Our program participants consist of speakers, performers, playwrights, composers and authors.
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Singer, actor, and voice-over artist
Performing in Songs of the Fertile Crescent at the Institute for Advanced Study
Haleh Abghari is a native of Iran and makes her home in New York City. She has performed as a singer, actor, and voice-over artist in the U.S., Canada and Europe to critical acclaim. The New York Times hailed her work in Georges Aperghis' Recitations for Solo Voice as "a virtuoso and winning performance" and the Washington Post described her voice as ". . . [a] high, dry, sweet and piercingly pure soprano." She was featured on Ear to Ear on WNYC (New York’s Public Radio station) on an entire program dedicated to her work (http://www.wnyc.org/music/eartoear.html). Abghari is the only woman to have portrayed the title role of Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King. In addition to working with numerous living composers, Abghari has collaborated on a number of projects and site-specific installation-performances with visual and performance artists. With the Peabody Opera Theatre, she appeared in the title role of L’Enfant et les sortilèges, and as the Old Lady in Candide. Additionally, she served as stage director for a full production of The Telephone with The Peabody Opera Theatre. Abghari pursued her studies in music at The University of California at Davis, Peabody Conservatory, The Mannes College of Music, and the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada. Her awards include a Fulbright Scholar Grant to work on the vocal music of György Kurtág in Budapest, two Career Development Grants from the Peabody Conservatory, and The Presidential Undergraduate Fellowship from The University of California at Davis.
Professor of English and Director of Women and Gender Studies, Montclair State University
Performing in Scheharezade Goes West and Speaking at Fashing the Cultural Impact of Islamic DiasporaPanel
Fawzia Afzal-Khan has a BA in English, French and Music from Kinnaird College date, a Diplome Superieure in French from the Alliance Française, an MA in English from Government College, all three in Lahore; and a PhD in English Literature from Tufts University. She is University Distinguished Scholar, Professor of English and Director of Women and Gender Studies, Montclair State University, New Jersey. She has authored A Critical Stage: The Role of Secular Alternative Theatre in Pakistan, 2005, Seagull Press, India; and Lahore with Love: Growing Up With Girlfriends, Pakistani-Style. A Memoir. Syracuse University Press, 2010. Reprinted by the author, 2011, insanity ink publications. She edited The Pre-Occupation of Postcolonial Studies, co-editor (with Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks), 2000, Duke University Press and Shattering the Stereotypes: Muslim Women Speak Out. ed.2005, Interlink BOOKS. In addition, Afzal-Khan has published over 30 essays and articles since 2001 in journals in the United States and Pakistan. Fourteen of her poems have appeared over the last decade including publication of Amazing Grace in The Norton Anthology: Language for a New Century, eds: Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal and Ravi Shankar, W.W. Norton, 2008. Her performance, Scheherazade Goes West will be performed at The Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University, during Fertile Crescent. In 2011, she received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to make a trailer for Bridging Cultures Through Film, a documentary film on Pakistani Women Singers.
Associate Professor, Department of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures, and Director of the Center for African Studies at Rutgers University
Moderator at "Fashioning The Cultural Impact of Islamic Diaspora" Panel
Ousseina Alidou is associate professor, Department of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures, and director of the Center for African Studies at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on the study of women’s discourses and literacy practices in Afro-Islamic societies; African women’s agency; African women’s literatures; and the politics of cultural production in Francophone Muslim African countries. Her book, Engaging Modernity: Muslim Women and the Politics of Agency in Postcolonial Niger (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005),a runner-up for The ASA 2007 Women's Caucus Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize explores women’s agency through the contributions of women to religious and secular education, public politics and the performing arts. Other publications include Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Africa, Co-edited with Ahmed Sikainga (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2006); A Thousand Flowers: Social Struggles Against Structural Adjustment in African Universities, Co-edited with Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2000). In 2006 Professor Alidou was awarded the Rutgers University Board of Trustees Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence "in recognition of her significant contributions in the areas of linguistics, literature and culture and gender studies, particularly her highly innovative interpretations of Islam relating to women and of new individual and collective social practices in Africa."
Historian; Specialist in Women's Studies; Senior Scholar, Middle East Studies Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C.
Fertile Crescent Catalog Essayist
Speaking at the Symposium: The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art and Society in the Middle East Diasporaand A Conversation on Women and Revolution in Egypt
Margot Badran is a historian and a specialist in women’s studies who focuses on the Middle East and Islamic world from the late 19th century to the 21st century. She is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. She has held the Reza and Georgianna Khatib Visiting Chair in Comparative Religion at St. Joseph’s College, Brooklyn and was the Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Religion Department at Northwestern University. Her concerns include feminism, gender, modernity, Islam, trans/nationalism, women’s networks, and constructions of the secular and the religious. She has taught and lectured before academic and public audiences in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Badran has received numerous awards including a fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2010-2012), a grant from the United States Institute of Peace, several Fulbright fellowships including the Fulbright New Century Scholars award, and fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Social Science Research Council of New York, the American Research Center in Egypt, the American Research Institute in Turkey, and the American Institute for Yemeni Studies. She is on the gender team of the Contending Modernities project at the Kroc Institute at Notre Dame University, on the team of the Alliance of Civilizations: Historical Approaches to a Gender Perspective at the University of Barcelona, and on the Advisory Board of the digital archive project, Women and Social Movements International, 1840-Present, at SUNY Binghamton. She is editor of the Brill series on Women and Gender in the Middle East and Islamic World. She has served, and continues to serve, on numerous editorial and advisory boards of publications, including more recently the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, Hawwa, and Jura Gentium (University of Florence). Her most recent book is Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergence (Oneworld 2009). She is editor of Gender and Islam in Africa: Rights, Sexuality, and Law (The Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford University Press, forthcoming 2011). Other books include Feminism beyond East and West: New Gender Talk and Practice in Global Islam (Global Media Publications, New Delhi, 2007); Opening the Gates: An Anthology of Arab Feminist Writing (Indiana University Press, 2004) co-edited with miriam cooke; Feminists, Islam, and Nation: Gender and the Making of Modern Egypt (Princeton University Press, 1995); and trans. edit, and introducer, Harem Years: the Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist (Feminist Press, New York, 1987).
Tabla Player and founded the touring ensemble TARANG
Performing at The College of New Jersey
Abhijit Banerjee is considered one of the foremost tabla players in the world and is one of the most sought after creative artists in the realm of Indian classical music. He has also left his mark in a diverse field of crossover music both as a performer and composer. Abhijit has accompanied nearly all the top ranking luminaries of Indian classical music. As a tabla soloist he has also made his mark in numerous performances and recordings in India & abroad. His International performances of note include Lincoln Center , Carnegie Hall, Gevant Haus in Germany , Paleis in Brussels , Theatre de la Ville & Radio France in Paris , South Bank, U.K. Abhijit represented India in the Granada Festival of Music in Spain .In addition to a highly successful career in Indian Classical music his crossover work includes collaborations with musicians such as Ry Cooder, Larry Corryell and Trilok Gurtu. Abhijit founded his own touring ensemble TARANG performing his original compositions, and released CDs of the same title. He is also member of the Raga Jazz group, Arohi Ensemble. Abhijit has scored music for Indian television and won the National Award for Documentary Music for the film about Calcutta called The Trail, which was screened in the Munich and Amsterdam film festivals.Abhijit founded and established the Dhwani Academy of Percussion in Los Angeles , New York , Singapore and Calcutta attracting talented students from around the world. The Academy also works towards the promotion of Indian music and has initiated needy blind children in the art of music.
Faculty member, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University and Rutgers Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Discussing Women Without Men, Shirin Neshat at film screening
Golbarg Bashi is an Iranian-Swedish feminist scholar. She holds a First Class BA (Honors) in Middle Eastern Studies from Manchester University, a MSc in Women’s Studies from Bristol University, and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies from Columbia University. She is a faculty member in the School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University and at Rutgers Center for Middle Eastern Studies. In the courses that Dr. Bashi offers, she provides a panoramic perspective of medieval and modern Middle Eastern history in the immediate geographical, political, and cultural contexts of the Arab and Muslim world, viewed through postcolonial theory. She also teaches courses on methodologies in Middle Eastern Studies, various aspects of gender in the Muslim world and representations of race, gender and ethnicity in “Western” media and popular culture (including cinema and art). Selected publications include a chapter in The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran's Future (Hashemi and Postel, Eds.) (Melville House, 2011) and Reflections on a Photograph of a Mother and Child. IDÉ: A magazine about ideas (February 7, 2012). Dr. Bashi is also a visual artist and a member of Professional Women Photographers, Inc. Her photographs have been published in the New York Times, Aljazeera English, CNN, BBC News, Amnesty International, Jadaliyya, and Electronic Intifada, among others. Her online portfolio can be accessed at: http://golbargbashi.smugmug.com/. Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/golbargbashi/sets/ Her personal web site: http://www.golbargbashi.com/
Director, Institute for Women’s Leadership, and Professor of History at Rutgers University
Moderator of Symposium: The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art and Society in the Middle East Diaspora
Alison R. Bernstein received her BA from Vassar College date, and received an MA and PhD from Columbia University in 1985. She assumed the position of Director, Institute for Women’s Leadership, and Professor of History at Rutgers University in July 2011. She formerly served as a Vice President for the Ford Foundation’s program on Knowledge, Creativity and Free Expression for fourteen years. Bernstein joined the Foundation in 1982 as a program officer and subsequently served as Director of the Education and Culture Program from 1992-1996. A former Associate Dean of Faculty at Princeton University, Bernstein is the author of three books, American Indians and World War II: Towards a New Era in Indian Affairs (University of Oklahoma Press, 1991; paperback, 1999); with Virginia B. Smith, The Impersonal Campus (Jossey-Bass, 1979) and, with Jacklyn Cock, Melting Pots and Rainbow Nations: Conversations about Difference in the United States and South Africa (University of Illinois Press, 2002. Bernstein has taught at Princeton University, Teachers’ College/ Columbia University, Sangamon State University (now the University of Illinois, Springfield), and Staten Island Community College, (now the College of Staten Island, City University of New York). Bernstein is currently a Trustee of Bates College and serves on the Board of the Samuel Rubin Foundation and the News Literacy Project.
Haskell Curator of Modern
and Contemporary Art
Fertile Crescent Catalog Essayist and Curator
Speaking at the Symposium: The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art and Society in the Middle East Diaspora
Kelly Baum received a BA in art history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MA and PhD from the University of Delaware in 2005. She is the Haskell Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Princeton University Art Museum. From 2002 - 2007, she was assistant curator of contemporary art at the Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin; from 2008 - 2010, she was the Locks Curatorial Fellow for Contemporary Art at the Princeton University Art Museum. Her exhibitions include Carol Bove, 2006; Jedediah Caesar, 2007; The Sirens’ Song, 2007; Transactions, 2007, all at the Blanton Museum; Nobody's Property: Art, Land, Space, 2000-2010, Princeton University Arts Museum, 2010 and Doug Aitken: migration (empire), 2010., both at Princeton University Art Museum. In addition to the essay in this volume, she has also published essays in October, Art Journal, The Drama Review, and PUAM's Record. She manages the Sarah Lee Elson, Class of 1984, International Artist in Residence Program and serves as curatorial advisor to the University’s campus art committee. Kelly recently received a Curatorial Research Fellowship from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in support of her 2013 exhibition New Jersey as Nonsite.
Author and Professor Emeritus in Political Science at Rutgers University
Should Israel Exist? Public Lecture
Michael Curtis (born 1923, London) received a First Class degree at the London School of Economics, 1951, and his PhD from Cornell in 1956. Distinguished Professor Emeritus in political science at Rutgers University, Curtis is an authority on politics in the Middle East. His book, Should Israel Exist? A Sovereign Nation under Attack by the International Community, was published in 2012. Other books on the Middle East include Israel: Social Structure and Change 1973, Israel in the Third World1976, and Religion and Politics in the Middle East 1981. His scholarship extends to the fields of political theory, comparative government, and European politics. His analysis of the rise of anti-democratic and antisemitic ideology in France after the Dreyfus affair in a book called Three Against the Third Republic, 1959 and 2011 is considered the definitive study of early 20th century French politics. Totalitarianism 1979 is a study of 20th century European totalitarian regimes. Antisemitism in the Contemporary World is a collection based on the papers delivered at a conference that Professor Curtis organized in 1986. From 1970 - 1978, he was the president of American Professors for Peace in the Middle East and editor of the Middle East Review. In addition to Rutgers, he has taught at Yale University, Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, and the University of Bologna.
Palestinian American director, producer and screenwriter
Her film Amreeka will be shown at Voorhees Hall, Rutgers University
Cherien Dabis (born 1976) is a Palestinian American director, producer, and screenwriter. She was named one of Variety magazine's 10 Directors to Watch in 2009. Dabis was born in Omaha, Nebraska  to a Palestinian father and a mother from a Jordanian family from Salt, Jordan. She grew up in Ohio and Jordan. Dabis received her BA with honors in creative writing and communications from the University of Cincinnati and her MFA in film from Columbia University School of the Arts in 2004. Her first short film, Make a Wish, premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and received awards at other festivals. She was a writer with the television series, The L Word from 2006 to 2008. Dabis made her feature film debut with Amreeka which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Amreeka has received many awards, among them Best Arabic Film and best Arabic Screen Play, Cairo International Film Festival and the Firpesci Prize, Cannes Film Festival, both 2009. Dabis received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012.
Annan Professor in English. Professor of Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts. Director, Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Speaking with Fawzia Afzal Khan after her performance ofScheherazade Goes West
Jill Dolan received her BA degree, and her PhD in performance studies from New York University, date. She is the Annan Professor in English and Theater at Princeton University, where she also directs the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is the author of many books and essays, among them, The Feminist Spectator as Critic, 1989, reissued in a 2012 anniversary edition with a new introduction; Utopia in Performance, 2005, Theatre & Sexuality, 2010. She is the editor of A Menopausal Gentleman: The Solo Performances of Peggy Shaw (2011). She won the 2011 Outstanding Teacher Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and a lifetime achievement award from the Women and Theatre Program, 2011. Dolan is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre and of the National Theatre Conference in the United States. She writes The Feminist Spectator blog at www.thefeministspectator.com, for which she won the 2010-2011 George Jean Nathan Award for dramatic criticism. Her research addresses feminist, lesbian, and Jewish women’s performance, theatre, and film.
Author and Editor; Hodder Fellow, Lewis Center for the Arts
Speaking in A Conversation on Women and the Revolution in Egypt
Yasmine El Rashidi (born in Cairo) lives in Cairo. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and a contributing editor to the Middle East arts and culture journal Bidoun. Her writing has appeared in publications including The Guardian, London Review of Books, Index on Censorship, Aperture, The Wall Street Journal, and the Arabic literary journal Weghat Nazar. A collection of her writings on the Egyptian revolution, The Battle for Egypt, was published by New York Review of Books/Random House) in 2011. She was named a Mary MacKall Gwinn Hodder Fellows for the 2012-13 academic year at the Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University. During her fellowship, El Rashidi worked on a literary nonfiction book, The Successors, a portrait and memoir of Egypt's youth generation.
Women Without Men will be shown at Voorhees Hall, Rutgers University
Faridoun Farrokh (born in Mashhad) was educated in Iran where he began a teaching career, initially in schools and later at the universities in Shiraz and Mashhad, his hometown, after completing graduate studies in the United States. Currently, he is a professor of English at Texas A&M; International University, where he has taught since 1986. His academic specialty and research interests are eighteenth-century English literature and contemporary Iranian fiction as well as literary translation. He worked with Shirin Neshat on the film, Women Without Men.
Interdisciplinary Scholar; Faculty Member, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Rutgers University
Speaking at Fashioning the Cultural Impact of Islamic Diaspora Panel
Fakhri Haghani holds an advanced degree in Art History from Facolta di Magistero at University of Rome (Sapienza), MA in Women’s Studies and a PhD in History from Georgia State University. Haghani has been a faculty member at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University since 2009. She is an interdisciplinary scholar interested in exploring the intersections of gender and women’s rights movements, political arts, and social and intellectual history in Iran, Egypt, and in regional and global comparative and transnational context. Her field research in Egypt and Iran has been funded by the American Research Center in Egypt and the Council of American Overseas Research Center date. Samples of her most recent publications/community services include “Women, Gender, and Identity Politics in Iran and Afghanistan,” The Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures (EWIC), Volume II, Suad Joseph & Afsaneh Najmabadi (eds.), Brill Publishers, Spring 2005 andShahr Ray (City of Ray) and the Holy Shrine of Shah/Hazrat (King/Holiness) Abdol Azim: History of the Sacred and the Secular in Iran through the Dialectics of Space, Book Chapter, Cities of Pilgrimage, Soheila Shahshahani (ed.), (Berlin: Lit-Verlag Publishers, 2009; The ‘New Woman’ of the Interwar Period: Gender, Identity, and Performance in Egypt and Iran, Al-Raida, The Journal of the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World at the Lebanese American University,(Special Issue on Women in the Performing Arts), Summer/Fall 2008.
Community read discussion of her book Once in a Promised Landwill be held at the Princeton Public Library
Laila Halaby was born in Beirut, Lebanon, to a Jordanian father and an American mother. She speaks four languages, won a Fulbright scholarship to study folklore in Jordan, and holds a master's degree in Arabic literature. Her first novel, West of the Jordan, won the prestigious PEN Beyond Margins Award. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her family.
Leading the Community Read Discussions held at the Princeton Public Library
Sarah Islam is currently a doctoral student in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, where she pursues research in the area of Islamic family law, gender studies, and women's social movements. She completed her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Texas, and her M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton. She is an Arthur Liman Public Service Law Fellow (Yale Law School/Princeton LAPA). She has published on issues related to Islamic law and gender with Brill, Sage, and Oxford University Presses, and has given presentations on similar issues at UN organizational affiliates, the U.S. Depts of Justice and State, and at NGOs in Europe and the United States. She is fluent in Bengali, Arabic, and English, with reading knowledge of French and German.
Director for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University
Fertile Crescent liason with Princeton University and moderator for the panel: The Middle East: Gender and Politics
Stanley Katz (born 1934, Chicago) graduated from Harvard University in 1955, received his PhD from Harvard in 1961 in British and American history, and attended Harvard Law School in 1969-70. He was president of the American Council of Learned Societies from1986 - 1997. Formerly Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor of the History of American Law and Liberty at Princeton University, Katz is a specialist on American legal and constitutional history, and on philanthropy and non-profit institutions. His recent research focuses upon the relationship of civil society and constitutionalism to democracy, and upon the relationship of the United States to the international human rights regime. He is a prolific author and scholar. Among recent major projects, he was the editor in chief of the Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History, 2009; and the editor of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise History of the United States Supreme Court(Cambridge University Press, 2010). He has served as President of the Organization of American Historians and the American Society for Legal History, as Vice President of the Research Division of the American Historical Association, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Newberry Library, and Chair of the American Council of Learned Societies/Social Science Research Council Working Group on Cuba. Katz is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received the annual Fellows Award from Phi Beta Kappa in 2010 and the National Humanities Medal (awarded by Pres. Obama) in 2011. He has honorary degrees from several universities. Katz is the Director for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University.
Associate Professor, Journalism and Media Studies, and Center for Middle East Studies, Rutgers University
Discussing Nadine Ladiki'sCaramel, film screening
Deepa Kumar (born December, 1968, India) BS (St. Joseph's College, 1990, 1991), BS (Bangalore University), MA (Bowling Green State University, 1994) Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh, 2001). Kumar is Associate Professor, Journalism and Media Studies, and Center for Middle East Studies at Rutgers University. Her research concerns are neoliberalism and imperialism. Her first book, Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization and the UPS Strike (University of Illinois, 2007) is about the power of collective struggle in challenging the priorities of neoliberalism. Her second book titled Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire (Haymarket Books, 2012) looks at how the “Muslim enemy” has been historically mobilized to suit the goals of empire. She has written numerous articles in both scholarly journals and alternative media. Recent ones include “Framing Islam: The Resurgence of Orientalism during the Bush II Era, ”in the Journal of Communication Inquiry (2010) and "Terrorizing Muslims: The Bipartisan Logic of Empire" in the Nation (2012). She has been interviewed by numerous media outlets including BBC, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Al Arabiya News, Variety magazine, The Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. radio program Ring of Fire, China Radio International etc. Her honors include Leader in Diversity Award, Rutgers University, 2007; Young Scholar Leader Award (nationwide), National Communication Association, CCS division, 2007; Top Paper Award, Race and Ethnicity Division (international), International Communication Association (ICA), 2008; Research Council Grant, Rutgers University, 2010.
Lebanese Director and Actress
Her film Caramel will be shown at Voorhees Hall, Rutgers University
Her first feature Caramel revolves around the taboo that women face in the Arab world. In her second feature Where Do We Go Now?, she tackles a subject related to the conflicts in the Arab world. She obtained a degree in audiovisual studies at Saint Joseph University in Beirut (IESAV), directing her graduation film. Her features were awarded in many film festivals around the world such as the Cannes Film Festival (France), San Sebastian Film Festival (Spain), Toronto Film Festival (Canada), Cairo Film Festival (Egypt), Abu Dhabi Film Festival (UAE), Doha Tribecca Film Festival (Qatar), and Namur Film Festival for the French movie (Belgium). In 2008 the French Ministry of Culture and Communication gave Nadine Labaki the insignia of Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters.
Author and Senior Special Writer and Investigative Reporter for the Wall Street Journal
Giving a lecture at Princeton Public Library
Lucette Lagnado (born 1956, Cairo) received her BA from Vassar College in 1977. Lagnado resides in New York. She and her family left Egypt as refugees when she was a small child, an experience that helped shape and inform her recent memoirs,The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit(Ecco/HarperCollins, 2007), for which she was awarded the 2008 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, and The Arrogant Years(Ecco/HarperCollins, 2011). She is also the coauthor of Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz, (William Morrow & Company, 1991) which has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. She is a senior special writer and investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal and has received numerous prizes for her work at the WSJ among them the 2003 New York Press Club award in the Feature Category and the Exceptional Merit Media Award for Exceptional Feature Story; the 2001 New York Press Club Heart of New York Award; The Columbia Journalism Review Laurel, 2003; Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism's Mike Berger Award for outstanding reporting on the lives of ordinary citizens, 2002.
[Lucette Lagnado Portrait]
Photo credit: Kathryn Szoka
Community Read Discussion of her book: Women Without Men
Shahrnush Parsipur (born 1946, Tehran) received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tehran in Sociology in 1973. She has written 89 novels, a memoir, hundreds of articles, and has been a radio producer. She started her literary career when she was sixteen. In 1974 she wrote Sag va Zememstaneh Boland The Dog and the Long Winter) translated into Russian. In the same year, while serving as the producer of the <Rural Women, a weekly program for National Iranian TV, she resigned in protest against the meaninglessly cruel torture and execution of two journalist-poet activists by SAVAK. She was imprisoned for a few months. When released, she moved to France to study Chinese Philosophy and Language. There, she wrote her second novel, Majerahayeh Sadeh va Kuchake Ruheh Derakht (Plain and Small Adventures of the Spirit of the Tree) published in 1977. Due to the problems associated with the revolution in Iran in 1979, she had to return to Iran. As a result of a misunderstanding, she ended up in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s political prison, for four years and seven months. As soon as she was released from jail, she published her novel Touba va Maanayeh Shab (Touba and the Meaning, Women without Men, she ended up in jail again on two different occasions.
Performing in Songs of the Fertile Crescentand The Alter-Ego of an Arab-American Assimiliationalist
Andreia Pinto-Correia (born 1971, Lisbon) studied at the Academia de Amadores de Música. She came to the United States to study at the New England Conservatory where she is currently a teaching fellow. Her music includes influences from Iberian folk traditions —particularly Arab-Andalusian poetic forms. Described by The New York Times as an “aural fabric,” her music was profiled in the prestigious literary magazine Jornal de Letras: “the music of Andreia Pinto-Correia has been a major contribution to the dissemination of Portugal’s culture and language, perhaps a contribution larger than could ever be imagined. ” 2010, Manuela Paraíso. Recent performances include the a premiere by the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Osmo Vänskä, 2012, a work commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, 2011, a European premiere with the Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa, 2011, a composer residency with chamber orchestra OrchestrUtópica at Centro Cultural de Belém, 2011, and the premiere of Variações sobre temas populares by the Borromeo String Quartet, 2010. She has received numerous commissions including the European Union Presidency, 2008,Tanglewood Music Center Festival, 2010, and Companhia Ópera do Castelo/ Drumming GP for an Opera with libretto by acclaimed West African writer Ondjaki, 2013, as well as honors and awards—the Toru Takemitsu Award, Japan Society 2008; Tanglewood Music Center Fellowship 2009; Susan and Ford Schumann Center for Composition Studies-Aspen Music Festival Fellowship, 2011, MacDowell Colony Residency, 2011 and several ASCAPLUS and NEC Merit Awards, 2006-2012. She collaborates with her father at theCentro de Tradições Populares Portuguesas, University of Lisbon, on a catalogue of ethnomusicology fieldwork.
[Andreia Pinto-Correia Portrait]
Photo credit: Daniel Blaufuks
Performing Tales of Transformation: Princeton Symphony Orchestra Concert,
Susan Babini, cello
The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) was once known as a community-based small, but respected orchestra. Now, since its founding in 1980, it has become a professional orchestra, receiving awards many years in a row, such as the Citation of Excellence from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Award for Adventurous Programming. The orchestra has also received the designation as Major Arts Institution and through its pops, orchestral, chamber music, events such as lectures, collaborative and children's programming, has become a hub in the Princeton, NJ cultural community for classical music knowledge and a gateway for connecting those with an enthusiasm for music. PSO has worked on several occasions with the Princeton University Art Museum, the Princeton Public Library, the Arts Council of Princeton and the Institute for Advanced Study. The mission of the PSO as also stated on their website: “is to provide extraordinary musical experiences and to do so as an integral part of the greater Princeton community.”
“Scheherazade is Rimsky-Korsakov’s colorful interpretation of the story of a Persian queen who escapes death and endears herself to her husband, the vengeful Sultan, by weaving enchanting tales night after night. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade is presented as part of the Fertile Crescent project, a Central New Jersey showcase of works related to gender issues in the Middle East.” http://princetonsymphony.org/#events/tales-of-transformation/
Lecturer/Assistant Professor, Department of African, Middle-Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures (AMESALL), Rutgers University
Speaking in Fashioning the Cultural Impact of the Islamic DiasporaPanel Center for the Arts
Nida Sajid (born August 29, New Delhi) received a BA in Spanish Language and Literature (2000), an MA/MPhil in Linguistics and English, (2004) at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and her PhD in Comparative Literature from Western University, Canada (2011). She is a Lecturer/Assistant Professor in the Department of African, Middle-Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures (AMESALL) at Rutgers University. She previously taught in the Global Asia Studies program, University of Toronto, Canada. Her areas of research comprise postcolonial theory, gender studies, South Asian history, Hindi and Urdu literatures, and South Asian popular culture including research on minor literary traditions in postcolonial locations to revisionist readings of canonical European texts. She has published in journals like the Feminist Review and The Journal of Hindu Studies. At present, she is editing an anthology on the representations of Zenana fashion in film and literature. This volume traces the historical trajectory of the production, circulation, and consumption of Muslim femininity and fashion from the early-modern period to the era of postnational globalization revealing the heterogeneities of Muslim women’s lives and the hegemonic impulses behind the construction of their identity as “invisible” women in patriarchal societies.
Filmmaker; Founded Ibtisam Films
Two screenings of her film Lady Kul El-Arab will be held at the New Brunswick Public Library and at the Princeton Public Library
Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana (born 1975, Faradis) founded Ibtisam Films, a documentary film factory ten years ago. It produces films which explore the borders and boundaries of Palestinian and Israeli society with a focus on women and minorities, exploring gender, class, racism, collective and individual identity, history, the present, and peoples’s dreams for the future. Ibtisam Films confronts taboos, examines and deconstructs structures of oppression. The film factory is committed to its workers, to their unique voices, to their progress and to an increasingly equal, free and creative society. Ibtisam grew up in Faradis, a Muslim, Arab, working class village in the north of Israel. Without ever having seen a film in a cinema, at the age of 18 Ibtisam was accepted to film school where she began to create films with the themes Ibtisam Films is still exploring today. Her first commercial release, Paradise Lost, is considered to be the first film to be made from the perspective of a Palestinian woman.
Community Read Discussion of her book Beirut Nightmares
Ghada Samman (born 1942, al-Shamiya, Syria) spent her childhood in Syria and then moved to Beirut in 1964 where she studied and graduated from the American University of Beirut. She attended the London University for a while, and received a Doctorate from Cairo University. Her first language was French, followed by Arabic and the learning of the Quran. In 1966 she was sentenced to prison for three months for anti-authoritarian expression, and left Syria without the state’s permission. Among her many writing, beginning in 1962 with her first collection of short stories, are (titles translated from Arabic): Ainak Qadari (Your eyes are my Destiny), No Sea in Beirut, Night of Strangers, The Other Time of Love, and The Sea Prosecutes a Fish. Beirut 75, Beirut Nightmares, The Night of the First form a trilogy based on the experience of the civil war in Lebanon, immigration, nationalism, and exile during the Israeli invasion 1982. Her writing focuses on issues concerning Arab women and Arab nationalism. She founded her own publishing company in order to continue to write her opinions uncensored. In her essay Our Constitution – We the Liberated Women, Samman describes a liberated woman as someone who “believes that she is as human as a man,” and who recognizes that the difference between a man and a woman is “how, not how much.”
Graphic novelist, illustrator, animated filmdirector, and children's book author
Her film Persepolis will be shown at The Arts Council of Princeton
Marjane Satrapi (Persian: مرجان ساتراپی) (born 1969, Rasht) is an Iranian-born French contemporary graphic novelist, illustrator, animated film director, and children's book author. In 1983, at the age of fourteen, Satrapi was sent to Vienna, Austria by her parents to flee the Iranian regime. There she attended the Lycée Français de Vienne. According to her autobiographical graphic novel, Persepolis, she stayed in Vienna through her high school years, staying in friends' homes, but spent two months living on the streets. After an almost deadly bout of pneumonia, she returned to Iran. She studied visual communication, eventually obtaining a master's degree from Islamic Azad University in Tehran. Satrapi became famous worldwide because of her critically acclaimed autobiographical graphic novels, originally published in French in four parts in 2000–2003 and in English translation in two parts in 2003 and 2004, respectively, as Persepolis and Persepolis 2, which describe her childhood in Iran and her adolescence in Europe. Persepolis won the Angoulême Coup de Coeur Award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. Her later publication, Embroideries (Broderies) was also nominated for the Angoulême Album of the Year award in 2003, an award which was won by her most recent novel, Chicken with Plums (Poulet aux prunes). Persepolis was adapted into an animated film of the same name which debuted at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival in May 2007 and shared a Special Jury Prize. Co-written and co-directed by Satrapi and director Vincent Paronnaud, the French-language picture stars the voices of Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, and Simon Abkarian. The English version, starring the voices of Gena Rowlands, Sean Penn, and Iggy Pop, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in January 2008.
Writer; Playwright; Professor at Marymount
Performing in Songs of the Fertile Crescent and The Alter-Ego of an Arab-American Assimiliationalist
Betty Shamieh (born San Francisco) identifies herself as an Arab-American writer. Shamieh received her BA in English Literature from Harvard College date and her MFA in Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama date. She was the first Palestinian-American to have a play premiere off-Broadway with the 2004 premiere of Roar, a drama about a Palestinian family which was selected as a New York Times Critics Pick for four weeks. She has published many works including Chocolate in Heat, 2001; The Black Eyed, 2005; Again and Against which had its world premiere at the Playhouse Theatre of Sweden, 2007; The Machine, directed by Marisa Tomei, 2007; and Territories, 2008, She has received many honors including the Clifton Artist in Residence at Harvard University award, 2004; a Playwriting Fellowship at Harvard/Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies 2005; a NEA playwriting grant and Theatre Communications Group as a playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre, San Francisco, 2008; the New Dramatists Van Lier Fellowship Playwriting Grant, 2010; UNESCO Young Artist for Intercultural Dialogue, 2011; and the United States/Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, award to translate her play, Again and Againts, 2011. Other awards include New York Foundation for the Arts Playwriting Grant date, a playwriting residency at Sundance Institute Theater Lab date; Bellagio Center Residency at the Rockefeller Foundation, date; and a playwriting residency at Yaddo date. Shamieh is a professor at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. She also serves on the Screenwriting/Playwriting Advisory Board for the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Media Librarian, Rutgers University Libraries
Introducing three films at their screenings: Caramel, Women Without Men, and Amreeka
Jane Sloan holds a B.A. from Loyola University 1969, an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin, and, an M.A. in Film Studies, from San Francisco State University 1982. She is the Media Librarian at Rutgers University Libraries. Sloan has published widely in the field of film studies, including the reference works, Robert Bresson: A Guide to References and Resources, G.K. Hall, 1983 and Alfred Hitchcock: a filmography and bibliography, University of California Press, 1995, and is the media editor for The Encyclopedia of Women in Today’s World. Her most recent guide to international films about women,Reel Women, includes sections on the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. She is currently working on a project documenting the life and work of Mai Zetterling, who figured in the development of 1960s iconic imagery depicting the response of women to their UNEQUAL status, and the dynamic relationship of the women’s movement to peace, war, and the environment. She received awards from the New Media Consortium in 2011, and the American Library Association for Achievement in Women's Studies Librarianship in 2008.
Giving an author talk entitled Israel in Fiction
Author Leora Skolkin Smith speaks about Israel in fiction, in a popular program first presented at the Miami International Book Fair. Born in New York and raised in New York and Israel, Skolkin-Smith is the author of three novels, “Edges,” “The Fragile Mistress” and “Hystera.” She is a contributing editor to readysteadybook.com, and her essays have been published in The Washington Post, The National Book Critic’s Circle’s Critical Mass, and other publications. Copies of books will be available for purchase and signing.
Professor, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University
Discussing the film Amreeka
Meredeth Turshen received a BA from Oberlin College, 1959, an MA from New York University, 1961, and a DPhil, University of Sussex, England, 1975. She is a Professor in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. Her research interests include women, armed conflict and international health and she specializes in public health policy. She has written four books and edited six others: since 2000 the following have appeared: African Women's Health, Africa World Press, 2000; Ce que font les femmes en temps de guerre, L'Harmattan, 2001; The Aftermath: Women in Postconflict Transformation, Zed Books, 2002; Women's Health Movements: A Global Force for Change, Palgrave Macmillan 2007; and African Women: A Political Economy, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. She has served as Chair of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars, as Treasurer of the Committee for Health in Southern Africa, as contributing editor of the Review of African Political Economy, and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Public Health Policy. She received the Leadership in Diversity Award from Rutgers in 2007 and a Fulbright Award from the University of Ottawa in 2011. http://policy.rutgers.edu/faculty/turshen.html. Meredeth Turshen is also a painter whose work can be seen at Viridian Gallery in NYC.
Book Arts Symposium
Patricia Sarrafian Ward (born Beirut) moved to the United States at the age of eighteen. Ward holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College date, and an MFA from the University of Michigan date. Her work focuses on the civilian experience of war and issues of identity and belonging. Her novel The Bullet Collection, Graywolf Press, 2003, about two sisters growing up in wartime Beirut, received the Great Lakes College Association (GLCA) New Writers Award, the Anahid Literary Award and the Hala Maksoud Award for Outstanding Emerging Writers. Her short stories, poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, most recently in Banipal, Guernica and The Electronic Intifada. In recent years, Ward has been exploring the field of book arts. She is an artist member of The Center for Book Arts, New York, where her installation Re/Vision was on exhibit January-March 2012. Three of her books were on tour in Correspondence, the 9th International Book Festival based in Lodz, Poland (2012-14). She is also a member of al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, an international collective of artists responding to the 2007 bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad (multiple exhibits).
Executive Director of Women Make Movies
Speaking at the event: Women and Documentary Film: Celebrating the 40th anniversary of Women Make Movies
Debra Zimmerman has been the Executive Director of Women Make Movies, a non-profit NY based film organization which supports women filmmakers, since 1983. During her tenure it has grown into the largest distributor of films by and about women in the world and theinternationally recognized Production Assistance Program has helped hundreds of women get their films made. Films from WMM have won prizes at the last three Sundance Film Festivals including The Oath by Laura Poitras, Rough Aunties, Best Documentary World Cinema and Best Director, Natalia Almada for El General. She has consulted with foundations and non-profit arts organizations, most recently as a member of the Gender Montage Advisory Board project for the Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute. She is also a member of numerous Advisory Boards for media and film organizations, including the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC); the Banff World Television Conference; The Center for Social Media at American University, Cinema Tropical, NY; Cine-Arts Afrika, Kenya, and the Black Lily Film Festival in Philadelphia. She has also been a jury member for many international film festivals, and regularly sits on foundation and government funding panels. Most recently she served on the NJ State Council on the Arts media panel and the Pew Charitable Trust’s prestigious Media Fellowship panel as well as on the jury for the Leipzig Documentary Film Festival and the Cleveland International Film Festival.