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Lebanon Still Overshadowed by Oblivion As Port Blast Aftermath Enters Fourth Year

Art has played an influential role in making sense of the loss felt after the August 4 explosion. Tom Young’s “Strong Angels” and other paintings show a human dimension of the tragedy and its civilian heroes, who “join forces to lift the city’s grief,” writes Darine Houmani of Diffah Three (The New Arab). “Despite all its devastation, the August 4 explosion brought greater impetus to preserve our heritage and brought about a database of our historical buildings that hadn’t been done before,” states Mona Hallak, an architect, heritage activist, and director of the American University of Beirut’s Neighborhood Initiative, as cited in The New Arab. Several weighed in on the rebuilding efforts, including Lebanese architect Jad Tabet, who proposed “rehabilitation” rather than “reconstruction,” focusing on preserving the city’s existing social fabric and inhabitants alongside the architecture (for further reading on Jad Tabet and architectural heritage, see Al Jadid, Vol. 4, No, 25, Fall 1998; Vol. 5, No. 26, Winter 1999; and Vol. 24, No. 79, 2020). As art historian and gallery owner Andrée Sfeir-Semler says, “You need to nourish people with art and culture because that is what feeds their souls.”

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Dystopic Trends in Modern Arabic Literature

In the first two decades of the 21st century, the Arabic literary scene has witnessed a new trend in fiction in the form of a dystopian narrative. Where Arabic research has mainly focused on Classic Western utopias as characterized by the writings of Thomas More, Tommaso Campanella, Samuel Butler, and 20th-century Western dystopian fiction, the rise of Arabic authors exploring the dystopian genre has caught the attention of Western readers. These new dystopian works by Arab authors have been defined as the start of a new literary genre in modern Arabic literature, written mostly in English or French, with any works written in Arabic quickly being translated into English, suggesting an interest and wish on the part of the authors and publishers for a presence in the Anglophone market.

The Passing of Two Women, Very Different, But Bonded By Their Search For Peace

By 
the Editors


Two strong women’s lives never crisscrossed, coming from different worlds, politically, socially and economically, yet their missions in life were somewhat similar. Kathy Kriger and Hatidza Mehmedovic each worked towards standing up against injustice, in their own ways, regardless of their backgrounds. Kathy Kriger, born Kathleen Anne Kriger, served as the United States’ diplomat in Morocco for several years, living what many would consider a comfortable life in a prestigious position. In the wake of September 11 and the

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

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