On Hips and Heritage: Cairo Nativists Object to Invasion of Foreign Belly Dancers!

By 
Naomi Pham

The recent arrest of Russian belly dancer Ekaterina Andreeva, who goes by her stage name Johara, has sparked questions about how to view foreigners participating in this dance career. In his article for the New York Times, Declan Walsh discusses this supposed “sullying” of the Egyptian ancient art form. In Egypt’s current belly-dancing scene, foreigners -- the majority of whom come from America, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Eastern Europe – dominate the ranks and appear among the most well-known dancers in their field. According to Walsh, “The foreigners bring an athletic, high-energy sensibility to the dance, more disco than Arabian Nights. Their sweeping routines contrast with the languid, subtly suggestive style of classic Egyptian stars. Some are overtly sexual.”

‘Egyptian-American’: The Hyphenated Experience

By 
Priscilla Wathington
 
Looking Both Ways
By Pauline Kaldas
Cune Press, 2017
 
Something about Pauline Kaldas’ new memoir makes you feel both adrift and at home – sensations normally at war with each other. Yet, somehow, in her rounded phrases and softly imparted narratives, the elements of surprise and familiarity find balance in each other.
 
Composed of a string of personal essays, her history unfolds over many moments, rather than the narration of a single breath.

‘Traveling Scholar’ Ella Shohat: The Contradictions and Challenges of Being an Arab Jew

As a public intellectual, Ella Shohat has found that her personal history profoundly informs her scholarship. Born in Israel to Iraqi parents who had migrated to that country after 1948, Shohat grew up in an Israeli culture that discriminated against Mizrahi Jews. Living a life of contradictions and tension as an “Arab-Jew” – a person of the Jewish religion whose culture and primary language are Arabic, she has found herself on countless occasions having to explain an identity that seemed like an oxymoron, an impossibility, to academics and others.

Chronicling Syrians’ Personal Stories of Struggle to Reach Safe Refuge

By 
Sarah Rogers

On Friday January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that, for a 90-day period, suspended immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States from Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen. It also, for a period of 120 days, suspended the Refugee Resettlement Program, placing an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. “Leaving Syria: Seeking Refuge in Greece” makes clear the plight of Syrian refugees traces back to a much longer and tragic history.


Leaving Syria: Seeking Refuge in Greece
By Bill Dienst, MD and Madi Williamson
Cune Press, 2017

Little Time to Rest: 'Daughters' of Nomads

By 
Pamela Nice

Watching “Daughters of Anatolia,” a film documenting the nomadic lifestyle of goat herders in contemporary Turkey, makes one aware of the value of ethnographic filmography over its drier, academic prose cousin. Describing the migratory path from the Mediterranean Sea to the Taurus Mountains cannot compare with seeing the breath-taking beauty of mountains in bloom as goats scramble over them.

Broadway’s ‘Oslo’ Highlights Human Drama of Famous Peace Accords

By 
Naomi Pham

With two nations at odds for more than half of a century, different major power players brought all types of peace attempts to the table, but to no avail, with two significant exceptions. The Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty of 1979 stands as a lonely, if successful peace attempt, while the 1993 Oslo Accords represent the second, partially successful and incomplete effort. As a result, Palestinians and Israelis formally recognized each other’s existence, and committed themselves to working together to resolve the conflict in a non-violent manner.

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