PAST EVENTS

Artist/ Writer in Residence

1. Artist in Residence: Chaza Charafeddine

10th – 24th October 2017.

After exploring the fields of education and dance for 15 years, Chaza turned to photography and writing. Her photographic works were shown in numerous galleries and artistic venues in Lebanon and abroad.  She brought a different perspective to the field of arts in which she explored with students.

2. Writer in Residence: Jabbour Douaihy

5th – 23rd March 2018.

Jabbour is the author of June Rain, a novel that was nominated for the 2008 Arabic Booker Prize, and has been translated in several languages.  He conducted a lecture discussing his famous written works as well as meeting with students and assisting them with translation topics and creative writing.


Workshops

1. Ethnography as Knowledge in the Arab World by Livia Wick

29th September 2017.

A roundtable discussion was organized on the launch of the special issue, “Ethnography as Knowledge in the Arab Region,” published in Contemporary Levant in June 2017.  The purpose was to elicit constructive feedback on the content of this journal issue with the prospect of expanding the scope of its timely contribution toward further debate and possible collaborative publication.  This special issue looked at a) what preoccupied the ethnographer of this region today and b) what attention to ethnographic experience told us about the circumstances that come to bear on informants and researchers alike, in significant and sometimes unavoidable ways.


2. Creative Fiction in Translation by Rola Baalbaki & Nada Jarrar

20th November 2017.

This creative fiction/translation event featured readings of students' original fiction pieces, and the translations thereof into the Arabic. A host of professors from Arts and Sciences at AUB read the selected fiction pieces and their translations.  Mohammad Taha, accompanied by Rami Saleh on the oud, sang Ahmad Shawki's and Mohammad Abdel Wahhab's poem "MUDNAKA".


3. A Smile Can Open the Door by Antonello Ghezzi

20th – 24th November 2017.

This workshop was directed by a duo of Italian artists, Nadia Antonello and Paolo Ghezzi, which involved expressing messages of peace through art and engineering.  The workshop brought together students from art and engineering backgrounds in order to design a mockup of a door that opens when you smile.  This event infused students with poetic artistry, imagination and creativity.

4. The Demography of British Mandate Palestine: An analysis of Zionist settler colonialism, its effects on indigenous populations, and the redesign of population sources through Digital Humanities by Endika Rodriguez Martin

26th January 2018.

The aim of this workshop was to challenge the conventional understanding of the roots of conflicts inside a settler colonial framework, focusing on the War of 1948 as the beginning of the process of Palestinian displacement and expulsion.  The demographic contributions were filtered by tools in the Digital Humanities, in turn making the data analysis and outcome accessible to all kinds of audiences. The workshop stressed the importance and the use of Digital Humanities inside demographic approaches, in general, and Palestine Studies in particular.


5. Artificial Intelligence by Hans Muller (AUB-Faculty Mellon Fellow)

16th February 2018.

This workshop provided a discussion on the exploration of the metaphysical, political and ethical implications of the current trend toward replacing multiple aspects of traditionally human activity with functions provided by computational systems that have been engineered to be adaptive and to learn in ways that are not fully anticipated, or anticipatable, by the people who designed them.  Among the topics covered were the fact that intelligent systems are increasingly involved in making medical diagnoses, determining who gets a bank loan, and setting the length of prison sentences.


6. The Art of Calligraphy by Efdaluddin Kilic

February/March, 2018.

This workshop aimed at teaching the basic art of calligraphy writing in both Arabic and English. Master calligrapher Efdaluddin Kilic taught this hand on workshop.


7. Rusted Radishes by Rima Rantisi

March 2018.

Founded in 2011 and in its fifth circulation, Rusted Radishes has become a publication where hundreds of local artists and writers have turned to feature their work amongst others who push the envelope and create fresh, engaging, contemporary work. The interdisciplinary staff of faculty and students accept submissions from anyone with a connection to the MENA region. Meanwhile, they are keen on promoting AUB student work side by side with the works of professionals or emerging artists and writers. This unique concentration creates a continuous and unique dialogue that emerges from Beirut and AUB with the region, the diaspora, and beyond.


8. Syria Reconstruction by Ahmad Sukkar (Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow)

10 and 17 April 2018.

The Middle Eastern Studies seminar workshop Syria Reconstruction introduced students to the theoretical, practical and technical aspects of reconstruction in Syrian cities. It engaged students in examining possible scenarios for Syrian post-war urbanism with special emphasis on the history of urban conflict, the methods and ethics of reconstruction, the problems of conservation, and new building materials and techniques. The course approached the topic of rebuilding Syria from the perspectives of culture, heritage, and sustainable development (social, economic, and environmental). Experts in the field were invited to enrich the ongoing discussion on this growing field of study and work.

9. Stylometry by Najla Jarkas

April 2018.

The aim of this workshop was to create new and interesting research questions about “relationships between different books by the same author; between books by different authors; between authors differing in terms of chronology or gender; between translations of the same author or group of authors; helping, in turn, to find new ways of looking at works that seem to have been studied from all possible perspectives.


10. Weaving Words by Jana Traboulsi

4th & 5th May, 2018.

The objective of this workshop was to demonstrate and inspire students to explore innovative ways in which to illustrate pre-modern Arabic texts.  The workshop focused on two medieval literary texts that students recreated into visual illustrations.


Conferences

1. The Southern Question by Angela Harutyunyan

3rd & 4th November, 2017.

This 2-day conference aimed at providing critical frameworks for approaching the potentially political role of art and intellectual production: while one evokes the movement towards political solidarity and economic autonomy uniting the emerging nation-states of the global south as part of the Cold War Non-Aligned Movement, the other takes as its analytical framework the intertwined material and ideological conditions of determinate national social formations. Seeking inspiration in Gramsci’s treatment of the Southern Question it aimed at the potentials and limitations of the category of class for mass political organization.


2. Numismatic Research in Lebanon: Past, Present, and Future by Jack Nurpetlian and Malek Tabbal

23rd & 24th March 2018.

This first of its kind conference held in Beirut promoted numismatic research in Lebanon by bringing together Lebanese numismatists and international scholars from the US, UK, France, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Palestine. Numismatic research in the Given that the Middle East is lagging behind other regions and one in which AUB can play a leading role in bridging this gap, the conference focused on understanding and reconstruction of the human past by studying the material culture of ancient societies.

3. Necropoleis Research Network (NRM) by Vana Kalenderian

12th to 14th April, 2018.

The objective of this conference was to bring people working together on any aspect of mortuary archaeology in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East between the Iron Age and the Late Roman periods.  It also aimed at involving museum personnel, members of Antiquities Services and scholars in universities and research institutes to discuss the methods for excavating human remains, storage and lack of fund for publication.


4. Latin America, Al-Andalus and the Arab World by Robert Myers

15th, 17th & 18th April, 2018.

A production called "Blood Wedding," a site-specific, Arabic-language version of the stage play by García Lorca in the village of Hammana, was the opening event for the international conference held at AUB on "Latin America, al-Andalus and the Arab World." The conference brought together scholars from North America, South America, the Caribbean, Spain and the Arab world in the fields of literature, theater, history and linguistics. The goal of the conference, which will lead to a volume of scholarly essays, was to explore continuities in the cultural field among the literary, theatrical and linguistic traditions of Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American drama, visual arts, literature and language.


5. Approaches to the Study of Pre-Modern Arabic Anthologies (CAH Main Conference)

10th to 12th May, 2018.

The purpose of this conference was to raise and discuss questions about the different approaches to the study of classical Arabic anthologies. The conference welcomed contributions concerned with the study of oral, aural, and written sources of a certain work as well as the reasons and significance of the choice of these sources. The proceedings of the conference will be edited and published by the American University of Beirut Press. 


6. Post-Eurocentric Poetics: New Approaches from Arabic, Turkish and Persian Literature by Hany Rashwan (Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow)

21st May, 2018.

The objective of this conference was to discuss different approaches that originated in Arabic, Turkish and Persian cultures and were overlooked or misunderstood under such long-established Eurocentric hegemony. The conference encouraged scholars to reconstruct the conceptual definitions of 'artistic' or 'poetic' language, by effectively engaging with the literary treatments that were produced by the intellectual critics of these three non-Western cultures, which seem to be more or less "marginalized" for different reasons in the Western literary studies.


 

Lectures

1. The Unbearable Lightness of Witnessing- Studies For A Self-Portrait by Chaza Charafeddine

10th October, 2017.

This lecture paid homage to the victims of the Syrian revolution who died under torture in Syrian jails.  Ms. Charafeddine attempted to depict through photographic images manipulated by light the expressions of faces that have been through extreme hardship.  She used her face to take on the form of her feelings; the pictures presented were the image of her face, witnessing such devastation.


2. United We Fall: Difference and Disjunction in Islamic Art by Yasser Tabaa

11th October, 2017.

The objective of this lecture was to present various scholastic approaches within Islamic art and architecture.  This field has been generally presented as a seamless conceptual continuum, divided mainly by dynasties and regions but without questioning the deep ideological disjunctions that have raged throughout Islamic history.  Placing these disjunctions front and center, the lecture reexamined central concepts in Islamic art--paradise, sacred scriptures, vision of God, and light--and argued through specific examples that these concepts responded to significant controversies and oppositions, some of which are still with us today were explored.


3. An Evening on Tayeb Saleh: Season of Migration to the North... Half a Century On by Dahlia Gubara

12th October, 2017.

This event commemorated the 50th anniversary of the publication of the award winning novel Season of Migration to the North by the late Sudanese author Tayeb Salih.  The event featured literary readings and reflections on the novel and its author.  The evening also marked the 50th anniversary of the Sudanese Club’s presence in Beirut and was attended by leading figures from the Sudanese community including the former and current Sudanese Ambassadors to Beirut.


4. Post-Eurocentric Poetics Arabic Jinās in ancient Egyptian Literature by Hany Rashwan (Post-Doctoral Mellon Fellow)

14th November, 2017.

This lecture explored the concept that ancient Egyptian rhetorical devices are most productively studied on a comparative basis and that Arabic, as a kindred language, offers a fruitful platform for exploring and analyzing these literary devices.   The lecture demonstrated how linguistic kinship can form a fruitful standpoint for exploring the rhetorical devices of such related languages. The linguistic kinship between ancient Egyptian and Arabic offers an excellent starting point to stop the automatic application of Greco-centric rhetorical concepts, without fully understanding their confusing Eurocentric background.


5. Book Launch: “In the House of Understanding: Histories in Memory of Kamal S. Salibi” by Abdulrahim Abu-Husayn

16th November, 2017.

In conjunction with the Kamal Salibi memorial lecture, the book launch event commemorated the work of Professor Salibi, depicted in a collection of articles published by the AUB press in one volume under the title: “In the House of Understanding: Histories in Memory of Kamal S. Salibi”.


6. Plagues and History of the Middle East by Sevket Pamuk

16th November, 2017.

The book launch was followed by Dr. Şevket Pamuk’s lecture on the role of plagues in the history of the Middle East, a subject that has increasingly been studied only recently, with the rise of interest in the role of plagues in other regions of the world.  The lecture focused on the impact of what was named the Justinian Plague that began in the 6th century, just before the rise of Islam, and kept re-appearing until the 9th century. Dr. Pamuk also addressed the Black Death, which first appeared in the 14th century and kept recurring in the Middle East until the 19th century.


7. Nation, Trauma, and Other Not-So-Universal Ideas Re-imagined in Arabic Literature by Nora Parr

28th November 2017.

This lecture’s objective was to mark the development of a new research project: the re-examining concepts of ‘trauma’ and theory around the representation of violence. The presentation looked at why current frameworks don't fit literature of the Palestinian Nakba, the Lebanese Civil War, or the Arab Spring, as three preliminary examples, and put forward some hypotheses about why trauma here is not written as ‘out of time,’ or ‘other’ to the everyday, and why this matters.


8. رائد النحت الأول في لبنان يوسف الحويك (1883- 1962) by Diana Jeha

8th December 2017.

ولد يوسف سعدالله الحويك في قرية حلتا في جرود البترون في 9 آذار عام 1883. ومن ثم عاش لفترة من الزمن في قرية عورا القريبة من حلتا. يتحدّر يوسف الحويك من عائلة مسيحية. كان جدّه مخاييل كاهناً، وعمه الياس الحويك بطريركاً للطائفة المارونية، وهو من أسس راهبات العائلة المقدّسة في عبرين البترون، حيث انضم ّإلى هذه الجمعيّة عدد من شقيقاته.  يهدف بحثُنا إلى الإضاءة على أعمال يوسف الحويك التشكيلية المختلفة من التخطيطات، الجداريات الدينية، اللوحات، والمنحوتات المختلفة من الوجوه، العاريات، المنحوتات النصبية، المنحوتات الدينية، والمنحوتات لشخصيات معروفة


9. Social Science Research on, for, with, in, and of Africa by Saleem Badat (Mellon Foundation Program Director)

2nd February 2018.

This lecture was given by the program director of the Mellon Foundation, Dr. Saleem Badat.  The purpose of the lecture was to initiate questions regarding social science research in Africa.  It raised awareness towards how non-African scholars, universities and institutions apply for frequent requests to conduct social science research in Africa.  However, such research does not always address African concerns and questions in which advance African goals and priorities.


10. The threefold meaning of love in the Third Divan of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520-1566) by Christian Czygan

7th March 2018.

The lecture identified three aspects of love that are clearly visible in the Third Divan: Divine love (that is the love for God and the Prophet Muhammed), mystical love, and worldly love, which included the love for a specific woman and the love for the natural landscapes of the Ottoman Empire. These poems revealed the sultan’s political purposes, and they illustrated how he appealed to emotions in order to promote them.


11. Who Shot the Arab? by Doyle Avant (AUB-Faculty Mellon Fellow)

23rd April 2018.

The objective of this lecture was to demonstrate how the multiple interweaving narratives follow historical and literary characters moving fluidly across decades and warzones – each trying to discover who they are and each striving to reach some form of peace.


12. Literature, Culture, and the Political: A Conference on Elias Khoury by Bilal Orfali

April 23rd, 2018.

An international colloquium was held on the legacy of the Lebanese novelist and intellectual Elias Khoury, who has been recognized as a leading figure in the Arab literary field. Scholars, novelists, journalists from Europe, North America and the Arab world convened to discuss various aspects of Khoury’s writings in fiction, prose, and criticism. The aim was to discuss ideas of:

- Postwar Beirut and the collective memory debate in Khoury’s writings

- Khoury’s literary commitment to the Palestinian question

- Mulhaq al-Nahar and the question of the cultural press

- Khoury’s plays and work with playwrights Rabih Mroue and Roger Assaf

- Gender and sexuality in Khoury’s writings

- Khoury’s political essays from the “Damascus Spring” to the ongoing war in Syria


13. Portraiture: Beyond Resemblance by Hala Auji

25th April 2018.

This project endeavored to explore aspects of portraiture, in its various forms, beyond the question of representation in order to consider the socio-political implications of this art form across temporal and spatial boundaries, with a particular emphasis on interactions between European and Islamic societies. Respective art history classes were involved (in curating/setting up the exhibit) to further engage the students with the question of portraiture across regional/temporal boundaries.

14. AbdulHamid II and the Arabs by Tufan Buzpinar

3rd May, 2018.

This lecture focused on Ottoman policies regarding the Arabs during the reign of AbdulHamid II (1876-1909).  The lecture discussed the critical years immediately after the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877-78 in order to analyse its impact on the Arab populated provinces.  It also dealt with the question of Palestine and the Restorationists’ efforts to organize Jewish settlements in Palestine in the early 1880s as well as AbdulHamid II’s response to the Restorationists. The lecture attempted to explain the Sultan’s policies to integrate Arabs into the Ottoman system: his so called pan-Islamism, his emphasis on the institution of the caliphate, politics of notables, etc. In addition, the lecture addressed the issue of the Hijaz Railway, its place in AbdulHamid II’s Arab policies, how it was used for pan-Islamic appeals to Muslims in the Ottoman state and abroad and its impact on the region from political, economic and military viewpoints.

15. Lawrence Oliphant and the Question of Jewish Settlement in Palestine by Tufan Buzpinar

3rd May, 2018.

The lecture discussed Laurence Oliphant’s efforts to organize a Jewish settlement in Belqa region between 1879 and 1882. After giving introductory information about Oliphant’s life in order to understand the reason why he was so deeply interested in the question of Jewish migration to Palestine, his proposal to the Ottoman government in 1879 on this issue will be dealt with in some detail based mainly on Ottoman archival documents.  The lecture also focused on Oliphant’s second attempt to obtain permission for the Jewish settlement in Palestine in 1882.

16. Defending Sentimentalism by Hans D. Muller (AUB-Faculty Mellon Fellow)

4th May 2018.

The objective of this lecture was to discuss the originating concerns of sentimentalism and investigate the resources available to respond to the contemporary objection of inherent bias. In 21st century discussions of ethics, it is widely taken for granted that this is problematic because moral judgments are supposed to be unbiased and beholden to the principle of fairness, whereas emotions prompt us to focus on the concerns of ourselves—and of those close to us—at the expense of everyone else.   However, Eighteenth century sentimentalists, such as Adam Smith and David Hume, proposed to consider the distress one feels when encountering misery in others, and our propensity to join in the joy of those around us, as counter-examples to the claims of ethical egoists. 

17. Planning, Construction, Reactions and Impact by M-Talha Cicek

9th May, 2018.

The Hijaz Railway was constructed by the Pan-Islamist Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II to increase the imperial authority over the Arab lands and Hijaz. It would definitely strengthen the Ottoman rule in Greater Syria and Arabia and facilitate the transfer of the regional products to the wider markets easier. It was the only railway construction enterprise funded by the Ottoman treasury and the Muslim donations. Focusing on the initial plans, the process of construction, the reaction of the local people such as the city dwellers, Bedouin and Peasants, and its impact on the region’s social and economic life, this presentation aims at drawing a picture of the introduction of the railway to the region.

18. Panel on Youssef Habshi al Ashqar by Bilal Orfali and Zeina Halabi

14th May 2018.

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the death of the Lebanese novelist Youssef Habshi al-Ashqar (1929-1992). Al-Ashqar’s characters navigate the violence of the civil war in a liminal space between a village that no longer exists and a city that does not embrace them. Although his oeuvre channels the concerns that have animated Lebanese intellectuals in the past decades, al-Ashqar has yet to receive the attention he deserves in translation and literary criticism.  This lecture sought to examine the legacy of Youssef Habshi al-Ashqar and to reflect on the significance of introducing al-Ashqar to the growing repertoire of modern Arabic literature in translation.

19. Taught Abroad: Syrian Urban Conflict and Reconstruction in Higher Education before Practice by Ahmad Sukkar (Post-Doctoral Mellon Fellow)

25th May 2018.

The aim of this lecture was to open discussions about the objectives and challenges of teaching Syria reconstruction to students from differing educational backgrounds.

 

Exhibitions

1. Hijaz Railway Exhibition: The Holy Rail

2nd May 2018.

The exhibition displayed a rare collection of photographs and archival documents that were obtained from the Prime Ministry Archives of Turkey in Istanbul. This material documented the establishment of the Hijaz railway, which is considered the first major infrastructure project that the Ottomans were able to build and finance on their own. Moreover, the tremendous public contribution to this project on an international level made it the first example of an international Islamic project funded by the public.


2. Solo Exhibition by Larissa Sansour and Dar El Nimr

May 2018.

Larissa Sansour was born in East Jerusalem; Sansour studied Fine Art in Copenhagen, London and New York. Her work is interdisciplinary and uses film, photography, installation and sculpture.  Solo exhibitions include the Bluecoat in Liverpool, New Art Exchange in Nottingham, Nikolaj Kunst in Copenhagen, Turku Art Museum in Finland, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Kulturhuset in Stockholm and DEPO in Istanbul.  Sansour's work has featured in the biennials of Istanbul, Busan and Liverpool. She has exhibited at venues such as Tate Modern, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; LOOP, Seoul; Barbican, London; Al Hoash, Jerusalem; Queen Sofia Museum, Madrid; Centre for Photography, Sydney; Cornerhouse, Manchester; Townhouse, Cairo; Maraya Arts Centre, Sharjah, UAE; Empty Quarter, Dubai; Galerie Nationale de Jeu de Paume, Paris; Iniva, London; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Third Guangzhou Triennial, Guangzhou , China; Louisiana Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark; House of World Cultures, Berlin, and MOCA, Hiroshima.