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.
3. Artist in Residence: Zeina El Khalil
12t- 16th November 2018, 3rd-7th December 2018.
Zena el Khalil is an artist, author, cultural activist and Nāda yoga instructor. She uses visual art, site-specific installation, performance and ritual to explore and heal the war-torn history of Lebanon and other global sites of trauma. Merging art and healing modalities, Zena has been conducting healing ceremonies across Lebanon in spaces that have historically endured trauma and violence. Zena also curates cultural events, workshops and concerts dedicated to healing and reconciliation, through the mediums of ceremony, sound and art.
4. Artist in Residence: Chaza Charafeddine
1st-15th February 2019.
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.
5. Writer in Residence: Aref Al Husseiny
14th – 30th April 2019.
A Palestinian engineer and novelist, born and raised in Jerusalem. His first novel, “كافر سبت" published in the year 2012, was a success on both, the cultural and the literary levels. And on the year 2017, his second novel “حرام نسبي" was published. Al-Husseini is considered one of the young novelists that use dark humor in their writings and convey reality to the reader in an interesting manner full of information.
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
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
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
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.
11. Brainstorming the History of the Middle East: Lebanon within its Regional Context by Abdul Rahim Abu-Husayn, Professor of History
2nd November 2018.
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.
12. Affective Atmospheres: The role of site-specific sound and music in social formation by Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, Post-Doctoral Fellow
29th – 30th November 2018.
The seminar invited scholarly and artistic contributions that make thought-provoking connections between sound and the society. The aim was to consider the idea of social formation that comprises an ever-evolving atmosphere of a place. Sonic atmosphere (aka ambience or ambient sound) indicates the essential background sounds, which are present in a site, place, area or location. It is therefore crucial to understand how the emergent and contingent sonic atmosphere of a site is constituted with multiple influences, including but not limited to neighboring and socially diffused music and site-specific sounds that are part of the everyday ambience, which is historically transformative. In this seminar, the various everyday iterations and social aspects of site-specific music and sound were examined to locate how they engage with the contingent collectivity and fluid historicity of the site within a spirit of inclusion, contributing to the studies of sound, ambiances and social life.
13. Connecting Resonances I: Beirut Sound, listening and sonic practices across sites, borders and cultures by Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, Post-Doctoral Fellow
20th-27th February 2019.
The project's main hypothesis was that, in the precolonial
Western cultures, an evolving subjectivity was often overlooked, while in
many Eastern cultures or cultures in the Global South, ideas like subjectivity,
attention and temporality (e.g. sonic practices of Tarab in Arabic music, or Aalap in
Indian classical music) have been highly addressed, practiced and theorized. Critically listening to such differences as well as confluences help understanding the intensified mobility of artistic methodologies as a result of early globalization, producing new knowledge in historically relevant cultural exchanges between the East and West.
14. Writing from the Provinces: Reconsidering Ottoman History and Historiography by Professor Abdul Rahim Abu Husayn and Dr. Onur Yildrim
25th-26th March 2019.
The study of Ottoman provinces has experienced a major upsurge over the past few decades. The declining grip of nationalist scholarships, the discovery of the new archival materials, the diversification of research topics and particularly the growth of interest in micro-historical research have combined to generate a new corpus of literature that offers a refreshing view of Ottoman history as it unfolded at provincial level. Although this new wave of scholarship has made the place of each province of the empire more visible on the map of the Ottoman Empire, it has not so far challenged the command of Istanbul and Anatolia over the main narrative of Ottoman history. This also means by implication that the ruling elite continues to occupy the central place in this dominant narrative. Thus, the majority of the general histories of the Ottoman Empire, intended for textbook purposes or public audience, operates through the prevalent periodization and narration of historical change circumscribed by the ebb and flow of political authority centered in Istanbul and its immediate vicinity, namely, Anatolia. This tendency also manifests itself clearly in the bulk of scholarship that has focused on events and themes that are more specific. Although the recent research has highlighted the enormous role of social and economic developments, originating mainly in the remote provinces, in the transformation of the Ottoman Empire, the integration of the new findings and arguments into the mainstream narrative has taken place primarily according to the terms of the scholarship advocating the political-centric conceptualization of Ottoman imperial history. Thus, the tone of relationship between the central and the provincial elites continues to be viewed as the pulse of the Ottoman imperial power while scholars continue to navigate between the negotiating skills of the latter and the pragmatic moves of the former. The emerging histories of the urban and rural communities in the provinces have shown that there is life beyond the gates of elite households and more to the history of provinces than the constant maneuverings of those elites. In fact, the answer to the very question of how the provincial power-brokers accrued so much fiscal, administrative and, in some instances, diplomatic leverage lies as much in the life stories of provincial communities as in the vices and virtues of the individual brokers. Thus, this workshop was based on the premise that the erosion or consolidation of the Sultan's authority in the provinces must be understood through the provinces' changing socio-economic conditions. Against the background, the workshop had a twofold purpose of taking stock of the scholarly research on Ottoman provinces and, then, bringing together the histories of provincial communities from different parts of the Empire. To this effect, scholars from Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt were invited to present their specific research on the communities of the Ottoman provinces.
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.
7. The Druze: Celebrating a Thousand Years of Diversity by Abdulrahim Abu Husayn
30th-31st October 2018.
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.
8. DOUBLE HELIX: The film essay as form, ruminations around the essay film by Heather O'Brien (Faculty Fellow, Department of Fine Arts and History)
21st-22nd February 2019.
How do we make sense of the polemical term 'essay film' as well as the phrase 'double helix,' an expression coined by the late filmmaker Harun Farocki? Since the 1960s, artists have explored the narrative enigmas of the film essay. Still photography—cinema's ghostly parent—was eclipsed by the medium of film, but also set free. The rise of the moving image also obliged photography to make a virtue of its own stillness. Perhaps the essay film envied the simplicity, lightness, and precision of photography, and, as Chris Marker showed us in La Jetée (1962), it would be possible to create a compelling science-fiction film composed almost entirely of black-and-white photographs. However, what is a film essay today, in our contemporary moment of fleeting images? Is it a portrait, a conversation, a political statement, a question? To ponder this the conference aimed to look at frames made by four generations of moving-image makers—born in years ranging from the 1960s to the 1990s—this constellation of artists aim to challenge the traditional notion of the essay film in spaces ranging from Beirut to Cairo, Namibia to Detroit.
9. A Century of Human Displacement and Dispossession by Professor Abdul Rahim Abu Husayn and Dr. Onur Yildrim
14th-15th-16th May 2019
The conference intended to provide a platform for a critical discussion of the workings of the global system while assessing the role of the national refugee regimes, instruments, policies and practices. The conference payed particular attention to the intellectual debates and discussions on the population transfers and refugee phenomena from the end of WWI to the present and aimed to trail the evolution of national and international refugee systems over a full century. As it pursued those macro goals, the conference aimed to bring to the fore individual, familial and collective experiences of persecution, internment and mass displacement in diverse contexts. One of the prime goals of the conference was to provide a setting for scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds to reflect on earlier experiences as well as on the most recent ones including but not limited to the Syrian refugee crisis. The practitioners from the field enriched this dialogue through their personal observations and engagements. In brief, the conference sought to lay the foundation for a more balanced regional and international discussion on human displacement and dispossession in the past century.
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.
20. A Lecture on Rethinking the Ethics of War" by Jeff Macmahen
Over the past 15 years the traditional theory of the just war has been the target of sustained philosophical criticism. This understanding of the ethics of war has in fact been largely replaced by a quite different “revisionist" approach, which is characterized mainly by its claim that individual action rather than membership in some collective, such as the group of combatants or the group of noncombatants, is the basis of liability to attack in war. This overthrow of the centuries-old orthodoxy over a short period of time is little known outside of academic philosophy, though it has begun to prompt serious reflection by some important legal theorists who write about the law of armed conflict or international criminal law. In this talk, McMahan will explain the main differences between traditional and revisionist just war theory and sketch some of the reasons and arguments that have led to the rejection of the traditional view. The talk will also include some remarks about the role of nonviolent in the ethics of war.
21. Articulations of Resistance in Arab-American Poetry by Sirene Harb (Faculty Fellow, Department of English)
4th December 2018.
Drawing on ethnic, postcolonial, and transnational studies, this talk probed the multilayered connections between poetry and resistance in contemporary Arab-American literature. Questions of resistance were examined in relation to poetic translations of the trauma of 9/11; the inclusion of different languages, forms, scripts, and “foreign" cultural references in poems; and the critique of imperial configurations of time and space.
22. The Myth of the photographic essay by Thierry Gervais
26th February 2019
In 1937, Life magazine published its first photographic essay and promoted the photographer as an “essayist." This approach to photojournalism labeled the camera as a communication tool rather than a machine producing objective representations. In scholarship on photojournalism, this period is noted as an access point for photographers, wherein they gained the status of journalists and began to express individual points of view. However, an analysis of the photographs published in Life's “photographic essay" category reveals a collective process in the making of visual news, the frustration of participating photographers, and the role of aesthetics in the publication of photographs.
23. A Talk on The Sound of Listening by Philip Metres
5th March 2019.
"The Sound of Listening" attempts to provide a context for a poetics of resistance and refuge that predates the Trump Age and will be necessary long after it. In order to survive such moments, we need to glean the present and past for what might sustain us for the work ahead. The Sound of Listening stakes a claim for the cultural work that a poem can perform—from providing refuge to embodying resistance, from recovering silenced voices to imagining and modeling a more just and peaceful world.
24. A Lebanese with Wanderlust: The Travels of “The Prince of Mount Lebanon" in 18th Century Europe a Global Microhistory by Tobias Moerike.
5th March 2019.
Between 1724 and 1728, a Lebanese Maronite travelled through Central Europe, presenting himself as Prince of Mount Lebanon appealing to many small courts in the German Principalities and city republics of Switzerland. The talk retraced the itinerary of Sayf Hobaish / Spaada Habaisci of Ghazir from primary sources. It was argued that Habaisci and other Lebanese had a crucial role as knowledge, brokers explaining objects, translating manuscripts and inciting curiosity. Eventually the talk showed that Habaisci set an example to others, until the era of the 18th century “Princes of Mount Lebanon" roamed through Europe and some even set off further.
25. Examining Najeeb Saleeby as American Colonial Advocate and Educator by Nobutaka Suzuki
19th March 2019.
In Philippine-American history, Najeeb Mitry Saleeby, an Arab-American from Lebanon, has been known as an American colonial administrator. Especially, Saleeby gained fame as specialist on Muslim affairs in the early 20th century when assigned to the Philippines under US colonial rule. In addition to his Arab lineage, his admirable knowledge and profound curiosity of the Muslim culture and society enabled him to discuss the Koran with Muslim intellectuals, which eventually succeeded to earn him more of the trust of the Muslim leaders. His seminal work includes Studies in Moro History, Law, and Religion (1905) and The History of Sulu (1908). This lecture aimed to examine his motive behind his attempt to uplift Muslims of the southern Philippines through careful scrutiny of his books and US archival data.
26. Steps to an Ecology of Refuge (along with a manifesto for the Environmental Humanities at AUB) by Prof. Sylvain Perdigon (Faculty Fellow, Department of Sociology Anthropology and Media)
5th April 2019.
In a recent paper, the feminist historian of science Donna Haraway suddenly pauses to observe "Right now, the earth is full of refugees, human and not, without refuge". Who could, or would, disagree with her? And yet, how to take stock of the paradox lodged at the heart of such an observation? The edge and force of Haraway's formulation lie in suggesting, of course, that the problem of refuge straddles human and non-human lifeworlds. After all, the same modern age that invented the refugee, this "new kind of human being" (Hannah Arendt), will also be the age in which humans started to grapple with a new and bleak understanding of themselves as a cataclysmic biogeological agent. Climate and life scientists now agree that the disrupting impact of human activities (producing, moving, consuming, reproducing oneself...) associated with capitalist civilization has propelled the biosphere into a new age. Some of them put forward the term Anthropocene to register the radical, rapid and irreversible alteration of the world under the impact of anthropogenic pressures including but not limited to global warming. As Haraway's formulation intimates, this grim reckoning forces us to reconsider the ontological exceptionality of the human, and the corresponding domaining of knowledge about the world into humanities, social and natural sciences. In the Anthropocene, a radical discontinuity should not, perhaps even cannot, any longer be assumed between the processes that bring about the destruction and loss of human life worlds, and those driving the ongoing Sixth Extinction. Rather, this demands a critical inquiry into current orientations to life and imaginaries of human freedom, autonomy and sovereignty that have made spaces of refuge such a rare or difficult social, political and ecological achievement in late modernity. Lebanon, no doubt, is a good place to start such an inquiry.
27. Aref Husseini, writer in residence offered two informal lectures on creative writing.
16th-23rd April 2019.
Aref Al-Husseini participated with Dr. Mona Al-Sharafi in two symposiums. The first symposium concerned the Palestinians in the occupied lands and the important role that literature and culture play in order to protect the historical legacy and the national identity of the Palestinians.
The second symposium revolved around the daily life in Jerusalem. In both discussions, the writer focused on the emotional and sentimental aspects and went through the details of daily life under occupation. He also explained the structural difference in narration when the setting itself is the protagonist.
28. With a Face of Golden Pleasure, Elegantly Destroy by Heather O'Brien (Faculty Fellow, Department of Fine Arts and History)
9th April 2019.
Water politics play a significant role in shaping contemporary life in Lebanon. This essay film aimed to uncover how water has been used as a tool of social and psychological control and seeks to reveal multi‑layered, controversial histories throughout time and space. The project takes an openly subjective starting point as the introduction to the larger nature of the work by tracing the source of the filmmaker's water in her home in Ras Beirut. How might we connect disparate modes of aquatic ideology in order to destroy an existing collective voice of memory? We cannot turn away from our burning reality––we are seduced by water; it fuels our energy and causes us to drown. This poetic duality is constant in our lives; it follows us wherever we are, affecting our vitality, our ebb and our flow. The filmmaker Heather M. O'Brien shared past works, along with work in progress for this film. Assistant Director/ Cinematographer Jonathan Takahashi and Research Assistant Noor Tannir were also present to talk about the process of working on the project.
29. Listening from the Balcony: Affective Resonances of the Contemporary Time by Budhaditya Chattopadhyay (Post-Doctoral Fellow)
18th April 2019.
Artist and researcher Budhaditya Chattopadhyay gave a talk on his research in sound studies, and artistic practice with sound and listening. The talk considered listening as a creative act in a broader context to compassionately engage with the contemporary world marred by intensified conflict. Drawing on his artistic practice, the talk revolved around the notions of presence, affect, and reciprocity based on an inclusive, poetic and contemplative mode of listening as a methodology in conflict resolution. It argued that the root of all conflicts is embedded in a lack of ability to listen to the other. As philosopher Gemma Corradi Fiumara suggests, a propensity to listen without making immediate judgments may potentially lead to bridge the troubled water of difference. Departing from the idea of hearing as immediate meaning-making to arrive at conclusions in order to navigate the everyday in a merely utilitarian way, the talk advocated for an active listening practice that explores the mindful, transcendental and emancipatory aspects of sound. This act indicated transcending the ontological and epistemological constrains of everyday sounds towards including the poetic and contemplative subjectivity of the listener.
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
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.
3. Women: Diversity and Disruption
31st October 2018.
The exhibition brought together contemporary artworks by women artists to begin an exploration of cultural connections. No solid research has yet been made of contemporary artists coming from Druze lineage, which made this a great opportunity to explore how this backdrop has been of influence to the art making process and works. Furthermore, on personal levels, due to the conservatism that runs prevalent within our community, we look at this as an opportunity to shed light on our practices and establish our voices as women contemporary artists. It should not be taken for granted, not for one moment, that the choice to become a “career artist" came with ease and support. On the contrary, going against the norms of our community is something we wish to celebrate and hope to encourage youth and women to embrace the cultural value of art. For many of the attendees of the conference, this may be the first time they view contemporary art. For other attendees coming from abroad, this may be the first time they view art made by women of Druze heritage.