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: The McDonalds Arch, with text in Arabic reading "ماكدونالدز مصر"/makdunaldz masr/McDonalds Egypt. (ماكدونالدز)
Like most people, I was annoyed about Google Reader going away, since it's the way I read blogs these days that aren't on Dreamwidth. (Though, since I usually read it on my phone, it means I don't comment much--sorry, Dr. Koshary et al.) However, I am feeling particularly smart right now, because I solved my problem: Dreamwidth feeds.

Duh, I know, right?

Anyway, this means I just imported all of my blogs from Reader onto here, and I am very pleased. I also just created a bunch of new feeds, which some of you might be interested in, like...

[syndicated profile] connectedincairo_feed - Connected in Cairo, the blog of Mark Allen Peterson, an ethnographer of transnationalism in Egypt and one of my favorite academic bloggers.
[syndicated profile] feministphilosophers_feed - Feminist Philosophers, an excellent source for info both about feminist philosophy, feminist criticism of the field of philosophy, and feminist analysis of the contemporary world.
[syndicated profile] gfshoestring_feed - Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, One of my favorite gluten-free baking & cooking blogs. I have one of her cookbooks, and have made a bunch of her online recipes--if you're a GF person, she's totally worth following.
[syndicated profile] mmw_feed - Muslimah Media Watch, which has a great variety of articles on issues that effect Muslim women worldwide.
[syndicated profile] mideastchannel_feed - The Middle East Channel, great analysis by academics and think-tank types on contemporary Middle Eastern politics.
[syndicated profile] tinycatpants_feed - Tiny Cat Pants, a fabulous blogger who writes about Tennessee politics, crochet, her dramatic family issues, and witchcraft.
[syndicated profile] wrongingrights_feed - Wronging Rights, a group blog on human rights law with a heavy dose of snark
[syndicated profile] rebelecon_feed - Rebel Economy, a great blog on the Egyptian economy post-revolution
[syndicated profile] koonj_feed - Koonj, the blog of my dear friend Shabana Mir, which has some great posts right now on her recent experience teaching research methods in her native Pakistan

Anyone else have recs for feeds I should follow? I was glad to see that [syndicated profile] alreadypretty_feed and [syndicated profile] racialicious_feed were already created...

Four Links

Jun. 10th, 2013 09:19 pm
ajnabieh: Happy woman with broom: FIGHT ALL THE OPPRESSIONS; same woman, dejected, "Fight ALL the oppresssions?" (ALL the oppressions?)
I meant to do this earlier today, but my brain was all taken up with writing. How are your writing lives, comrades? I got all my easy summer projects (abstracts, revisions, etc) out of the way, and now I'm staring down the barrel of a book proposal and a couple of articles. Boo hiss.

Anyway, four things I read recently that I thought were worth passing on.

Arizona Everywhere: Immigration Policing and the United States’ Expanding Borderlands is a frankly horrifying piece on the powers of the US Border Control and their actions policing immigrants well inside what we think of as the US border region. I'm particularly appreciative of this piece for its analysis of Sodus, New York, which is about half an hour from my house. I have the slightest of bones to pick with the section on Detroit, however: while the author is absolutely right to point out the consequences of increased border patrols on the Latin@ community, he neglects that there's another community in Detroit that is the focus of Border Control attention: the Arab community, who has been under particular security surveillance and has seen a rise in deportations as well. In fact, I'd wager that the rationale behind the huge quantity of border agents in Detroit is tied to the Arab community there--and that other communities are suffering collateral damage because of it.

Children of Egyptian Diplomats: Caught Between Two Worlds is a short piece on the experience of being a transnational Egyptian. I'm thinking about this a lot lately, as it's research relevant.

The AKP's Accountability Problem and The Might of the Pen(guin) are two great pieces on the current protest cycle in Turkey. I appreciate the former for the way it focuses on horizontal accountability, meaning the sharing of power among different governing institutions; it's not that the government lacks democratic accountability in the sense of having been fairly elected (nobody's disputing that, at least according to what I've seen), but that the AKP is overly centralist and assumes that, once it's in power, it doesn't have to be accountable ever again. It's good to see a piece of analysis that takes Turkey seriously as a country with democratic institutions, while also recognizing the seriousness of the problems at hand and the real lack of legitimacy the AKP has in many quarters right now. The second piece, which explains some of the symbolic politics of the demonstrations, demonstrates how significant this portion of the population is: they're media-makers and creators, which means they have an effective means of communicating with the population and bringing people over to their side.
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
Quick hits from my reading list:

Egypt, the IMF, and Europe. A policy paper by Farah Halime, whose blog is a great resource on Middle Eastern economics for folks (like me) who want to incorporate thinking on economic issues into our work without being, ourselves, experts in economics. (I am still confused how I fell into doing political economy work at this particular moment in time.) The ongoing disaster that is Egypt's economy, and how it relates to the world economic system, isn't nearing a resolution, but this paper neatly lays out what's going on in Egyptian politics and economics that's making negotiating with the IMF so difficult, and what the policy problems with loans are going to be. (It's not anti-loan or anti-IMF, but it does acknowledge the multiple issues with loans and their consequences--more reformist than radical.)

The Anatomy of Protest in Egypt and Tunisia. The Arab Barometer project is the best collection of cross-national quantitative data on public opinion in the Arab world; as a qualitative researcher, I'm always glad when someone else has collected high-quality quant data that I can use in a glancing manner when I need some of it, so I don't have to. Here, three of the researchers associated with the project lay out some conclusions about protesters in Egypt and Tunisia during the revolutions. The centrality of economic and anti-corruption concerns for protesters stands out, as does the relative lack of interest in Islamist transformation, and the lower interest in civil and political rights.

Engaging the Haitian Diaspora. The Caribbean countries are some of the most important and most-studied cases of diaspora political involvement, and the details of the Haitian diaspora's demographics recounted in this article are fascinating, and demonstrate why diaspora political and economic engagement is so important in this case. I'm also glad to see more stuff not about the Middle East coming from the Cairo Review, which is a brilliant new(-ish) journal from AUC.

What is Tuz? Storytelling from the Queer Arab Diaspora. I haven't listened to this yet--in fact, I rarely listen to podcasts and radio shows, because I am weird and prefer to assimilate new information by reading, rather than listening--but it seems really awesome. And makes me miss NYC.

Explanation is Not the Point: Domestic Work, Islamic Dawa and Becoming Muslim in Kuwait (PDF) This brilliant article by Attiya Ahmad on migrant domestic workers' conversions to Islam in Kuwait is fascinating as a piece of ethnography, and insightful as an exploration of what 'conversion' means in different cultural contexts. I'm particularly interested in it because I'm returning to an old project on the construction of an idea of preference for Muslim domestic workers in Gulf countries, and this comments interestingly on the subject in one of the footnotes. (Also, because of my obsession with everything related to Kuwait ever. KUWAIT.)
ajnabieh: A seagull standing on a "no seagulls" sign, with the text FIGHT THE POWER (fight the power seagull)
Remember when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces made themselves in charge of everything?

Yeah, well, President Morsy got his revenge; yesterday he issued a new constitutional declaration, which took all the rights SCAF had allocated to themselves, and took them back.

So this is fun.

(In all seriousness: Nathan Brown argues this is less drastic than it looks, and probably he's right. But, still, there's just the tiniest bit of--dare I say petulance?--to the whole thing.)
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (marxist feminist)
Two of these are not like the other:

1) El Koshary (Egypt's answer to The Onion), SCAF declares itself "creator and maintainer of the universe,". LOLz. Thanks to [ profile] loveanddistain for passing it on.

2) Oh also? The Kuwaiti National Assembly's been dissolved. HA HA HA *WEEP* This is different than previous dissolutions in structure, in that there won't be new elections, but it points to the extent to which the amir's power feels threatened by the current opposition-led parliament: he's basically ordered a legal trial separation while everyone pursues couples' therapy. Anyway, here's Kuwait Times on the subject.

3) And everything else I'm reading about Egypt:

If you just want a good summary: this one explains what's up and why it all sucks.

The English text of the amendments
Basic article about the MB protests, which are both for Morsi and against the SCAF constitutional amendments
This also talks about protests, but it doesn't just call them MB (which is correct)
The Constituent Assembly, despite the parliment that elected it having been dissolved, has elected a chair; let's see if we get any constitution out of it.
Hey Ikhwan? Know how you won the parliamentary elections, and may have won the presidency? Now is a good time for us to decide if you're illegal.
Here are some funny ways people invalidated their ballots. VOTE BATMAN.
ajnabieh: A seagull standing on a "no seagulls" sign, with the text FIGHT THE POWER (fight the power seagull)
So, yeah, Egypt finished voting yesterday, and that's all great, democracy's awesome, whatevs, BUT HOLLLLLLLLD UP, because in a classic example of bait and switch, the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces decided to release its new single, "Here's A Constitutional Amendment In Which We Seize All The Power, Sucks To Be YOUUUUUUUUUUUU." So, basically, everything is farkatke*, and nobody knows which of the seventy things to be mad about they should pick.

Here's what I've read so far today; feel free to drop links if you find other things:

A summary of the new amendments:
Marc Lynch, Calvinball in Cairo:
Nathan Brown, An Instant Analysis of Egypt's New Constitution:
Egypt Independent (published on Jadaliyya), SCAF extends its power with constitutional amendment:
Sandmonkey, Chapter's End (the pessimistic revolutionary analysis):

*I should note I had to look up how to spell that, since I'd only ever said it. You learn a lot of Yiddish living in New York.
ajnabieh: A seagull standing on a "no seagulls" sign, with the text FIGHT THE POWER (fight the power seagull)
A. I know a lot of you are also fans/fannish, and so I'm putting this first: The Journal of Transformative Works and Cultures, the fandom-studies journal put out by the OTW, has a new edition out on fandom and activism, which looks really exciting. I had the chance to read two articles before publication, one as a peer reviewer and one as a friend-of-the-author, and I really recommend both of them: The German federal election of 2009: The challenge of participatory cultures in political campaigns and Being of Service: X-Files fans and social engagement. Both are fascinating, and provide interesting ways of thinking about fandom and activism. I'm sure the rest of the issue is as awesome. Check it out, if this stuff interests you.

B. And the news story of the moment is the...I'm looking for a polite synonym for 'clusterf***' here...that is the state of electoral and military politics in Egypt. To be brief about it, the first round of elections put forth two candidates who were unpalatable to the majority of the population (Ahmed Shafiq, who is military in background and had been a part of the Mubarak regime, and Muhammad Morsi, who represents the Muslim Brotherhood, the more centrist of the Islamist politica movements); then, in the past week, SCAF (the military collective ruling at the moment) seized a bunch of rights that had been delegated to the parliament and civilian forces, while the Constitutional Court dismissed the entire democratically elected parliament because of 'irregularities' (sorry for the italics, I just feel ~~ways~~ about this); and Saturday and Sunday (i.e., today and tomorrow), the second round of the elections are being held, amid calls to boycott or invalidate ballots, a bunch of people holding their noses and voting for Shafiq or Morsi, and grumblings about whether the election will be fair at all. I'm sitting here eating a lot of popcorn and trying not to get too anxious, and reading the news. Some articles: Mohammad El Dahshan lays out precisely how bad it is in clear terms, Juan Cole points to the nested nature of the various problems here, and Lauren Bohn describes the level of fracture going on at the ground level. If you want to see what's going on during today and tomorrow's elections, here's the Ahram live blog, and here's Egypt Independent's.

C. Oh, also, in "hey there, war crimes are kinda an issue, you know?" news, the UN is leaving Syria. not good. At all. I have no further commentary, apart from numb horror.

D. And some analysis:

I've been watching politically aware, pro-democracy, pro-revolution Egyptians angst over the outcomes of the first round of presidental elections since they happened, and I've been mulling. I don't disagree with their assessment of the lousiness of the two candidates; if I were an Egyptian citizen, I wouldn't know who to vote for either. (And I sure as hell wouldn't ask Thomas Friedman, but that's another issue.) But here's the thing: this sucks the way functioning democracy sucks. People had widely disbursed political interests; they voted for them. They got a choice between two candidates who both suck, but who represent commonly held positions. You know who can sympathize with this position? French voters in 2002, when Jean-Marie Le Pen, the racist candidate, came in second to the center-right candidate, horrifying everybody from center-left on over (and a lot of other people, too). You know who else can? American voters, who always seem to get stuck voting for people we barely like, but who are less awful than the other guy. (I'm going to be holding my nose *so hard* in November in that voting booth. Buy me a drink and ask me about drone strikes some time.) I'm really sorry, ya al-misriyeen, but this is what democracy is like: it freakin' blows. Amid all the ways in which SCAF is trying to yank power back from the people of Egypt and civiliam power, this presidential election is a sad little reminder that democracy doesn't make everything better--it just makes the process by which we fight things that suck a little cleaner and easier.
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (marxist feminist)
So you may possibly have heard there is a revolution going on in Egypt?

Yeah, this has not made writing my literature review section of my dissertation any easier. Sometimes, the world is just more interesting that my work.

I spent all of yesterday going through my open tabs that I had saved "to blog about." I closed a lot of them because they're out of date. That still left me with the following ten links...and then I don't post this, and my to-link pile grows...I'm just going to throw this up here and see what happens.

Gender Stuff. )

Art, Visuals, and Politics )

And ordinary political stuff about Egypt. )

And I'm putting this above the cut, because I think (?) I have readers involved in fakenews fandom: Does anybody know where I can get screencaps of Christiane Aman-purr from last night's Colbert? Because I need that icon like yesterday. (For those who don't watch it: he had a cat try to predict the outcome of the Egyptian revolution, a la that octupus that predicted the World Cup. It went like you would think asking a cat to do something on national TV went.)
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (marxist feminist)
So, the government of Tunisia collapsed today. As of right now, the former president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, is in an airplane en route to Malta Paris (I'm glad I checked before I hit post), and the Prime Minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, is assuming the presidency. Riots and demonstrations are ongoing, and it's not precisely clear whether Ben Ali's departure will be enough to calm the situation sufficiently. In any case, it's an exciting, scary, and fascinating moment for Arab politics. I collected some interesting links, ranging from good news sources to excellent editorials to a nod to Arabic linguistics, because I'm like that. Let me know if you see anything else good in your internetting today!

Sources To Follow About What's Up

Live: Tunisia Turmoil (BBC)

This is what I'm following for the play-by-play of what's going on. It's an auto-updating page, so I'm keeping it open and flipping back and forth as I get things done on the computer. There's something very powerful about watching a regime fall in real time. I may, possibly, have gotten something in my eye.

Spotlight on Tunisia (Al Jazeera English)

Al Jazeera's coverage is pretty in-depth; they also have cool things like an interactive map of protests over time.

Mr. Oui Oui Takes Charge (Blake Hounshell @ The Middle East Channel)

A basic update on the situation as of right now--with some details on Ghannouchi.

Global Voices - Tunisia page

Global Voices is a blog aggregator/translation project, that pulls blog posts from countries all over the world, translates them into other languages, and groups them together by theme. This will get you all of the Tunisia posts currently on the site, most of which are about the ongoing unrest. If you don't speak Arabic but want to know what's being said, this is a good source for that.

Good Editorials/Essays

Where are the democracy promoters on Tunisia? (Marc Lynch @ Foreign Policy)

Lynch has been on fire with the Tunisia posts this week. I picked this one because it points out a major problem in American foreign policy: that it's remarkably inconsistent, paying more attention to "famous cases" than to others that are structurally identical, but lack the name recognition.

The Limits of Silencing Tunisia (Bassam Bounenni @ the Middle East Channel)

Addresses the freedoms of speech and press issues with the Ben Ali regime, by a Tunisian journalist.

Activist Crackdown: Tunisia vs. Iran (Jillian C. York @ Al Jazeera English)

So, why did a "twitter revolution" in Iran end up the biggest piece of political news for a month, but the same actions in Tunisia get little to no coverage? Inquiring minds want to know.

Reporting With Background Info

Behind Tunisia Unrest, Rage Over Wealth of Ruling Family (New York Times)
An article on the rioting at Hammamet, a beach resort town; gives some insight into the class dynamics of the conflict.

Rumbles on the Arab Street (Middle East Channel)

Cool slideshow of images from the protests, with commentary.

Unrest in Tunisia, Fuel by Facebook (NY Times Video)

A quick video report; no transcript available that I saw. At 1:30, there are a group of students going in a circle around a bunch arranged in a pattern. The ones in the center are spelling out حرية, hurriyeh, freedom.

And For Awesomeness's Sake

Ben Ali speaks in Tunisian "for the first time" (Language Log)

Addressing the linguistic issues at play in Ben Ali's most recent speeches. Arabic diglossia is one of my favorite things about it, but also one of the biggest pains for a non-native speaker learning the language; all my education has been in fusha, which means I'm highly unequipped to handle most daily exchanges.
ajnabieh: Sign for a store reading "Hot Chick." (hot chick)
Proof I've been a terrible blogger this summer: I had links from July stored in a "to be blogged" file on my browser. D'oh. Anyway, I culled them, and these two were still worth posting:

Cute children bloggers and depressing Palestinian politics )

And now, on to some actually contemporary links! Le sigh.

Social media, post-conflict women's philanthropy, political pop music, and women and Park51 )

And, since watching the Shatha Hassoun video sent me down a rabbit hole of Arabic pop on YouTube, let me just close by linking to Ah W Nuss (Yes and a Half) and Ya Salam (...Oh peace, literally? but it's just an interjection? Translating song titles is hard) by Nancy Ajram, with English subtitles.
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 )

Lazy Links

May. 21st, 2010 07:24 pm
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
I am just finishing up my grading for the semester, which means I'm rather on the edge about everything--it's a period of high burnout and frustration. (Though, thank you, student who titled your response paper "My Final Response Paper: What I’ve learned of Resistance and an Opportunity to Call Out People Who Believe in Radical Semiotics," for making me feel better for quite a while.) So, here are some linky links. How lazy am I going to be? I'm not even going to bother to code them. DW will make them clickable via magic, right? Awesome.


This has nothing to do with Arab-Americans, but it is made of awesome.

Assorted: includes stuff on media studies, Arabic literature, queer stuff, health stuff, Israeli/Palestinian conflict stuff )

Special section on Rima Fakih, because the party don't stop )
ajnabieh: Sign for a store reading "Hot Chick." (hot chick)
(Thanks to everyone who commented on my two Dress Your Best posts so far. I've got two more outfits I photographed but haven't had time to write up...I'll try to do that in the next few days. Now, to transition back into normal blogging...)

This morning, I woke up to see a friend's Facebook status:

An arab muslim american crowned Miss USA?

I responded:

yay, now everyone gets objectified?

This is basically how I feel about Rima Fakih's victory last night: well, sure, it's a new thing, and it represents a step towards greater inclusion of Arab and Muslim Americans in American society's a beauty pageant. The level of social justice revolution involved is highly limited.

However, as I read the internet today, I saw more buzz about Fakih's win. Here is some of what I saw.

Why I am celebrating the first Arab American Miss USA - KabobFest

Here's where there's good in this: Maytha says, "The image of a woman stereotypical in her phenotypical representation of Levantine beauty, sandwiched in by corn-fed Heidis from the hilltops of Oklahoma and other breadbasket states, and her win over these shoe-ins for belles of the nationally televised American ball, still registered as incomprehensible." Yes, having an Arab-looking woman crowned in a beauty pageant matters for a group routinely profiled for looking different. I'm not going to say otherwise.

Miss USA's Bigot Backlash And Stripping Scandal Begins Now! - Jezebel

Jezebel does the thankless task of pinpointing all the absurd racist crap that's being said about Rima Fakih. It's the usual suspects: Daniel Pipes, Debbie Schlussel, Fox News. I'm fascinated by the idea that there was "affirmative action" for Fakih to win. I mean, let's be honest: look at her. She looks good, people. She was apparently coherent and poised during her interview. (I do not have the emotional energy to YouTube this.) She looked good in a bikini. I don't think she needed affirmative action. And even if she was selected to send a message about acceptance and diversity: that's bad now? The only way that sort of narrative makes sense is if you already believe there's an evil conspiracy of Arabs to dominate the US through their cultural imperialism. Well. Okay then.

American Arab will bring Arab culture to Miss Universe Contest - Ray Hanania.

And then there's Ray Hanania.

I am proud of Rima Fakih but I know that in her achievement, she will face the usual criticism from the extremist corners of the Arab World who are blinded by anger discourse.

We need to support her and encourage her and cheer her on because winning the Miss Universe Contests can only serve to shatter the glass ceiling and add to the movement of empowerment for women of Arab culture in the Arab World and in the West."

I'm just going to say this once: fundamentally, beauty pageants do not empower women. They are about judging women for being ornamental, adhering to an impossible beauty standard, and making themselves available to the male gaze. While certainly some women gain things from these pageants--self-esteem, fame, needed scholarship money--women as a class do not make out like bandits because hot chicks in bikinis parade around and get crowns. No. Just no.

So, I will not consider the women of the Arab world perfectly empowered when they participate in Western-style beauty pageants. I find the small trend of pageants that have arisen from the region (like Miss Arab World) interesting, because of the ways they demonstrate the different beauty norms of the region, and because I think that examining different norms of beauty and feminine performance has the potential to undo the naturalness of the ones you hold to begin with. But still. Women will be liberated as women when gender injustices are abolished (and will be liberated as their other identities when injustices tied to those identities are abolished). Beauty pageants aren't doing this. They can't. It's not possible. Calm down.
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (3w4d)
As a teacher, I'm always struggling to figure out good assignments that will cause my students to think, engage with the material, explore their own interests, and, hopefully, present me with papers that won't bore me out of my goddamned skull while I'm reading them. (In case you didn't know, most professors consider grading the single most awful thing we do for our paychecks. I don't know, I think scanning articles for uploading is worse; occasionally papers are interesting.)

This semester, I gave my students an annotated bibliography assignment. Twice during the semester, they have to find 10 sources having to do with Middle Eastern diasporic communities, write a properly-formatted bibliographic entry for them, and then a short paragraph about how the material relates to class. A source could be anything--an event, a blog post, a YouTube video, a book.

I got a huge number of interesting sources from the students in their first round of assignments. From my perspective, this assignment worked--the students learned (mostly) how to use Chicago style to cite sources (a big problem in my previous classes), they read and watched other interesting things about Middle Eastern diasporas, and now I have a bunch of cool recommendations to read for later. I'll have to ask the students if they liked it, but this one might be a keeper for future classes.

(Incidentally, my attempt to do response papers was a total failure, as most of the class simply hasn't turned them in. Folks who are/were in American universities and colleges as undergrads: are several short response papers (2-3 pages) a part of your experience of humanities and social science classes? What types? I'm mystified by the fact that my students don't seem to understand that they have to do them.)

Here are some of the highlights from the assignment. From my students' computers to yours!

graphic novels, interviews, and YouTube videos )
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
It's been writing-time here at Beit al-Ajnabieh, so I've been a little absent. But here, while I work on that long post about online teaching, some links:

Nazia Doesn't Live Here Anymore - Muslimah Media Watch

An excellent essay on why the case of Nazia Quazi, an Indian-Canadian who is being held against her will by her family in Saudi Arabia, is attracting so little attention. (Answer: racism, most likely: there's no nice white lady to save here). Nazia's case is serious, and Canadians interested in supporting her can do so here. Those from other countries can write emails to the addresses listed here.

Size six: The Western women's harem

A provocative essay by Fatima Mernissi, one of the elder stateswomen of Arab feminism, on Western beauty ideals. Frankly, I like the ideal of my culture being looked at pityingly. We deserve it.

“Jersey Shore” Targets Iranians: Reaction and Concern

Apparently an Iranian Jersey Shore is in the works. It sounds, from the casting call, like it's going to be a disaster. Whoo-hoo! Part of the problem with this set of representations is that they're so LA-specific, as so much of Iranian-American life is. Anyway, if it gets made, I'll watch in horror, popcorn in hand.

Hunting for Hummus in Arab Brooklyn

Aisha Gawad mutters about the poor quality of the hummus in Bay Ridge.
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
This links post could substantially be called "Links that keep me on the bare edge of psychotic rage." Seriously, it's a full-palm-button-smash of everything I hate in Arab-American/Muslim-American discursive relations. I need a big tray of kanafeh and two hours with a Nancy Ajram album to fix this, people. (Note: don't read the YouTube comments on that video, or you'll undo all the good you'll have just done by watching it.)

click here for terrorist flash cards, mosques of doom, the horrors of hijab, right-wing muckraking, and one very nice story about white girls who don't suck )
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
I'm certain everyone and their mother has heard about Bil'in's Avatar-themed protest by now. It got coverage in the LA Times; for the geek community, it was posted on io9; for the Middle Eastern studies blogosphere, Ted Swedenburg posted on it. In other words, it's been talked about.

The event had a strange set of resonances for me. The first is that Adalah-NY, one of the groups that I'm doing fieldwork with right now, is closely involved in support for the village of Bil'in, which has been home to a long-running series of protests against the Israeli separation wall/separation barrier/apartheid wall (naming the object is highly contested--those are the three most common).

The second resonance is that I actually participated in a demonstration in Bil'in when I was in Palestine and Israel in 2005 for the International Conference of the Women in Black. Here, have some of my photos:


peace signs


Click through to see them larger, in more detail.

Whenever I see video of Bil'in, I'm immediately thrown back to that day--to the sense of routine that accompanied the demonstration, to the energy of the activists gradually ebbing away as we realized that there wasn't going to be a big symbolic event, to the American Jewish women arguing with the Israeli soldiers, to the dramatic ripping away of the barbed wire, to remembering my promise to my wife not to get teargassed (I'm asthmatic), so making sure to stay towards the back as villagers and IDF soliders began to play the eternal game of chicken that, I'm sure, ends most protests. It's a vivid set of memories, and I'm glad I have them. Plus, now, if anyone asks, yes, I got teargassed in the West Bank. (I was way far away. It still hurt.)

The third resonance is that, as those who know me outside of of the [personal profile] ajnabieh context know, when I'm not being passionate about the Middle East, political theory, or feminist politics, I'm being passionate about fandom. (Everyone needs a hobby. Especially when writing a dissertation.) This was one of those awesome collisions of my interests: you got your fandom in my Palestine activism! You got your Palestine activism in my fandom! In particular, what I like about this is how it uses the metaphor from a fictional text to make a non-fictional point. I made a similar point about the Tigh/Roslin '08 campaign in this essay for a special issue of FlowTV on Sarah Palin; when fictional media are complex enough to carry political resonances, we can use them to make arguments about our world, and do so in a way that's going to get attention and attract people who wouldn't otherwise care about what we're saying. Pop culture is a way for activism to bridge worlds, to communicate outside of its neck of the woods. Of course, this is what Adalah-NY does in its protests; if you're singing Beyonce, someone might listen to hear what you're saying about apartheid.

In any case, I'm not overly hopeful that this protest will be the crucial one that changes Bil'in's situation, but I'm very glad to see them getting press, and, at least, they'll never be bored.
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
The Latino Crescent: Latinos make a place for themselves in Muslim America

A really lovely article. Among the high points: introducing a hip-hop group called "Mujahideen Team," and then explaining that "mujahideen" means "one who struggles in the way of God," without even mentioning that other meaning it has; the framing, by interviewees, of the Moorish period in Spain as a way to connect Latina/o identity with Islam; referring to young men who have informally changed their names from Spanish to Arabic names only by their Arabic names, and mentioning their Spanish names only in passing; not being terribly othering about hijab; the insistance by one of the women interviewed in maintaining her Puerto Rican identity alongside her Muslim identity. It's really a good article, though it makes me a little bitter that we so rarely see articles this good about Arab or South Asian Muslims.

The Little Princess - Jezebel

Ideas move with objects. See the Disney Princess bag in the corner of the frame? Transnational circulation of gender ideology, right there.

Day 18: MAS Youth Center

I asked, and, magically, the guys at 30 Mosques - 30 Days delivered! A trip to the Muslim American Society Youth Center, which they locate as being in Bay Ridge, but I consider in Bensonhurst. Interesting thoughts on how communities are constructed therein.

Americans turn from hatred to education 8 years since 9/11

"The Obama speech [on healthcare] was historic in many ways. It was only the 15th time since 1952 that an American president has brought together both the House and the Senate in one room to address a major problem, usually addressing wartime concerns. But it was the first time that the two speakers at a joint session had Arab names: Boustany and Hussein."

Briefly, during the presidential campaign, my (Mexican) best friend changed his middle name on Facebook from Armando to Hussein. I still find this amusing. But seriously, I wonder about the identity politics going on here. Yes, both Hussein and Boustany are Arab names. But associations between Obama and Islam/Arabs have been widely seen as hurting him in public opinion (see my previous post on just one bit of polling data on this). Boustany is the grandson of first-wave Syrians--the largely Christian wave of migration from what was then Greater Syria, but was concentrated in what is now Lebanon. Although there was tremendous tension over the whiteness of these early immigrants (see Sara Gualtieri's work on this, for example, or Alixa Naff's, or Helen Samhan's piece, among others, in Mike Suleiman's 1999 Arabs in America), their descendants have been able to pass, unremarkedly, into the American white mainstream, and are no longer seen as foreign or other in many cases. More recent immigrants, particularly Muslims, have more difficulty assimilating. I don't want to argue with Roy's general point, which is that things may have changed for the better for Arab-Americans since the very dark days of September and October 2001. I just want to put a note of caution alongside it: maybe not all symbolic victories are equally victorious.

The Fight of the Century: Chesler vs Wolf

I keep wanting to come up with something to say about the current round of the debates about what perspective feminists should have about the diverse and contested practices of veiling throughout Arab and Muslim communities. And yet, I am intensely tired of this discussion, and I'm not even a woman who covers. I'll just let Fatemeh's post do the talking for me. (Oh, and her colleague Princesse de Clèves did a nice, substantial follow-up piece. Yeah, what she said.)


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

March 2016

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