Scholars Lawrence Davidson and Wail S. Hassan will explore overlooked strands of early Arab American life as part of a symposium about Arab American identity hosted by the campus’s Center for Arab American Studies on March 15

March 12, 2010

DEARBORN / March 12, 2010---Scholars Lawrence Davidson and Wail S. Hassan will visit the University of Michigan-Dearborn on March 15 to explore overlooked strands of early Arab American life as part of a symposium about Arab American identity hosted by the campus’s Center for Arab American Studies.

The event, titled “A Discursive Approach to the Formation of Arab American Identity: Literature, Politics and Archival Evidence,” will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in UM-Dearborn’s Alfred Berkowitz Gallery, located on the third floor of the campus’s Mardigian Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Hani Bawardi, assistant professor of history at UM-Dearborn, said he organized this event to “explore the Arab Americans’ past beyond recycled notions of sectarianism and indifference toward homeland politics, and also to showcase untapped resources comprised of manuscripts, books, and magazines.”  Bawardi will join Davidson and Hassan in giving a presentation during the symposium.

Davidson, a professor of Middle East history at West Chester University, will talk about “Efforts to Organize and counter Zionist Lobbying on the Issue of Palestine, 1917-1948.”  He is the author of Foreign Policy, Inc: Privatizing American National Interest, America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood and Islamic Fundamentalism.

Hassan, an associate professor of comparative literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will speak about “Abraham Rihbany’s Orientalist Dialectics.”  He is the author of Tayeb Salih: Ideology and the Craft of Fiction as well as more than 30 articles and reviews on literary and theoretical topics.

Bawardi will bridge Davidson’s and Hassan’s discussions by chronicling representations of nationalism in the literature from the same period with his talk, “The Evidentiary Power of Manuscripts: The Papers of Ameen Farah.”  He’ll connect several Arab American writers to political activism on behalf of the Arab Syrian cause with examples gleaned from a survey of the Arabic-language press, literary works and archival evidence.

A reception will follow the talks at 6 p.m., where symposium participants will be able to view the papers of Ameen Farah, a Syrian-nationalist Arab American from Nazareth, Palestine.  The papers document a direct connection between the rise of the influential literary magazine Al Funun and the nationalist Free Syria Society in Flint, Mich. (1915).  Also on display will be the working papers of four major political organizations: Free Syria Society, New Syria Party, Arab National League and the Institute of Arab American Affairs.

For more information about the event, contact Bawardi at 313-583-6520 or


The University of Michigan-Dearborn does not necessarily endorse speakers’ views.

About University of Michigan-Dearborn
The University of Michigan-Dearborn is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout the 2009/2010 academic year. Founded in 1959 with a gift of just over 200 acres of land and $6.5 million from the Ford Motor Company, UM-Dearborn has been distinguished by its commitment to providing excellent educational opportunities responsive to the needs of southeastern Michigan. The university has 8,700 students pursuing undergraduate, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, business, education, and public administration. With a faculty devoted to teaching, and students committed to achievement, UM-Dearborn has been shaped by its history of interaction with business, government and industry in southeastern Michigan, and is committed to responding to the needs of the region in the future. 



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