A national network of resources and information about the Middle East

Tracing Islamicate Culture in America: History, Architecture, and Public Life

This October, the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) and the Middle East Outreach Council (MEOC) held its proceedings in one of the U.S.’s cultural capitals–New Orleans! It gave MEOC leadership the opportunity to think creatively about connections between the Middle East and our local communities and inspired a fascinating teacher workshop hosted with the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University. With New Orleans as our starting place, we explored the diverse Middle Eastern, North African, European, Latin American, and Caribbean origins of cultural traits that permeate everyday life in Louisiana and the southern United States. The articles that follow represent just a few of the issues we discussed–but we hope these glimpses will prove useful in thinking about cultural connections in the classroom.

Download the pdf version of the Fall 2013 issue of Perspectives:

Perspectives Fall 2013

Perspectives-Fall 2013

Categories: Perspectives, Resources

Teaching K-12 Arabic: Success Stories, Communities, Resources

The Arabic language today is native to more than 400 million people, and is an influential scriptural language for the more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide. It is also the fifth most commonly spoken language in the world. These facts alone should underscore the importance of teaching Arabic to our young people. Although a negative event (the 9/11 attacks) has inspired a rapid growth in Arabic language programs across the United States, teachers and students have discovered that learning Arabic introduces rich opportunities that extend well beyond national security interests. Read the rest of this entry »

Media, Culture and Image: New Resources Promote Media Literacy and Challenge Middle East Stereotypes
By Greta Scharnweber, New York University

Jack Shaheen, renowned analyst of images of Arabs and Muslims in Hollywood and other forms of American popular culture and media, was born in the U.S. to Christian Lebanese immigrants and grew up in multi-ethnic, working class Pittsburgh. As if personifying the American dream, Jack was the first Shaheen to go to college, let alone earn a PhD and become a college professor. It was relatively late in his life that he even developed a deliberate sense of his Arab heritage and identity or began to cultivate an interest in the Middle East region:

So here I am with a PhD, I ‘m, let’s see, 1975, 40 years of age…I’m as ignorant, I can say that openly, about what’s going on in that region, as most Americans [are]. I simply didn’t know. And people might say, “well, you should have known” but I didn’t know! Why? Because I was exposed to the images and literature and news that told a completely different story. I was a product of my environment. I didn’t have access to American Arabs who were Muslim. I didn’t know any American Arabs who had lived in the region who could counter all of these images that had taken place. So I was very naive, very very naive.

As a professor of mass communications, an advocate for quality children’s television programming and a father himself, Jack and his wife Bernice watched with concern as their children began to notice “bad Arabs” in cartoons. Read the rest of this entry »

Categories: Perspectives, Resources