Mar. 13th, 2014 12:02 pm
ajnabieh: A large orange cat with the text "Christianne Aman-purr, Colbert Report Middle East Correspondent" (amanpurr)
I keep meaning to write a post on academic language differences in Canada/the US (prompted in part by [personal profile] jae continually reminding me I'm marking, not grading, when I'm complaining about sitting in front of a stack of papers), but today isn't that day. Have a link dump of interesting things instead.

TessieMC, The Trigger-Warned Syllabus, which does a good job summarizing why trigger warnings on syllabi are kind of not the point. I've given trigger warnings as a teacher--when potentially triggering material will be dealt with in class and isn't otherwise prefigured by the content. (So when I screened a video about the problems of microfinance that indebted people describing their suicide attempts or the death by suicide of their family members, for instance.) I've also been triggered as a student, by something neither the teacher nor I could have predicted (tl;dr if you are a 16 year old undergoing traumatic life-threatening leg surgeries maybe don't read A Separate Peace, which I still haven't finished, btw). And, when I taught an entire course about political violence, I didn't give a single trigger warning, because the content of the course material was already apparent--we read about people killed by police, we read about riots, we read about genocide, we read about violence against women, and I trusted my students to be aware of what the class was about, to be aware of where their limits were, and to make adjustments if they just couldn't handle some of the material. The course title and the titles of the articles on the syllabus was their own trigger warning, in my mind. So I'm thinking actively about this issue, as someone who supports trigger warnings as a concept and also wants to think about how they can function usefully and not dismissively in different contexts.

On Feminist Philosophers, a faculty member wants advice for how to mentor a minority student who was recruited to a graduate program in ways that sound incredibly ham-handed and offensive, while not being either racist or subscribing to a 'colorblind' philosophy. I've mentioned what I would take into account, but some of you may have opinions on this subject!

Language Log gives some coverage to the language politics of the upcoming provincial elections in Quebec. I don't have anything specific to add, except that the adjective for "belonging to the Parti Quebecois" in French is "pequiste [PQ-iste]" and I think we can all agree that is the literal best political party adjective ever.

Mark Allen Peterson put together a brief primer to Middle Eastern media ecologies. Useful if the term is new to you, useful if the Middle Eastern context is new to you. Media hasn't been a primary area of research for me, but it's becoming one, so I'm absorbing this all as I go.

Kristin Diwan [ profile] kdiwaniya has a good new report on youth activism in the Arab Gulf. As always, I want to insert migration as a variable into all these conversations--what are migrant youth, both Arab and not-Arab, doing politically? Are they a part of Kuwaiti/Saudi/Bahraini/etc movements? Making their own? But the report is an excellent presentation of what's happening in a region where social movements are less studied.

And finally, for my fellow hoopy froods*, The BBC has re-released the Hitchhiker's Guide text game.

*Disclaimer: I am actually not a terribly hoopy frood.
ajnabieh: A large orange cat with the text "Christianne Aman-purr, Colbert Report Middle East Correspondent" (amanpurr)
Today was my last day of teaching for this term. (Canadian terms are 14 weeks, so we generally end earlier than US universities.) So, as I settled down to get some stuff done, I opened my "things to do this semester" file that I wrote up in September to see, well, if I've managed to do anything on the list. When I saw what was on it, my first response was to laugh and laugh and laugh with maybe a little crying. But on clearer reflection, it's not so bad. Here, for your amusement, are my results.

CategoryThingComments from the other side
Teaching"Teach everything.  All the things."I did, in fact, teach all the things.
Advising"Work with [MA candidate]"Said candidate is doing well!  She drafted a proposal! Said proposal is being edited! I have hopes!
Research"Map Arab orgs in Ottawa, elsewhere in Canada"lolnope.  Not a thing has been done on this.  Luckily, this is relevant to my research assistant's MA proposal that he'll be writing next term, so perhaps I can get some double duty out of him.
Research"Analysis of tweets on #muslimcandyheartrejects"The coding was completed between me and my RA; this took a couple of versions, so I haven't run the preliminary stats yet or started working on the discourse analysis bits.  We're planning on co-writing the article coming out of this analysis (of a very funny twitter hashtag and the way humor and politics intersect and construct identities) next term.
Research"Auctions: pick long-form coding, design system, code all of it; essay for symposium?"Sadly, little has happened on the fandom auctions research project front, because both my co-author and I have been busy.  Bump that one to next term...
Research"Lots of reading on politics and socialization online"Define lots.  And define whether "reading" includes "downloading articles with interesting abstracts and putting them in the "to-read" folder.  Because if so, definitely.
Research"Lots of reading on expat voting"My library due date is 13 December.  I've got 11 days left.  PLENTY of time.
Writing"Write paper for Borders conference: Sep 20"This did in fact occur, if not by Sep 20.  It was well received at the conference, and I and a few other conference goers are trying to organize some of our papers into a special issue on the topic we share.  So, success!
Writing"Write interview/essay for [academic friend]'s book: Sep 30"Again, done, if not by Sep 30.  I'm hoping the process with its publication will go smoothly, and, in any case, the data I gathered for it is really relevant to other writing I'm doing.
Writing"Finish book revisions: Oct 15"lololol you are funny, to-do list, I find you very very funny.  No, seriously, I have made progress on this, if not as quickly as I've wanted, and January 15 for having a completed draft seems plausible, if not guaranteed.  But it's slow.  Did you know a dissertation introduction and a book introduction are very different creatures?  I do now.
Writing"Expat voting paper: Dec 1"Sigh. No progress got made in taking this from conference paper to article, which makes me sad.  This is definitely #1 priority for next semester.

So the total is not that bad, I suppose.  Not on this list but still relevant is the paper I presented this past weekend at a workshop, which wasn't new material but was a new presentation (in fact, of the one new chapter I'm writing for my book--so this was a good time to try to work it out coherently).  Nor was the roundtable I and a friend are organizing for next year's APSA, which has taken a lot of email time, nor is that special issue that came out of the conference I mentioned.  So this looks like I might just barely have been productive this semester, on balance.

One of the speakers at the new faculty orientation in August said, "look, just admit now you aren't getting any research done this year."  That does seem to be my trendline.  However, I have also learned that if I can carve out time when I don't need to be meeting student needs (and defend it against my desire to be The Most Available Teacher Who Is Always Helpful), I can definitely get writing done.

In any case, I don't get any grading turned in until Dec 11, so between now and then?  I can totally write two syllabi, two revised book chapters, and plan the five articles I want to write next semester.  Right?


ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
(manually x-posted to [ profile] ajnabieh--can I make DW do that for me? That would be awesomesauce.)

(Also thanks to the random stranger who gave me paid time! Now I can put off buying it for a few months! \0/)

I leave post-it notes on my office door when I’m running somewhere and I think a colleague or student might swing by and I want to tell them I’ll be back, don’t leave. If I think the occasion is likely to occur again, I keep the note on the back of my door for posterity.

I noticed a difference in tone between two of them today. See if you can spot it.

ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (marxist feminist)
There's a lovely slacktivist opportunity on twitter today for those of use who are academics: #dayofhighered is asking people to live-tweet their days as academics, whether teaching, researching, or administering. I'm doing it ([ profile] ajnabieh), and so are a bunch of other people (the feed for the tag).

If I get time, I'll write a blog post about daily variability. But, you know, I have work to do.
ajnabieh: The text "don't ask me, I'm a grad student." (grad student)
I love this icon; it isn't true; I can't bear to give it up. Sniff.


Recs needed: blog posts, articles, books, ANYTHING on:

1) How to choose a publisher to pitch your dissertation-book (or any academic book) to;
2) What the structural differences are between a dissertation and a book (which I struggle with, because I see 275 pages of prose and think "book," yes?)'
3) How to write a book proposal (apart from "to the tastes of the particular press/editor you're pitching to").

Guess what my summer project is.
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (marxist feminist)
One of the things about coming to a new school means encountering new academic cultures, which differ by huge amounts from institution to institution. Some elements are systemic to particular sorts of schools; some are idiosyncratic. It's hard to puzzle things out, sometimes.

But I've noticed a quirk here, and I wonder what it means. Here at my new school, I've seen three different people openly disclose that they were 'spousal hires.' For those not in academia, that means that 1) their spouse/partner was hired for a permanent job here 2) said spouse/partner said "I will take the job if you give my spouse/partner a faculty position as well" 3) such an offer was made and accepted. Two of those spousal hires I've met are in my incoming faculty cohort (which is huge: 33 people, I think?), but one was a faculty member whose office is on the same floor as mine, who I got talking to in the break room.

And that's the thing: all three of the people I've heard identify themselves as spousal hires are men with female partners. On the one hand, that means that my school is doing a great job recruiting female faculty and making them good deals (an offer that comes with a job for your spouse? is an excellent offer). It's also congruent with the faculty culture here, which is very geared towards equality among faculty and support for junior/institutionally disadvantaged faculty. (There's pay equity between tenure-stream and non-tenure-stream faculty, for instance, and near-equivalent research/travel money available, and a higher-than-average-number of people jump from non-tenure to tenure-stream positions. We non-tenure-stream faculty were told to remind people that we're not tenure-line, and that we therefore are excused from certain service duties, because permanent faculty apparently tend to 'forget' and ask us to do things we're not required to do, because they see us as equal colleagues. Etc.)

On the other hand, I'm wondering if men are less anxious about identifying as spousal hires. For a woman to get an academic job (hugely competitive, seen as a sign that you have been victorious in a meritocratic race towards excellence) on the basis of her husband's/partner's work smells like affirmative action; it smells like failure. Is the identity penalty for men in identifying as a spousal hire less? (I'm also wondering, because I know several other academic couples here, some even where both spouses are in the same department; nobody has identified as "the spousal hire" in those pairings, and in at least one of them I'm fairly certain it was the female partner. Are they less likely to leap into the identity?)

So I'm wondering what other academics' experience is. Do people openly identify as spousal hires in your academic contexts? Have you noticed any difference between men's and women's willingness do to so? Or is this, like so many things, just something odd about my new institutional place?

(I should note, here, that people hired as 'spousal hires' are frequently awesome and excellent colleagues and teachers. One of my undergraduate advisors was the wife of a much more famous and noted scholar, and was one of the best scholars I've ever worked with. One of my graduate advisors left my institution to go to a full professor position at her husband's university, which enabled them to live together to raise their children. So, I'd like not to have this turn into a conversation about how spousal hires are evil and wrong; they're complicated, and many places can't do them in any real sense, but they provide some excellent scholars with jobs, and some dual-academic families with solidity, which I can't knock.)
ajnabieh: Sign for a store reading "Hot Chick." (hot chick)
The reason I've been off the grid, and am only sporadically going to be around for the next 3-4 weeks, is a fabulous one: I recently accepted a (n extremely awesome) position as a visiting instructor at Hobart and William Smith colleges, and am currently packing up everything I own in preparation for moving to Western New York, in addition to trying to finish the next (and last?) draft of my dissertation before we leave.  So, despite the fact that it's Ramadan, Islamophobia has taken a massive turn for the stupid as hell lately (surprise surprise), there are terrifying massacres in Syria, Egyptian activists just left Tahrir again, and Libya is in a protracted state of civil war, I'm probably not going to be saying anything smart (or not-smart) about it. These are some quick hits before I put my head back in my work.

The one place I will be with regularity is twitter, where I am [ profile] ajnabieh.  95% of my tweets are either retweets or things I'm reading, since I'm not collecting super fascinating data at the moment (and I save tweeting about lunch for Facebook).  If people are interested in a regular link spam from me, I'm more than happy to do a daily or weekly twitter-import.

I wanted to signal boost is the Fast for Yemen being sponsored by Yemen Peace News.  Yemen, along with the Sudan, are the only Arab countries on the list of least developed countries; Yemen is also in the midst of a political crisis/revolution (depends who you ask).  Food aid is desperately needed.  Ramadan is, traditionally, a season for giving and for feasting as much as fasting--G. Willow Wilson on twitter called it "Eat, Pray, Don't Eat,"--and this project calls for people, Muslim and non-Muslim, to remember Yemen during this time.  I haven't fasted yet, but I know I'll be giving, probably fasting a little, and certainly making du'as for Yemen this month.

And a side project.  Academichic, the one fashion blog I read, is closing up shop for very good reasons.  But this got me thinking about how much I wish there were more people online talking about fashion and personal aesthetics and similar things with a queer feminist/politically radical sensibility.  So, if anyone either knows people having these conversations, or, say, would be interested in trying to develop a group blog covering this ground, let me know.  I've got a lot of new teaching outfits to overanalyze for the sake of Internet feminism this fall.  I'm just saying.
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (dressing my best)
I think of myself as reasonably well sartorially stocked for formal professional occasions: I've got a black suit, I've got a bunch of suit separates and blouses and things like that.  Plus, you know, I'm a grad student, how many suits do I need However, I just encountered a fashion challenge that my closet was unequipped for: what to wear for a high formality professional event held in the heat of the summer.

This was the conclusion I reached.

summer suit 2

I have to admit, it took me a long time to be convinced by the short sleeved blazer.  It felt...just wrong, somehow.  Blazers have SLEEVES.  This is in their nature! Anything else is a violation of their natural rights as blazers! Why don't I just wear a vest if I'm going to violate all that is good and right in business attire?!?!

After many rounds of trial and error, however, I reconciled myself to the outfit, because of the clear truth that my arms are freakin' fierce.  Might as well show it off.

summer suit 3
again with the toddler photobombing

The neckline on this top is a new one for me: what do you think? I felt very covered up, but I liked the shape it made, both in the blazer and out of it.

(And let's not talk about my pink manicured fingernails.  I still have some cognitive dissonance over that.)

What do you think about summer business wear?  Is it all about fabric, or cut, or color for you? How do you summer-ize an outfit?
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (marxist feminist)
At my local library, they're handing out Summer Reading passports. I remember those, from elementary school on: getting checkmarks for books I read, the race to read more than anyone else (yeah, I was that kid), and then, getting older, the lists of books I had to pick from in middle school and high school, all of which were severely below my reading level, and which usually got banged out in the last week of vacation, after having spent the summer curled up with more Serious Works Of Literature. (I had a thing for John Barth in high school. Don't ask me why.)

Like most academics, I think of the summers, primarily, as time to get work done without the regular stresses of the academic year. No students, no meetings, nothing to do but read, write, and research. That's a beautiful thing--especially given that, though I had no teaching commitments this past summer, I did have a number of personal things get in the way of my work.

So I'm making a summer reading list. (And a writing list, but it's more in flux.)

On it so far are:

  • Voices of the New Arab Public,, by Marc Lynch. I am happy to report that, after having wanted to read this book since it came out in 2006, and had it out from the library since January, I have finally read it. Expect a review this week, if I'm organized.
  • Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen, by Lisa Wedeen. I'm a Wedeen fan in general ("fangirl" might be the more appropriate term, if you catch my drift), and I read a few chapters of this before it was published, and found them incredibly exciting. She's an excellent writer, and Yemen is certainly relevant to the news these days.
  • Democracy, Human Rights and Law in Islamic Thought, by Mohammed Abed al-Jabri. Both Lynch and Wedeen draw on Habermasian frameworks in their two books above. I've been thinking about the necessity of working through questions about the Habermasian public spheres, and about al-Jabri, who also uses public sphere frameworks. There's an article in there, and I think this set of three books is going to poke it out. Inshallah.
  • At least 1-2 recent books to write reviews of.

Why the last? Well, because there was a fairly hilarious, IMHO, piece in the most recent MESA (Middle East Studies Association) newsletter, aiming to guilt us all into writing review pieces for the Review of Middle East Studies. When I say "guilt," I mean it:

Why do we write? Is it for tenure? For the tiny audience of specialists to which we each belong? ... Or, do we write in the hope that someone, somewhere will engage with our imaged worlds? And, if so, do we not then have the responsibility to read and critique the work of others in the hope that our work will receive similar attention? ... You will tell me that we have way to much to do; that there are too few of us; that reviews are undervalued by tenure and promotion committees; that print publications are headed for the trashbin of history....Perhaps. But in the meantime, think about it.

Just for you guys, I went and got it out of the recycling bin so I could transcribe that. I hope you're amused.

The thing is, I do agree with the general point: reviews are good academic citizenship. Plus, I would like to read something new, something to remind myself that I am, actually, interested in Middle Eastern politics and Things That Are Not My Dissertation. I picked up a wide variety of things in my latest library run: an edited collection on Gulf politics and a general reader on women in the UAE to go with my mild obsession with the politics of small states, an ethnography of Moroccan garment workers that seems to be marketed to a mainstream audience, and a book on marriage and the Egyptian state, which I have a suspicion will work its way onto my fall syllabi. My plan is this: if I don't feel strongly one way or another after 50 pages, I'll put them aside. If I find them horrific and disasterous, I'll write a review. If I find them amazing and brilliant, I'll write a review.

Of course, I'm planning on doing a little of that other sort of summer reading...

summer reading

(Click through for a list of titles. I picked them up yesterday. Two of them are ready to go back already. Om nom nom, books with pictures in them.)


Any recommendations for things I should be reading this summer? In either category, *g*.

Also, it's probably a little late for this, but would any of the other academic folks on my rlist want to start a false-deadlines-and-feedback writing support group for the summer? I know there are other similar things going on in blogland, but I'd be happy to coordinate a group on DW.
ajnabieh: The text "don't ask me, I'm a grad student." (grad student)
I'm sitting here, with my cup of tea, watching the snow that fell this morning on the half-melted remains of the last storm, and contemplating what the hell I'm supposed to do next.

I just hit a fairly pleasant milestone: I completed the first draft of my final substantive dissertation chapter. (For the record, this means I have an introduction and a conclusion to knock out, and some revisions; some of those revisions will take work, and some of them will involve a good reread and a few days of pacing around and red-penciling.) At the same time, since I'm unscheduled this semester, I don't have pressing needs like syllabus writing, teaching, grading (although, oops, I haven't uploaded last semester's grades yet...I should do that), meetings, or the assorted detritus that fills up one's time. But these two facts conspire to result in a great floundering period. What, precisely, should I do next? Where should I go? What are my priorities? Even once I've chosen a new project, how do I frame my progress on it?

I usually start out using these floundering periods as a way to play catchup. Yesterday, I went on Proquest Dissertation Abstracts and searched for "Arab-American," and did some searches to find dissertations that looked interesting. (I now have two whole dissertations sitting on my Kindle, and a bunch of the Proquest samples, and a couple of others that have made it into print to go find in paper copy. Whoo hoo.) I also used the excuse of a trip to Manhattan with only one scheduled event to run by the library and return old books and pick up new ones. (Amazingly, of the 3 books I went looking for, I only found one. And yet, also amazingly, I left with three books. Oh, Library of Congress system, never fail me with your suggestion of interesting and related texts.) So, that's sorted. But this only gets me so far.

The problem is that these gap moments are a great way to get stuck. Oh, I can't possibly start on $nexttask (and, by the way, that I used that syntax to phrase this problem is entirely due to hanging out with People What Write Code here on DW, so, thanks, I guess), because I have all these dishes to wash/books to read/navels to gaze at. Oh, I should really be making that chapter an article/turning that old paper into an article/writing more abstracts for more conferences/whatever, so I should start on that, except I never do, I just kinda...stare. I don't have time to get stuck. Stuck is bad. Very bad.

So now it's time to break out of Stucks-ville. I mean, maybe I'll spend this weekend reading other people's dissertations and drinking tea and being emo contemplating my goals as a dissertation-writer. But on Monday, I need to sit down and take the train to Productivity Junction.

I've already picked my next task: writing my introduction. (The conclusion I'll save until after I've revised the whole thing.) This is my vague plan for how to get started:

  • Set a clear self-imposed deadline. The one I'm working with right now is "a draft introduction, partial and with gaps where necessary, before I leave for my visit to my in-laws in two weeks." Possible (I'm a fast writer, and I'm planning on having the intro clock in around 25pp, so that's not too many words) but will require concentrated effort, and won't screw me if I don't meet it.
  • Write a detailed outline, complete with suboutlines. By which I mean, I should list the parts of the chapter, and then the sub-parts of each part, and if I can outline the sub-sub-parts that's even better. This is my technique for writing quickly. If it's a matter of filling in holes, then I just fill them as the mood moves me, and eventually fill them all, put them together, and then edit the crap out of it (moving sections, rewriting where I've used things twice or been inconsistent, changing the framing argument where I've written myself to a new one, etc).
  • Um. This is where I start running out of techniques.
  • ...

As you'll notice, I run out of steam mid-plan there. I'm sure that the later steps should be somewhere on the order of WRITE ALL THE THINGS, but...does anyone have any techniques they use, in order not to lose a bunch of time to this transitional moment?

Not that a little bit of tea-and-emo ever hurt anyone.
ajnabieh: The text "don't ask me, I'm a grad student." (grad student)
You know how, sometimes, the writing Just Comes Together? I had a pleasant moment of that recently. I had a hacked-together draft of my conference paper for APSA: I'd ironed out the parts that had been labelled "to be written" in my original chapter-draft, I'd cut everything I could possibly cut, I'd edited for clarity, I'd cleaned up my citations. The one thing I didn't have was a conclusion; the chapter I'd taken it from had a conclusion based in the theoretical argument I was making (which I'd cut from this paper), and I really didn't have any good ideas for where to go with this. In the space where the conclusion should have been, I had the following text:


In conclusion, I'm right? The end?

Trust me, I nearly considered circulating it like that. Hey, it's August; I'm not at my best.

However, I forced myself to sit down, armed with a large iced coffee, and write a real conclusion. Without any real advance planning, this is what came out--and I rather like it.

In writing this paper, I have hoped to describe the way these two groups, Adalah-NY and Al-Awda, engage in political life very differently: their preferred rhetoric, their alliances with other groups, and their relationships to the identities of their members and allies all vary highly, and in ways that make sense given the different segments of Arab’s New York and progressive/radical communities that house them. If, at the very least, I have contributed to an effort to disaggregate the understanding of what Palestine activism is in the contemporary United States, I consider that I have produced useful intellectual work.

At the same time, I’d like to suggest some of the larger ramifications of this work for thinking about social movements. Too often, radical movements with low probability of achieving their goals are viewed only as foils for more moderate movements, the ones who are likely to win concessions, in part because of tensions between radical movements and the nervous centers of power. I want to suggest that there are important reasons for not treating groups like Al-Awda and Adalah-NY as afterthoughts. Empirically, the way that the margins battle over the meaning of their work ends up moving down into more centrist groups: the way the language of boycott, even if substantially divorced from the original context of the BDS call, has moved into mainstream Palestine activism, is a sure sign of this. If we want to see where mainstream movements are going, we must look to their margins. Normatively—and I believe we are as required to normatively justify our work as we are to methodologically justify it—we cannot ignore voices on the margins, because they represent political actors making arguments that demand a full hearing. Without being able to hear the argument within any set of claims made, and being able to address the fundamental question of justice that beats at the heart of it, political society will be unable to aim for full incorporation of all members.

I mean, it says the exact same thing--just more belligerently, really.

In other news, if you're interested in what I have to say about Palestine activism in New York, this paper is publicly available for free. It's called "From the (East) River to the Sea: Palestine Activism in Arab New York," and is available for online viewing via the Social Science Research Network here. Now I just have to come up with a way to present 50 pages of evidence in 20 minutes...
ajnabieh: The text "don't ask me, I'm a grad student." (grad student)
I was talking to someone about my fall course recently. Like many end-stage graduate students, I am currently more than a little burned out, especially when contemplating the potent mix of dissertation-completing, teaching, and job-hunting that will be consuming my life for the next, oh, six to nine months. "The nice thing," I said about my fall class, "is that, if I run out of time for prep, I can pretty much stand up in front of the class and bullshit about gender and politics in the Middle East [the title of the class] for 110 minutes without any problem."

"It's not bullshit," my interlocutor said. "It's that you actually know what you're talking about."


Over my recent vacation, my father expressed interest in my dissertation. I offered to let him read a chapter (well, a part of a chapter that I just article-ized) on my Kindle, and handed it over. He handed it back, with six pages of hand-written typo corrections and suggestions for cleaning up the language, and then we sat down to talk about the infuriating Hannah Arendt quote I used as my epigraph. (I chose it because, in the context of my chapter, it is so obviously wrong it makes one want to scream.) I started going off on Arendt's particular use of the notion of the political, and how her position is fundamentally insupportable, just ranting, really, and, behind me, I heard my twelve year old nephew ask my wife if I always talk like this. "Just when she's teaching," my wife said. "That's her teacher voice."


Some people worry about turning into their mothers; Lord knows I do. But I realized recently that I'm turning into my professors. In fact, a friend pointed out that my current styling in the classroom is deeply reminiscent of one of my favorite instructors in college, a recent PhD who hung around for a year teaching, and on whom I had a massive, massive crush. (Hey! She was hot and butch and spoke more than one Southeast Asian language! I was helpless!)

I realize now I'm only a year behind where she was.

I wonder if, when she sat at the head of that round seminar table and waved her hands around, she was as terrified as I am every time I walk into the classroom.

I wonder if every argument she made, she was worried that there was someone in the room who would call her on it, would take her down for it.

I wonder if the obvious fangirling of her that I and some of my friends did gave her the same sort of warm fuzzy feeling that I get every time one of my students friends me on Facebook.

I wonder if the reason she so vigorously kept things (like her political affiliations, and her queerness) as far away from the classroom as she did (much to my frustration) was because it was another sort of danger.

I wonder if she had to fight the desire to smile every time we called her professor, because, God, I'm the professor now.


How do we decide when we are bullshitting, and when we are experts? This is the moment when impostor syndrome is at its most powerful, when we are totally unsure whether this thing we do is a fluke or because we really have mastered the material we've covered. Once you're at this stage, there isn't anybody left to give you clear marks on your work, to tell you that you're doing it right or wrong. I don't know if I'm an A student anymore; there are no more As, and that is a terrifying revelation, isn't it?

So the only thing to do is go forward. Put your head up. Send your articles to journals and pretend like doing so doesn't make you want to cry. Don't show weakness, because students are sharks and blood in the water is a scary, scary thing. Wear your sternest suit and make sure you've got things planned out. And know that every time you cross that threshold, it's not the students you have to prove your worth to; most of them have assumed it, because your name was next to the course title.

It's you. You need to know you deserve it. You need to prove it to yourself.
ajnabieh: Sign for a store reading "Hot Chick." (hot chick)
I think I've had these links gestating on my hard drive long enough...time to get them out there before they rust.

Pretty & Yummy Things )
Politics Things: Iran, Yemen, Lebanon, Youth Identity )

Academia stuff; okay, only one link here )
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (awda times square)
(I made myself some more icons. And yet this one came out blurry. :( Oh well.)

When I was creating the syllabus for the course I taught this semester, The Middle East in Diaspora, I struggled to find syllabi for similar courses online. Therefore, I'm putting my entire reading list online, for other scholars to be able to find later and refer to.

Here's the course description:

Migrant communities bring the politics of their homelands with them into the diaspora and create new political realities in the countries that receive them. This course traces how immigrant groups tied to the Middle East are engaged politically outside their countries of origin. What sorts of transnational political linkages have they made, and what effects do these connections have on politics back home? What sorts of communities have been built in the diaspora, and how do these communities interact with the politics of their new homes? Cases include Turks in Germany, Arabs in France, and the Israeli, Iranian, and Arab communities in the United States.

Functionally, it was a course on Arab-Americans, with comparisons made to France and, to a lesser extent, Germany. This was largely a function of my own background and linguistic competence (I speak French and not German). The last four weeks' topics were determined by the students via a poll; I wouldn't have taught the section on elections, though when I tried to find research for it I got incredibly mad about the lack of good literature on the topic.

I ordered two books for my class: Bakalian and Bozorgmehr's Backlash 9/11, and Stephen Salaita's The Uncultured Wars. If I were doing it again, I might make them buy Louise Cainkar's Homeland Insecurity as well, because I really like it, and, as you can see, we read a decent chunk of it. All other readings are given in full citation format.

14 weeks of readings on Middle Eastern migrant communities in the West )

If any of my readers are interested in any of these readings, I have most of them scanned, and can pass them along. Or if you have suggestions for future iterations, I'd love to hear them!
ajnabieh: Sign for a store reading "Hot Chick." (hot chick)
My wife is always so pleased when it gets to be the end of the semester: "Now you're on vacation!" she says.

"No," I say. "Now I have three months to do all the work I should have been doing since January." Am I right?

In any case, the semester is over, grades are handed in, papers are returned, and I'm faced with three months of gloriously unscheduled time. Hooray! I've been putting together my personal to-do list for the summer, and it looks like this:

1. Arabic! I haven't had a serious Arabic class, um, since undergrad (no offense to the professor in my grad school classes, but two hours once a week is not sufficient to really teach a language), and my vocabulary has gradually shrunk down to a really absurd level, and my grammar is all instinct at this point. Time to get back in shape. The plan runs something like this:
  • Work my way through all of Cowen. If I do the whole book--which is only 25 lessons--I'll have run through the entirety of the basic grammar of the Arabic language. I'm three lessons in now, and do not yet have a headache.
  • Podcasts. The goal is 1-2 a week, just to keep me listening to Arabic. I'd like to catch up on ArabicPod, since I do really like those guys; I've also added a daily BBC Arabic podcast and a twice-daily World Radio Japan news podcast. (I looked at Al-Jazeera's podcats, but all of them are, like, an hour long. My brain maxes out around 15 minutes.)
  • Provided I finish Cowen, working through Advanced Media Arabic, which I bought years ago and have never had the time/energy to be dedicated to.

2. Articles! Er, my original goal was to finish revisions on the article I had accepted, get another chapter article-ized and off to a journal, and maybe work on turning a non-dissertation-related conference paper into an article. Except I finished the first two of those this week. Well, I'm doing very well on my goals, aren't I?

3. Chapters! My goal is to have a complete dissertation draft by September 1; that will require, er, a frightening lot of writing. As in, a chapter and a half, and the whole chapter still has a lot of missing fieldwork to do. But I have a plan. And a lot of vodka in the freezer. I'm sure that will help.

4. Reading! I swear, during the semester, I only read what I've assigned my students and things that are immediately relevant to what I'm working on (and very little of that). This summer, I'm aiming for big-picture reading. I've got Manuel Castells's The Politics of Identity to finish, which is related to the chapter I'm trying desperately to get done. I'm intrigued by the work of Mohammed Abed al-Jabri, and have his Democracy, Human Rights and Law in Islamic Thought out from the library. (Half-wondering if there's an article in comparing his work to Habermas's, and I haven't even read him yet.) I also have Foucault's Archeology of Knowledge that I started last summer, fell in love with, and then ran out of time to read through. But the prospect of reading Foucault on the beach makes me happy. And there will be other things that dribble through.

I've also read a lot of fiction in the past week, much of it just for fun, but some of it relevant to the topic of this blog, so look for a book post sometime in the next bit!

5. Course Design! I'm teaching a course called Gender and Politics in the Middle East in the fall. I've projected that I'll be teaching this course once a year (or maybe every other year) for the remainder of my academic career, and therefore am excited about getting to develop it for the first time. In theory. In practice, I usually find course development to be a headache, especially from scratch. So many variables! So little time! So many lacunae in my own knowledge, and yet not enough time or energy to read everything ever written on anything related to the topic!

So, what are your summer plans? Any big, interesting projects?
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (dressing my best)
I'm a little late finishing up Dress Your Best Week. However, I did have some photos and thoughts I wanted to post, so might as well get them up. The ladies of Academichic have posted some really great guides (here and here) to what was posted last week; I recommend you check them out, if you've got an interest. (And thanks again for hosting!)

Anyway, here is my outfit from Wednesday, May 12

reception outfit

Blazer: Banana Republic
Graphic tee: hand-me-down
Belt: Macy's
Jeans: thrifted
Shoes: vintage, from my mother-in-law (I told you she was an endless font of shoe-y goodness)

Celebrating The Rest of the University, and My Wedding Anniversary )


I spent most of the rest of the week and weekend dressed like a slob, because I was on vacation: a roadtrip to Western Massachusetts, and then my wife's reunion. This involved some adventuring in the wilderness:


zomg water

But I did have one day when I had to dress up: for Ivy Day. I'll admit, I have more warm and fuzzy feelings about Smith than I do about Yale. Some of it is that it's a women's college, which means there's a feeling of solidarity and support for your fellow members of the community that isn't there at co-ed schools; some of it is that Yale is kind of a big giant semi-evil behemoth; some of it is that I didn't go to Smith, so all my memories of it are of having fun on weekends with my wife and her friends. But Ivy Day is my favorite of all Smith traditions: you march through a long cordon of awesome women (and, especially in the more recent classes, more than a few awesome men), and everyone cheers for each other.

Here are me, my wife, our friend, and Mr. X on Ivy Day:

ivy day

On me:

Blazer: Banana Republic
Shirt: Ann Taylor, hand-me-down
Skirt: Thrifted
Shoes: Vintage, from my mother-in-law

On Mr. X:

Shirt: GAP Kids
Pants: Thrifted

On my wife (L):
Everything's thrifted (we basically cleaned out our Goodwill; who owns this much white?

On our friend (R):
I have no idea, but the tights are mine! And, hey, I don't think she returned them...

Oh, and my friend, while asking not to be identified, did want me to relay that her hometown has some serious issues.

I had fun doing this! (And thanks to [personal profile] sofiaviolet who joined me.) I do have thinky thoughts on dressing for fieldwork and dressing for teaching, which I'll probably haul out in a couple weeks, when I'm stressing about my writing and in a bad mood.


ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
Ajnabieh - The Foreigner

March 2016

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