Tuesday, April 10, 2012

“Cultural Reflections on the So-Called ‘Arab Spring’

“Cultural Reflections on the So-Called ‘Arab Spring’
Extremism or Reform: Illiberal Democracy or Human Rights
A Commentary by Suheil Bushrui
DATE:  Tuesday, April 10, 2012
TIME:  2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
LOCATION:  2113 Chincoteague Hall
HOSTS:   The George and Lisa Zakhem Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace and the Center for International Development and Conflict Management

The best way to understand any culture or nation is through the medium of its literature since it is through language that the memories, ideas, fears, and aspirations are most fully and forcefully conveyed.  The soul and heritage of a people is embodied in its literature.

Regarding the Arab world, poetry has always had an exceptional place in the daily life of its culture.  Perhaps this evolved in the context of the lifestyle of a nomadic people obliged to travel lightly.  The weight of the word and training of memory sufficed for the organization of life, the continuity of tradition, communion with the divine. 

Contemporary Arabs express great pride in the heights of Arab and Islamic civilization, especially during the times of Andalusia - an era when remarkable intellectual and scientific developments as well as breathtaking architectural achievements reinforced a civilization where interfaith fraternity was a model we can learn from today.

This historical memory of Arab civilization that is embodied so graphically in its literature remains the foundation of Arab identity.  And it permits the discerning reader insight into the sacred values and literary touchstones that will surely remain close to the hearts of the Arab people through and beyond the struggles they are facing today.  

In discussing the “Arab Spring” and the recent developments in the Arab world, the presentation addresses the Arab search for a vital balance between structure and flexibility, idealism and practicality, democracy and human rights, religious extremism and moderation. It also attempts to explore the historical roots of recent events taking place in the Arab world, as well as to explain terms such as ‘globalization’ and ‘global market’ during an intensive high-tech, high-speed period of time in which remembering our humanity is more important than ever. 

CONTACT: Andrea Wise, Assistant Director

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