Winter/Spring 2022 CCAS Newsmagazine

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Center for Contemporary Arab Studies Georgetown University Newsmagazine

Winter/Spring 2022




e are nearing the end of our first year back on campus following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been wonderful to be able to gather in person again for classes, events, and celebrations. And, as you will read in this issue, we have had much to celebrate this year. First, CCAS was pleased to welcome in August a cohort of 33 new MAAS students, 18% of whom are international. We also welcomed a new core faculty member, Assistant Professor Dr. Killan Clarke, a political scientist with expertise in comparative politics, democratization, protests, and revolution. Our department was also joined this year by two postdoctoral fellows, Dr. Lindsey Pullum and Dr. Marya Hannun, each of whom taught a graduate seminar at CCAS. In addition to welcoming these new faces, we celebrated the careers and legacies of Professors Judith Tucker and Ibrahim Oweiss. In September, we dedicated a plaque at CCAS to Dr. Oweiss, one of the founders of CCAS, in honor of his many contributions to the Center. In April, CCAS and the History Department celebrated the retirement of Dr. Judith Tucker, following her nearly 40-year career at Georgetown. We will greatly miss seeing Judith regularly, but we wish her all the best in her future endeavors and know that she will always remain a friend of the Center. Even though we are back on campus, we have continued to build on the virtual programming experience and skills gained during the pandemic to innovate ways to stay engaged with our expanded audiences and partners—offering a mix of online, in person, and hybrid public and internal events. For example, this new model enabled us to bring more than 30 guest speakers into MAAS classes, either online or in person and to host diverse public events in collaboration with partners across the university and beyond. Our Education Outreach program remains strong, hosting 19 events for approximately 800 attendees this year; two of these events were in-person while the rest were virtual. We are also pleased to announce the new publication, Making Levantine Cuisine: Foodways of the Eastern Mediterranean (University of Texas Press, 2021), which grew out of a CCAS symposium and features the work of multiple members of the CCAS community. It also inspired the theme of this issue. Lastly, I would like to extend my congratulations to the graduating class of 2022. We look forward to seeing all that you will accomplish.

Congrats to the MAAS Class of 2022! Motasem Abuzaid, Hoda Al-Haddad, Nooran Alhamdan, Douglas Christensen, Antony Costantin, William Cox, Zachary Culbertson, David Ernyey, Wissam Fakih (graduated August 2021), Anna Ferguson, Madeleine Hall, Catherine Hase-

man, Aisha Jitan, Ramzi Khalaf, Kristine Konnecker Jakobsen, Aaron Mccann, Benjamin Peeler, Jakob Plaschke, Juan Ramirez, Nicole Robinson, William Robin-

son, Akram Safa, Aidan Salamone, Mary Kathleen Smith, Chase Swinerton, Ayah Tafesh, Antonio Tahhan, Maddie Fisher, Jenna Zabarah

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 at Georgetown University.

Core Faculty Joseph Sassoon Professor and Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Chair; Director, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Fida J. Adely Associate Professor and Clovis and Hala Salaam Maksoud Chair in Arab Studies Killian Clarke Assistant Professor

Marwa Daoudy Associate Professor and Seif Ghobash Chair in Arab Studies

Rochelle A. Davis Associate Professor and Sultanate of Oman Chair Judith Tucker Professor

Affiliated Faculty Osama W. Abi-Mershed Associate Professor Mustafa Aksakal Associate Professor

Mohammad AlAhmad Assistant Teaching Professor Belkacem Baccouche Assistant Teaching Professor

Elliott Colla Chair, Arabic & Islamic Studies Department Noureddine Jebnoun Adjunct Associate Professor

Staff Dana Al Dairani Associate Director

Susan Douglass K-14 Education Outreach Director Maddie Fisher Events and Program Manager

Kelli Harris Acting Director of Academic Programs Vicki Valosik Editorial Director

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


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

An online version of this newsletter is available at

About the Cover Art


The "Molokhya poster" featured on the cover was created by Sohila Khaled and selected as one of the Best 100 Arabic Posters of 2021. Sohila is a children's book illustrator and comic artist with a passion for Illustrating foods and recipes, especially those from her native Egypt. As an artist, Sohila has worked with regional and international publishers and publications such as Dar Alia, Nahdet Misr, Noon Books, Kalamna at Cambridge University, and ArabLit Quarterly, as well as multiple regional magazines. Her illustrations have been featured in the Sharjah Children's Book Illustration Exhibition and the Mahmoud Kahil Award Exhibition. In 2021, Sohila’s picture book Akh Akh! was shortlisted for the Etisalat Children's Literature Award and The Journey of Choosing a Ramadan Lantern was longlisted for the Sawiris Foundation Cultural Award. More of her work is featured on page 13.

Join us for the SUMMER TEACHER INSTITUTE 2022 Diplomacy in the Middle East and North Africa The 2022 Summer Teacher Institute will take place July 25-29 through a combination of virtual, in-person, and hybrid events. This year’s theme, “Diplomacy in the MENA,” will provide teachers with tools to incorporate topics of diplomacy into geography, civics, government, and U.S. and world history courses at the middle, high school, and community college levels. The institute will cover types of diplomacy, diplomatic history

and achievements in the MENA region, the functions of embassies and consulates abroad, and careers in the foreign service. The institute will be held in collaboration with Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, and with support from a Title VI grant from the United States Department of Education.

The theme of this issue was inspired by Making Levantine Cuisine: Foodways of the Eastern Mediterranean, a new collection of essays and articles that grew out of a CCAS symposium exploring the region’s complex culinary histories. An excerpt of the book is included in the issue, alongside work from members of the CCAS community that intersects with food studies. ADF Fellow Lindsey Pullum shows what one woman’s cafe near Haifa can teach us about Druze identity, while alum Anny Gaul’s research demonstrates the value of cookbooks as historical documents. Lovers of molokhia, the dish illustrated on the cover, will enjoy MAAS student Antonio Tahhan’s reflections on his global quest to find the “best” way to prepare this iconic comfort food. You’ll also hear from alum Anela Malek on her work as a food writer and learn about the many activities at CCAS this year— from expanding our public events, to welcoming new faculty and celebrating the legacies of others.

Vicki Valosik, Editor

In This Issue FEATURE ARTICLES Faculty Spotlight 7 Q&A with Prof. Killian Clarke

Student Feature 14 Reflections on Molokhia, Identity and Forks vs Spoons

New Research 9 Book Delves into Levant’s Culinary History

Visiting Scholar Feature 16 Maisa’s Kosher Kitchen

10 On Making Levantine Cuisine

REGULAR FEATURES 4 Faculty and Center News

Alumni Spotlight 13 How Anny Gaul Studies Cookbooks

18 Education Outreach

20 Q&A with Food Writer Anela Malek

22 Alumni News

SPECIAL STORIES 4 Judith Tucker's Retirement 21 In Memoriam: MAAS Alum Aaron Fowler 23 Celebrating CCAS Pioneer Ibrahim Oweiss 24 The Year in Pictures

19 Public Events


FACULTY & CENTER NEWS Faculty Updates Assistant Professor Killian Clarke, who joined CCAS this year, published the article “Which Protests Count?” in the peer-reviewed journal Mediterranean Politics. His article, which uses protest data collected as part of his dissertation and book project, shows the value of using local, Arabic-language news sources as a form of protest data and demonstrates that serious coverage biases exist in off-the-shelf protest and conflict datasets that rely solely on English-language news sources and wire services. He also published an op-ed with Mai Hassan (University of Michigan) in the New York Times on the counterrevolutionary coup in Sudan in October 2021, drawing on insights from his research on counterrevolution in neighboring Egypt. During his first year at CCAS, Dr. Clarke also taught “Comparative Politics of the Middle East” and “Revolutions in the Middle East.” In the latter course, each student becomes an “expert” on one Middle Eastern revolutionary episode, writing several short essays on their case and a more extended research paper. Read a Q&A with Prof. Clarke on page 7.


In Spring 2022, Adjunct Associate Professor Noureddine Jebnoun developed and taught the new graduate seminar ”Power and Society in the Arabian Peninsula.” The course questions the oil-security essentialist binary framework that has previously characterized knowledge production on the Arabian Peninsula. It undertakes a sociological and anthropological approach to examine the transformations of Arabian Gulf societies and the complex agency of both citizens and non-citizens in shaping these countries’ domestic dynamics. Dr. Jebnoun’s article “Outsourcing Violence: Para-Institutional Coercive Actors in the UAE’s Regional Activism” will be published in the spring issue of the Arab Studies Journal. The peer-reviewed article draws extensively on records from the National Archives of the United Kingdom, as well as contemporary data. The UK edition of Professor Joseph Sassoon’s latest book, The Global Merchants: The Enterprise and Extravagance of the Sassoons was published by Allen Lane in February, 2022. Within days, his book had become Amazon’s #1 top-selling book in international trade, #7 in

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Image credit: Wardah Books

Over the past year, Associate Professor Marwa Daoudy gave talks on her book The Origins of the Syrian Conflict: Climate Change and Human Security (Cambridge University Press, 2020) at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, Princeton University, the Japanese Association for Asian Studies, the Centre Arabe de Recherche et d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, and Duke University. She also presented her book in MAAS alum Mark Berlin’s class at George Washington University. Reviews of Dr. Daoudy’s book were published in Global Environmental Politics and Review of Middle East Studies. Dr. Daoudy’s recent publications include: “Scorched Earth: Climate and Conflict in the Middle East” in Foreign Affairs, “What is Climate Security? Framing Risks around Water, Food and Migration in the Middle East and North Africa” (co-authored with Jeannie Sowers and Erika Weinthal) in WIREs Water, and “Rethinking the Climate Security Nexus: A Human-Environmental-Climate-Security Framework” in Global Environmental Politics. Dr. Daoudy was a keynote speaker for the Rivers for Peace workshop at the American University and a discussant during the World Bank’s recent launch of the report “Ebb and Flow: Water, Migration and Development.” She spoke at meetings of the Istituto per gli studi di politica internazionale and the Social Science Research Council, the “Energy-Health Nexus in Contemporary Conflicts Workshop” at Duke University, and at the “Palestine 101” panel organized by the Students for Justice in Palestine at Georgetown. She also served as an advisor on forthcoming reports with the UN ESCWA in Beirut and the Mediterranean Experts on Climate and Environmental Change; she also participated in the Middle East Institute Advisory group for the Climate Cooperation in the Gulf project. Dr. Daoudy was interviewed about her book and other research by The Fire These Times and the Duck of Minerva podcasts, Agence France Presse, Geneva Solutions, and World Politics Review. She also taught the MAAS program’s core course “Introduction to the Study of the Arab World” and her elective course “Critical and Human Security.”

During the 2021-2022 Academic Year, Associate Professor Rochelle Davis was on sabbatical. She had received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach at Ahfad University for Women in Sudan, but due to the coup in Sudan in October, the Fulbright was canceled. During the year, she completed the six-year panel study of Iraqi households displaced by ISIS with the International Organization for Migration with Research Associate Salma al-Shami. All of the reports produced are found on the CCAS website as well as the IOM Iraq website. On her sabbatical Davis has been working on completing her book manuscript on the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. She has also been working on a project with IREX to support Iraqi universities. Georgetown’s contribution involves Jesse Szeto, Director of Georgetown’s Office of Research Services, Minatullah al-Obaidi, MAAS alum and Administrative Project Assistant in the Provost’s Office, and several GU student RAs to support the development of a research support office at the University of Tikirit. This project has also involved the American University of Beirut, among other regional connections. She published “Essential Readings on Refugees and Forced Displacement in Jadaliyya in July 2021 and a book chapter on “Village Life in Palestine” in Voices of the Nakba: A Living History of Palestine, edited by Diana Keown Allan (Pluto Press, 2021). The book is the winner of an English PEN Award 2021. In addition, Davis co-authored an article with MAAS alum Dan Walsh called “Visit Palestine: An Image Remixed” in the Journal of Visual Culture (Palestine Portfolio), September 2021.

economic history, and #11 in Asian history. His book was reviewed by all the top newspapers in the UK, including The Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Spectator, and The Telegraph. Dr. Sassoon was interviewed on BBC’s weekly discussion program “Start the Week” and gave several book talks

in England, including at Oxford’s Bodleian Library and St Antony’s College, and numerous virtual talks for groups and institutions in the UK, China, and India, including the Bangalore Literary Festival. The U.S. edition of his book will be published by Pantheon in October. During the school year, Dr. Sassoon taught graduate seminars on political memoirs in the Arab world and the politics and economics of authoritarianism.

Meet The 2021-2022 Fellows at CCAS Marya Hannun Qatar Post-Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Marya Hannun is a historian of Afghanistan and the Middle East. During her fellowship, she has worked on her book manuscript, tentatively titled Pan-Islamic Women: Un-Domesticating Afghanistan in an Age of Reform. This monograph will offer a transregional perspective on women, gender, and Islamic reform in early 20th Century Afghanistan, focusing specifically on the years leading up to and following World War I and the decline of the Ottoman Empire (1900-1935). During the fall semester, Hannun taught a graduate seminar for CCAS on women and gender in the Arab world.

Lindsey Pullum American Druze Foundation Fellow

Dr. Lindsey Pullum is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in cultural expressions of ethnic and religious difference in Middle Eastern popular culture. Her research investigates how ethnonationalism shapes ways of belonging that are transmitted through tourism in Druze villages of Israel and the occupied Golan Heights. During her fellowship, Pullum finalized her book manuscript and submitted it to a university press for review, published an article on design anthropology in the spring issue of Practicing Anthropology, and completed the chapter “My Mother’s Recipe, My Nation’s Narrative: Intersections of food, militarism, and masculinity in Maisa’s Kitchen,” which is forthcoming with Rowman & Littlefield in an edited volume (see page 16). During the Spring semester, she taught the graduate seminar “Popular Culture, Politics, & Identity: Ethnography of Media and Minorities of the Middle East.”

Staff Updates CCAS Staff Earn Graduate Degrees We are so pleased to congratulate three members of our staff who have earned graduate degrees from Georgetown this year. Assistant Director of Academic Programs Kelli Harris (middle) completed her MA in Learning, Design, and Technology in December. Kelli holds a prior MA in Liberal Studies from Georgetown. In May, CCAS Associate Director Dana Al Dairani (right) will earn an Executive MBA from the McDonough School of Business. Dana is also an alum of the MA in Arab Studies program at CCAS. We will soon also celebrate CCAS Event and Programs Manager Maddie Fisher’s (left) MA in Arab Studies, which she will complete this summer. Congratulations to each of you on your hard work and amazing achievements!

Congrats to Career Mentor Awardees Professor Belcacem Baccouche and CCAS Editorial Director Vicki Valosik were both recipients of the 2021 Georgetown Cawly Career Education Center Faculty and Staff Champion Mentor Award. The award is given each year to faculty and staff nominated by students for their career mentorship and inspiration.


“It is common knowledge in poetics that there are aesthetic values that poets express or represent in their poetry. These values are various and limitless, but among them are: the beautiful, the ugly, the sublime, the tragic, the comedic, and the heroic. These are fundamental in art, just as they are in nature and in our lives. A poetic text may express any of these values without limiting itself to a single one. Poetic studies reveal a dominant value that becomes the prevalent experience of a text— claiming that one text interprets the experience of beauty, another the experience of loftiness, another the experience of tragedy, and so on. Since the poet renders his aesthetic experience indirectly, it manifests—if


the poet is creative and faithful to a coherent aesthetic experience—on all levels of the work: phonetic, morphological, syntactical, and semantic (lexical and figurative), so that it is possible to study the manifestations of this expression on all these levels. However, in my extensive readings in poetry, I have noticed that poetic imagination is especially influenced by the type of experience, sometimes in obvious ways, and others in profound ways that require special analytical mechanisms in order to reveal them. Despite the large number and popularity of studies of the so-called “artistic imagery” or “poetic imagery” in Arabic poetry, I did not find a study that tests the nature of the relationship between the artistic imagery on the one hand, and the prevailing aesthetic experience in the text or in the poet’s poetry on the other. My study attempts to address this gap, using Mohammad Umran’s poetry as a testing site to explore this relationship.”

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

ّ ‫اﻟﻌﻼﻗﺔ ﺑﻴﻦ اﻟﻤﺠﺎز ّواﻟﺘﺠﺮﺑﺔ‬ ّ ‫اﻟﺠﻤﺎﻟﻴﺔ ﻓﻲ اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬ ّ ‫دراﺳﺔ ﻓﻲ ﺷﻌﺮ ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﻋﻤﺮان‬

ّ ‫ ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺷﻮﻛﺖ اﻷﺣﻤﺪ‬. ‫د‬

‫ ﻣﺤﻤّ ﺪ ﺷﻮﻛﺖ اﻷﺣﻤﺪ‬. ‫د‬

Assistant Teaching Professor Mohammad Al Ahmad recently published his book The Relationship Between Metaphor And Aesthetic Experience in Poetry with the Syrian publishing house Shurufat. His book takes as a starting point that works of art involve two experiences: that of the aesthetic reception of the subject matter and that of creativity. It attempts to expose the relationship between these two experiences and asks the central question of how the aesthetic experience manifests in the metaphor of the text. Dr. Mohammed shares more on his book below:

ّ ‫اﻟﺸﻌﺮ‬ ‫اﻟﻌﻼﻗﺔ ﺑﻴﻦ اﻟﻤﺠﺎز واﻟ ّﺘﺠﺮﺑﺔ اﻟﺠﻤﺎﻟ ّﻴﺔ ﻓﻲ‬

Professor Al Ahmad Explores Metaphor and Imagery in New Book

Dr. Al Ahmad is a former faculty member and Vice Dean of Academic Affairs at Al-Furat University’s campuses in Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa in Syria, which were shut down by ISIS in 2014. Through the work of the Institute for International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund and faculty at Georgetown, Dr. Al Ahamad had the opportunity the following year to come to CCAS, where has since taught a wide range of Arabic content courses for advanced language learners, such as prison literature, Arabic poetry, and Arab feminism through literature. Dr. Al Ahmad writes in the acknowledgements of his book that IIE and CCAS “not only saved my academic career but also saved my children’s life and shaped their future. The safe, academic and welcoming environment at Georgetown University has given me the opportunity to maintain and develop my academic career and resume research projects, of which this book is one.”

‫ﻮﺿﻮﻋﺎت‬ ‫ﻟﻴﺔ ﻧﻌﺘﻘﺪ‬ ّ ‫ ﺑﻞ‬،‫ﻞ ذﻟﻚ‬ ‫ﻼل ﻋﻤﻠﻴﺔ‬ ،‫ﺮ ﻣﺒﺎﺷﺮة‬ .‫اﻷﺳﺎﻟﻴﺐ‬ ،‫ﺟﻤﺎﻟﻲ‬ ‫ﻢ‬ ّ ‫ﻟﻠﻤﻮﺿﻮع‬ ‫ﻋﻦ ﺟﺎﻧﺐ‬ :‫ﺤﻮري ﻫﻮ‬ ّ ‫اﻟﺸﻌﺮي؟‬ ‫ﺺ‬ ّ


‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬

Q&A with CCAS Assistant Professor Killian Clarke by Vicki Valosik


ast fall, CCAS was pleased to welcome our newest core faculty member, political scientist Dr. Killian Clarke. Assistant Professor Clarke’s research centers around protest, revolution, and regime change in the Middle East and beyond. He has written about the causes of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, protest and unrest in Syrian refugee camps, pro-democracy social movements in Egypt, and processes of democratization in the postcolonial world. His work has been published in the British Journal of Political Science, World Politics, Perspectives on Politics, Mediterranean Politics, and Comparative Politics. Dr. Clarke is currently writing a book on counterrevolution, which uses the case of Egypt’s 2013 coup and an original global dataset on counterrevolution to explain why some revolutionary governments are toppled by counterrevolutions whereas others go on to establish durable and long-lasting regimes. The graduate-level courses he is currently teaching for CCAS include “Comparative Politics of the Middle East” and “Revolutions in the Middle East.” Dr. Clarke earned his PhD from Princeton University and holds an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from NYU’s Hagop Kevorkian Center and a BA from Harvard University. Prior to joining CCAS, he was a Raphael Morrison Dorman Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow with the Weatherhead Scholars Program at Harvard University. He answers below a few questions about his research and teaching.

What are the key findings of your research and what can they tell us about why revolutionary regimes succeed or fail?

One of the more interesting findings from my research on counterrevolutions is that the nature of revolutionary resistance really dictates how resilient the new regime is and

how likely it is to survive. If we think about some of the “classic” revolutions in modern history—the Bolshevik revolution, the Cuban revolution, the Chinese revolution, the Sandinista revolution—these regimes survived multiple counterrevolutionary challenges, many of which were quite wellarmed or well-funded. And this pattern is actually representative of a broader trend. Revolutions involving violence and espousing radical ideologies tend to produce regimes that are far more durable and resistant to bottom-up challenges. This is not great news for unarmed, liberal revolutions, like the ones we saw during the Arab Spring. In fact, almost all the counterrevolutions in modern history have toppled revolutions like these. But my research also suggests that there are certain strategies and tactics that can help these regimes to survive—like keeping their coalition as unified as possible, cultivating foreign alliances, and responding to the economic and social grievances behind the revolution.

What types of data do you use in your research?

I’m a big believer in mixed-methods research, especially when we’re trying to analyze complex social or political phenomena like revolutions. I’ve always used interviews in my research—I really think it’s essential if we’re going to study social processes to talk to the people who actually participate in and are affected by these processes. Recently I’ve also been doing a lot of work with “event” data, which are essentially inventories of protests, strikes, marches, etc. from particular times and places. Event data are exciting because they allow you to study the arc of a particular movement or revolution, looking at where and when protests occur, what tactics are

used, what demands are raised, and how the state responds. It’s a great complement to interview data, which gives much more of the lived experience of participating in protest. I have also done some work with crossnational datasets, especially in my book on counterrevolution. This type of data allows you to put a phenomenon like counterrevolution in broader context. For example, in the Egypt case, after 2013 a lot of people were asking where and when similar counterrevolutions had occurred in the past. Without comparative, cross-national data we would have no way of answering that question.

What are your approaches to teaching?

It really depends on the topic of the course, though a big theme is teaching students how to move between deep area studies knowledge and more general theorizing on important questions or problems. So, for example, in my comparative politics course, which is a survey of different themes in the comparative politics of the Middle East, I structure the course around specific questions or problems in the literature. So rather than think about oil or political Islam or authoritarianism as topics, I push my students to think about the questions at the heart of these research agendas, and how different scholars have answered or approached these questions. My revolutions course is obviously much more focused on a single topic. A lot of that course is oriented around learning about theories of revolution and then applying or critiquing or developing those theories using myriad historical cases from the region. Another central feature of that course is that students each become an expert on a specific revolution, and they write multiple short essays and a final research paper on their case. It’s a lot of fun because it gives students a chance to read up intensively on one case, and then the rest of us get to learn about a bunch of revolutions that aren’t explicitly on the syllabus. 7

What future projects do you have on the horizon?

A lot of my upcoming projects build on my previous work on revolutions and protest in MENA. It used to be thought that the Middle East was somewhat immune to revolution, and that protest and mobilization was rare. The Arab Spring, luckily, has done away with that notion—and even though many of these revolutions haven’t turned out as hoped, I think people are aware now that the region is awash with movements, resistance, and mobilization of various types, pushing for all manner of changes and reforms. So, there are lots of opportunities to continue doing research on this topic. One new project that I’m working on with my Georgetown colleague Chantal Berman and our co-author Rima Majed (at the American University of Beirut) is looking at the 2019 wave of revo-

lutionary movements in Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and Algeria. We’re collecting protest data from Iraq and Lebanon, and we want to use these two cases to think about what revolutionary mobilization looks like in countries that are nominally democratic (in that they do hold elections) but are otherwise deeply flawed, sectarianized, and corrupt. These are not the places where we normally expect to see revolutionary movements break out—in fact scholars even go so far as to say that democracies are immune to revolution. And yet we have actually seen a lot of revolutionary uprisings in democracies or semi-democracies in recent years—not just in the MENA but also in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans. So we want to use these cases to theorize about what revolution looks like, and how its characteristics might differ, in these contexts.

Celebrating Professor Judith Tucker Upon Her Retirement


ongratulations to Professor Judith Tucker, who is retiring after four decades at Georgetown! When Dr. Tucker joined the Department of History in 1983, the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies—only eight years old at the time—quickly became her second intellectual home. She served multiple tenures as Academic Director of CCAS’ Master of Arts in Arab Studies program, providing critical leadership and guidance for the Center during its formative years. Tucker’s interest in the Middle East began as a child reading her parents’ copy of 1001 Nights. “I have to confess that I first entered the world of Middle East studies through one of its more orientalist portals,” joked Tucker. A seed was planted though, and during her undergraduate work on political philosophy at Radcliffe and Harvard,


Tucker’s maturing intellectual and political interests converged on the region. She wrote her senior thesis on Islamic political philosophy and became involved in antiwar and Palestinian justice movements. After graduation, Tucker spent two years at American University of Beirut, learning from renowned scholars like Hanna Batatu, as well as Beirut’s diverse community of intellectuals, exiles, and political dissidents. Following a year in Paris, Tucker began her PhD studies at Harvard, where she produced a dissertation that would become the foundation of her seminal book Women in NineteenthCentury Egypt. She would later author three additional monographs, edit several collected volumes, and publish numerous articles and book chapters. Tucker has served as editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Middle East Studies and president of the Mid-

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dle East Studies Association (MESA), the field’s foremost scholarly journal and academic community, respectively. During her MESA presidency, Tucker led several important initiatives, including mounting a legal injunction against Trumps’ Muslim Travel Ban, issuing a security alert regarding threats to scholars in Egypt, and sending a letter from the MESA Committee on Academic Freedom to U.S. officials opposing the AntiTerrorism Clarification ACT because of its impact on Palestinian students. Tucker has taught generations of undergraduate and masters students and mentored more than 25 PhD candidates, many of whom have gone on to become respected scholars in the field of Middle East studies. In March, Tucker was awarded the Georgetown Career Research Achievement Award and Distinguished Achievement in Research Award. We congratulate Professor Tucker on her rich legacy of scholarship, thank her for being a dedicated colleague and mentor, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.


New Book Delves in the Levant’s Culinary History


CAS is pleased to announce the publication of Making Levantine Cuisine: Foodways of the Modern Mediterranean by the University of Texas Press. The volume, edited by MAAS alum Dr. Anny Gaul (‘12), CCAS Adjunct Assistant Professor Dr. Graham Pitts, and CCAS Editorial Director Vicki Valosik, sits at the intersection of food studies and Middle East studies, bringing much-needed scholarly attention to the region’s culinary cultures and the intertwining histories and migrations of its foods. Making Levantine Cuisine offers a diversity of perspectives—from scholarly articles that examine local, regional, and global aspects of Levantine foodways to personal essays and recipes that reflect first-hand and lived culinary experiences. “The contributors come from a range of career stages and disciplines, and include authors with culinary, not just scholarly, expertise,” writes Gaul. “As a result, the book’s chapters provide a range of distinct (though connected) contributions: substantiating and historicizing the appropriation and erasure of Palestinian and Armenian foodways; revealing the often-overlooked role of women and rural workers in cultural production; and critiquing the labels––national and otherwise––that are frequently appended to Levantine foods.” In addition to the book’s three editors, several of its contributors are also members of the CCAS community. MAAS alums Dr. Samuel Dolbee (‘10) and Dr. Chris Gratien (‘08) coauthored the chapter “Adana Kebabs

By Vicki Valosik

and Antep Pistachios: Place, Displacement, and Cuisine of the Turkish South,” which explores how foods from Syria’s borderlands were incorporated into Turkish national culinary traditions. Second-year MAAS student Antonio Tahhan—also a food writer and chef—contributed the essay “Pistachios and

Pomegranates: Vignettes from Aleppo” about his experiences studying Syrian food culture as a Fulbright scholar. Gaul’s conclusion to the volume includes a poem by PalestinianAmerican Zeina Azzam, who served in numerous roles at CCAS, including assistant di-

rector, during the Center’s foundational years. Ultimately, Making Levantine Cuisine seeks to address two main questions: What is the history of the Levant’s cuisine? And why has so little scholarly attention been paid to this topic? It was this lack of scholarship that inspired Pitts, the former American Druze Foundation Fellow at CCAS, to suggest that the Center host a critical food studies symposium, and eventually produce the book, to address these topics. “In working on a book manuscript about Lebanon’s World War I famine, I realized that the project lacked sufficient grounding in how food was produced and consumed before the war. There was precious little existing scholarship on which to rely. So, I was really lucky to be at CCAS, which had the resources to support the symposium, and to be able to collaborate with Anny Gaul and Vicki Valosik on the volume. Now, we hope, others who approach this topic will be able to build on the collective work we have done.” The symposium, which the Center hosted in summer of 2019, was organized by Pitts and CCAS Events Manager Maddie Fisher. The daylong event brought together scholars, journalists and food writers to share research and workshop papers, many of which are included in Making Levantine Cuisine. CCAS also sponsored a public event at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, featuring talks by several of the chapter authors. The symposium culminated in a collaborative, hands-on cooking demonstration in Georgetown’s dining hall kitchen. The demonstration was led by 9

Antonio Tahhan, who designed a menu of Aleppan dishes, and Laila El Haddad, who featured dishes from Gaza. “After a day of reading academic papers about Levantine cuisine from diverse academic disciplines, we crowded around kitchen tables to put theory into practice,” remembers Tahhan. “We commandeered the dining hall with lively Arabic music and dedicated prep stations. One for shaping makrouta, irresistibly crumbly shortbread cookies stuffed with a fragrant date filling. Not far away was the group rolling thin sheets of dough for Armenian lamb pies, lahm b’ajeen, a staple in cities with Armenian communities from Aleppo to Beirut. Those who wanted a challenge tried their hands at kbeibat, Assyrianstyle semolina-bulgur dumplings stuffed with a spiced lamb kofta filling. These intricate dishes lend themselves to communal preparations. Between chopping and kneading, rolling and pressing, conversations me-

andered and meaningful connections were made. Cooking is not practice that exists in isolation, but something that is made, collectively, over generations. The title, Making Levantine Cuisine, is a nod to this collaborative process—one that honors practical culinary knowledge alongside more theoretical academic perspectives.” The symposium and cooking workshop set the tone for the balance the volume seeks to strike between scholarly inquiry and practical know-how. “Bringing together historians, anthropologists, and literary scholars, but also poets and food writers, [Making Levantine Cuisine] is interdisciplinary in the truest sense of the term,” wrote reviewer Andrew Arsan, author of Lebanon: A Country in Fragments. “Taken together, these enlightening essays do more than simply provide us with new insight into Middle Eastern foodways: they also open up new conversations and suggest new ways of looking at the world.”

It is this view of food as a lens into cultures and histories that the volumes editors hope readers will take from the book—which has already sold out of its first print run. “The cooks, kitchens, and landscapes of the modern Levant have produced some of the most popular foods in the world today, within and beyond the wider Arabic-speaking world: hummus, shawarma, tabbouleh, and more,” writes Gaul. “Yet there is surprisingly little scholarship on, say, the politics of kibbe, the cultural meanings of mahshi and dolma, or the history of falafel. My co-editors and I envisioned this book as a first step towards addressing that fact…We hope it is an invitation not only to readers but also to scholars and writers working on the region to consider food as a way to understand history, politics, and culture from a new perspective.”

Vicki Valosik is the CCAS Editorial Director.

ON MAKING LEVANTINE CUISINE The following is an excerpt from the Introduction to Making Levantine Cuisine: Modern Foodways of the Eastern Mediterranean.


By Anny Gaul and Graham Auman Pitts


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

100 years before the “Jerusalem” episode was recorded. Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s cookbook does correctly cite the date for the Ottoman withdrawal but reproduces a tired Orientalist cliché, describing the early twentieth-century city as “miserable, congested, and squalid.” The history section glosses over Zionist immigration from Europe, the signal development of modern Palestine’s history. The falafel that Zionist settlers eventually came to claim as their national food was made by Palestinians first. It belongs to a family of fritters made with fava beans, or chickpeas in the Palestinian version, that had long been shared throughout the Arab Eastern Mediterranean, from Alexandria A rare 1907 Judeo-Arabic cookbook, which is discussed in Noam Sienna's chapter on Tunisian Jewish foodways

Image credit: National Library of Israel

n sight of Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, restaurateur and cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi tells Anthony Bourdain that the Ottoman occupation of Palestine ended “150 years” before their 2013 interview. The cameras for Bourdain’s Parts Unknown TV series then follow the pair to a falafel stand inside the Old City’s Muslim Quarter. In response to Bourdain’s query about the origin of the iconic fried chickpea dish, Ottolenghi declares, “There’s actually no answer.” As the author of several best-selling cookbooks (including Jerusalem: A Cookbook), Ottolenghi, along with his collaborator Sami Tamimi, is perhaps the most prominent chronicler of the Levant’s cuisine. However, his answers to Bourdain distort the history of Levantine food. The Ottoman occupation ended in late 1917, not even

Image credits: Library of Congress; National Archives and Records Administration; Samuel Dolbee

and Port Said in Egypt to Beirut in Lebanon. The cookbook authors also make a “leap of faith … that hummus will eventually bring Jerusalemites together,” yet such assumptions disregard the history of that dish and the broader progression of cultural encounters in Israel-Palestine. Historically, the appropriation of Levantine foods like hummus by European Jews has not corresponded with improving intercommunal relations but rather with the further entrenchment of Israeli colonialism. Misconceptions about one of the world’s most prominent cuisines persist, given the scarcity of scholarship on its origins. Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s commodification of their “Jerusalem” brand is typical of the way in which the forms of dispossession essential to modern Levantine cuisine, in its different guises, have been obscured. Turkey and Israel both assembled their national cuisines from the traditions of populations marginalized in the making of those nations. In adopting Arab and Armenian dishes, Turkey’s national food culture attempted to obscure a non-Turkish past. Since Israel’s founding in 1948, the uneven and shifting attitudes within mainstream culture toward the foods of marginalized communities masked a history of violent dispossession, in the case of Palestinians, and systemic discrimination, in the case of Jewish populations who immigrated to Israel from the Arab world. Each project for a national cuisine undermines its nationalist aims by tacitly revealing a diverse past and the persistent cultural unity of a politically divided region. In addition to ethnocentric nationalist agendas, conventional discourse has concealed the inequalities of class and gender essential to making modern Levantine cuisine. Paid and unpaid female laborers have been key to the reproduction of Levantine foodways. This modern food culture began to develop once capitalist social relations took hold in nineteenth-century Beirut. Unlike the traditional mode of production where the terms of exploitation are obvious, they remain hidden under capitalism. It is the task of critique to reveal them. In centering questions of labor and inequality, this volume peels away the ideological branding that has largely defined this cuisine. Dolbee and Gratien's chapter discuss how Syrian products like Aleppo pepper and Şam pistachios were appropriated and incorporated into Turkish national cuisine.

Dafna Hirsch's chapter discusses how urban food venues, such as this 1920s Jaffa cafe (captured in a stereograph image) were important "contact zones" between Arabs and Jews.

Making Levantine Cuisine is the first book-length scholarly work devoted to Levantine food and foodways. The concept of “foodways” shifts our focus beyond food itself to a framing that considers the social contexts that make food and make food meaningful––spanning from fields to markets to kitchens, factory spaces, and restaurants. Eight chapters by anthropologists, historians, and critical theorists address this gap in our knowledge of global food history and culture. From a range of disciplinary perspectives, we address several broad questions: What is Levantine cuisine, historically, culturally, and gastronomically? What is the relationship between national and regional cuisines in the Levant? How does cuisine offer a way of conceptualizing the Levant beyond its traditional national borders? How are its national and regional variants known, consumed, and discussed by those inside the region and outside of it? Can studying the region’s food and foodways help us better define or understand what constitutes “the Levant” or what counts as “Levantine” and how they came to be? Supplementing these scholarly perspectives on what “makes” cuisine Levantine are essays and recipes that offer a glimpse into the kitchens where Levantine cuisine is made in a more tangible sense. This combination of scholarly, practical, and personal literature reflects both a feminist commitment to the validity of diverse perspectives and a conviction that as food scholars we have much to learn from matters of practice and lived experience. The volume begins with the local and granular and gradually expands to encompass the Mediterranean and the world beyond. These accounts reveal an understanding of Levantine cuisine as an entity that has never mapped neatly onto political boundaries. They also look beyond the region to show how culinary styles most commonly known today as “Lebanese,” “Israeli,” or variants of the vaguer “Mediterranean” coalesced in the twentieth century as the product of global diasporas, modernization, and national tradition-making. Stories centered on food, in turn, recast the histories of these national communities.


n Jacqueline Kahanoff’s formulation, the Levant is less aptly described through the metaphor of a mosaic than as “a prism whose various facets are joined by the sharp edge of differences, each of which . . . reflects or refracts light.” We have assembled a dozen essays that together present an account of modern Levantine cuisine as a multifaceted entity that students, scholars, and home cooks can use to view the region from a slightly different vantage. Their authors have collected and mediated materials in Armenian, English, French, Judeo-Arabic, Hebrew, and multiple registers of Arabic and Turkish. Through collected recipes, thick description, archival research, and 11

close readings of understudied cookbooks and restaurant menus, they present an argument for a deterritorialized understanding of Levantine cuisine. By “deterritorialized,” we mean several things that on the surface may appear contradictory. First, this book locates Levantine cuisine beyond the fields that produced its ingredients, the places that its cooking styles first developed, and the geographical borders of a short list of nation-states in the Eastern Mediterranean. In this volume, you will find Levantine cuisine appearing in Aleppo, Beirut, and Jerusalem but also in Palestinian and Syrian kitchens in Jordan, as well as farther afield in Venezuela, the Netherlands, and the United States. Second, by limiting our scope to the region of the Levant, we are also honing in on a specific set of environments and landscapes that produce the food we discuss. In doing so, however, we adopt a critical approach. We join the ranks of food scholars who have criticized, in the words of Kyla Wazana Tompkins, the “romanticized and insufficiently theorized attachments to ‘local’ or organic foodways, attachments that sometimes echo nativist ideological formations,” which underpin much of contemporary (and privileged) “foodie culture.” Without losing sight of the importance of attachments to local ecologies and place to the making of Levantine cuisine, we aim to resist taking them at face value. The association of foods or ingredients with specific places is common and more often than not contains at least a kernel of truth; but it often illuminates more about who is making the association than it does about the place. Presenting an understanding of Levantine cuisine that originates and resides within specific borders and travels beyond them produces a tension that runs throughout this book, but it is a tension that we embrace rather than seek to resolve. The culinary culture elucidated in the book's various chapters took shape both discursively and materially only as the geographical Levant became integrated within a global capitalist system over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries––and its inhabitants left their home shores and villages. The stakes of national identification were heightened by displacement, population transfers, the fragmenting of empires, and decolonization. Industrialization reconfigured foodways and drove internal and external migration that in turn rendered a set of regional and home-cooked recipes into commercial dishes that became known from Istanbul to New York and beyond. Writing the history and present of Levantine cuisine requires placing narratives of movement and migration in conversation with renewed attachments to the local within the region itself. To write the rhythms and sensory richness of food, past or present, always proves an elusive task. Like making kibbe or stuffing grape leaves, we believe it is a task best done collectively. This book is our attempt to put down in words the making of Levantine cuisine.


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Recipe from Suzanne Zeidy

Tahina is made from ground sesame seeds and is an omnipresent dressing on the Egyptian table. It is eaten as a sauce with meat, chicken or fish or on its own as mezza, dipped with ‘aish baladi, the whole wheat pita loaves. This recipe is a contemporary version adding beetroot for sweetness and a deep red color. Serves 4 as a part of a mezza selection


1 pound beetroots 5½ ounces tahina paste 4 garlic cloves, crushed Juice of 1 lemon 2-3 ice cubes Salt


Olive oil Handful of crushed walnuts


Wash the beetroots and trim off the stalks and roots. In a large pan of boiling water, simmer the beetroots for about an hour or until tender, then peel when cool enough to handle. Puree the beetroots in a food processor or blender until very soft. Add the tahina paste, then add the garlic and lemon. While blending add the ice cubes to prevent the dip from becoming too oily. Season to taste with salt. Serve with a drizzle of oil and a scattering of crushed walnuts.

Suzanne Zeidy is an American Egyptian restaurateur and food entrepreneur. This recipe appeared alongside her chapter “Fine Dining to Street Food: Egypt’s Restaurant Culture in Transition” in Making Levantine Cuisine: Foodways of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Dr. Anny Gaul is a MAAS alum and an assistant professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Graham Pitts is a visiting professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, as well as an adjunct visiting professor and former American Druze Foundation Fellow at CCAS. Making Levantine Cuisine: Modern Foodways of the Eastern Mediterranean was published by University of Texas Press in 2021 and edited by Anny Gaul, Graham Auman Pitts, and Vicki Valosik.

Beetroot Tahina Dip


Beyond Recipes How MAAS alum Anny Gaul studies cookbooks By Vicki Valosik

Image Credit: Nicole McConville


ookbooks can teach us how to and gender when a bookseller told her about and Bilad al-Sham (the Arabic-speaking braise a lamb shank, thicken a sauce, the iconic cookbook author Nazira Niqula. provinces of the former Ottoman Empire) or bake a perfect pie crust. But for Gaul soon learned that Niqula was just one, dominate the cookbooks while foods from MAAS alum Anny Gaul (’12), a cultural albeit the most famous, among many female Arabic-speaking parts of Africa are nearly historian of food and gender, they can do so Egyptian cookbook authors of the era whose absent. Although this may not be an accumuch more. “Cookbooks books promoted “modern” methods and dish- rate reflection of what people were actually can tell us something es. Their books “articulated to women the eating, says Gaul, the push toward Western significant about norms relatively new idea that their role in nourish- or “modern” cooking, selectively defined, was and ideals, what is indicative of broader political and good taste, what social trends. “People were working is good food, and out what it meant to be a modern how those quesArab Egyptian, and nationalists and tions are connected to who we are as a intellectuals were making arguments nation,” says Gaul. about Egypt’s place in the world.” Yet That is an argument Gaul explores despite their value as primary sources, in her recent Global Food History arthese cookbooks can be nearly imticle “From Kitchen Arabic to Recipossible to find in Egyptian archives pes for Good Taste: Nation, Empire, and libraries. Gaul has had to rely and Race in Egyptian Cookbooks.” instead on Cairo’s booksellers to help In Gaul’s paper, which earned her her, over multiple trips to the region, the Global Food History Prize for an develop her own private research colEmerging Food Historian, she takes a lection. Now the owner of more than deep dive into a unique literary subtwo dozen of these cookbooks, Gaul genre: cookbooks written by Egyptian plans to make them available to other women between the 1880s and 1950s. researchers by donating her collection This was a period in Egypt, says Gaul, to the Cairo-based history organizawhen female literacy was on the rise, tion Women in Memory Forum. girls were going to school in greater Gaul first discovered the potential numbers, and women were beginning for using cookbooks as lenses into to pursue degrees abroad. Domestic larger cultural phenomenon during science was a popular choice, with the MAAS program when she wrote programs in England and Europe a paper on Israeli cookbooks and the training female students to run efextent to which they did (or did not) ficient and modern home kitchens. incorporate Palestinian and other A cohort of these women returned Arab foods. Her interest in cookto Egypt to author cookbooks that books isn’t strictly scholarly, however. would become widely influential, Art by Sohila Khaled (see page 3) created in collaboraAn avid cook and prolific food blogfinding receptive audiences among tion with Gaul for the Global Food History issue featuring ger, Gaul has been known to say that Gaul’s article. The art incorporates elements from the the country’s emerging middle-class “the best way to study a cookbook covers of the cookbooks in Gaul’s collection, including the housewives, as well as the public edu- “modern housewife” in pearls and chef’s cap, while adding is to cook your way through it.” She cation system, which often adopted traditional Arabic motifs and kitchen tools. credits her interest in cooking, as well their books as home economics texts. as her egalitarian perspectives on food Gaul’s first introduction to this genre of ing and forming the nation was deeply im- hierarchies, to her godmother, a self-taught cookbooks was at a book market in Cairo. portant,” says Gaul, “and that what they cook chef who traveled the world cooking on priShe was searching for inspiration for a disser- really matters to public life and the thriv- vate yachts. “She was well-versed in fancy tation topic combining food studies, Arabic, ing of their society.” Recipes from Europe continental European continued on p. 21 13

‫ﺧﺎص ﻣﻦ اﻟﻄﻼب‬


Tabletop Debates

Student feature (Wissam)

Reflections on molokhia, identity, and forks vs spoons By Antonio Tahhan


olokhia—an iconic Middle Eastern and North African soup—can be notoriously slimy. But when I lived in Aleppo, my aunt taught me three tricks to keep the slime at bay: first, leave the molokhia leaves whole (as opposed to chopped); second, squeeze a lemon over the leaves as soon as you add them to the pot; and third, do not overcook them. “This is how we cook molokhia,” my aunt said. The “we” was vague. Did she mean Aleppans? Other Syrians? “Egyptians—they make it the slimy way,” she added, raising a skeptical eyebrow. This led me to wonder: is there such a thing as a “Syrian molokhia” distinct from an “Egyptian molokhia”? In what ways does this dish unite, but also cut through, imagined national categories in the Arab world and beyond?


Molokhia, the dish, is made from a spinach-like plant of the same name (jute mallow in English). According to acclaimed food writer Claudia Roden, its lineage can be traced to the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. The molokhia plant belongs to the same botanical family as okra, malvaceae. Similar to okra, molokhia thickens as it cooks. Once stewed, its leaves take on a silky, almost butter-like, texture that melts in your mouth and a flavor vaguely reminiscent of slow-cooked collard greens. Among Arabs, molokhia is considered homey—the quintessential comfort food. Yet unlike hummus, falafel, and tabbouleh, molokhia rarely makes it onto menus outside the Arab world. Its texture makes it a divisive dish—people either love it or hate it. The first time I had molokhia was at my aunt’s house in Syria. My mom and grandmother didn’t care for the texture, so molokhia never made an appearance on our Syrian-American dining table. For me, the flavors were heavenly. When I returned to the U.S. from Aleppo, I was excited to make molokhia for my friends in Baltimore. I prepared it the way my aunt taught me, the Aleppan way. I started with whole, dried molokhia leaves that I reconstituted in hot water. I rinsed and drained the leaves thoroughly. Then, I sauteed an entire head of minced garlic with freshly ground coriander in a pool of earthy olive oil. Once my entire house smelled like garlic, I added the rinsed molokhia leaves and immediately doused them with freshly squeezed lemon juice. After the leaves cooked for a few seconds, I added homemade chicken broth to create a soup-like consistency. I served the molokhia alongside fluffed vermicelli rice and a big bowl of zesty, quick-pickled onions. My

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Above: Fresh picked molokhia leaves Left: Recipe card from a series illustrated by Saba Hamidi in collaboration with Tahhan's research. View more of Hamidi's art on Instagram at @madebysaba.

aunt would have been proud. My friends rang the doorbell. The controversy began when I pulled spoons out for everyone. My friend Elaine, whose family hails from Nazareth, felt personally attacked. “Spoons?” she asked indignantly. I responded, matter of factly, “How else do you eat molokhia?” It turns out Elaine eats hers with a fork. Her Palestinian family’s preparation is less soupy and verges on a thick stew served over rice. Then came the issue of condiments. My favorite part of molokhia is that zing that comes from the quick-pickled onions steeped in apple cider vinegar. I make sure to scoop a bit of onions with every bite! Cedric, our friend from Beirut, agreed. Elaine, however, sided with our Egyptian friend Tamer, who prefers freshly squeezed lemons and no onions. When Tamer realized the molokhia leaves were whole, he gasped! In Cairo, molokhia leaves get chopped finely with a mezzaluna, a curved blade held together by

two handles. This yields that signature gooey texture that Cairenes adore. At least Elaine and I agreed that the leaves should remain whole. We spent most of that dinner arguing (in the most loving of ways) in favor of our own preparations. With the question of who prepares the best molokhia still looming, I designed an extensive twenty-question online survey. My friends helped me translate and offer the survey in five languages: Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. My hope was to use molokhia as a lens for exploring categories of national identity as my mind kept going back to the Syrian “we” in my aunt’s preparation. I wanted to represent the data visually, so I asked participants to share the city and country where they are based. I also asked them to describe their heritage in as much detail as they felt comfortable. I then created a series of questions intended to single out defining characteristics of individual preparations: cut of the leaves, consistency of the soup, and spiciness, among other questions. I concluded the survey with a qualitative question about what molokhia means for each respondent. This allowed me to capture some of the affective qualities of this iconic dish, something that cannot be conveyed through quantitative data. The survey went viral, and I ended up with more than eight hundred responses from across the Arab world and the diaspora: from Bolivia and Colombia to Kenya and Senegal. From Canada and Europe to the United States. One participant from Syria wrote:

Image credits: Antonio Tahhan

Eating mloukheyye as I described here is Syria[n], my grandmother made it this way, my mother and even now my brother and my wife follow this same method. It seems like a unique method that only Syrians use. This seemingly unique method with the associated smell and flavor feels like home, like tradition, like family. The connection to national pride is a recurring theme in many of the responses. At the same time, the data also suggests a more fluid reality, one that transcends national boundaries. In the thirteenth century Syrian cookbook, Kitab al-Wusla ila al-Habib, there are four different preparations of molokhia, all of which call for meatballs, which is almost

unheard of in contemporary preparations of molokhia. Most of the medieval preparations of molokhia also incorporate the use of tail fat, suggesting that lamb was a common choice of meat. Of the more than eight hundred respondents, only nine said they serve their molokhia with meatballs. By contrast, 89% said they use whole chunks of meat. Additionally, 76% specified that they use chicken. There is a contemporary recipe for molokhia with meatballs in Sami Tamimi’s latest cookbook, Falastin. In an interview with the renowned chef, he explained that the inspiration for using meatballs was to offer a spin on the typical molokhia, served alongside chicken, “without losing the delicious flavors of the original dish.” He also said he wanted to make the dish look “more appealing” to people who didn’t grow up eating molokhia. This example illustrates not only how flavors and preparations change over time, but also how a technique from the past can re-emerge as a fresh take on a classic dish, more than 700 years later. Nostalgia is another overarching theme in the survey responses, particularly among diaspora communities trying to recreate familiar flavors of home. A Palestinian respondent living in Michigan commented, “When we came to this country Molokai was not available. We used to wait for the packages from our grandmother in Ramallah. An exciting time in 1955.” The anticipation of molokhia care packages captures the longing to reimagine a homeland from the outside. A Lebanese-Syrian of Armenian descent living in Zürich, was willing to go even a step further. She prepares molokhia using spinach or Swiss chard, a completely different family of dark leafy greens, as the primary ingredient. These responses from diaspora communities call into question: at what point do variations of molokhia stop being molokhia? This question becomes blurrier, or more subjective, depending on the availability of ingredients. In the United States, and most places outside the Arab world, it is difficult to come by fresh

Top: A response from Venezuela on Tahhan's molokhia survey map. Read more responses at Bottom: A pot of molokhia made with chicken and topped with fresh cilantro

molokhia leaves. Some in the diaspora, like my friend Elaine’s parents from Nazareth, have resorted to growing their own molokhia leaves in their Oklahoma City backyard. Others have to be more flexible, or perhaps creative, in how they conceptualize molokhia. While some may argue that these more creative interpretations of molokhia are “inauthentic,” I cannot help but accept them as just the latest in a long history of varying iterations of molokhia—and not just in the Arab world. Molokhia, the plant, exists in many cultures outside the Arab or Middle Eastern region. One respondent who identifies as Kuwaiti-Japanese of Yemeni-Indian ancestry commented how her continued on p. 17 15


Maisa’s Kosher Kitchen

How one woman’s restaurant reveals the intersections of ethnicity, militarism, and nationalism at play in culinary tourism By Lindsey Pullum



Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Image credits: Lindsey Pullum; Maisa's restaurant website

aisa* has turned her modThe relationship between the est home on her sleepy resiDruze people, an ethnic and religious dential street into the most minority of Israel (non-Jewish, nonpopular eatery in the Israeli Druze vilMuslim, Arab), and Israel is often told lage of Daliyat al-Carmel. To get there, with definitive simplicity, but upon tourists take the 672 road out of Israel’s closer investigation Israeli Druze are port city, Haifa, and climb the mouncaught between colonial subjectivities tain north before turning off the main that underpin Israeli society. Since Isroad that leads to the famous Druze rael’s statehood, funding for tourism Saturday Market. Maisa's restaurant is development was granted to “good” part food stop, part cultural museum. minorities, like Druze and Bedouin With a long, bricked parking lot for communities, who demonstrated 40-passenger buses, the neighborhood substantial allegiance to the Israeli transforms daily into a small tourist state. Original efforts to draw tourhub. As you walk in, the enlarged porists to Druze villages hinged on food trait of the late Druze spiritual leader markets and Druze cuisine, as certain Sheikh Amin Tarif hangs directly in Arab-Palestinian spaces for consumfront of the open doors. The coffee ing food were deemed too dangerous stand garners much attention from (physically and ideologically). But by tourists with fabric designed with Isthe mid-1990s—a period of peace raeli flags draped down from a window following the Oslo Accords—Musledge. The fabric is held up by a brass lim and Christian Arab villages were menorah and a miniature metal tank, becoming hubs of Jewish leisure and while a significantly smaller Druze tourism. This shift left Druze to redeflag is off to the side. Displayed with fine and distinguish themselves from prominence next to the Israeli flag fabthe now newly accessible spaces of ric is a certificate of kosher status, imArab food tourism. portant for any Jew who might adhere Druze women now find themselves Top: A display at Maisa's kitchen meant to symbolize to kosher food laws. These displays will Druze brotherhood and patriotism to the state of Israel; operating within this Arab-Israeli soon fade from tourists’ attention once Bottom: Visitors to the restaurant serve themselves discourse of difference, in addition to the food is served, but for the time be- family style navigating the internal norms about ing, their function is unambiguous. The the role of women in Druze society. stand encapsulates the dominant narrative of brotherhood and patrio- Touring Druze villages, specifically for food, opens up an avenue for tism told about a sect within Israel’s Arab minority. Druze women to perform Israeli nationalism that combines Druze cuisine and culture with Kosher cuisine and Jewish culture. Druze women’s generational knowledge of cooking Druze food makes them *Maisa is a pseudonym being used to protect the identity of the particularly well equipped to create new culinary tourism experiences. restaurant owner, per IRB protocol. In the largest Druze village of Israel, Maisa has the only female-

owned and operated restaurant; moreover, her restaurant is the only kosher one in a town flooded with hungry Jewish-Israelis. Food and culinary presentation are, as part of national discourse, subject to a nation’s ethos, values, and institutions. In Israel, military service, religion, and the Arab-Israeli conflict are the largest social forces that shape national discourse, and food responds to these forces. Druze women, such as Maisa, working in culinary tourism engage with the Jewish nation and conceive of themselves through a process I call culinary militarism—the process by which foodways become a tool used by civilian actors to consent to state violence. Maisa and her matrilinear network use feminine knowledge in conjunction with dominant foodways to connect to and then commodify military discourse for culinary tourists in order to align herself (and the larger Druze community) with the Jewish-Israeli nation. Her decision to keep kosher, working with a local Rabbi to follow kosher ordinances, privileges and protects Jewish Israeli norms from the encroachment of Arab culture. The physical dining room is a curated space for performing belonging through paramilitary narrative and texts. Lining the longest wall of the restaurant are numerous photographs, collages, and official certificates of hospitality given to Maisa by platoons and police stations. Her mid-dinner monologue describing her family’s military service frames Maisa as part of a lineage of patriots (even though Druze women are forbidden from serving in the Israeli Defense Forces). Finally, difference between Druze and Palestinian food (and people) is articulated

through language, using Hebrew, Arabic, and English to negotiate Druze similarities with Jewish-Israelis and obscure differences to Arab-Palestinians. For example, she narrates her life in Hebrew to Jewish tour guides, who translate in English. Then, as she or her sisters deliver food to tables or refill lemonade pitchers, they code switch in front of tourists to Arabic with me, asking if their guests like the food. The introduction of Arabic into tourists’ experience adds an unexpected layer of authenticity. Druze food and culinary tourism to Druze villages, made more prominent by Maisa’s success, has been influential in conveying Druze belonging to the state of Israel and creating a space for dialogue about Arab equality and rights. Such dialogue regarding Arab equality has never been more important in the wake of the Nation-State Law of 2018 and the continued marginilization of Israel’s Arab-Palestinian citizens.

Dr. Lindsey Pullum is the 2021-2022 American Druze Foundation Fellow at CCAS. This article is a short summary of her chapter “My Mother’s Recipe, My Nation’s Narrative: Intersections of food, militarism, and masculinity in Maisa’s Kitchen,” which will be published in the forthcoming Rowman & Littlefield volume Re-Centering: Postcolonial Feminist Ethnographies of Tourism (edited by Frances J. Reimer).

continued from p. 15

Japanese mother prepares a slightly different version of the same dish: My mom always made molokhiya (moroheyya in Japanese) soup growing up. She would also hand chop it to extract the sliminess to eat with somen noodles. We always grew it in our gardens in Kuwait or in Spain. The first time I cooked it myself was postpartum when I was trying to feed myself healthy food while tending to a baby. In Vietnam, molokhia leaves are referred to by a completely different name, Rau Đay Xanh. They’re called saluyot in the Philippines. In Benin, molokhia leaves are used to make a similar stew known as crin-crin. If we zoom into the survey data, we might be tempted to see a huge difference between Egyptian chopped and Syrian whole-leaf molokhia—a difference seemingly worthy of table-top battles between spoons and forks, or lemon and vinegar. But zoom out just a little, and these differences begin to blur. In

some diaspora communities, we see prime ingredients replaced or grown on foreign soil that nurtures unique characteristics (terroir). Zoom out even further, perhaps to another century, and we see that medieval iterations of molokhia meatballs reemerge in glossy, twenty-first century contemporary Palestinian cookbooks. The flavors of my own molokhia have morphed since I came back from Syria. Inspired by the variations I encountered through my survey (and all those table-top battles with friends), I have done something I was frankly scared to do. I stepped away from everything I knew molokhia to represent about my family and my Syrian heritage … I’ve experimented. My aunt would be shocked to know that I don’t use dried molokhia leaves anymore. I pick up packages of frozen molokhia from my local Arab-American grocery store. I no longer religiously stick to dried coriander, the way she taught me. I’ve adopted Elaine’s suggestion to add freshly chopped cilantro. I no longer just

do the quick-pickled onions on the side. I’ve started following a medieval technique that incorporates the smokey pulp of char-broiled onions into the base of my molokhia. I’m not saying that anything can be molokhia. But what I’ve realized is that part of what makes molokhia “molokhia” is its variation. Adapting recipes with local ingredients, lacing elements of the past with the present, and carving out new traditions and stories through food is part of a dish’s shared history. There is no such thing as a single authentic molokhia, but rather, many molokhias that have connected people through generations and geographies.

Antonio Tahhan is a Syrian-American writer interested in the intersection of food, culture, and identity. He is graduating from the MAAS program in May 2022. If you’d like to take his molokhia survey, you can find it at



Exploring the Arab Legacy in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America By Susan Douglass



Left: the gardens of La Tropical in Havana, Cuba; Above: Musician Ronnie Malley on the oud

Ray, Samuel Eig Professor of Jewish Stud-

ies, elaborated on Jewish Culture in Medieval Iberia, while Emilio González Ferrín of the University of Seville exposed attendees to ongoing re-evaluations of the Role of alAndalus in world history, revisiting concepts such as the Reconquista. Christina Civantos of the University of Miami, and George Abdelnour of Notre Dame University in Lebanon covered aspects of the Iberian Peninsula as a crossroads of world culture. Also among the offerings were videos from dramatic productions, including a play by Garcia Lorca staged in several Lebanese towns, and a session with Ronnie Malley, a versatile Chicago-based musician and cultural ambassador, whose production “Ziryab” reflects the role of the 9th century Andalusian in bringing new styles of music, clothing, and refined manners to the Western outpost of Islam in the Iberian Peninsula. Attendees enjoyed performances that sampled Arab and Iberian influence in South American and Caribbean music. Professor Myers, himself a well-known playwright, brought in several of his theater collaborators to present on their work. Sahar Assaf, a professor of theater

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

at AUB and director of the Golden Thread Theater in San Francisco; Enass Khansa, professor of Arabic at AUB; and Marvin Carlson, professor of theater and comparative literature at the City University of New York, demonstrated connections across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. It was heartening to see numerous speakers—even those in overseas locations—attend live sessions beyond their own. The diversity of the scholars’ and attendees’ teaching fields fostered appreciation of the deeply interconnected cultural traditions of the Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese legacies. The program was made possible by a Title VI grant from the United States Department of Education, which is funding a National Resource Center on the Middle East and North Africa at Georgetown University, and by support from CCAS, ACMCU, and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown.

Dr. Susan Douglass is the CCAS Education Outreach Director.

Image credits: Raphael López Guzmán for Saudi Aramco World Magazine, Jan/Feb 2021; Sounds and Notes Foundation

ast August, CCAS’s Education Outreach program, in collaboration with the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for MuslimChristian Understanding (ACMCU), hosted our annual week-long Summer Teacher Institute, offered virtually for the second year in a row due to the pandemic. The idea for this year’s topic, the Arab legacy in al-Andalus (Arabic for the Iberian Peninsula) and Latin America, was inspired by a conference and book project at the American University of Beirut (AUB) led by Robert Myers, Director of AUB’s Center for American Studies and Research. The institute, which featured as speakers the AUB book’s twelve authors, engaged current scholarship spanning 1400 years of cultural histories connecting the Arabic-speaking and Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds, ranging from the Arab-Umayyad era of the 7th century through the Hispano-Arabic period, the Golden Age of Spain and Iberia, to contemporary Latin America and the Middle East. Scholars from a range of disciplines discussed the ways these interwoven, transcultural continuities reveal how ideas, artistic practices, languages, and objects travelled and were embraced by new populations in surprising ways. The institute was attended by an audience of more than 40 educators from 14 different states and the UK. They came from the fields of history, humanities, foreign languages, and fine arts instruction, including both dance and music, at the secondary and collegiate levels. Participants engaged in the materials via a virtual platform with pre-recorded lectures and readings. Each day, two of the speakers conducted live sessions for discussion. Historians provided deep background on the week’s topic: Georgetown’s Jonathan


Celebrating Heritage Months By Maddie Fisher


ver the academic year, CCAS has offered a mix of online, in-person, and hybrid programming that has enabled us to reach audiences beyond DC, welcome speakers from all over the world, strengthen partnerships with both on-campus and external co-sponsors, and provide widely accessible education on contemporary issues related to the Arab world. In Fall 2021, the Center was honored to host Dr. Katty Alhayek, an expert on media, gender, and displacement in the MENA, as an assistant teaching professor at CCAS. Alhayek, a MESA Global Fellow originally from Syria, came to Georgetown through the Scholars at Risk program. During her semester at CCAS, Alhayek organized and moderated a panel of Arab women filmmakers whose works document the aftermath of the 2011 uprisings across the region. Alhayek led a candid conversation on the challenges of accurately depicting the hardships of war without sensationalizing or retraumatizing those affected. The event was held in partnership with the Arab Studies Institute’s “10 Years On: Mass Protests and Uprisings in the

Arab World” project, a collaboration among universities across the globe. Panelists included Naziha Arebi, a Libyan/British filmmaker and artist; Sara Ishaq, a Yemeni-Scottish Above left: A poster from the Arab Women Filmmakers event; Top: MAAS students gather to watch as classmate Nisrine Hilizah moderates a virtual panel on "Black Arabic"; Right: Dr. Lindsey Pullum delivers the annual ADF Lecture

film director and screenwriter; and Safa al-Ahmad, a formerly Saudi journalist and filmmaker. ​​The speakers discussed how their attention to gender dynamics enables them to tell stories of everyday life during protests and how they navigate producing films that are often critical of their countries of origin. In Spring 2022, the Center worked alongside our students and Georgetown partners to present events celebrating Black History Month and Arab American Heritage Month, in February and April respectively. SudaneseAmerican MAAS student, Nisrine Hilizah organized and moderated the panel “Black Arabic: A Discussion of Sub-Saharan Arabic Dialects,” which was inspired by an article on commonly understudied African dialects of Arabic written by Stanford professor and event panelist, Dr. Vaughn Rasberry. Hilizah and Rasberry were joined by Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology alumnus, Bentley Brown, who grew up in Chad as a native speaker of Arabic. Nisrine led a thought-provoking conversation on the racialized hierarchies between Arabic dialects and pushed for the western academy to give better recognition and resources to Arabic speakers who are too commonly ignored in the field of Arab studies. In conjunction with Arab American Heritage Month, CCAS and several GU collaborators welcomed Bentley Brown back for a screening and discussion of his film Revolution from Afar on diaspora arts activism in

the 2019 Sudanese revolution. Following the film, Kawther Berhanu (MSFS’22) moderated a panel discussion with Brown and cast members poet Bayadir Mohamed-Osman and musician G-Salih, who reflected on their experiences as activists and members of the Sudanese diaspora during the revolution. The panel additionally included commentary from Dr. Elobaid Elobaid, an adjunct professor at the Institute for the Study of International Migration. In celebration of Ramadan, attendees enjoyed an Iftar dinner catered by a variety of Arab American vendors from the DC area. Also in April, CCAS hosted the annual American Druze Foundation (ADF) annual lecture and dinner, featuring a talk by this year’s ADF Fellow Dr. Lindsey Pullum titled “Druze Nationalism: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” Despite being a transregional religious minority, Druze of Israel are considered very different from Druze in Syria and Lebanon. How did Druze come to be segregated from their co-religionists while also ideologically and culturally intertwined with more hegemonic identities and institutions of the state? Pullum’s talk sought to address these questions by examining sociohistorical and sociopolitical contexts of Druze positionalities, loyalties, and fragmentations. She argued that national categories of affiliation like “Arab” create the necessary slippages to reinvent cultural citizenship, which are personified by Druze.

Maddie Fisher is the CCAS Events and Programs Manager, as well as a second-year student in the MAAS program.



MAAS Alum Anela Malik on Food, Writing, and Becoming a Scessful Entrepreneur Interview with Vicki Valosik


nela Malik is a content creator with a focus on food, travel, and “the everyday mundane.” After graduating from MAAS in 2016, Anela became a Consular Officer in the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan. While in Jordan, she started a food and travel website called “Feed the Malik” as a way to push herself to explore beyond the “expatriate bubble.” She found, to her surprise, that friends who had never considered traveling to the Middle East were inspired to do so after reading her blog. "I learned a valuable lesson," writes Malik. "Complex, deeply human stories can challenge and truly move people." In 2021, she decided to leave the diplomatic corps in order to focus on her growing platform. Malik now has more than 100 thousand followers on TikTok, nearly 40 thousand on Instagram, and a thriving community of subscribers. She uses these platforms to elevate marginalized communities, particularly Blackowned restaurants, to discuss the politics and culture of food, and to demystify the process of becoming an influencer and entrepreneur. Malik is currently writing a book about the enduring contributions of Black peoples to American cuisine, which is under contract with National Geographic.

Where does your passion for storytelling through food come from?


How did your book project come about?

Tell us about Feed the Malik. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment with the site?

Feed The Malik is my exploration of nuance, imperfection, and wonder through primarily food and travel. This year my focus is primarily on building out my subscription as my primary source of income and also an avenue for creative expression and community building. I’ve worked to make that space as accessible as possible, both financially for members (memberships start at $2 per month) and by ensuring videos are captioned, I include image descriptions and alt text, and other basic ways that you can make digital spaces more accessible. It’s an evolving process but one I’m committed to over time.

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National Geographic approached me because of my platform, after deciding the voice I had nurtured on my blog and social media would lend itself well to a historical narrative about American cuisine. The topic, Black contributions to American cuisine, is one that I had been writing about and exploring on my own for quite a while. In short, my passion projects and skills aligned with their projects.

How do you feel you use the skills or knowledge gained at MAAS in your career now?

Academically, I don’t think I was prepared for a program like MAAS. Floundering through the program created a skillset that lends itself well to any work I will ever do. It taught me how to keep working rather than shut down even when I feel unprepared, overwhelmed,

Image credit: Taylor Piva

It's cliche to say “food is a universal language” though in some ways very true. Maybe it’s better to frame various cuisines and food cultures as dialects of the same language. We all may understand them slightly differently, but we are at least aware of the various meanings and conversations that can be had through food. That’s why so much of my work encompasses food, as it’s at once deeply personal and also communal.

That community is vital to the whole ecosystem of my work. During 2020 - 2021 my work drove an estimated $500,000 in sales to independent Blackowned food businesses. That’s a low estimate based on only one channel of activity. I created free resources used by hundreds of thousands of people to find and engage with independent businesses in their communities. In 2022, a series I put together about Black history & excellence in Arkansas reached over a million people. Recent projects have sparked conversations on power, equity, and elitism, and have reached multiple millions of people. That’s just a small snapshot of my work in the creative space. All of that is/was community funded, by subscriptions that allow me the freedom to pursue those projects. I’d say those impacts, especially on small businesses, are my biggest accomplishments.

In Memoriam Remembering MAAS alum Aaron Fowler CCAS Mourns the loss of MAAS alum Navy Lt. j.g. Aaron Fowler, who died on April 17 during training at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay. Aaron, originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, joined the U.S. Navy in 2012 and graduated with distinction from the United States Naval Academy with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Arabic. Following his graduation, Aaron became a commissioned officer in May of 2018. The following August, Aaron joined the Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) program at CCAS, where he focused his coursework on development and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. Upon the start of his graduate career, Aaron wrote that he hoped

or behind, how to ask for help, and how to stand up for myself. Those are all essential life skills as far as I’m concerned. Oh, and I met my gorgeous husband in MAAS :-)

What has surprised you most in your work?

My work surprises me every day. Often in our popular culture we dismiss the work of influencers as vapid and pointless. That view is problematic, especially when considering this new and largely unregulated space domi-

to use his MA degree and his role in the U.S. Navy to advance relations between the United States and foreign militaries. He graduated from MAAS in December 2019. At the time of his death, Aaron was a junior grade lieutenant assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit One, which is tasked with clearing explosive hazards. “Our deepest sympathies go out to Aaron’s family and friends, and we join them in remembering and mourning this brave warrior,” wrote Rear Adm. Joseph Diguardo Jr., commander of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, in a press release. “His decision to join this elite special operations community was a testament to the dedicated and selfless character he embodied and his legacy will endure in our ranks through those he inspired by his service.” Members of the CCAS community remember Aaron as an inquisitive and bright student, a thoughtful friend, and a kind soul. We extend our deepest condolences to Aaron’s family and friends.

nated by young women who are impacting our broader culture and navigating complex issues of agency and entrepreneurship, often with just their phones. Beyond that discussion, my work shows me every day that the littlest things matter. “Silly” or “vapid” posts showcasing my joy will garner heartfelt messages from Black women who want me to know that it’s important for them to see Blackness represented in ways that don’t just showcase pain or degradation. A series on moving to Arkansas will spark discus-

sions on the second Great Migration, elitism, and more. Even though I know that the little things matter in our day to day lives and online, I’m always still surprised by how very simple things can spark such intense responses from community members, business owners, and beyond. As someone who tends to get caught up in worrying about and focusing on the “important stuff,” it’s a good reminder that life and work should encompass more than the big worries I have about issues like white supremacy and climate change.

Image credit: U.S. Navy

continued from p. 13

cooking,” says Gaul, “but also completely rejected the idea that that was a better or more sophisticated way or more worthy of study or eating than other cuisines in the world. Her perspective has absolutely informed the way I think about food.” Following MAAS, Gaul earned her PhD from Georgetown’s Arabic and Islamic Studies Department and is now an assistant professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Maryland. Her forthcoming book manuscript will focus on a single ingredient—the tomato—

and its rise to become Egypt’s most ubiquitous kitchen staple. Just has she has done with cookbooks, Gaul will demonstrate what this seemingly humble item reveals about ideas of nation, gender, class, and race—leaving readers with plenty to chew on.

Vicki Valosik is the CCAS Editorial Director.


Alumni News


MAAS ON THE MOVE Alumni Article MAAS alums, we want to hear from YOU! Send your news items to or through the form at

Will TodmanNew (‘16)


Will co-authored, along with MSFS alum Natasha Hall, an article for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage political science blog applying lessons learned from the war in Syria to Russia’s war in Ukraine. The article built on Will’s MAAS thesis research on siege warfare in Syria.

‫أخبار الخريجين‬

‫مقاالت الخريجين‬ Dr. Maya Mikdashi (‘04)

Maya’s book Sextarianism: Sovereignty, Secularism and the State in Lebanon is forthcoming with Stanford University Press in May 2022. She is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and a lecturer in the program in Middle East Studies at Rutgers University, and an editor at Jadaliyya.

‫ابحاث جديدة‬

Faculty spotlight

Timothy Y. Loh (‘16)

Paul McKinney (‘21)

Paul recently published a two part series titled “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Aid in Syria” with Inkstick Media. The series started as a project in Professor Fida Adely’s development class while Paul was still a student. He now works at DT Global. Gefan Zhu (‘21)

Earlier this year, Gefan published the report “China in the Gulf: Deep Pockets and Deepening Ties” with the Gulf International Forum. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of International Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Jérémie Langlois (‘21)

Jérémie’s article “When Reorganizing Coercion Backfires: Explaining the Mechanisms of Revolt in Sudan and Algeria” was recently published in the journal Democratization. He is currently a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of WisconsinMadison. Greg Noth (‘20)

Last summer, Greg published his article “Rethinking the Carter Doctrine and its Geopolitical Implications” in the juried journal Contemporary Arab Affairs. He is currently a policy advisor for the U.S. Department of the Treasury.


Timothy published two articles recently: “Language in medical worlds: hearing technology for deaf Jordanian children,” in Medical Anthropology and “Not ‘just tools’: The framework of equivalence and cochlear implants in Jordan,” in Somatosphere. Timothy is a PhD candidate at MIT.

‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬

Benan Grams ('14)

Benan has been awarded the 2022-2023 American Druze Foundation Fellowship at CCAS. She is a PhD candidate in the Georgetown Department of History and will defend her dissertation, “Damascus in the Time of Cholera: The Social Impact of Epidemics on the Transformation of Ottoman Damascus, 1848-1918," in May. Nour Joudah (‘12)

Nour, who will be completing her PhD in Geography from UCLA in June, has been awarded the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship for outstanding women and minority candidates. She will conduct her postdoc at UC Berkeley’s geography department. Deena Shakir (‘10)

Deena was profiled in October by Business Insider about her path, as an Arab woman, to becoming a top venture capitalist and partner at Lux Capital.

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Dr. Frances Hasso (‘90)

Frances’ latest book, Buried in the Red Dirt Race: Reproduction, and Death in Modern Palestine, was published in November by Cambridge University Press. She is an Associate Professor in the Program in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies at Duke University with secondary appointments in the Department of History and Department of Sociology. Dr. Khalid Mustafa Medani (‘81)

Khalid’s book Black Markets and Militants Informal Networks in the Middle East and Africa was published in 2021 with Cambridge University Press. He is an associate professor of political science and Islamic Studies at McGill University, and he has also taught at Oberlin College and Stanford University.

Celebrating CCAS Pioneer

Ibrahim Oweiss By Lucie Weismüller

Image credit: Oweiss family


f you ask a CCAS faculty member to name a pioneer in advancing the study of the contemporary Arab world, most will undoubtedly raise the name of Dr. Ibrahim M. Oweiss, professor emeritus at the School of Foreign Service and one of the founding members of CCAS. To honor his immense contributions to the Center, CCAS dedicated a plaque to Professor Oweiss at a small gathering led by CCAS Director Dr. Joseph Sassoon on Professor Oweiss’ 90th birthday in September 2021. The dedication event was attended by Oweiss, his wife and retired Georgetown French professor Celine Oweiss, and several members of their family, each of whom have unique ties to Georgetown (see photo). “Dr. Oweiss is an absolutely incredible personality,” says Sassoon. “He proposed setting up a center that would be different from other academic centers because it would be a center for contemporary Arab studies, and not focused only on the historical Middle East.” He gained the support of Georgetown’s then President, Father Robert Henle, and Dean of the School of Foreign Service, Peter Krogh. “Dr. Oweiss had phenomenal contacts throughout the Arab world, and they managed to get enough financing, got Georgetown interested in the idea, and it started rolling,” continues Sassoon. As a result, Oweiss and several others, including Jack Ruedy, Halim Barakat, Wallace Erwin, Irfan Shahid, Hisham Sharabi, Michael Hudson, and Barbara Stowasser, inaugurated CCAS in 1975. Oweiss explains that he “helped establish the center because it was a positive contribution to the educational mission of Georgetown University, and to create new discussions about Arab life, society, and politics.” Almost 47 years after its opening, CCAS remains a leading academic center in the study of the contemporary Arab world, providing students with a rigorous mastery of Arabic coupled with a multidisciplinary scholarly track. Ibrahim Oweiss was born in Egypt in

1931 and graduated in 1952 from Alexandria University with a bachelor’s in commerce and majors in economics and political science. He subsequently moved to the United States to continue his education and received his master’s and PhD in economics from the University of Minnesota. He joined Georgetown’s faculty in 1967 and taught economics for nearly 40 years at both the Washington and Qatar campuses—counting future president Bill Clinton among his students. Oweiss has authored more than 50 scholarly publications throughout his career, including several books. In 1981, while at Oxford University, he developed the Oweiss demand curve, a theoretical framework for predicting changes in oil prices. Oweiss is also one of the founding fathers of the College of Commerce and Economics at the Sultan Qaboos University in Oman. But his career has not been limited to academia. Oweiss worked as an international economic advisor for several governments, including those of Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Panama, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan, and also served as an advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Under Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Oweiss served as First Under-Secretary for Economic Affairs for the Egyptian government and Chief of the country’s Economic Mission to the U.S. in New York, holding the rank of Ambassador. He also served as

Above: Members of the Oweiss family, each of whom have unique ties to Georgetown, at the dedication ceremony in September: Dr. Oweiss and his wife Celine Oweiss, a former GU French professor (Center); their son Kareem Oweiss and his wife Julia White, both SFS graduates (Right); their daughter Yasmeen Burns, also a Georgetown alum (not pictured), and her husband Dr. Mark Burns, a professor in the Department of Neuroscience (Left). Left: CCAS Director Joseph Sassoon with Professor Oweiss in front of the Oweiss plaque that now hangs in the Center

President of the Council on Egyptian-American Relations. Oweiss was honored by Sadat with Egypt’s first-class Order of Merit for his many years of service to the country. In addition, her Majesty Queen Elizabeth sanctioned his admission as a Commander to the Order of St. John, a British royal order honoring individuals who strengthen the spirit of mankind and promote humanitarian work. Oweiss also holds the Grand Cordon of the Order of Mohammed Ali Pasha, an Egyptian order of chivalry, and the Knight of the Order of the Queen of Sheba, an order established in 1922 in Ethiopia. Prof. Sassoon concludes, “Dr. Oweiss’ life achievements are an excellent reminder for current and future generations of students how one’s vision can lead to something as amazing as CCAS, which for over 45 years continues to teach and train students from all around the globe about the Arab world.”

Lucie Weismüller is a first-year MAAS student originally from Frankfurt, Germany. 23



Left: Students in CCAS Visiting Scholar Katty Alhayek’s “Media, Conflict, and Displacement” course take a break during class to pose with Jack the Bulldog Above: MAAS students (and faculty!) participate in a variety of intramural sports at Georgetown. Pictured here are the MAAS volleyball team, which includes ADF Fellow Dr. Lindsey Pullum, and the MAAS soccer team, of which Prof. Killian Clarke is a member. Below: The MAAS Class of 2023 gathers for the first time at fall orientation Bottom: Students enjoy a picnic at Malcolm X Park Left: Students and staff celebrate the end of the semester at the MAAS holiday party Below: Students in Prof. Marwa Daoudy’s class on critical and human security learn about displacement through gentrification during a walking tour of DC

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

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