Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Arab American Almanac, the most comprehensive reference on Arab Americans

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Arab American Almanac, the most comprehensive reference on Arab Americans
By Ray Hanania

One of the pioneers of American Arab journalism is Joseph Haeik who is a member of the Arab Journalism Society in Los Angeles and also a founder of the Arab American Historical Foundation. He is publisher of the immensely popular “News Circle Magazine” one of the most professionally written publications in the community and founded in 1972. His most important work, however is the publication of the Arab American Almanac, a detailed compilation of American Arab achievements, leaders and achievers.

This month, Haiek released the 6th Edition of the Arab American Almanac and it far exceeds the heights he has already reached from his previous five editions.

The Arab American Almanac, published by The News Circle Publishing House (www.Arab-American-Affairs.net), offers a detailed history of every aspect of Arabs in America compiled in 608 tightly packed and informative pages. The writing is compelling and accurate, built upon more than a half century of professional writing and journalism.

The book offers a list of the most important books written about Arab and Middle East topics. It offers endless lists including one detailing the achievements of American Arabs in Hollywood and film, in government and politics, and in business.

It provides a comprehensive listing of the most important American Arab organizations in the country with thumbnail histories that put the existence of Arabs in America in full perspective. It lists Arabs in the military and includes stories of Arabs in America that give a context to their existence in a way most other books about the community have failed to achieve.

You cannot understand the depth and substance of the Arabs in America without this Almanac and it is essential to any research or future documentation of American Arabs and their role in American society.

This is an important work of literature. It is mandatory for research on American Arabs. Every American organization and scholar should have a copy on their shelves in order to add depth to the shallow understanding that many Americans have of the rich culture of the Arab World and people and the contributions of Arabs to America’s greatness.

This is not a dissertation nor a political argument over issues of Middle East conflict, but rather a fair, complete and accurate account of who American Arabs were, are and will continue to be.

Arab American Almanac, 6th Edition
Arab American Historical Foundation
PO Box 291159
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Email:  newscircle@yahoo.com
For more information

- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Book Assesses the Middle East’s Growing “Knowledge Economy”

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New Book Assesses the Middle East’s Growing “Knowledge Economy”

Research Report Investigates the Region’s Capacity to Speed Development Through International Higher Education

For Immediate Release
June 15, 2010
NEW YORK, NY– A new book from the Institute of International Education (IIE), a world leader in the international exchange of students and scholars, examines the focus of the governments of several Middle Eastern countries on education as a central feature of national development policies. Innovation Through Education: Building the Knowledge Economy in the Middle East contains chapters written by thought leaders from the United States and the Middle East. It comes at a time when many new exciting initiatives are taking place in region, such as the opening of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the development of NYU Abu Dhabi, and the convening of major new global gatherings such as Qatar Foundation's World Innovation Summit for Education and the Education Without Borders Forum produced by the UAE’s Higher Colleges of Technology. The book looks at aspirations within the region to build human capacity through increased access to higher education, and examines new models for higher education opportunities. The new book is the latest in a series of timely reports published through a partnership between IIE and the American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS) Foundation. 
Authors from a wide range of organizations describe and analyze current innovations, trends, and issues that countries and institutions in the Middle East are facing as they move toward educational reform and development in both Gulf and non-Gulf states. The book addresses institutional planning in the region, branch campuses in the UAE and Qatar, women's education, youth exchange, Arabic language education, and more, and offers a contemporary examination of role of global education in building the knowledge economy in the Middle East. It also provides an overview of exchange projects between Middle Eastern countries and the United States.

Innovation Through Education is the fourth book in the Global Education Research Reports series from IIE and the AIFS Foundation. Previous books have examined higher education initiatives and exchanges in China and India, as well as new developments in global mobility.

Authors of the chapters in Innovation Through Education represent the diverse perspectives of leaders in higher education, government, and the corporate sector in both the United States and Middle East. IIE CEO Allan Goodman and AIFS CEO Bill Gertz wrote forewords to the book. Chapter authors include: Jamil Salmi, World Bank; Daniel Kirk, Gulf Comparative Education Society, Spencer Witte, Ishtirak; Robert G. Ayan Jr., Cambridge Advisors LLC; Hana A. El-Ghali, Qianyi Chen, and John L. Yeager, University of Pittsburgh; Haifa Reda Jamal Al-Lail, Effat University; Sherifa M.B.E. Fayez, AFS Egypt, and Dan Prinzing, Idaho Human Rights Education Center; Jerome Bookin-Weiner, AMIDEAST, and Ahmad Majdoubeh, University of Jordan; and Norman J. Peterson and Yvonne M. Rudman, Montana State University. The book was edited by Daniel Obst, Deputy Vice President for International Partnerships at IIE, and Daniel Kirk, Founding President of the Gulf Comparative Education Society. (Table of contents following release.)
Innovation Through Education has been produced by IIE’s new Center for International Partnerships in Higher Education, with funding from the AIFS Foundation. It is one of several IIE initiatives targeted at strengthening higher education bonds between the U.S. and Middle East. IIE delivers programs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region that reach more than 7,000 students, scholars, and professionals. As a result of the Institute’s partnerships with corporations, governments, ministries, foundations, and the U.S. government, thousands of students, scholars, and professionals from the region have gained access to the world’s leading higher education and training programs.

In academic year 2008/09, more than 29,000 international students from the Middle East were studying in the United States, an increase of more than 17% over the previous year, according to IIE’s 2009 Open Door Report on International Educational Exchange, supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. More than 3,300 students from the U.S. received credit for studying abroad in the Middle East in academic year 2007/08, an increase of more than 21% over the previous year.

IIE-administered programs in the MENA region have wide-ranging and tangible impact. They help to build capacity through training in science and technology, youth leadership development projects and women’s empowerment initiatives. IIE partners with the U.S. Department of State, and with universities such as KAUST and NYU Abu Dhabi, energy companies like Exxon Mobil, and technology companies like Microsoft to serve the region’s need for international education and training.

# # #

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1919, IIE has network of over 20 offices worldwide and over 1,000 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad. www.iie.org

The American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS) Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity, was established in 1967 to help young people from many nations and diverse cultures to better understand one another. The AIFS Foundation provides grants to high schools and institutions to encourage international and educational travel. The AIFS Foundation also sponsors the Academic Year in America (AYA) program, which enables international teenage students to live with an American host family while attending the local high school. www.aifsfoundation.org

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Review Essay: Lessons from Lebanon’s chronic encounters with violence

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Review Essay: Lessons from Lebanon’s chronic encounters with violence

Libanisation (Lebanization/Lebanonization): the process of fragmentation of a state, as a result of confrontation between diverse communities.

By Maurice Obeid
(Submitted review)

Civil and Uncivil Violence in Lebanon: A History of the Internationalization of Communal Conflict. By Samir Khalaf. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2002. 368 pp. ISBN: 0-231-12476-7. US $27.50.

A lot has been studied about Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war—identifying perpetrators, determining the “Sarajevo” that ignited the conflict, or ascribing responsibility to a web of local, regional, and international stakeholders. Little has been said, however, about the peculiarity of this civil war—what sets Lebanon apart from other violent contexts. It turns out that the forces that sustained the conflict were distinct from those that ignited it in the first place, and, in Lebanon’s case, much more important in delineating the country’s tortuous trajectory. These forces defined the paradigm of Lebanese sociopolitical life and destiny. Even more obscure to many observers is that Lebanon’s modern history has been one of intermittent violence whose patterns have remained largely consistent for two centuries. This discovery serves as both the premise and the conclusion of Samir Khalaf’s Civil and Uncivil Violence in Lebanon.

Khalaf’s examination of Lebanon’s conflicts since the 19th century uncovers three recurring themes that investigations of communal strife tend to overlook:

1.      The incongruence between instigators of violence and forces that sustain conflict. The circumstances that propelled oppressed groups to resort to social or political violence are not necessary those which sustained the violence or defined the direction and character of the conflict.

2.      The distinction between civil and uncivil violence. When communal discord replaces socioeconomic or purely political grievances as the face of a conflict, quelling violence becomes a herculean task. In Khalaf’s words, violence is transformed from a dependent variable to an independent variable inflicting its own vicious cycle of violence.

3.      Certain wars are futile. As Kaplan suggests, for wars to be productive, they must produce a victor and a vanquished. In Lebanon, successive conflicts have primarily embodied zero-sum rivalries. Much to the interests and efforts of foreign powers, conflicts always ended in suspension.

Lebanon’s major episodes of unrest reveal painstaking similarities in their pattern of violence. Conflicts that started as ordinary socioeconomic or political protest quickly turned into sectarian confrontation. Once conflicts took on a sectarian edge, and they almost always did, they acquired a life of their own and spiraled out of control as self-definition became threatened. Essentially, as Hanf explains, conflicts that were initially over divisible goods became struggles over indivisible principles. Finally, and most painfully, these conflicts have been largely futile, at best restoring status quo.

Today, coexistence is ever so distant. In short, Lebanon’s history with violence is especially vexing as hostilities never revolved around a set of causes nor have they resolved core issues that ignited unrest. 

Familiar pattern: a donkey is a donkey

Against this conceptual backdrop, Khalaf revisits three distinct conflicts—the recurrent uprisings of the 1800s, the turmoil of 1958, and the 1975-1990 war. He links his analysis of the Lebanese context to a rich exposé of relevant work by revered Western historians and social scientists. His intent here is to demonstrate two salient features. First, the (non-confessional) circumstances that propelled groups to violence were not those which sustained and defined the direction of the conflict. Second, geopolitical forces and regional and global rivalries consistently amplified communal fissures.

The calm of feudal Mount Lebanon—which had historically exhibited harmonious Maronite-Druze coexistence—was disrupted in the early 1800s by peasant protest over increased taxation and conscription by Ottoman and Egyptian rulers. These uprisings rarely remained in their pure socioeconomic and political forms, and were quickly deflected into confessional hostilities, often times by international spoilers—France, England, and the Ottomans—who pitted one confession against the other. The Maronite-Druze relations were irreparably damaged when Ottoman Ibrahim Pasha conscribed Maronites to help quell Druze rebellion. Ensuing massacres—socioeconomic grievances turned into sectarian conflicts—ended with foreign imposition of the Règlement Organique of 1861 that, for the first time, institutionalized confessionalism in Lebanon’s political system. In Khalaf’s words:

“[These events] initiated the transition from the traditional ties of kinship, status, and personal allegiance to a more communal form of social cohesion where sources of political legitimacy were defined in terms of ethnicity and confessional allegiance. In short, [they] substituted one form of primordial loyalty for another.”

A century later in 1958, significant regional developments and Palestinian belligerence in Lebanese territory transformed socioeconomic grievances and feelings of political underrepresentation, primarily by Muslims, into a confessional battle. Pan-Arab nationalism attracted the disenfranchised and those opposed to the government’s staunch pro-Western foreign policy. Early stages of protest reflected no intentions of violence, but Syrian and Egyptian efforts in propping up the opposition against the Chamoun government, along with the creation of the United Arab Republic in 1958 and the Maronites’ perennial fears of being engulfed by Arab nationalism and Palestinian presence, quickly transformed the situation into a vengeful conflict defined along confessional lines. Once again, fear of loss of identity and heritage, one’s very existence, motivated “out-of-control” violence—including banditry, kidnappings, and torture. And again, the violence subsided, much as it had started, with foreign intervention—in this case through The Cairo Accord.

By the early 1970s, however, regional ideologies—Baathist, Socialist, Arabist, and Islamist—had fundamentally changed the nature of the discourse in Lebanon. By then, Maronites felt dangerously threatened by Palestinian militancy. Internal tensions coupled with outside pressures—the Arab nakba in 1967 and intensified Israeli reprisals in the South—led to severe fissures in the government of President Franjieh. Khalaf reflects:

“Increasingly, Lebanon found itself caught between two treacherous operations: Destroy the armed presence of PLO and risk the grim prospects of Christian-Muslim confrontations. Entrust the army with the task of defending the South and suffer the inevitable humiliations of a military showdown with Israel. Typically, Lebanon opted for inaction and played for time.”

Time, however, was not on Lebanon’s side and events deteriorated into the familiar spiral of violence, this time to last 15 years. This conflict saw the most bizarre permutations of intra- and inter-communal alliances and violence. “The bewildering plurality of adversaries and shifting targets of hostility has rendered the Lebanese experience all the more gripping and pathological.” As with previous conflicts, hostilities ended when foreign interests necessitated a quiet Lebanon. This came in the form of the Taif Accord, which hypocritically clinched to the consociative nature of Lebanese society and “the [déjà vu] ethos of no victor and no vanquished.”

An Ominous future?

Khalaf delivers a somber message: Lebanon’s major episodes of violence have been uncivil. As long as conflicts revolved around socioeconomic and political disparities, they remained fairly civil. When they were given a confessional nature, and they almost always were, Lebanon turned into a bloody circus.

To great effectiveness, in analyzing the latest civil war, Khalaf goes beyond depicting the chronology of events to providing a rich glimpse of the country’s social psyche that sustained violence and the resulting psychological scars. He explains how ordinary citizens get entrapped in aggression and how traumatized groups come to cope with chronic fear and hostility. He addresses the impact of war on collective memory, group loyalties, and attitudes towards the “other.” His exposé explains how violence continued for 15 years: “the ecology of violence, reinforced by the demonization of the ‘other,’ provided the sources for heightened vengeance and entrapment into relentless cycles of retributive in-fighting.” Religion and the vilification of the “other” sanctified violence to the extent that “fighters involved in …purifying bloodbaths [were] not only purged of their guilt,” but were “also glorified into patriots and national heroes.” It simply became routine: groups engaged in such cruelties believed they were morally justified, and observers morally distanced themselves to the extent of desensitization. In essence, citizens became frenzied spectators morbidly fascinated by a Spanish bullfight (Marvin 1986: 133-34).

Perhaps most ominously, Khalaf paints a bleak picture for post-war Lebanon. Perhaps the most important impact of the war is what he calls the “retribalization” and “reteritorialization of identities.”  The war has reinforced kinship and confessional loyalties. It has destroyed public spaces that provided venues for intercommunity interaction and has caused people to retreat to homogenous spaces. The density of social interaction and intensified intracommunal loyalties are foreboding for the nation. Boundaries between communities, once physical, have become psychological, cultural, and ideological barriers. In contrast to theories of Modernization and Marxism, which predict the demise of religious and community fealty, such primordial ties have strengthened in Lebanon.

Khalaf raises another disheartening, less salient and empirically counterintuitive consequence of the war, which he labels “postwar barbarism.” He persuasively elaborates how in contrast to the constraint that people generally exhibit in postwar situations, the Lebanese show “no self-control in directing their future options.” Instead they reveal “insatiable desires for acquisitiveness, lawlessness, and unearned privileges,” ranging from the negligence of laws to the destruction of the environment to increased wickedness to the obsession with kitsch and vulgar trends. Khalaf laments the proliferation of kitsch—propagated by the desire to escape the memories of the past—that have vulgarized folk art and architecture in the process of providing cheap distractions to the wounded Lebanese souls.

The reader may take solace in Khalaf’s moderate voice throughout this work. While providing a sobering account of a violent nation, Khalaf reminds us that Lebanon knew periods of calm that rendered the country an avant-garde paradise in the region. On several occasions, however, Khalaf is quick to refute Lebanon’s detractors who say that the state is an artificial creation without offering much evidence to the contrary. This is an important argument for him to make, especially as he seems to be implying just the opposite when he describes the recommendation of the King Crane Commission to create an autonomous Lebanon within a larger Syrian entity based on a plebiscite conducted in 1919.

Most significantly, the reader would have benefited from further exploration of the two periods of relative calm—1860-1958 and 1959-1975. To better understand the factors that propagated violence in Lebanon, it is instrumental to also explore the main factors behind periods of sustained calm.  Perhaps Khalaf presumes it to be obvious that regional and international conditions provide the best explanation, but in assessing whether Lebanon could ever again experience such prosperity, a retrospective analysis is essential.

On this basis, the chapter on Lebanon’s “golden/gilded age” (1959-1975) is at once Khalaf’s strongest and weakest. Strongest because Khalaf, a sociologist, is at his best. He explores in exquisite detail the social and cultural forces that made Lebanon a cultural paradise. Few have provided such a comprehensive exposé of Lebanese society during that time. Weakest because the work does not explain the variables behind the lack of violence during that epoch. He briefly mentions that economic prosperity was not equally distributed and that disparities widened. It may again be too obvious for him that international interests were aligned with stability in Lebanon. But with a civil war was on the horizon, the reader would benefit from a deeper analysis of the economic and political grievances stirring beneath the surface and how society managed to keep them at bay.

Structurally, the first three chapters, which set up an ingenious framework with which to analyze Lebanon’s violent history, get seemingly repetitive and could use some more structure. On some occasions, the obvious is stated, which is out of character for a work so strong. The tone is academic, and Khalaf investigates conceptual principles set by Western intellectuals only to end up with rather obvious conclusion. For the practical user, a more succinct version of the first three chapters would be helpful.

Breathe fresh air, pick fresh roses

Perhaps most interesting in this work is the absence of policy recommendations related to political reform. Khalaf must have given up on the role of politicians in bridging the gap between communities. Perhaps the author knows too well that such alternatives have been proven naïve, imaginary solutions. In fact, inspired by Herbert Spencer’s analogy of the bent iron plate—one should hammer around, and not directly on, the buckled area—Khalaf explicitly encourages focusing on strategies that transcend conflict resolution and political reforms.

Khalaf emphasizes the role of restoring social spaces in reconnecting “denationalized” Lebanese with each other and with their country, in the hopes of forming a collective memory. He focuses on the importance of what Paul Rabinow refers to as the “social technologies of pacification” in bringing back meaningful life to society. He calls on urban designers, architects, and intellectuals to play a much needed role in Lebanon—connecting the citizenry through public space. “By mobilizing aesthetic sensibilities… and cultural expressions…, they can prod the Lebanese to…transcend the parochial identities to connect with others.” Khalaf also calls for increased opportunities for intercommunal socialization through productive social networks, such as environmental campaigns, pro-local agriculture produce campaigns, and activities promoting women rights. The alternative he points out is bleak:

“Consider what happens when a country’s most precious heritage either is maligned or becomes beyond the reach of its citizens…their country’s scenic geography, is pluralistic and open institutions, which were once sources of national pride…have either become inaccessible to them, or worse, are being redefined as worthless.”

Ultimately, Khalaf believes that group loyalties can be resocialized, but it is a very long process.


SUBMITTED REVIEW: from Maurice Obeid

Harvard Business School, M.B.A.
Harvard Kennedy School, M.P.P.

Maurice Obeid is a graduate student at the John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University) and the Harvard Business School. At Harvard, Maurice sits on the Student Advisory Board of the Center Public Leadership and works with the Middle East Initiative at the Kennedy School of Government. He previously worked with Lebanon’s Ambassador at the Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations in New York, and as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in New York and Dubai. Originally from Lebanon, Maurice received his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he studied Chemical-Biological Engineering and Economics.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Arab American National Museum announces 2010 Book Awards

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Kim Silarski

Kristin Lalonde





Gala award ceremony to be held in Washington, D.C.

Dearborn, MI (June 1, 2010) – Established American literary luminaries and compelling new voices inspired by global events are represented among the winners of the 2010 Arab American Book Award presented by the Arab American National Museum.

This national literary competition, the only one of its kind in the U.S., is designed to draw attention to books and authors dealing with the Arab American experience. The program has attracted increasing numbers of submissions in its four-year history.

This year, the Arab American Book Award ceremony will be held on Monday, October 4 at the Carnegie Institution, 1530 P Street NW in Washington, D.C. Further details on the invitation-only event will be released this summer.

Three winners emerged from the 30 books published during 2009 that were submitted for consideration; two honorable mentions were also selected, all by genre-specific review committees:

Winner - Fiction
Master of the Eclipse by Etel Adnan

Winner - Non-Fiction
Angeleno Days: An Arab American Writer on Family, Place, and Politics by Gregory Orfalea

Winner - Poetry
Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea: Poetry and Stories from Iraq by Dunya Mikhail

Honorable Mentions (Non-Fiction)
Amreeka: Arab Voices, American Stories by Alia Malek
Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience After 9/11 by Louise A. Cainkar

Submissions are currently being accepted for the 2011 Arab American Book Award. Authors and publishers may call 313.624.0223 or email klalonde@accesscommunity.org for nomination forms and criteria. Submission deadline is February 1, 2011.

The Arab American Book Award program encourages the publication and excellence of books that preserve and advance the understanding, knowledge and resources of the Arab American community by celebrating the thoughts and lives of Arab Americans. The purpose of the Award is to inspire authors, educate readers and foster a respect and understanding of the Arab American culture.

The winning titles are chosen by groups of selected readers including respected authors, university professors, artists and AANM staff. The AANM first gave these awards in 2007 for books published in 2006.


2010 Arab American Book Award Winners
(for books published in 2009)


Master of the Eclipse
By Etel Adnan
Interlink Publishing Group
From its title story, a meditation on history and war, power and poetry, to its concluding tale, a strangely human vision of a tree floating in a Damascus stream, Adnan’s painterly vision, poetic phrasing, cosmopolitan flexibility and philosophical approach are on full display. Most of the stories in Part One deal with the lives of exiles taking place in the great urban centers of the world, where crowding and loneliness shove up against one another. Part Two centers on homeland – its meaning, memories and realities. Inhabited by lovers, artists, filmmakers, poets, professors, madmen, prostitutes, murderers, recovering addicts, the young and the old, the stories in Master of the Eclipse are universal and intimate, as current as they are poetic.

Etel Adnan, the Lebanese American poet, artist, feminist and public intellectual, is the author of more than one dozen books. She was born in Lebanon to a Christian Greek mother and Muslim Syrian father, brought up speaking Greek and Turkish and French in an Arabic-speaking society, educated in a French convent school, and, as a student and an adult lived all over the world, including Paris and the East and West coasts of the U.S. Trained in philosophy at the Sorbonne, Harvard, and the University of California at Berkeley, Adnan was first a painter, then a poet. Her flexibility with language and style has allowed her to write poetry, plays, novels, short stories, essays and non-fiction. Her groundbreaking novel Sitt Marie Rose is one of the defining narratives of the Lebanese civil war. She lives in the Bay Area of California.


Angeleno Days: An Arab American Writer on Family, Place, and Politics
By Gregory Orfalea
University of Arizona Press

Populated with fascinating characters, these essays tell the story of the author’s trials. He returns to Los Angeles to teach, trying to reconcile the L.A. of his childhood with the city he now faces. He takes on progressively more difficult and painful subjects, finally confronting the memories of the shocking tragedy that took the lives of his father and sister. With more than 400,000 Arab Americans in Los Angeles, Orfalea also explores his own community and its political and social concerns.

Gregory Orfalea is the author of Arab Americans: A History as well as Messengers of the Lost Battalion, two books of poetry, and memoir pieces for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, many of which appear here for the first time in book form. He divides his time between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.


Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea: Poetry and Stories from Iraq
By Dunya Mikhail
New Directions

Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea transcends genres and crosses borders to present a deeply moving narrative of life in, and exile from, Baghdad. Through acute and vivid recollection of her 30 years in Iraq, Dunya Mikhail delivers her readers to a world much imagined yet rarely so intimately seen by Western eyes. Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea captivates not merely as it speaks to its present political moment, but as it tells a larger tale of cross-cultural struggle and individual perseverance.

Dunya Mikhail was born in Baghdad in 1965. She served as the literary editor of the Baghdad Observer throughout the 1990s, until harassment from Iraqi authorities forced her to flee the country. In 2001, she was awarded the United Nations Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing. She currently lives in Michigan and works as an Arabic resource coordinator for a public school system. Her first collection of poetry in English, The War Works Hard, was a finalist for the 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize and was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of 25 Books to Remember from 2005.

2009 Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mention: Non-Fiction

Amreeka: Arab Voices, American Stories
By Alia Malek
Free Press

What does American history look and feel like in the experiences of Arab Americans? In A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories, Syrian American civil rights lawyer Alia Malek weaves the stories of the Arab American community into the story of America, using lively and moving narratives of real people  who have lived history all around the country. Each chapter of the book corresponds to one historical event as it occurred in the life of one Arab American, allowing readers to live that moment in history in the skin of an individual Arab American.

Alia Malek
 is an author and civil rights lawyer. Born in Baltimore to Syrian immigrant parents, she began her legal career as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. After working in the legal field in the U.S., Lebanon and the West Bank, Malek, who has degrees from Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities, earned her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. Her reportage has appeared in SalonThe Columbia Journalism Review, and The New York TimesA Country Called Amreeka is her first book.

Honorable Mention: Non-Fiction

Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience After 9/11
By Louise A. Cainkar
Russell Sage Foundation

In the aftermath of 9/11, many Arab and Muslim Americans came under intense scrutiny by federal and local authorities, as well as their own neighbors, on the chance that they might know, support, or actually be terrorists. As Louise Cainkar observes, even U.S.-born Arabs and Muslims were portrayed as outsiders, an image that was amplified in the months after the attacks. She argues that 9/11 did not create anti-Arab and anti-Muslim suspicion; rather, their socially constructed images and social and political exclusion long before these attacks created an environment in which misunderstanding and hostility could thrive and the government could defend its use of profiling. Combining analysis and ethnography, Homeland Insecurity provides an intimate view of what it means to be an Arab or a Muslim in a country set on edge by the worst terrorist attack in its history.

Louise A. Cainkar is assistant professor of sociology and social justice at Marquette University.


The Arab American National Museum documents, preserves, celebrates, and educates the public on the history, life, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans. It serves as a resource to enhance knowledge and understanding about Arab Americans and their presence in this country. The Arab American National Museum is a project of ACCESS, a Dearborn, Michigan-based nonprofit human services and cultural organization. Learn more at www.arabamericanmuseum.org and www.accesscommunity.org.

The Arab American National Museum is a proud Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Read about the Affiliations program at http://affiliations.si.edu.

The Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI, 48126. Museum hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday; Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission is $6 for adults; $3 for students, seniors and children 6-12; ages 5 and under, free. Call 313.582.2266 for further information.