American Univesity of Beirut

AUB Professor Sonja Mejcher-Atassi receives German award for international scholarly and cultural exchange

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Sally Abou Melhem, Office of Communications,​​

Literary scholar and a cultural historian Professor Sonja Mejcher-Atassi was selected to receive a Reimar Lüst Award for International Scholarly and Cultural Exchange. The two German foundations, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, jointly present this award annually to “highly respected humanities scholars and social scientists from abroad."

“All award winners have acted as multipliers making exceptional contributions in and through science to the long-term advancement of bilateral relations between Germany and their home countries." This award is conferred in recognition of the winners' entire academic record to date. Winners are invited to carry out research projects of their own choice in cooperation with specialist colleagues in Germany. Sonja Mejcher-Atassi is hosted by Professor Friederike Pannewick at the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the Philipps-University Marburg.

“I am most grateful to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. I hope that with this award I can make manifold and meaningful contributions to the arts and humanities at AUB, and intercultural studies and scholarly exchange more broadly," Professor Mejcher-Atassi commented.

Sonja Mejcher-Atassi is an associate professor of Arabic and comparative literature in the Department of English and an associated faculty in the Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages at AUB. She was a visiting student at the university in 1995 and 1996, then joined AUB's faculty after obtaining her MA from the Free University of Berlin in 2000, and her PhD from the University of Oxford in 2005. She also served as chairperson of AUB's Department of English from 2014 to 2017. In 2017 and 2018, Professor Mejcher-Atassi was an invited resident fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin.

Her research focuses on modern Arabic literature in global perspective, and closely intersects with cultural and intellectual history and memory studies. She is also interested in biography, writers' libraries, collecting practices and literature archives, book culture and art, and aesthetics and politics.

She is a member of the academic advisory board of the Orient-Institut Beirut, which is part of the Max Weber Foundation (German humanities institutes abroad). She also serves on the advisory board of the Institute for World Literature at Harvard University, and is a member of the Global (De)Centre: Diversity, Mobility, Culture.​

Professor Mejcher-Atassi's most recent publication is a book she co-edited with Robert Myers, The Theatre of Sa'dallah Wannous: A Critical Study of the Syrian Playwright and Public Intellectual (Cambridge University Press 2021), which includes an article she wrote on Wannous' personal library which she helped bring to AUB (and is now part of the AUB libraries).

Professor Mejcher-Atassi is currently finishing another book on which she has worked for many years, a monograph, entitled That Impossible Friendship in Jerusalem before 1948 and Its Afterlives across Borders, which brings to life an extraordinary group of young men and women, some of whom went on to become internationally acclaimed writers, artists, and intellectuals.​

Other publications of hers include Rafa Nasiri: Artist Books (Skira 2016; ed. with May Muzaffar); Reading across Modern Arabic Literature and Art (Reichert 2012); Archives, Museums, and Collecting Practices in the Modern Arab World (Ashgate 2012; ed. with John Pedro Schwartz); Writing a 'Tool for Change': 'Abd al-Rahman Munif Remembered (MIT EJMES 2007; ed.); and Geschichten über Geschichten: Erinnerung im Romanwerk von Elias Khoury (Reichert 2001), in addition to numerous book chapters and refereed journal articles.​

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