An Arabic Lesson

Inspired by leftist-linguaphile’s post

Some revolutionary words:
    •    revolution = ثورة = thawra
    •    liberty = حرية = hurriyya
    •    change = تغير = tagayyur
    •    nation = أمة = umma
    •    action = عمل = ‘amal
    •    resistance = مقاومة = mukawama
    •    resistance/steadfastness = صمود = sumud
    •    solidarity = تضامن = tadamon
    •    hope = أمل = amal
    •    education = ‫تعليم‬ = ta’leem
    •    culture = ثقافة = thakafa
    •    health = صحة = sih-ha
    •    love = حب = hubb
    •    humanity = الإنسانية = al-insaaniyya
    •    the people = الشعب = al-sha’ab

I listen to the ongoing debates in MENA trying to define culture and identity and I smirk. I am reminded of when Ben Bella, upon his release from prison in 1962, declared: “Nous sommes des Arabes, des Arabes, des Arabes!” One of his aides, standing by, said: “ça va finir par être vrai.”
— My professor’s facebook status.

Tamara Abdul Hadi - Tattoos in the Arab World


Iraqi-Canadian photographer Tamara Abdul Hadi (behind the project “Picture an Arab Man”) photographs tattoos around the Arab world.

I couldn’t find any details as to where these where taken, who these men are, or any artist statement. Most of them look like stick-and-pokes, so there’s definitely something interesting going on here. Because we think of the Arab world as predominantly Muslim, and tattoos are believed to be forbidden by most practices of Islam, they are still quite taboo — though this is changing, and in places like Beirut you’ll see a lot of the typical tattoos you may see elsewhere in the world — tribal patterns, flowers, butterflies etc. However,  the fact that most of the tattoos pictured above are hardly mainstream images, appear DIY-style, in crudely styled Arabic, tells a different story of a mainstreaming trend. Abdul Hadi clearly targeted a certain sector of people and style of tattoos, especially considering some of the content. What is the history and culture of mark-making on the body in the Middle East?

Again, I wish she provided more info!

My (poor) translation of the tattoos:

  1. Revolution
  2. [On chest] Ismail — Mustafa
  3. Your esteemed satisfaction, my mother.
  4. .
  5. We are injured.
  6. We are returning [with iconic Palestinian cartoon Handala]
  7. My life is torture
  8. [Couldn’t make out the writing here]

See the rest of the series here

Do not assume that gender politics or feminist concerns come in neat packages easily legible to the trained eye. Instead, allow your research to expand your own view of what a “feminist politics” may be. It could be, for example, that protests against neoliberal market restructuring in Egypt are understood within a broad political framework that includes notions of gender justice. As Saba Mahmood and Lila Abu Lughod have taught us, liberal feminism’s assumptions as to what constitute “feminist politics” or “feminist causes” are at best flawed. At worst they are exercises in epistemological hegemony and the violent remaking of the world according to secular and neoliberal rights frameworks. Furthermore, do not assume that what we call the “feminist canon” is exhaustive or particular to western philosophy in that it is not constituted through a series of exclusions, hierarchies, and imperial histories. After all Simone de Beauvoir, who taught us all that a women is not born but made, also wrote in terms we now recognize as “Islamophobic” about women “under” Islam in Algeria at the time when Algeria was a French settler colony. This does not mean we should dismiss de Beauvoir, just as it would be too easy to condemn Hegel or Marx for their “views” on Africa. Rather, it is crucial to critically inhabit and navigate the reality that the western canon was, and is constituted through producing a series of “selves” and “others.”

How Not to Study Gender in the Middle East (via fattouch)

And if you’re in Toronto, you should attend this

Reblogged from fattouch

Maps circa 1938

1. British and French Mandates in Syria and Iraq.

2. Map of the ‘Eastern Arab World’.

3. Partition of Syria and Iraq as devised by the ‘Sykes-Picot’ Agreement

On the Borders, Marcel Khalife.
From what I can tell, this came with a tape of accompanying music and singing.

On the Borders, Marcel Khalife.

From what I can tell, this came with a tape of accompanying music and singing.

أطفال غسان كنفاني

The Children of Ghassan Kanafani, by Ghassan Kanafani, illustrated by Burhan Karkutly (1978). A collection of short stories.