MESP FALL 2009 EVENTS
Mohja Kahf, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Arkansas, gave a perfor- mance on “Arab American Muslim Woman Balancing Act: A Mohja Kahf Reading,” showcasing her voice as a contemporary American Muslim woman intent on questioning and breaking some of the stereotypes about Muslims prevalent in the West.
Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Director of MESP, Syracuse University, delivered a talk on “The 2009 Elections and the Future of Iranian Republic.” He points out how the recent elections in Iran were remark- able in many ways, from the contentious presidential debate on state television to the role of Zahra Rahnavard, wife of reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. The subsequent protests illustrate that the country’s political scene is fractious and uncertain.
Jimmy Johnson, Organizer with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), spoke about “Planning the Occupation” by offering a geographical analysis of Israel’s control of public space and built environments. After the talk Johnson spoke with students about how to get in- volved in activist networks.
Omar Majeed presented his film “Taqwacore: the Birth of Punk Islam” and responded to questions from the audience. His film documents the progression of the Muslim Punk scene from its imagi- nary inception in a novel written by a white-convert to Islam named Michael Muhammad Knight, to a full-blown, real-life scene of Muslim punk bands and their diverse fans.
Joseph Massad, Assistant Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History in the Depart- ment of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) at Columbia University, presented a lecture on “Conjunctive Prepositions: Sexuality and/in Islam.” He critiques how Arabs have inter- nalized Western views of sexual desire.
Ramazan Kilinc, Visiting Assistant Professor at James Madison College and Michigan University, spoke about “Islam, Secularism and Democracy: The Case of Turkey.” He traces developments in Turkey’s nascent democracy to the 1997 military intervention and analyzes how this event has shaped the country’s social and political discourse.
Elie Podeh, Chair of the Department of Islam and Middle East Studies and Senior Research Fellow, Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, presented two lectures. The first, “Celebrating the Nation: the Politics of Commemoration in the Arab World,” surveys national holidays and celebrations that take place in the Arab world and analyzes their significance in defining and reinforcing political legitimacy. His second talk was on “The Arab Peace Plan: a Missed Opportunity,” in which he reviewed the missed opportunities for peace and the possible way forward.
As a part of the UISFL program, MESP also launched a series of Arabic and Hebrew language conversation tables, which will continue into the spring semester. The language tables provide an opportunity for students and faculty members to interact, as well as help students learn about the cultures of each respective language.
The films screened as part of the Middle Eastern Film Series during the Fall 2009 included: Battle of Algiers, The Kite Runner, USA vs Al Arian, Football Under Cover, and Lemon Tree.