and, in the wake of the Arab Spring, would become impossible to ignore. During the 2000s, media technologies and the Internet enabled the most expansive margin of free expression the Arab world had experienced in its contemporary history. However, those who dared to use these technologies to express opinions that ran afoul of official red lines, or even to share poetry about the yearning to be free, did so at great personal risk and often faced serious repercussions. Despite government crackdowns and strictures, such as firewalls and surveillance, a survey of 16 Arab countries conducted by the Arab Advisors Group in 2009 found that there were roughly 40 to 45 million Internet users in the region. There were also 35,000 active blogs in the region that same year, and by 2010, the number had grown to 40,000. Facebook had 17 million users in the Arab world, including journalists, political leaders, political opposition figures, human rights activists, social activists, entertainers, and royalty. Nearly five million of

those users were in Egypt, where the interior ministry maintained a department of 45 people to monitor the social networking site. This early critical mass of online citizens, along with many who were not yet online, seized a window of opportunity to protest and demand change in an unprecedented exercise of free expression that would become known as the Arab Spring. By the start of these revolutions in late 2010 and early 2011, freedom of the press and expression in the MENA region had noticeably improved and the media ecosystem appeared to have broken free, if briefly, from the confines imposed by the state-owned media monopolies, censorship, and red lines. In the optimism of the day, strides made through protest and the exercise of free expression seemed to represent significant development toward greater civic participation, accountability, and representative governance. Even authoritarians, ministers, and monarchs had Facebook pages and Twitter handles, and the prospects for citizen-government engagement appeared promising. But the early acts of civil disobedience were followed by swift government crackdowns on both the protestors and their amplified voices. In the whirling vortex of online media, governments, political opposition groups, and other actors recognized social and digital media’s reach and potential impact and began using these platforms for their own one-sided messages, narratives, propaganda, and—for certain extremist groups—grotesque displays of torture.

“Fall of State Media” by @khalidalbaih. Check page 19 for a Q&A with the artist.

THE ROLE OF SATELLITE NETWORKS Before there were Facebook posts, Twitter hashtags, and YouTube videos, transnational satellite broadcasters filled

Khalid Albaih 8

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

the need for regional news, and these networks continued to play a central role in disseminating news and information during the Arab Spring. Al Jazeera, the most well-known example, had been a leading provider of coverage of the second Palestinian uprising and the post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It maintained this central role during the Arab Spring, in part by tapping into the wellspring of social and digital media content. Activists recognized the potential

Jeffrey Ghannam

The Arab Spring protests were not “Facebook Revolutions,” even though the characterization still circulates in the mistaken belief that these movements would not have occurred without the social networking platform. to reach larger audiences than immediate circles of Facebook friends and Twitter followers would allow. They collected posts shared by protestors, translated and contextualized them, and then reposted the content on platforms with wider audiences. These online posts were often then rebroadcast by Al Jazeera on its satellite network. This had the effect not only of amplifying the messages of other activists, but also enabling their content to reach satellite television viewers who may not have been online. Even though the region had witnessed wide-scale digital connectivity and adoption of media technologies, the majority of people in the Arab world were still not online and did not have Facebook or Twitter accounts. Thus, the Arab Spring protests were not “Facebook Revolutions,” even though the characterization still circulates in the mistaken belief that these movements would not have occurred without the social networking platform. The role of digital connectivity in amplifying the Arab Spring should not be downplayed, however, as it did enable long-simmering and legitimate grievances and protests to be shared globally and in real time, arguably making them among the most chronicled popular uprisings in history. Today, about 44 percent of people in the Arab world use the internet, with 64 percent of users being between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the International Telecommunications Union. Other sources have counted more than 141 million Arabic-speaking Facebook users, as of June 2017. Yet the hope and promise of the early Arab Spring and the protests, both physical and online, that were empowered by that hope, appear to have faded­­—perhaps a result of crackdowns, fear of repercussions, or fatigue­—despite technological advances and the expanding audiences for social and digital media platforms. It’s as if the volume from the sound track of protests and demands in the Arab world has been dialed back, indefinitely. Even so, the technology and platforms that enabled the amplification of the Arab Spring protests have emerged as powerful lifelines for communities caught in the ensuing aftermath of war and humanitarian crises. Reporting by mainstream Arab media targets global audiences and often provides broad news about regional wars and humanitarian crises, rather than on-the-ground humanitarian reporting from conflict zones, due to serious concerns for the safety of journal-


effrey Ghannam, a 1988 graduate of Georgetown’s Master of Arts in Arab Studies program, is a lawyer, author, international development practitioner, and former Howard R. Marsh Visiting Professor of Journalism at University of Michigan. He has worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the Islamic Development Bank in Saudi Arabia, on a $2.5 billion humanitarian relief initiative and led numerous journalism and good governance capacity-building programs in the Middle East and South Asia. Ghannam’s journalism career has included editorial positions at several prestigious publications, including the Detroit Free Press and The New York Times. He has published op-eds in The Washington Post and The Economist and written several reports for the National Endowment for Democracy’s Center for International Media Assistance, including “Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the Uprisings of 2011,” “Digital Media in the Arab World One Year After the Revolutions,” and “Media as a Form of Aid in Humanitarian Crises.” New Class on Media & the Arab World Coming to CCAS Ghannam will return to CCAS to teach “Media and the Arab World” this summer. The seminar class will explore media coverage of key events in contemporary Middle Eastern history with an eye toward understanding the media’s intertwined roles of informing the public and influencing foreign policies. The seminar will also review Arab media systems, legal and regulatory regimes, and compare levels of freedom of expression and media business environments relative to other nations and regions. Students will develop the analytical foundation to become critical consumers and potential contributors and influencers of media coverage related to the Arab world.

ists. As a result, the immediate information needs of the communities most affected are not being met by traditional media. When effective information infrastructures are in place, people can make better-informed decisions and gain more control of their lives. Humanitarian relief organizations are helping to fill the information void by developing their own multimedia communication initiatives that provide hyper-local and urgent news and information to refugee and migrant communities, which often use mobile devices. These initiatives seek to address some of the most essential challenges refugees and others confront, such as determining where they should go and how to get there; how to obtain food, shelter, and medical care for themselves or their families; how to register as refugees, enroll children in schools, and possibly find employment.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Creating humanitarian information systems requires a focus on the interplay of technology and more traditional forms of communication, making use of Facebook, the mobile real-time message application WhatsApp, radio broadcasts, word-of-mouth, or even printed banners with directions for migrants crossing into Europe. For example, a radio initiative launched by UNESCO in northern Jordan helped foster dialogue between refugees and host communities, dispel misinformation and rumors, and provide psychosocial support and guidance. Listeners were able to send questions or comments to the show via Facebook or SMS and then hear their concerns voiced in safe and anonymous ways. Another initiative

The Revolutionary Seeds of Mass Media By Sania El-Husseini


he early protests of the Arab Spring appeared to be the first step on the path to democratic transformation, with mass media serving as both catalyst and revolutionary mouthpiece. Why, then, have we not seen more progression toward democracy in the Arab world? The development and spread of mass media throughout the Middle East over the past two decades—starting with satellite television stations, which took national narratives out from under state control, and followed by social media, which gave voice to the masses—is widely considered a key factor leading to the eruption of the Arab revolutions.

success of Al Jazeera in influencing Arab public opinion inspired the creation of other channels in the region, such as the Saudi channel Al Arabiya, the Lebanese channel Al-Hayat, the Abu Dhabi Channel in UAE, and the American-based AlHurra, which broadcasts in the Middle East. It also inspired the creation of new Arabic-language channels within existing international networks such as BBC, France24, and Russia’s RT Channel. Despite intense competition, Al Jazeera remained the most widely viewed channel and was also considered the most credible, perhaps due to its consistency in presenting values and perspectives that resonate with people in the region. For example, Al Jazeera stood against the U.S. occupation of Iraq and has supported Palestinian rights and exposed Israeli abuses, such as the siege of Gaza, which most other channels deliberately avoided covering. Most of all, Al Jazeera has served as a forum for regime opposition. During the revolutions, and the subsequent restrictions Arab regimes imposed on both domestic and foreign correspondents, social media became a supplemental news source, alongside broadcast media and satellite channels. As the numbers of people using social media platforms grew—Facebook use alone doubled in the Arab world between 2010 and 2012—these platforms became the chief means of documenting and broadcasting atrocities committed by Arab regimes. Arab satellite channels came to

10 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

rely on Facebook for such footage, often filmed on mobile phones. Although the mass media succeeded in inspiring the Arab revolts, its own shortcomings neutralized its potential to help bring about an Arab democratic transition. Most Arab satellite channels, including Al Jazeera, are owned by Arab royalty, which has meant the introduction of bias and narrow political interests into the newsroom. Meanwhile, social media remains an open platform where anyone can have a voice. The result, however, is that information is often unverifiable and is presented without the level of professionalism offered by traditional media outlets. Democratic transformation requires freedom of expression, which has certainly blossomed over the past two decades through mass media. However, outward expression must be accompanied by change from within a country. For decades, Arab countries have been suffering from totalitarian regimes that have confiscated freedoms, strangled opposition, failed to hold honest elections, and prevented the effective evolution of legislative powers. The Arab world must reform their constitutions, their parties, and their judiciary systems—in short, adopt a culture of democracy. Otherwise freedom of expression will never survive. ◆

Dr. Sania El-Husseini is a writer and academic from Palestine. She is currently a visiting scholar at CCAS.

Vicki Valosik

Arab satellite media stations first emerged as key players during the American wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. The Qatarbased television network Al Jazeera produced such professional coverage of the wars that it competed with that of international satellite networks and reached Arabs around the world. The remarkable

launched by BBC Media Action sent mobile media centers to refugee camps to provide access to WiFi, charging stations for mobile devices, and tablets with applications that provide information such as phone numbers for schools, hospitals, legal support, and a variety of other essential services. Beyond vulnerable communities, technological advances bring exciting new opportunities for the region’s 180 million (and counting) Internet users. But the digital future is fraught with peril for the Arab region, as in other authoritarian-ruled environments—even in more democratic political systems—with trends pointing to robust surveillance and challenges to the protection of free expression. ◆



Graduates of the MAAS program have distinguished themselves in many professional fields, including the media. In the pages that follow, we hear from alums who work in the media—as journalists, editors, and producers—and on the media—as expert commentators, knowledge archivists, and scholars.

In Newsrooms Today, Agility Is the Name of the Game Nadine Cheaib, MAAS Class of ‘05

Photos courtesy of contributors

Nadine Cheaib, Digital Producer at Al Jazeera English, discusses recent shifts in the media landscape—for both news producers and consumers—and the new agility required on both sides. Technology is developing at lightning speed, and that has both helped and hurt traditional newsrooms. Television newsrooms have become smaller, sometimes existing only on the cloud. Budgets that were once allocated for TV are continuing to shift to support expanding digital divisions and platform teams across the board. We now have news on demand, and a lot of it. This has put a burden on both journalists, who are doing more and competing for fewer jobs, and on consumers, who must now be able to separate fact from fiction, examine alternative news sources to steer clear of fake news, and cross-check sources more than ever. With better connectivity and access, millions of citizen journalists are actively engaging in the news-gathering process. You no longer need a journalism degree to be a storyteller.

News producers have had to adapt as well, both to consumer trends and behaviors, and to the everchanging policies of social media giants. For example, a few years ago, consumer behavior told us that most people use their phones for their news consumption and that they watch videos with the sound off, so we [at Al Jazeera] began creating social videos with text. Facebook recently changed its algorithms to display less news in users’ feeds and more content from friends and family, supposedly returning to its original purpose, and publishers are now brainstorming ways to get around its algorithms. The field is constantly changing, and I suspect things will be different two years from now with the expanding shift to VR (virtual reality) and podcasting. Gone are the days when media organizations sent out field crews with a reporter, producer, cameraman, and editor. Now, it’s a one-woman show. The 21st century journalist is expected to know how to shoot, edit, script, post, and schedule their content across all social platforms. Newsrooms expect fresh graduates to wear all of those hats—and be happy about it—and they expect their veteran journalists to keep up with the times, or be pushed out. Anyone considering going into journalism should ask herself: “Would I be happy doing this job for free?” If the answer is no, then you’re in the wrong field.

Nadine Cheaib (pictured above left) works in Doha, Qatar as Digital Producer at Al Jazeera English, where she creates social videos, podcasts, and other online content. She has previously worked as media specialist at Al-Arabiya TV and as news analyst at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington D.C. She graduated from MAAS in 2005.

LINDA GRADSTEIN (MAAS ‘85) Freelance Journalist based in Jerusalem, teacher of journalism at NYU-Tel Aviv, and former NPR correspondent Perhaps more so now than ever before, the media plays a crucial role in informing the public and safeguarding democracy. The MAAS program taught me to explore different narratives of history and politics. I think learning Arabic has also been crucial for my career. The 24hour news cycle is a challenge for all of us, yet balanced fair journalism remains my goal.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


MAAS IN AND ON THE MEDIA as someone who’s fairly critical of the Egyptian government and that’s certainly true of my perspective. That doesn’t mean, however, that I think everything they do is wrong, and on occasion I’ve had the chance to change a journalist’s perspective on an issue they’re writing on rather than echoing their opinion and just serving as an instrument for them to editorialize their article vicariously through me. Given how little space is available in any article or news package for an analyst’s opinion (generally a sentence or two in a print article, or one to three minutes on TV), it’s always rewarding when you can find a way to use that slim space to add complexity to the reader’s or viewer’s understanding of the topic.

More Than a Soundbite Timothy Kaldas, MAAS Class of ‘08

Timothy Kaldas, who is regularly sought out by major media outlets such as CNN and BBC for his expert commentary and analysis, discusses the pitfalls and rewards of being on the other side of the interview. I think one interesting challenge in being a commentator regularly interviewed by the press is finding ways not to be a prop. More often than anyone would like to admit, journalists call interviewees not to learn more about a subject, but rather to get someone to express an opinion they want in their piece. With TV, this is made even more explicit with pre-interviews. On one level, it’s an effort to make sure that there is a diverse set of views on any program or in any article, but this often reduces discussions of complex issues to simplistic dichotomies of pro-government vs. government critic or pro-regime vs. pro-rebel. Oftentimes, though, the richest discussions acknowledge the deeply flawed aspects of all sides in any political issue. I’ve found that some of my favorite interviews were ones in which I failed to live up to the journalist’s expectations. I’m generally called KRISTIN DAILEY (MAAS ‘01) Independent foreign policy journalist based in Washington, DC, and former desk editor for Lebanon’s The Daily Star

Misreading New Modes of Knowledge Production Bassam Haddad, MAAS Class of ‘94

Bassam Haddad is Founding Editor of the Knowledge Production Project (KPP), an open-access archive and data visualization platform that catalogues knowledge produced on the Middle East since 1979. He discusses current debates over the role of new forms of knowledge production. It has become abundantly clear that new modes of knowledge production associated with blogs and electronic publications are not just here to stay, but are also gradually encroaching on traditional forms. The immediate knee-jerk reaction of academic gate-keepers against this “creeping” monster has been to consider such new forms to be sub-par compared to traditional scholarship. This attitude is both correct and shortsighted. It is correct because traditional scholarship adheres to more rigorous analytic and documentation standards. However, the rejection of these new modes of knowledge production is short-sighted because it often does more to marginalize sound scholarship than protect it, and is far more concerned with gate-keeping than with the supply of knowledge. When we observe patterns of knowledge production and knowledge consumption, we see that the overwhelming majority of readers in virtually any context or country do not read traditional academic publications, such as peer-reviewed scholarly journals or specialized scholarly volumes, and have never done so—even in the pre-Internet era. And while such scholarly knowledge production has grown

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Photos courtesy of contributors

In recent years, the turmoil across the Middle East has ensured a steady flow of news coverage from the region. An increasing number of media outlets therefore understand the value of hiring reporters and editors who have mastered the Arabic language and understand the historical, cultural and political contexts that shape breaking news events in Arab countries. Gone are the days of parachute journalism. Expertise in the Middle East is now regarded as a key requirement for those who want to cover this exciting region.

Timothy Kaldas (pictured left) is a non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) and former visiting professor at Nile University in Cairo. His commentary and analysis on Egyptian transitional politics and other topics, have been featured on CNN, France 24, BBC World, Radio France International, Al Jazeera English, and Mada Masr.

KHODY AKHAVI (MAAS ‘08) Head of Video at Al-Monitor, based in Washington, DC I’ve covered the Arab world as a professional journalist for nearly ten years. As head of video for Al Monitor, I get to work for a news organization that provides perspectives you don’t find in mainstream English media. I credit my studies at CCAS for providing me with the foundation to unpack the complexities of a region undergoing such rapid transformation. But the best part is, a decade on, I still get to practice journalism. And I do so in an environment that encourages varying regional perspectives, often articulated in different languages. That’s the cornerstone for making sense of the contemporary Arab world.

steadily and somewhat proportionally to population growth, knowledge consumption and accessibility have grown exponentially. This continuing trend shows that there is more demand for knowledge, but not of the scholarly variety. The proliferation of blogs, electronic publications, and other new forms of knowledge production have thus not advanced at the expense of traditional realms. Simply, they have supplied increasingly larger numbers of lay people with sound alternative narratives and interpretations to mainstream reporting and writing. The yield, or impact, of such proliferation has therefore been more productive than the impact of the steady, but always constrained, production of traditional scholarship—and has played a greater role in creating an informed public.

Dr. Bassam Haddad is Director of the Middle East and Islamic Studies program at George Mason University and Visiting Professor at CCAS. Haddad serves as Founding Editor of the peer-reviewed Arab Studies Journal, Co-Founder/Editor of Jadaliyya Ezine, Executive Producer of Status radio magazine, and Founding Editor of the Knowledge Production Project ( He has authored several books on the contemporary Arab world. He graduated from MAAS in 1994.

Understanding Social Movements through Social Media’s Big Data Photos courtesy of contributors

Laila Shereen Sakr, MAAS Class of ‘98

Laila Shereen Sakr is the creator of R-Shief, a visualizing media system and archive of more than thirty billion social media posts used by researchers from the humanities to engineering to conduct computational and textual analysis on social media and digital activism. She shares the inspiration behind R-Shief and her other groundbreaking projects.

When social media users in the Middle East adopted Twitter and Facebook to push for political change, these digital media captured the imagination of a wide audience of scholars and interest groups. They also captured the imagination of the public, and the Arab uprisings of 2011 were coined “Twitter revolutions.” Arab activists’ use of social media became a model for other social movements, such as Occupy Wall Street, the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong, the 12M and 15M movements in Spain, and activist efforts from Ferguson to Palestine. These all quickly adopted similar tactics, enabling people around the world to participate virtually as witnesses to contemporary events. This dramatic surge of virtual and on-theground revolutionary activism also inspired corporate interests and government entities like the NSA to hijack social media for a variety of purposes, from monitoring consumer behavior to surveillance. In recent years, social media platforms have been radically transformed by under-served publics and governments alike, and the Arab world has been “ground zero” for some of the most dramatic and influential of these changes. This research on global, emergent media analytics became my doctoral scholarship and a guiding focus of my career as a scholar: understanding digital communication as an indispensable component of living in the twenty-first century, and the importance of accessing information across borders and languages. In 2009, I created R-Shief ( to archive and visualize internet content in Arabic, most notably in relation to the 2011 Arab Uprisings and Occupy Wall Street movements. R-Shief now contains over 30 billion social media posts (from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other popular sites) in more than 70 languages. The challenge now is not in collecting content, but in producing data analytics and visualizations that address the structure and practices of the security states in crisis. My latest project is creating a Virtual Reality (VR) world of social media. The “2018 Arab Future Tripping VR Prototype” features a cyborg running through a media landscape animated by tweets from more than 60,000 users, with each tweet generating the shifting landscapes (trees, frogs, deer, a sunrise, etc.) I am considering new design approaches to data visualization while expanding our understanding of how the logic of digital computation influenced twenty-first century global social movements. I hope to contribute to our understanding of contemporary political speech, rapid social change, and data science by drawing on emergent media and using the Middle East as a starting point.

Dr. Laila Shereen Sakr (pictured above) is Assistant Professor of Media Theory & Practice at University of California, Santa Barbara, where she co-founded Wireframe, a digital media studio. She is the creator of the databody VJ Um Amel and the R-Shief software system ( Sakr graduated from MAAS in 1998.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


MAAS IN AND ON THE MEDIA grew, leading to international recognition. It was at the height of this success in 2012 that the Moroccan government targeted us with malware that could activate users’ phone cameras and microphones without their knowledge. Clearly, we— an alternative voice to dominant pro-regime media coverage—were seen as a threat. The situation further deteriorated when one of the founding members of Mamfakinch, Hisham Almiraat, was charged with “threatening national security”—charges that have been widely condemned by international rights groups. Political disaccord within Mamfakinch’s editorial team led to fissures and, ultimately, the site’s self-imposed hiatus.

Mamfakinch: A Case Study in Citizen Media and Internet Surveillance Samia Errazzouki, MAAS Class of ‘15

Journalist Samia Errazzouki shares her experiences as a former member of Mamfakinch, a citizen media site that was targeted by the Moroccan government. Her later research on the group has been widely published and cited as a case study in government surveillance.

NATALIA SANCHA (MAAS ’08) El País correspondent for Lebanon and Syria My advice [to aspiring journalists] is: Work very hard. Media nowadays is focused on immediacy, which is not necessarily a good thing. Good reportage takes time. Dedicate enough time to your stories and allow yourself to go indepth on whatever project you’re working on. Do not think that if you’re in Syria that you will automatically be an acclaimed reporter and that you will get a ton of job offers. It does not work that way! The minute you step out of the field, you are irrelevant. Consequently, make sure you get to work on things you like and are passionate about.

I was already a correspondent before Georgetown, but I went for the MAAS degree to give myself an edge over the competition. It paid off immediately. Shortly after getting my degree, The Washington Post sent me to Baghdad just before the 1991 Gulf War started. My Arabic landed me an interview with the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament. The language skills and the knowledge I gained in the program have helped me immensely. Smartest career move I ever made.

The University of Cambridge, in cooperation with the Al Jazeera Center for Studies, later asked me to research Mamfakinch as a case study of internet surveillance and citizen media in Morocco. Using my insider knowledge as a former member, I explored the ways in which media theory can help us understand the how’s, what’s, and why’s of what happened to Mamfakinch in relation to the Moroccan regime. Ultimately, my paper concluded that the shifting landscape of citizen media in Morocco over the past few years was largely driven by the state’s policies and actions aimed at stifling critical news coverage in the country.

Samia Errazzouki (above left) is pursuing a PhD in history at the University of California, Davis and is a co-editor with Jadaliyya. Samia has worked as a journalist in Morocco, reporting for the Associated Press and Reuters, and as a research associate with the University of Cambridge. She published the article “Under watchful eyes: Internet surveillance and citizen media in Morocco, the case of Mamfakinch” in the Journal of North African Studies. Samia’s research will also be featured in a forthcoming Routledge volume and the docu-series “Truth & Power.” She graduated from MAAS in 2015.

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Top left: Anthony Drugeon; Photos courtesy of contributors

When the Arab Spring reached Morocco, the citizen journalism site Mamfakinch emerged as the media arm of the February 20th Movement, the name by which a series of protests starting in early 2011 came to be known. Publishing statements from the movement in different languages, mapping protests across the country and in the Moroccan diaspora, Mamfakinch served as a unique source on Morocco’s popular uprising. Inspired by the content and reach of Mamfakinch, I submitted a research paper I had written on King Mohammed VI’s role in the country’s private sector, which Mamfakinch subsequently published. Afterward, the team asked me to join to help bolster their English-language content. Mamfakinch’s momentum and readership

TOD ROBBERSON (MAAS ‘89) Editorial Page Editor at the St. Louis Post Dispatch in St. Louis, Missouri

Takruri reports from the Qalandia checkpoint in the occupied West Bank for a story on how the wall divides families, hurts the economy, and cuts off farmers from their land; Below: Takruri filming for her show “Direct From with Dena Takruri”

Speaking Truth to Power, Giving Voice to the Voiceless 2008 MAAS graduate Dena Takruri’s bold, digital reporting is challenging dominant narratives and reaching a new generation.

Top: Shadi Rahimi/AJ+; Bottom: Kutlay Dede/AJ+

By Tithi Patel


up in California, Dena Takruri, Senior Presenter and Producer at AJ+, the digital news channel of Al Jazeera Network, always knew she wanted to be a journalist. Summers spent in her parents’ native Palestine made an early and lasting impression about injustice in the world, while watching the nightly news with her family left her seeking better on-screen representation. As an Arab-American woman, she developed an early awareness of how marginalized communities are often misrepresented in the media. “As a minority in America, you see how people are reported on and how they’re often dehumanized and not rowing

given their fair shake,” said Takruri in an interview with Nieman Storyboard. “Seeing the really negative portrayal of Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians, which I also am, I wanted to correct that.” Now, with a fan base of 117,000 Facebook followers and 40,000 more on Twitter, and her own show—“Direct From with Dena Takruri”—she says her guiding principles in her work as a journalist are “to give voice to the voiceless, to challenge power, and to challenge the status quo—including the media status quo.” As one of the original found-

ers of AJ+, Takruri wanted to make news that would appeal to millennials by bypassing traditional media outlets and delivering her content directly to social media. Dena was among the first to use Facebook Live as a reporting tool while covering the refugee crisis in Europe. Short, compelling videos proved effective in countering mainstream news, but Takruri quickly found that this medium was also perfect for building an emotional connection between the viewer and the story by enabling viewers to see the human impact and hear directly from those affected. Takruri has traveled the globe many times over, reporting from the West Bank, the Korean DMZ, South Africa, Spain, Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter protests, the DNC and RNC, AIPAC’s annual policy conference, and Michigan during the Flint water crisis, just to name a few. Takruri, who has been featured in the Peabody and Emmy-nominated series “The Secret Life of Muslims,” has not shied away from making her intersecting identities as a woman, a

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


MAAS IN AND ON THE MEDIA Muslim, and a Palestinian-American known. “I’m comfortable speaking out about racism, bigotry, xenophobia,” she told Nieman Storyboard. “My identity as a woman of color shapes that. I think it’s been an asset. My identity and being open about it often creates trust with the people I’m reporting on [by] approaching subjects as a person of color who can empathize.” Takruri says she began to develop the intellectual framework that would guide her studies and her desire to correct false narratives as early as middle school when she read Jack Shaheen’s The TV Arab, and, later Edward Said’s Orientalism. After studying International Development at University of California, Berkeley, she went on to earn her graduate degree from Georgetown’s MAAS program. “I credit MAAS for awakening my critical senses towards the role of

power in defining mainstream discourse on issues,” says Takruri. “I engage with it, and try to challenge it, on a daily basis. I have also benefited tremendously from the depth of regional knowledge I gained as well as my drastically improved Arabic skills, which I’ve used reporting in the field.” It was during her time at MAAS that Takruri got her start in journalism as co-host of “ART America,” a show produced by an Arab satellite channel and hosted by young Arab-Americans. After graduating from MAAS in 2008, she was hired by Al Jazeera Arabic to produce “Min [From] Washington,” a live show on current affairs, which she did for four years. Takruri then moved to New York to work with HuffPost Live before joining AJ+ in 2013. In September 2017, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

awarded Takruri the Rose Nader Award for her “unwavering dedication and commitment to values of equality and justice.” In accepting the award, Takruri reflected on her time as a journalist: “I’ve seen firsthand how we are all connected by our struggles, whether we know it or not… At the core of our commitment to social justice and equality is a fundamental kindness we have to possess as humans and a recognition that we are all the same. We have to be a compassionate society where love and acceptance triumphs over fear.” Takruri dedicated the award to the people whose stories she has had the “immense privilege and responsibility” to tell. “I am just the messenger,” she said. ◆

Tithi Patel is a senior at Georgetown University, majoring in International Economics.

The Big Takedown

larger problem and began looking for a way to bring his story to international attention. Word of Wahbi’s search for a French and Arabicspeaking journalist spread and eventually reached Kellou, who had graduated from MAAS on a Fulbright Scholarship in 2012 and was MAAS alum Dorothee Myriam Kellou exposes working in Paris as a journalist. Lafarge Cement’s wartime profiteering and ties Kellou interviewed Wahbi and began seeking out testimonies from to ISIS in an award-winning investigative report. other Lafarge employees. She found numerous cases of Syrian Lafarge employees being forced to go to work despite the inordinate By Mary Margaret Ewens amount of danger that came with both traveling to and working at the plant. Working on the story from afar wasn’t easy, says Kellou, who initially contacted several of her informants who were still in Syria n an era marred by a barrage of fake news, sensational reporting, and corrupt business practices, the work of investigative journalists through Facebook. “I had to gain the employees’ trust, and many of like MAAS alumna Dorothee Myriam Kellou, who exposed one of them initially feared talking to me,” Kellou explained in an early inthe biggest cases of corporate greed and exploitative war-zone practices terview with Jadaliyya. In September of 2014, the Islamic State seen in recent years, is more important than ever. (ISIS) took over the plant. “Officially, all Kellou’s groundbreaking investigation, which Lafarge employees on site were evacuated began in 2014, found that French cement giant safely,” Kellou told Jadaliyya. “In fact, no Lafarge-Holcim not only endangered employees evacuation was organized. Employees had at its Syrian branch, but also paid concessions to to flee using their own resources through the armed groups in Syria, including ISIS. Kellou’s desert.” After the takeover, more and more work, published in 2016 in a three-part report employees stepped up, ready to talk, and by Le Monde and on the television station France Facebook posts condemning Lafarge’s fund24, led to an ongoing judicial inquiry of Lafarge, ing of ISIS began appearing. Syrian news the resignation of Lafarge’s CEO and criminal site Zaman al-Wasl published an article exinvestigations of several top executives, and an posing links between the cement giant and overhaul of the company’s corporate practices. terrorist organizations, citing leaked emails In 2012, Nidal Wahbi, head of human reto which Kellou was able to gain access and sources for Lafarge’s branch in Syria was abcross-check the testimonies she had gathducted. Eventually he paid a bribe and was ered. Suddenly the story had teeth. released. While his individual story wouldn’t Kellou continued to work on the story for have made news in wartime Syria, Wahbi knew Kellou with Alexandra Wrage, president two years and eventually uncovered that Lathat what had happened to him was telling of a and founder of TRACE



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farge had indirectly paid armed groups in Syria to secure the roads for employees and cement convoys to pass. As the influence of Al-Nusra Front and ISIS began to increase, Lafarge was, in effect, indirectly funding one of the largest terrorist groups in the world. They not only paid intermediaries for security—despite the fact that at least 13 employees were kidnapped for ransom over a two year period—but also had paid taxes to ISIS in order to keep the company running long after most foreign companies had withdrawn from Syria. Kellou also found emails that seemed to prove that Lafarge’s headquarters in Paris were aware of these arrangements. Kellou was awarded the 2017 TRACE Prize for investigative reporting for her work on the Lafarge story. The judges at TRACE, the internationally recognized anti-bribery organization, said that Kellou’s work “powerfully captured, with nuance and intelligence, the moral crisis that faces businesses caught in the desperate situation in Syria, and by extension, every war-torn region.” She was also a finalist

Q&A with...

Ada Mullol

Journalist and MAAS Student (‘18) By Vicki Valosik

Photos courtesy of contributors


da Mullol, a second-year student in MAAS, first honed her reporting skills as an undergraduate journalism major at Autonomous University in Barcelona, where she wrote for the university magazine and received an investigative reporting award for her work on the Syrian regime’s suppression and surveillance of Syrians in Spain. Mullol went on to pursue training at the London School of Journalism and an MA in International Relations from the Barcelona Institute of International Studies. She had long been interested in the Arab world, though, and knew that developing regional expertise and improving her Arabic would enable her to better tell the stories she cared about. In 2016, she joined MAAS, where she is writing her thesis on the intersection of media, public opinion, and foreign policy.

How did your investigative work on the Syrian regime’s efforts to suppress its citizens abroad come about?

for the Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press in the Arab World and the Albert Londres Award, France’s highest journalism honor. Kellou, who in addition to her continued work as a journalist is also producing a documentary about forced resettlement during the Algerian War of Independence, credits the MAAS program for building the skills she uses in her reporting work. “I gained wonderful research skills while writing a thesis at MAAS,” she says. “Conducting thorough research—often reading materials in French, English, and Arabic—and trying to find new approaches to a subject all proved to me that I could be bold, take on difficult projects, and succeed in doing great work. I wouldn’t have started my research on Lafarge in Syria without having first done the research I did at Georgetown.” ◆

Mary Margaret Ewens is a graduate student in Georgetown’s Communication, Culture & Technology Program.

In 2012, I had the opportunity, along with three classmates in Catalonia, to interview people from both sides of the Syrian conflict, including representatives of the Syrian regime, such as then-Acting Ambassador of Syria in Madrid. I realized that Syrian communities abroad, and even families, were divided on their loyalty, or opposition, to the regime. According to some of the sources, the regime was trying to prevent the birth of an organized revolt from abroad through espionage, threats, and the gathering of information on demonstrators by the intelligence services. I had access to NGO reports and external actors, such as members of Amnesty International, journalists reporting on Syria, and experts in the region. However, the most impactful interviews were the first-hand testimonies of Syrians in Spain on how the regime had threatened their families in Syria in retaliation for their demonstrating in Spain, and how, despite these threats, they continued to openly show their opposition to the regime. The process of obtaining and preparing for interviews, gaining an understanding of the hardships and fear that Syrians were suffering, and writing the final feature covering all these issues made me realize that there were still millions of stories to be told in the region, and that I wanted to be there to tell them.

How do you think your time at MAAS will affect your future work as a journalist? After these two years studying the politics of the Arab world, as well as their different social, cultural, religious, economic, and

historical nuances, I feel that I am better equipped to report in-depth on the particularities of the Arab world. I am better able to draw analogies and discern differences between remote parts of the region and its different ethnic and religious populations. I am sure that the Arabic I learned at MAAS will help me a great deal in the future if I have the chance to work in an Arab country.

As a journalist, you bring a unique perspective to your academic research on the relationship between the media and foreign policy. Why have you chosen this subject for your thesis research?

Journalism is the medium through which most people learn about what is going on in the world, but in my opinion, reporting goes beyond simply informing the population of what is happening. Journalism also has the duty to contextualize, give voice, and serve as a forum to improve societies and enhance people’s peaceful coexistence. The Arab world has experienced many sociopolitical conflicts, and it is vital to pay attention to how the media reports and frames the political developments in the region and their broader implications. This is why I decided to focus my thesis research at MAAS on the role of international media coverage of ongoing wars in the Middle East, and their potential to influence foreign policy changes. I believe that doing this kind of introspective analysis—and critique—of media coverage is fundamental in improving the journalistic profession and reporting on the MENA region in particular. ◆

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Alumni News

‫أخبار الخريجين‬

➠ Alumni Article ‫مقاالت الخريجين‬ MAAS ON THE MOVE News from our Alums

MAAS alums, we want to hear from YOU! Send your news items to ccasalum@ or through the form at We look forward to to sharing your achievements with our readers. Mark Danner, 1987

Mark provides business risk management services to international companies seeking to invest in the housing/infrastructure sector in Egypt and serves as advisor to the Abdelkader Education Project. Roberta Doherty, 1988

Roberta, Yale University’s Librarian for Middle East Studies, was featured in the Jan/Feb 2018 issue of AramcoWorld in an article about the history of Arabic language study in U.S. institutions. Bassam Haddad, 1994

Bassam was the 2017 recipient of the Jere L. Bacharach Service Award, given by the Middle East Studies Association, for his many contributions and collaborations in the field of Middle East studies. Lucia Volk, 1994

Lucia received the 2017 Middle East Studies Association Undergraduate Education Award for her work at San Francisco State University, where she is Professor of International Relations. Michele Rigby Assad, 2000

Michele, a former counterterrorism officer, published the book Breaking Cover: My Secret Life in the CIA and What It Taught Me about What’s Worth Fighting For.

New research

‫ابحاث جديدة‬ Sara Scalenghe, 2000

Sara’s book Disability in the Ottoman Arab World, 1500-1800 won the 2016 Best Book Award by the Disability History Association, and an Honorable Mention in the 2015 British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize in Middle Eastern Studies. She has also been awarded an NEH grant to direct a 2018 teacher institute on “Global Histories of Disability” at Gallaudet University.

Faculty spotlight

Alexander Thurston, 2009

Alex published a new book, Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement, with Princeton University Press (2017).

Vanessa de Bruyn, 2010

Vanessa has served three tours as a Foreign Service Officer, most recently in Portugal. She has now returned to working on Yemen issues as a Desk Officer at the State Department.

‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬ Rebecca Hernandez, 2005

Rebecca published the book The Legal Thought of Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti: Authority and Legacy about the great fifteenth-century Egyptian polymath (Oxford University Press, 2017). Ariel Ahram, 2006

Ariel’s co-edited book, Comparative Area Studies: Methodological Rationales and Cross-Regional Applications, was published by Oxford University Press (2018). Ariel recently gave a guest lecture in Prof. Neep’s MAAS class, “Intro to the Study of Arab World.”

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

Elizabeth Nugent, 2010

Elizabeth, currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Middle East Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School, will begin an appointment as Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University in July. Deena Shakir, 2010

Deena was listed as one of Huffington Post’s “2017 Top Ten Inspiring ArabAmerican Leaders to Watch” for her work in technology, philanthropy, and public service. Michael Hendrix, 2014

In October, Michael began a position at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he focuses on economic sanction issues. Gareth Smail, 2015

Gareth published “Politicized Pedagogy in Morocco: A Comparative Case of Teachers of English and Arabic” in the International Journal of Educational Development in March 2017. Zoya Waliany, 2017

Zoya began a position at Dataminr as a South Asia and Middle East Domain expert in September.


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‫فنان العدد‬ Center News ‫أخبار المركز‬

MAAS News (Student News) ‫أخبار الطالب‬

pats in Qatar are there because of political reasons or because they just want to make a living get Visiting Scholar and ‫باحث زائر‬ away from the politics of the Arab world, so nobody Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬ wanted to talk about politics. One thing that we all shared though was satire. We Staff all Updates had the same ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬ jokes—just with different presidents. For me, that Board Member Profile ‫خاص من المجلس األستشاري‬ was the starting point. Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

Q&A with Featured Artist

Khalid Albaih by Vicki Valosik

Photo by Stefan Ruiz; Art by @Khalidalbaih

Khalid Albaih (@khalidalbaih) is a Sudanese artist and political cartoonist born in Bucharest, Romania. Albaih is based in Doha, where he

formerly served as Head of Public Art for Qatar Museums Authority. He currently lives and works in Denmark as the ICORN/PEN Artist in Residence for the city of Copenhagen. Albaih’s cartoons, published under the name “Khartoon!”—a play on the words “cartoon” and “Khartoum,” the capital of Sudan—have appeared widely in international publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic, PRI, NPR, and BBC. In addition, Albaih has published social and political commentaries in The Guardian and Al Jazeera, among other places. His work has been exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions around the world, from New Delhi and Tokyo, to London, Boston, and Dearborn, to name only a few. Khalid is also the founder of @DohaFashionFridays and cofounder of Khartoum Art & Design Center. Albaih’s work is featured on the cover and on page 8 of this issue. He kindly took a few minutes to chat with CCAS about his work. How did growing up in a political family influence your path to becoming a political cartoonist? For me, politics was the reason I didn’t have a home, and I wanted to understand what that meant. I had an uncle who was a Communist, supposedly on his way back to becoming the president of Sudan after a coup. I had another uncle who became interim president and was an Islamist. My own family had everyone—Islamists, Communists. I was in the middle and I just wanted to learn about both of them. When I came to Doha, there were around ten nationalities in my class—Egyptians, Palestinians, Indians, Pakistanis. Most ex-

How have the Internet and social media Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬ platforms created new spaces Public for political cartoonists? Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬ Growing up, we had a really hard time obtaining visas and traveling, but in Qatar,In the Internet the Headlines ‫العناوين‬was ‫في‬ pretty advanced. In chatrooms, we could speak to Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬ people in all corners of the world. It became our plane ticket and opened our eyes to a lot of things. Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬ We lived through the different stages of the Internet, from chatrooms to forums to blogging to social media and microblogging, and took advantage of the open spaces that we didn’t have in real life. I started my Facebook page and went from having a few friends to having now around 80,000. It gave me a chance to give our news from us, to say, “This is what’s happening here.” To do that, I chose cartoons because they are the simplest form of communication, and I can use the least words possible. I posted [my first cartoon] online and it was kind of like jumping over a communication barrier, over a wall of language. The Internet opened that door, but after the Arab Spring, things started to change. The government caught on to what was happening on social media and the Internet, made regulations, and arrested a lot of people for tweeting and writing. Now the Internet itself, with its privacy rules and algorithms, has added to our tunnel vision. Basically, if you like Trump, you’ll always get news about Trump. If you like Hillary, you’ll always get news about Hillary. For me, putting a cartoon out there, if you like what I like, then you’ll see my work. It wasn’t like that before. What challenges do you face with your art? I have been doing a cartoon a day for ten years, but nothing changes. Assad is still bombing, Putin is still Putin, Trump is still Trump. What we loved about the Internet and Twitter was citizen journalism, and that rarely exists now. It’s this hashtag or trending thing today, and tomorrow it’s something else. Our attention span got shorter with all the social media and the Internet, and we have to run to keep up with what’s new. When we started on the Internet, we were challenging the status quo of the old media. But now, what are we challenging? We are running on the hamster wheel they made for us. I’m still doing my art, but I’m also trying to find new ways of communicating. I’m working with other artists on a book about the history of Sudan, and I’m trying to start a public library [in Sudan] and a platform for artists. I’m trying to work on all these physical projects because just being on the Internet is not the solution. I don’t think it is as powerful as it used to be. ◆

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

Ancient Inspiration for a Education Outreach ‫التثقيف التربوي‬ New Marketplace of Ideas in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), sheds light on the lived experiences of refugees and displaced people and points to the need for durable solutions. In October, American Druze Foundation (ADF) 2017-2018 Fellow, Dr. Amir Khnifess, presented on the Druze politics of survival in Palestine. Also in October, CCAS visiting scholar and MAAS alum Mouin Rabbani led a roundtable with his presentation “Palestine: Anatomy of an Abyss.” Rabbani discussed the prospects of the recently-concluded reconciliation agreement and President Trump’s declared objective of pursuing “the ultimate deal,” while attendee questions underscored the challenges presented by President Trump’s unpredictable foreign policy. In November, Professor Mohammad AlAhmad of CCAS led the first Arabiclanguage roundtable of the year, in which he discussed the works of Syrian poet Mohammad Omran and how poetry has been used as a means of social resistance. In addition to the engaging topic, Dr. AlAhmad’s talk provided a unique opportunity for students of Arabic to engage with the language outside of the classroom. January’s Souq Al-Fikr featured Yemeni journalist and political commentator Sama’a Al-Hamdani and Attorney General of the State of Qatar, His Excellency Dr. Ali Bin Futais Al-Marri. Al-Hamdani discussed the Saudi-led war in Yemen and the death of Ali Abdallah Saleh, while HE Dr. Al-Marri presented in Arabic on the legal impact of the diplomatic rift targeting Qatar. In February, CCAS Associate Professor and Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Chair, Dr. Joseph Sassoon delivered a talk entitled “The Global Merchants: The World of the Sassoons.” In a refreshing change of pace, Dr. Sassoon traced the 300+ year history of the Sassoon family, an Arab-Jewish family that settled in India, traded in China, and aspired to be British. Their story provides a unique vantage point into the ways globalization impacted the rapidly changing world in which

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬ Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬

Inspired by a seventh-century model, a new “souq” at CCAS brings together thinkers and scholars to discuss current regional events within their historical and global context. By Azza Altiraifi


Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬

semester, the CCAS their greater historical and political context. launched a new roundtable discus- Far from being just another lecture, how‫ﺳﻮق اﻟﻔﻜﺮ‬ sion series called “Souq Al-Fikr” ever, the Souq Al-Fikr events feature guided Souq Al-Fikr (‫)ﺳﻮق اﻟﻔﻜﺮ‬, meaning “marketplace of ideas.” discussions and a true exchange of ideas beSouq Al-Fikr The title of the monthly series is a play on tween attendees and subject-matter experts. From the Trump administration’s decision the name “Souq Okaz” (‫)ﺳﻮق ﻋﻜﺎظ‬, a market Souq Okaz Arabia where to move the American embassy in Israel from in what is current-day Saudi ‫ ﻋﻜﺎظ‬leaders ‫ ﺳﻮق‬from across the peninsula gath- Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, to the killing of forArab Souq Okaz mer Yemeni ered during the sixth, seventh, eighth ‫اﻟﻤﺮﻛﺰ‬ Centerand News ‫ أﺧﺒﺎر‬President Ali Abdallah Saleh, to centuries to discuss politics and culture, the crisis of refugees and internally displaced MAAS News (Student News) ‫أﺧﺒﺎر اﻟﻄﻼب‬ Center News ‫اﻟﻤﺮﻛﺰ‬ and—most famously—to host ‫أﺧﺒﺎر‬ poetry compe- persons (IDPs) in Iraq, the Souq Al-Fikr Visiting Scholar ‫ﺑﺎﺣث زاﺋر‬ MAAS News (Student News) ‫أﺧﺒﺎر اﻟﻄﻼب‬ titions. Although many important historical series has brought people from across the Faculty News ‫أﺧﺒﺎر ھﯿﺌﺔ اﻟﺘﺪرﯾﺲ‬ Georgetown community and beyond to undevelopments Visiting Scholar ‫ ﺑﺎﺣث زاﺋر‬can be traced to Souq Okaz, Staff Updates ‫آﺧﺮأﺧﺒﺎر اﻟﻤﻮظﻔﯿﻦ‬ pack the historical and socio-political precurone of the most notable is the formalization Faculty News ‫أﺧﺒﺎر ھﯿﺌﺔ اﻟﺘﺪرﯾﺲ‬ sors behind today’s headlines. of the rules of Arabic grammar and syntax. Board Member Profile ‫ﺧﺎص ﻣﻦ اﻟﻤﺠﻠﺲ اﻷﺳﺘﺸﺎري‬ Staff Updates ‫آﺧﺮأﺧﺒﺎر اﻟﻤﻮظﻔﯿﻦ‬ CCAS Director and Associate ProfesInspired by this famous gathering place for Dispatches ‫ﺑﺮﻗﯿﺎت‬ Board Member Profile ‫ﺧﺎص ﻣﻦ اﻟﻤﺠﻠﺲ اﻷﺳﺘﺸﺎري‬ thinkers, leaders, and scholars, the Souq Al- sor Rochelle Davis inaugurated the series Public Events ‫اﻟﻤﻨﺎﺳﺒﺎت اﻟﻌﺎﻣﺔ‬ Fikr series at CCAS grew from the need to in September by presenting the findings of Dispatches ‫ﺑﺮﻗﯿﺎت‬ Education Outreach ‫ ﺗﻌﻤﯿﻢ اﻟﺘﺜﻘﯿﻒ‬as a longitudinal study of 4,000 internally-disaddress current events in the Arab‫اﻟﺘﺮﺑﻮي‬ world Public Events ‫اﻟﻤﻨﺎﺳﺒﺎت اﻟﻌﺎﻣﺔ‬ they unfold, and to frameIn the these events within placed families in Iraq. The study, conducted Headlines ‫ﻓﻲ اﻟﻌﻨﺎوﯾﻦ‬ uring the fall

Education Outreach ‫ﺗﻌﻤﯿﻢ اﻟﺘﺜﻘﯿﻒ اﻟﺘﺮﺑﻮي‬ In the Headlines ‫ﻓﻲ اﻟﻌﻨﺎوﯾﻦ‬

20 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

HIGHLIGHTS From Recent Public Events

Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter with Mme. Zohra Drif SEPTEMBER 19 Mme. Zohra Drif, recently retired VicePresident of the Algerian Senate and key activist in the Algerian struggle for liberation, joined the Center to discuss her newly-published memoir, Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter.

The Qatar Crisis in Context with Dr. Allen Fromherz and Mr. Mouin Rabbani SEPTEMBER 22

Allen Fromherz, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at Georgia State University, and Mouin Rabbani, MAAS alum and independent Middle East analyst based in Amman, Jordan, presented on the Qatar diplomatic crisis.

Screening of National Bird with director and producer Sonia Kennebeck OCTOBER 18

CCAS Visiting Scholar and MAAS alum Mouin Rabbani (top) led October’s roundtable. Yemen expert and journalist Sama’a Al-Hamdani (middle) spoke about the war in Yemen, and His Excellency Dr. Ali Bin Futais Al-Marri (bottom) spoke about Qatar at January’s Souq Al-Fikr.

the Sassoon family lived and prospered. Over the course of the year, the Souq AlFikr series has drawn nearly 200 attendees from across the Georgetown community and beyond. Delivered in English and Arabic, the diverse range of content offered during these discussions has equipped our community to understand the full story behind today’s headlines. The Souq Al-Fikr has continued monthly throughout the spring semester. ◆

Azza Altiraifi is the CCAS Events Coordinator.

Director and producer Sonia Kennebeck joined CCAS and the Georgetown Culture and Politics Program for a screening of her film, National Bird. The documentary follows the dramatic journey of three whistleblowers determined to break the silence around one of the most controversial issues of our time: the secret U.S. drone war.

Book Talk on Radical Arab Nationalism and Political Islam with Dr. Addi Lahouari JANUARY 12 Addi Lahouari, professor at the Institut d’études Politiques at the University of Lyon, presented on his recently published book, Radical Arab Nationalism and Political Islam, which he worked on as a Carnegie Centennial Fellow at CCAS in 2013-2014. The book assesses the history and political legacy of radical Arab nationalism to show that it contained the seeds of its own destruction.

The Politics of Disintegration and Reconstruction in Yemen with Dr. Stacey Philbrick Yadav JANUARY 25

Stacey Philbrick Yadav, Associate Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, joined CCAS to discuss the war in Yemen, focusing on the failures of diplomatic initiatives and the ways the political order has fundamentally changed. Top: Mme. Zohra Drif discusses her memoir during a panel on the Algerian struggle for independence with Ambassador Polaschik and Prof. Lahra Smith of Georgetown. Bottom: Director and producer Sonia Kennebeck gives remarks following a showing of her film, National Bird.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬



the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬ ENGAGE InYOUR Cultural Exchanges from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean By Susan Douglass


Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

ach year, in conjunction with the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Conference, institutional members of its affiliate, the Middle East Outreach Council (MEOC), hosts a workshop for educators and conference attendees. In November of 2017, the MESA Annual Conference in Washington D.C. fea-

The content was built around a trending topic of historical and cultural study: the five senses. Discerning how people long ago sensorially perceived their world depends upon an analysis of material culture, literature, and fine arts, in addition to evidence from archaeological sites that illuminate what people ate and how they arranged their living spaces.

in the Arab World.” She featured readings and a lesson on Nizar Qabbani’s poem “The Fortune Teller” in Arabic, as well as an English translation. Participants especially enjoyed her demonstration of how to make Arabic coffee. Then, she surprised everyone by having the grounds “read” by the free phone app Kaave. Fatemeh Keshavarz of the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland demonstrated the power of Persian poetry with her presentation “Wondrous Birds: Persian Poetry as Fabulous, Flying, and Musical.” She began by providing literary context, and then read selections of her own and Rumi’s poetry in Farsi. The recitations brought the language to life to such an extent that translations were hardly necessary. The Layaali Arabic Music Ensemble led a tour of styles and techniques: percussion instruments by Michel Moushabeck; the oud (lute) by Abdul-Wahab Kayyali; and the nay (flute) by Chakib Hilali. This educational seminar, “Musical Encounters from the Arab World,” was capped by a wonderful ensemble performance.

Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬

Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬

Layaali Arabic Music Ensemble performs during the workshop “Musical Encounters from the Arab World.”

22 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Experience it yourself!

Check out the CCAS Soundcloud page to hear a performance by the Layaali Arabic Music Ensemble and a podcast of “Wondrous Birds: Persian Poetry as Fabulous, Flying and Musical” by Fatemeh Ksharvarz. You can also find a video of the talk “Touch and Sight: Textiles from India and Beyond” by McKnight on the CCAS Youtube Channel. See page 6 for links.

Harrison Guthorn

tured a collaborative workshop extravaganza cosponsored by four local member organizations: the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University, the Middle East Policy Council, and the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, which graciously hosted the workshop at its beautiful building. Each organization sponsored speakers and funds to make this enjoyable day accessible to more than forty educators, outreach professionals, and MESA members.

An exploration of touch and sight began the day, starting with an historical overview of Indian textile exchanges and technologies for spinning, weaving, and applying colors to cloth during a lecture titled “Textiles from India” led by Cristin McKnight of the Corcoran School of Art and Design at George Washington University. The beautiful fabrics she displayed were a feast for the eyes, their textures luxurious to the touch. Arabic and Persian poetry represented the sense of hearing. Abeer al-Mohsen, Arabic instructor at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, presented “Arabic Poetry and Coffee Culture

MESA AND THE MUSLIM BAN continued from page 7

Left: An example from Cristin McKnight’s presentation of an Indian tie-dye technique for making bandhana fabric; Right: Abeer al-Mohsen demonstrates how to make Arabic coffee and “read” the coffee grounds.

We indulged the sense of taste with a Middle Eastern lunch from Mediterranean Bakery. Lunch was accompanied by a talk from Harrison Guthorn, Senior Program Officer at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, who also brought a sample of fragrant spices. Megan Geissler of the Middle East Policy Council continued with the sense of smell with her presentation and lesson plan “Mapping the Movement of Scents,” which discussed the migration of the plant and perfume trade around the region over time—ac-

companied by the chance to daub perfume on the wrists of workshop attendees. The workshop ended at the recently reopened Freer Gallery of Art for a tour of the exhibit on Islamic arts arranged around an appreciation for the senses. The tour included famous pieces such as the Freer’s enameled glass mosque lamp, metalwork incense burners, ceramics, and works on paper. Teachers received a rich collection of teaching resources and were then free to view additional galleries in the renovated museum. ◆

Fall 2017 Education Outreach Workshops From Sinbad to the Shabab Oman: A Seafaring Legacy, September 23, 2017. This event was co-sponsored by the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center in conjunction with an exhibit of the same name on shipbuilding, sailing, trade routes, and goods.

Harrison Guthorn

Trans-regional and Global Themes in Teaching: African, Latin American, Asian, and Middle Eastern Perspectives, October 28, 2017. This was the second annual workshop on area studies at Georgetown University, featuring School of Foreign Service faculty representing the different world regions. This is part of an ongoing collaboration between CCAS, SFS and the District of Columbia Public Schools’ global education initiatives, open to educators across the DMV area. Mapping the Syrian Conflict through Syrian Literature and Art, December 2, 2017. Malu Halasa, Jordanian-Filipina-American writer and editor; and Georgetown faculty Elliott Colla and Mohammad Alahmad spoke collectively at an event for educators. Participants gained access to a wide range of literature and images, and insights into the lives of writers, activists, and ordinary people against the background of the Syrian conflict that emerged out of the Arab Uprisings of 2011.

Dr. Susan Douglass is the K-14 Education Outreach Coordinator at CCAS.

countries—Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela—from entering the U.S. on visas. On October 6, 2017, MESA’s lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), together with lawyers from the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), filed papers in Maryland for an injunction to stop this third iteration. Our legal team has worked tirelessly to present the strongest counterarguments possible. The MESA membership has been solidly behind our efforts, and information provided by our members has been critical to the preparation of a strong second declaration about the negative impact of the ban. Judge Theodore Chuang heard arguments in the case on October 16, 2017 and signed an order the following day, blocking implementation of the ban. A judge in Hawaii issued a similar ruling in a separate challenge. The government immediately filed an appeal, and the Fourth Circuit then took up the arguments of the case, hearing it on December 7, 2017. In a 9-to-4 ruling issued February 15, 2018, the Fourth Circuit Court ruled against President Trump’s third Muslim ban, noting that the indefinite ban violates the Constitution. At the same time, the Hawaii case has moved forward and will be heard by the Supreme Court on April 25, possibly in conjunction with the Maryland case. MESA plans to continue its efforts to contest the Muslim Ban as fundamentally inimical to the principles and scholarly practices of our organization. ◆

Dr. Judith Tucker is Professor of History at CCAS and President of the Middle East Studies Association. She will continue to serve as MESA President until November, 2019. Dr. Beth Baron is Director of the Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, where she also teaches. She served as MESA President from 2015 to 2017.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


DISPATCHES Notes From Abroad

Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

Love, Death, and a Day’s Work Public Events ‫سبات العامة‬ By Majd Al Wahaidi


ne morning toward the end lack of electricity can mean the differof my four years of working ence between life and death. After the as a journalist in Gaza, I was war of 2014, I covered the story of a getting ready to go to a birthday party family whose home had been reduced when an email landed in my inbox. “Are to a charred shell, missing its doors and you going to the executions?,” read the windows. With winter upon them, no subject line. There would be no birthpower, and nowhere else to go, they day party for me that day. Instead, I were hit by an even worse tragedy: their would soon be on my way to the public four-month-old baby froze to death. execution of three men. From death and suffering to joy and Even for someone accustomed to new beginnings, this was life to me, reporting on a place so scarred by conas a journalist in Gaza—trying to dig flict and hardship, witnessing a public out human truths from the contradicexecution was a jarring experience. I felt tions and complexities that surround that it was important, though, to docuand sometimes overwhelm you. You ment this “final moment” of a story I do so while knocking on doors to ask had closely followed. Seated in a plastic families how their sons ended up in jail chair, I watched for three hours as the after crossing the fence into Israel, or men accused by Hamas of collaborating while interviewing an artist who locked with Israel were killed—two hung and herself in her room for 100 days to proone shot by firing squad. I heard and test the war and strict traditions. You documented their final words. do it while arguing with conservative This is the kind of scene that many men who hate the very idea of a female associate with Gaza. And while it’s true reporter or while trying to explain to that violence and death are an everyactivists why, as a journalist, you can’t day reality in Gaza, for me, it is also a take their side, even if you are sympaplace of love and of life. So was my next thetic to their cause. assignment—to cover a series of wedIn addition to these internal strugAl Wahaidi is visited by neighborhood children while dings that had resulted from Gaza’s first reporting from a building destroyed by an Israeli gles, interrogation and detention by rocket during the 2014 war (top) and conducts interonline dating website. security officials, and severe restrictions “We are the halal version of Ameri- views with women who lost their homes in the same on movement are part of daily life for war (bottom). can dating apps,” the founder of the site journalists in Gaza. Even protective “Wesal” told me, referring to the fact gear is difficult to access. I know a fethat Wesal—which means “reunion” in Arabic—doesn’t include pic- male photographer who painted a saucepan to make it look like a tures of its users and is more about facilitating marriages than dates. helmet; another time she turned a plastic bag into a press vest so that The way I told the story of these weddings for the New York Times she could cover demonstrations. was a world away from those featured in the regular “Fashion & Style” Last fall, I left Gaza for Georgetown, swapping a place of crisis section: As one groom said about his new bride, “She will make me and insecurity for this safe and quiet pocket of academia, where the happy. She will make me forget about my pain.” power is always on. I have ceased to be a reporter, at least for now. While the executions and violence are the dark side of Gaza, the But as a daughter of Gaza, the memories and the struggles between wedding halls filled with dancing and joyful ululation, and bursts of life and death, joy and sorrow, stay with me. I hope I can convey to wedding “snow” streaming through the air, are the beacons of light— the world not only the complexities and paradoxes of these stories, both literally and figuratively. Powered by generators, they are among but also the incredible dignity, strength, and resilience I found in the the few places lit at night during the almost constant blackouts. people there. ◆ One of the biggest challenges for journalists in Gaza is finding power, whether to charge their laptops or read interview notes. On many nights, I ended up writing under a moonlit sky. Humanitarian Majd Al Waheidi is a first-year MAAS student. She was born in Gaza to organizations call it an “electricity crisis,” but this masks the fact that a Bedouin family from Beersheva. Before joining MAAS, Majd worked in the blackouts are a political issue and that for people in Gaza, the Gaza as a reporter for the New York Times.

Education Outreach ‫وي‬

In the Headlines ‫العناوين‬

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫تدريس‬ Faculty Feature ‫التدريس‬ Photos courtesy of author

24 Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

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