ajnabieh: A seagull standing on a "no seagulls" sign, with the text FIGHT THE POWER (fight the power seagull)
You know how you arrive at a new academic institution, meet new people, and get sucked into new all-consuming vortices of work? Yeah, one of those happened to me. However, it's been a pretty awesome experience, and I'm hoping it'll only continue to be great over the next year...two years...five years...however long...

Anyway. I'm now the co-director of Community Mobilization in Crisis, which is a program being sponsored by the University of Ottawa to develop a certificate program in community mobilization skills, to be offered through a mix of online and in-person classes to Syrian refugees and other conflict-affected communities in Lebanon. We're working with a diverse mix of academic and NGO partners to create a program that will be tuition free for students, will provide them with a living stipend in a situation where it's illegal for refugees to get work permits, can provide a bridge to higher education for youth unable to access formal schooling, and will provide the Syrian community (as refugees, and inshallah when they can go home) with trained, credentialed, and experienced leaders with experience working with NGOs and outside the formal NGO system to get things done and improve conditions for their communities.

Sounds awesome, right? Yeah, I think it is. It's also a huge amount of work: applying for funding, making sure what we're doing is targeted at the right people, looking for more funding, designing an innovative, collaborative curriculum that is pedagogically cutting edge, looking for yet more funding because OMG this thing is EXPENSIVE. But we've got some good vibes from some good funders (fingers crossed, everybody!), we've got tremendous institutional support from the university, and we've got lots of people (students, faculty, administrators, civil society folks) from across Canada, Lebanon, and beyond to put this thing into place. It's a big job, but I think we're gonna be OK.

Want to learn more? My co-director Nadia Abu-Zahra and I were on All in a Day, a CBC radio talk show, in December: you can listen to us talk about the program, and me tell stories about my research trip to Lebanon, here. I'm also planning on making a post of my photos soon, so you can get a sense of the place and what I learned, in preparation for the next trip I'm planning to make in March. And we'll be launching our social media presence in the next week or so; I'll tell you when we do!

Oh, and if you've got a couple bucks lying around you'd like to kick towards us? You can go here and support any of uOttawa's four different streams of support for refugees, including us. Bonus? If you're American, your dollar is so damn strong against ours that your donation gets matched by the exchange rate (US$1=C$1.45, excuse me while I weep about my student loans).

And THAT'S why I've been too busy to blog. :)
ajnabieh: The open doors of a subway/metro car, with a sign above them, reading "lilsayyidat faqat" [Ladies Only] (sayyidat faqat)
Thank Christ someone else made a SharkNATO joke.

Given that I'm a social scientist who is now spending a reasonable amount of time pretending to be a media studies type, I should probably read this new book of analyses of single episodes of TV the way that undergrads in media studies programs are asked to do it.

I am so glad Cairo Gossip getting purchased by a larger Cairo media company didn't make it suck. Here's some snark about Haifa Wehbe that also has some vague political connotations I don't feel like unpacking.

The Egyptian government is seriously considering blocking Whatsapp and Viber? Prepare for another revolution, yanni.

I feel like someone asked me for recommendations for speculative fiction written by Middle Eastern writers. I don't know of a lot of it, but this looks good. (Also: if you don't know Saladin Ahmed's work, you should.)

There is apparently a news story going around about Tunisian women going to Syria to perform sexual services for the jihadist forces fighting there??? MuslimahMediaWatch takes it down, without dismissing the possibility that something's actually happening which is being twisted.

I haven't read the whole of this new report on Muslim-American youth media engagement, but the précis clicks well with my own observations and research. God, I gotta get my book out…


Feb. 14th, 2012 09:57 am
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
I don't know which I find more upsetting: this long list of tweets and Facebook statuses announcing that Kids These Days (tm) don't know who Paul McCartney is, or this long list of tweets wherein people announce how much they'd like to be brutally physically abused by a famous r&b singer. I mean, the latter is much, much wronger, but I actually expect people to have totally awful thought processes about domestic violence. Whereas I assume they know who the goddamn Beatles are.


One of the things I love about teaching is the moment when your students think things totally orthogonal to what you think, and it opens up a new train of thought. We were talking about long distance nationalism, also sometimes called transnational migration, with my seminar students. Now, long distance nationalism is crucial to a lot of my research on diaspora communities and their politics--but my students are now working through this idea, and they had all sorts of interesting objections to the concept, particularly its normative foundations. I still think that diaspora political engagement is both natural and politically useful, but it was still great to work with them through their ideas. tl;dr teaching is fun.


Dean Dad reported that Arizona is considering two bills, one of which would effectively demand affirmative action for conservatives in higher ed hiring, and the other of which would mandate the use of "G-rated" language. Dead Dad spends most of his time taking apart the absurdity of the first, but I found myself more caught up with the idea of the second. Partially this is because I'm someone who uses YouTube videos of Eddie Izzard routines to teach world politics ("Hitler never played RISK as a kid" is an incredibly useful teaching tool). Partially because I see in this an attack on gender studies, among the many things this could be an attack on: I definitely said the word vagina on the first day of my feminist political theory class. Probably a few times. Not to mention that explaining the sex/gender dichotomy without being able to say the word sex would be, you know, hard.


I have discovered a circle of hell Dante could not have anticipated: translating tweets. Seriously, you've got 140 characters, nonstandard syntax and spelling, use of colloquialisms, huge variation in transliteration techniques when they've been transliterated, and, of course, frequent typos. (It took me literally fifteen minutes to figure out that تسعمية was تسع مية, which is a difference of precisely one space. And I only got it because of context.) The amount of time I have spent sorting through these lately has both given me a headache, and reminded me how much I like translating. In small doses, at least.


I should have something to say about Syria. I don't. Because sometimes thing are just so horrible that there's nothing to say.


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

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