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AASA member Martina Koegeler has recently published an article in the Journal of Transnational American Studies:
AASA Board Member Professor Evelyn Alsultany has been nominated for the El-Hibri Foundation Peace Award for her incredible work in building Arab American studies.
The following leaders were nominated for the 2016 El-Hibri Peace Education Prize ($30,000), for dedicating their lives to making outstanding contributions and demonstrating long-term leadership in building inclusive and socially just communities in the United States. These individuals are recognized for using cutting-edge approaches to catalyze positive social change across widespread and diverse audiences.
Congratulations, Professor Alsultany!
AASA board member Umayyah Cable will join Northwestern University as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Asian American studies and Middle East and North African studies programs this fall. Her research and teaching interests span the fields of ethnic studies, film and media studies, and queer theory, with a particular focus on how marginalized or underrepresented identity-based and cause-based groups leverage film culture in order to foment social, cultural, or political change. She is currently conducting new research for a manuscript based on her dissertation: Cinematic Activism: Film Festivals and the Exhibition of Palestinian Cultural Politics in the United States.
At Northwestern, Umayyah will develop courses in Arab American Studies, including “Introduction to Arab American Studies” and “Arab American Arts and Cinema.”
Please join us in congratulating AASA member Waleed F. Mahdi on his new tenure-track assistant professor appointment at the University of Oklahoma in the Department of International and Area Studies and the Department of Modern Languages, Literature, and Linguistics. Waleed is a comparatist with research and teaching interests in US-Arab and Muslim cultural politics. His current book project explores the visual representations of Arab Americans in Hollywood and Arab filmmaking. He is also contributing to a multi-institutional collaboration that examines Arab contemporary public spheres at the interplay of politics, religion, and culture.
Congrats, Dr. Mahdi!
Waypoints and Watersheds:
Arab American Activism and Memories,
a Conference Marking the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 War.
Arab American Studies Association 2017 Conference
March 24-26, 2017
Several important Arab and Arab American institutions and associations were established in the immediate aftermath of the 1967 War. They variously sought to counteract negative stereotypes about Arabs, represent the interests of Arabs in the U.S., influence U.S. foreign policy, return refugees to their homes, meet their needs, or consolidate an identity politics that would bring together American citizens of Arab descent with new arrivals from the Arab region. In a context of the Vietnam war, student protests and the civil rights movements, Arab Americans were part of the transformations happening within the U.S. as well as events in the Middle East. With the 50th anniversary of 1967 in mind, this conference will explore whether and how 1967 and its aftermath was formative for Arab American identity, activism, cultural production, and scholarship. We also seek to investigate the impacts of the 1967 War and other watershed events, such as the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the Hart-Celler Act, the Iranian Revolution, and 9/11, among others, on historical and contemporary Arab American dynamics.
Scholars from American studies, media studies, literature, history, ethnic studies, cultural studies, anthropology, sociology, political science, Arab and Islamic Studies, gender, sexuality and women’s studies, performance studies, public health, psychology and other related fields are invited to submit individual paper abstracts or pre-organized panels.
Activists in Arab American formations in the 1960s, 70s and 80s are invited to participate in roundtables that are intended to celebrate the activism of an earlier generation and discuss the legacies of their work, good and bad, in the present moment.
Possible paper and panel topics include:
- Changing race, class, gender, and sexual identities in Arab American “community” dynamics resulting from the 1967 war and other watershed events in Arab American history over the last half-century
- Memory and nostalgia in literature, biographies, and art
- The role of wars and international events in the creation of “community” and identity
- Cultural and intellectual products in relationship to political activisms
- Racialization and stereotyping of Arab and Muslim Americans in the media and society
- The role of religion and secularism at the national, transnational, or local levels
- Displacement, diaspora, and demographics within the Arab American community
- Engagements with the environment, globalization, disability and social justice issues
- Shifting political alliances and ideologies in solidarity movements
- Fluctuations in anti-Arab (or Islamophobic) violence
- State-sponsored discrimination (including immigration policies)
- Arab creative output, material products and business enterprises in the U.S.
- Discourses on Arab Americans and health, including psychology public health and mental health fields
- Gendered analyses of any of these topics
LAST UPDATED (6/30/16):
To propose a pre-arranged panel or individual paper for this conference, please submit a 300-500-word abstract to the submission website for AASA 2017 at https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=aasa2017 by
June 30, 2016 t he NEW EXTENDED DEADLINE of August 1st, 2016.
Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conference registration and current membership in the AASA will be required for all accepted scholarly panels.
Forget Poles: Palestinians find a home in suburban Chicago
AASA President Louise Cainkar was recently quoted in a Chicago area radio program on Chicago’s growing Palestinian community.
Check out the full piece here, and read an excerpt below:
How many people of Palestinian descent actually live in the region?
The truth is more complicated, but surprising nonetheless. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, there were closer to 20,000 people living in Beitunia as of 2007. But sociologist Louise Cainkar, a professor at Marquette University and an expert on Arab immigration, backs up the underlying thrust of Hassan’s claim.
“Historically Beitunia was the largest feeder village [of Palestinian immigrants] to Chicago,” she said.
Cainkar has spent time in Beitunia and has seen the results of this relationship.
“[The village]used to be characterized by agriculture, but is now quite built up,” she said.
Cainkar says the investment from money made in the U.S. and sent back to the village in the form of remittances is visible.
Cainkar estimates that as many as a quarter of all Palestinians living in the U.S. live in the counties surrounding Chicago — more than live any other American city. And, Palestinians make up the single largest Arab ethnic group in the Chicago region, according to Cainkar — as much as 40 percent of the area’s total Arab population.
It’s actually quite difficult, though, to measure exactly how many people of Palestinian descent live in the Chicago area. And it’s hard to know how many people of Arab descent there are in the country as a whole. Nationally, the 2010 U.S. Census found that about 1.9 million Americans are of Arab descent, although groups like the Arab American Institute estimate that the number could be much larger, as high as 5.1 million people. It’s a similar story in Illinois; the Census found about 85,000 people of Arab descent living in the state, but again, the AAI thinks the number is much higher, closer to 220,000 total.
Cainkar thinks the real number of Arab Americans living in the U.S. — and in Illinois — is probably somewhere in the middle of those estimates, but agrees that the Census misses a lot of people.
The short version of the Census — given to 82 percent of people who take it — only measures race, and Arabs are supposed to mark themselves down as white. The 18 percent of people who take the longer version of the survey are asked questions about their “ancestry.” In 2010, of the people who indicated they were of Arab ancestry, five percent described themselves as being of Palestinian descent. But another 11 percent said they were “Other, Arab” and another 15 percent said they were “Arab/Arabic.”
Cainkar’s research suggests that many of these respondents are actually Palestinian, too.
“I looked at the Census tracts block by block, based on where people live,” she said, adding that many Chicago communities she knows to be Palestinian weren’t counted as such.
Regardless of the exact number of Arab Americans living in Chicago’s Southwest suburbs, their presence is clear, whether in the Prayer Center, the Orland Park mosque with a glowing gold dome and colorful tile walls built in 2004, or the sheer number of businesses that cater to Middle Eastern tastes.
“I counted 100 Arab-owned businesses in less than one square mile between 79th and 87th and Harlem, and that’s just a little piece of their commercial enterprises down there,” Cainkar said of one portion of the Southwest Side community. “That is definitely their hub.”
AASA President Louise Cainkar has a new article out via the Middle East Research and Information Project. Check out this preview and see link below to subscribe and read the whole piece.
Becoming Arab American
bypublished in MER278
Scholars have long found that while pan-Arab organizations in the United States called themselves Arab American, few individuals adopted that appellation as a personal identity, preferring Iraqi, for instance, or Syrian. So I was struck, while interviewing 45 Palestinian Americans attending high school in Palestine, that so many of them referred to themselves and others as Arab American, in addition to Palestinian. Why does Arab American make sense as an identity now, when it has not in the past? The experiences of these transnational youth—17- and 18-year olds most of whom were born and raised in the US and who moved to Palestine as pre-teens—suggest that the answer lies in notions of belonging and exclusion in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Dr. Evelyn Alsultnay was recently featured on NPR discussing representations of Muslim women in television. Check out the interview by clicking the link below:
Please join us in congratulating AASA board member Evelyn Alsultany for publishing three new articles this spring. Mabrouk, Dr. Alsultany!
“Reclaiming Identity Online: An Interview with Evelyn Alsultany, Jane Abell, American Anthropologist, Vol. 118, Issue 1, March 2016, 161-165, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/aman.12518/epdf
“Representations of Arabs, Muslims, and Iranians in an Era of Complex Characters and Storylines,” Film Criticism Journal, Volume 40, Issue 1, 2016, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/fc/13761232.0040.102?view=text;rgn=main.
“The Cultural Politics of Islam in U.S. Reality Television,” Communication, Culture and Critique, early view available online, forthcoming Volume 9, Issue 4, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cccr.12121/abstract
A native New Yorker, Dr. Elizabeth Saylor received her B.A. in Comparative Literature and Society from Columbia University, where she studied Arabic, French, German, and Italian literatures. Elizabeth holds her Ph.D. in Arabic Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, where she had the opportunity to develop her skills as a passionate and award-winning teacher of Arabic language, literature, and culture. Elizabeth has lived and traveled extensively throughout the Middle East. She studied Arabic at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) program at the American University in Cairo and co-directed an Arabic language study abroad program for two consecutive summers in Tunisia. Upon completion of her doctorate, Elizabeth joined Bard College as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Arabic, where she taught Arabic language and literature to a fantastic group of students in New York’s beautiful Hudson River Valley. This summer, she will be directing the Al-Quds Bard Summer Language Intensive, a four-week program for intermediate and advanced Arabic language students, which will be held in the West Bank, Palestine.
Teaching & Research Interests
Elizabeth’s current book project examines the work of a neglected pioneer of the Arabic novel, the Lebanese immigrant writer, journalist, and translator, ‘Afīfa Karam (1883-1924), an important contributor to the nahḍa, or the Arabic cultural renaissance of the late 19th and early 20th century. Karam published three Arabic novels in New York City between 1906 and 1910, predating the publication of Haykal’s Zaynab (1914), which is widely credited as the first Arabic novel. As such, this study challenges the dominant narrative of the evolution of the modern Arabic novel, and posits that Karam’s absence from the Arabic canon stems not only from her gender, but also from her deterritorialized status as a member of the mahjar (diasporic) community of Arabs living in North and South America. An early voice calling attention to the situation of Arab women, Karam was a pivotal figure in the nascent women’s women in the Arab world. At this embryonic stage of its development, Karam articulated a unique gendered theory of the novel that reflects her proto-feminist politics.
Elizabeth’s teaching interests include Arab women’s literature, the Arabic novel, mahjar (émigré) literature, the Arabic language, 19th and 20th century Arabic literature, Arab American studies, Palestinian literature, translation studies, and Orientalism. Elizabeth is board member and treasurer of the Washington Street Historical Society, an organization that aims to preserve the legacy of New York City’s first Arab immigrant neighborhood, Little Syria. She is a founding member of the Arab American Studies Association (AASA) and has presented her work at invited sessions of the Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA), Middle Eastern History and Theory Conference (MEHAT) and the annual Diwan Arts Conference. Elizabeth has organized panels and lectured at a number of museums and academic institutions including the Library of Congress, the University of Chicago, the Arab American National Museum, Rutgers University, and U.C. Berkeley.
Every year the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies offers a postdoctoral fellowship in Middle East Diaspora Studies (with preference given to Lebanese Diasporas). This award is open to scholars in the humanities and social sciences whose scholarly work addresses any aspect of Middle East Diasporas. Fellows are required to be in residence at North Carolina State University during the appointment period; to teach one course per semester during the academic year; to pursue an active research agenda that should result in one or more publications, as well as offer a research presentation in the Spring semester. In addition, the Fellow is expected to take an active role in the programming and activities of the Moise Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies, and in advancing the mission of the center.