ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
It's amazing how intense the first little bit of summer vacation can be. At least, if you're me, and have two weddings and two graduations to attend in a four week period. Oh, and two revise-and-resubmits that should have been done ages ago staring down your nose.

But I've finally got half-a-breath, and hope to be returning to blogging soon. (In particular, I've got an interview I want to put up, and some commentary on the Egyptian election.) But, in quick hits:

1) So, uh, I graduated?


OK, maybe I'm a *little* miffed it didn't have a gold tassel, but owning my very own fuzzy octagonal hat makes up for any slights. C'mon, after all those fashion posts, are you surprised I got my doctorate for the express purpose of wearing regalia?

2. I'm super excited about the Arab American Book Awards. I was a judge in the poetry category, and got to read six amazing books of vibrant new poetry, by both up-and-coming and established stars in the Arab-American poetry community. I will make a post about all the nominees in a little bit--and probably give away some of the books, though a couple I'm keeping--but if you like poetry and can pick up a copy of Transfer, the honorable mention, somewhere, do so. I'd say you should get a copy of Abu Ghraib Arias, but it was only printed in an edition of 200, and therefore is unlikely to be found on store shelves. (You can see the cover and read a poem from it here.) I'm also excited because it means a likely trip to Dearborn for me to attend the awards ceremony. Dearborn yay!

3. This is where I publicly say that I'm planning to go to Egypt for a few weeks in September, to do some fieldwork. So if you, say, speak Egyptian 'ammiya (dialect) and want to Skype practice with me, or recommend your favorite trashy Egyptian movies/television to watch to get my listening comprehension up, or give me hotel recommendations or whatevs, you can.

4. In the vein of the previously mentions trashy Arabic TV: TOOP SHEF. That's how you say Top Chef in Arabic. IT IS SERIOUSLY THE BEST THING EVER EVER EVER EVER.

I'm pretty sure you don't need to know Arabic to follow along, once the cooking gets going--there's a lot of English (and some French) used to communicate, and plus, cooking!reality!TV crosses all possible linguistic boundaries.

After all, I think it's important that I learn how to say "I'm not here to make friends" in Arabic as soon as possible, don't you?
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (awda times square)
I have a Real Substantive Post brewing, but before I got it done, I thought I'd pop my head in and wave. Hello! I am back from the abyss! Er, by which I apparently mean Twitter?

Life is settling in here; we're into our second week of classes (which means I'm located somewhere between Dr. Koshary, who's been teaching for three-four weeks already, and Tenured Radical, for whom the first day of school was Labor Day--though Labor Day was a school day here as well!), and my students are doing well, although they demonstrate a shocking inability to remember Moldova is in Europe and Suriname is in South America (yes, today was geography quiz day). My family is enjoying having a little more space, having relocated from a 2-bedroom apartment which we shared with a roommate to a 3.5 bedroom house complete with full attic, basement, and other assorted accountrements. (Fun fact: our furniture we brought from the other house? Basically fills this one.) I'm enjoying living somewhere with easy proximity to locally grown produce, and busily putting things up for the winter. (Lots of broccoli. Lots of lots of broccoli. Anybody got advice for what I should do with sugar plums?) And I'm really, really, really loving having an office to myself, a ten-minute walk from my house. Really. Words cannot even describe.

So, until I'm back, two quick teaching-fashion outfits for you. The first is the first day of school, when I had no teaching but wanted to look presentable for students. The second is today's teaching outfit.

First day of school!

Sixty Degrees in September?

I didn't manage to photograph my favorite outfit of last week: black pants/jacket, blue and white striped button down, blue and grey striped tie), but I will tell you that, as I taught my last class wearing it, jacket off, sleeves rolled up, chalk dust on my tie, I thought: damn, I wish the official school photographer were here. I look awesome.
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 "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
I originally started this blog on LiveJournal, because I'm a long-time user; I used it, first, as a way to be publicly accountable for to-do lists in the early days of my dissertation, and had my friends there as a cheering section. When I decided to start writing public entries about Arab-American politics, I used the same username, but a change in my fieldwork structure and schedule threw me off my posting game, and I took a long hiatus.

When I came back, I had started seeing more and more of the problems with the way LiveJournal treated its userbase; in particular, I was frustrated that there would be advertising on my blog, which I didn't put there and didn't have the right to vet. I thought about buying an account, but, well, my family's finances are tight, and there are tons of free blogging platforms out there; might as well decamp for elsewhere.

I knew about DreamWidth because I'm a part of online media fandom, and I witnessed lots of folks I know starting to use DW instead of/in addition to LiveJournal. I really appreciated the values of the organization and the work they were doing to defend free speech and be open and aboveboard with members, and their commitment that the site would always be advertising-free.

In the end, it was easy: I used an invite code I'd gotten back during Open Beta for validating my OpenID, and used it to bring [personal profile] ajnabieh over here. I continued crossposting to LiveJournal, for any of my friends who were still over there. But, realistically, they're not reading. And so, as of today, [livejournal.com profile] ajnabieh is closing for business, and [personal profile] ajnabieh is going to be my primary blog.

During Three Weeks for Dreamwidth, I'm going to try to post more often than usual, perhaps even every day, if the end of the semester doesn't exhaust me too much. I have a few ideas for posts, but I'd love to hear requests from the audience. Do you have questions about Middle Eastern or Arab-American politics that you'd like to see answered? Do you want me to rant about political theory, the politics of the academy, my vague acafannish leanings, or some other obscure topic? In the spirit of that meme going around, what do you want me to write? No promises, but I'm definitely up for a challenge.

And to round this up, two map-things, seen at [personal profile] viklikesfic.

visited 10 states (4.44%)
Create your own visited map of The World

This one looks pretty bad, at least in part because the two Middle Eastern countries I've been to (Israel and Palestine) are teeny-tiny. Also, this makes my passport itchy.

visited 25 states (50%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

This includes places I have had airplane transfers, or driven through and stopped to see something, but not that I've gone through on a train; that would add in the Carolinas.


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

March 2016

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