Fourteen, Traditional Emirati Talli thread and acrylic paint on wood, 80x80cm, Year 2020
Artist Noura Ali-Ramahi (BBA ’97): Learn more about Noura in this issue’s “StandingOUTstanding” feature.
The global pandemic prevented the opening of the AUB Art Galleries Spring 2020 exhibition by Galleries curator Octavian Esanu. The Naïve Arab Artist focuses on a category of artists active in the Middle East. It presents instances of naïves/naïfs, outsiders, and autodidacts from Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, and Palestine.
Baya Mahieddine (1931-1998), Algerian, (Dalloul Art Foundation)
Click here for a virtual tour.
Tarek Yamani, Atrium at Lincoln Center, New York,. Photo credit: Sachyn Mital
Tarek Yamani (BS computer science ’01) is a New York is a New York–based award winning composer and a jazz pianist who has developed an international reputation for reinventing classical Arabic music within the framework of African American jazz in a genre often dubbed “Afro-Tarab.”
With concert halls and venues shuttered, Yamani has stayed active and connected by producing online music experiments, giving virtual masterclasses and working on a new release—the soundtrack of the short film “Like Salt.”
BLACK WAVE: SAUDI ARABIA, IRAN, AND THE FORTY-YEAR RIVALRY THAT UNRAVELED CULTURE, RELIGION, AND COLLECTIVE MEMORY IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (Holt, 2020) by Kim Ghattas. With vivid storytelling, extensive research, and on-the-ground reporting, Ghattas—journalist, author, and AUB trustee—seamlessly weaves together history, geopolitics, and culture to deliver a widely praised account of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, born from the sparks of the 1979 Iranian Revolution and fueled by American policy. Ghattas explores 40 years of history through the lives of 15 characters in seven countries, from Egypt to Pakistan.
ENDLESS CROSSINGS: REFLECTIONS ON ARMENIAN ART AND CULTURE IN LOS ANGELES
Endless Crossings: Reflections on Armenian Art and Culture in Los Angeles (Tekeyan Cultural Association, 2019) by Arpi Sarafian. The complexities of the immigrant experience are explored in a wide-ranging and diverse mix of essays published over the course of more than 30 years. The book sheds light on the challenges of the Armenian diaspora to maintain a cultural identity while assimilating into mainstream culture. Sarafian would like to see the hyphen dropped from Armenian-American. She argues that the use of a compound noun to describe “ethnic” Americans creates a hierarchy which inevitably leads to the valuing of the so-called “majority” culture and the belittling of the “other,” the “lesser” culture.
INSATIABLE APPETITE: FOOD AS CULTURAL SIGNIFIER IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND BEYOND
Insatiable Appetite: Food as Cultural Signifier in the Middle East and Beyond (Brill, 2019), edited by Kirill Dmitriev, Julia Hauser, and Bilal Orfali. This study explores the cultural ramifications of food and foodways, particularly in the Mediterranean’s Arab-Muslim countries. It addresses the cultural meanings of food from a wider chronological scope, from antiquity to present, adopting approaches from various disciplines, including classical Greek philology, Arabic literature, Islamic studies, anthropology, and history. The contributions to the book are structured around six thematic parts, ranging in focus from social status to religious prohibitions, gender issues, intoxicants, vegetarianism, and management of scarcity.
THE HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY OF PHOENICIA
The History and Archaeology of Phoenicia (SBL Press, 2019) by Hélène S. Sader. Drawing on written sources and archaeological excavations, Sader presents the history and archaeology of Iron Age Phoenicia proper. Her unique approach focuses on evidence from the Phoenician homeland rather than the colonies to present a clear picture of Phoenicia and its inhabitants. Historical as well as modern maps with the locations of relevant archaeological sites familiarize readers with the topography and toponymy of the area. Sader’s evaluation and synthesis of the evidence is a corrective to assumptions of a unified Phoenician kingdom as presented in later written sources.
MONA’S STORIES… AYAM MONA
Mona’s Stories…Ayam Mona (2019, ZIKRA) by Talal Shatawi is a collection of stories told by Mona Bu-Azza Bawarshi, AUB alumna and CEO of Gezairi Transport. They include recollections of her childhood, the time she spent at Makassed schools and AUB, the neighborhood she grew up in, the family that she and her husband, Fouad, built together, and the challenges she had to face during her 50-year career. The book is dedicated to Mona’s mother, Shafika, who is a central character in most of the stories. “She was a central character in my life,” explains Mona. “Shafika Balaa was first and foremost my mother. She then became my friend and companion. Since her death, she has become my beacon, my compass and my source of reference.