Lebanese American University


Despite volcanic ash, LAU Arab popular culture conference is a success (Update)

Anna Schmidt (1st from right) from the University of Berlin gave a talk on "Palestinian Folklore Groups – Between National Representation and International Acknowledgement," on April 22.

JM Ilias (1st from left) from the India-Arab Cultural Center, New Delhi, India, gives a talk on the relationship between Arabs and Arab culture and Bollywood, entitled "Pushing Boundaries of Imagination: Arabs and the Bombay Cinema," in Irwin Conference Room on April 23, the last day of the conference.

April 28, 2010—

Despite volcanic ash above Europe bringing air travel to Lebanon to a standstill from Europe and the Americas, the “Arab Popular Culture and the Media” conference at LAU attracted over 40 academics, scholars and researchers from around the world from April 21-23 at LAU Beirut.

Organized by The Institute for Media Training and Research and the Department of Communication Arts at LAU, the three-day conference featured a number of panel sessions in which conference delegates presented papers linked to their research areas, inviting discussion among their peers.

“I believe this was the first conference on Arab pop culture done at a university,” says Dr. Ramez Maluf, chair of the Communication Arts Department, TIMTAR director, and conference organizer. “This is a subject that I believe is in great need of being studied because of the transformation in the Arab world and culture. I’m very happy that we were able to do this,” adds Maluf.

The research papers encompassed a broad scope of popular culture and media themes. Noteworthy sessions on the first day included “Popular TV Shows, Nostalgia and Political Correctness” by Abeer Al Najjar from the American University of Sharjah, “Youth-Generated Media, Notes on Arab Cultural Politics” by Joe F. Khalil from the University of Southern Illinois, and “Islam Online Guides Husbands and Wives Towards Marital Bliss Via Popular Culture,” by Mona Abdel Fadil from the University of Oslo.

The second day of the conference featured a cross-section of research topics that proved intriguing for attendees — including students — and invited considerable questions and dialogue in the Q&A sessions that followed.

Some of the noteworthy research papers included: “Popularising Psychoanalysis: Representations of the Therapeutic in Arab Literature” by Julia Borossa from Middlesex University, and “Fragments of Identity: Perceptions and Visual Popular Culture in the Arab Region” by Tina Sleiman from Zayed University, Dubai, as well as “New Information Technology as a Major Aspect of Arab Popular Culture” by Mahboub Hashem from the American University of Sharjah, and “Palestinian Hip Hop: Youth, Identity and Nation” by Sunaina Maira and Magid Shihade, from the University of California-Davis, and Lahore University of Management Sciences. Kay Dickinson from Goldsmiths College, University of London, also shared a fascinating paper on “Fueling the Palestinian Road (Block) Movie: An International Deployment of ‘The Popular.’ “

On the final day of the conference, some fascinating papers included “Arab Popular Culture in University Outside the Arab World: A Canadian Viewpoint,” by Daniela Firanescu from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, “Arabs in the Media in Australia: News Values and Negative Coverage,” by Lauren Rosewarne from the University of Melbourne, and “Pushing Boundaries of Imagination: Arabs and the Bombay Cinema,” by JM Ilias from the India-Arab Cultural Center, New Delhi.

“The conference was very interesting. … Of course the sessions were uneven, some papers were groundbreaking others were not, but all in all the feedback I’m getting from people is great,” says Maluf. He adds, “We are hoping to produce a book on Arab pop culture, a collection of essays. It is in the process of being put together right now.”

Besides the panel sessions, conference delegates took part in some social activities. They wrapped up their first day of the conference by attending a performance of the LAU student theater production Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza, at the Gulbenkian Theatre, before heading to Dbayeh for dinner. On the second evening of the conference, delegates were taken to Byblos for a tour of the city and dinner, and on the last day, they were given a tour of Beirut’s downtown, by Maluf himself.


Posted April 12, 2010—

LAU to host international conference on Arab popular culture

Numerous leading international scholars and academics in the field of Arab media, arts and the humanities will descend upon Beirut to speak at LAU’s first-ever conference on “Arab Popular Culture and the Media” from April 21-23.

Organized by The Institute for Media Training and Research and the Department of Communication Arts, the conference will feature 15 sessions in which over 50 scholars and academics will present papers exploring various topics and themes relating to Arab popular culture in the world, including TV shows and films, music, revered artists, literature, IT and social media, use of language, and socio-cultural trends. Each session will be moderated by an LAU faculty or staff member.

International participants in the conference are representing a huge range of renowned universities from around the world, including: Cambridge University, Goldsmiths College - University of London, London School of Economics and Political Science, The American University in Cairo, The University of Sydney, University of Aleppo, University of Berlin, University of California-Davis, University of Gothenburg, University of Kent, University of Oslo, University of Pennsylvania, University of Rome 3, University of Southern Illinois, and Zayed University in Dubai.

A number of academics and scholars from LAU will give presentations at the conference over three days of sessions.

On April 21, Dr. Ahmad Oueini, associate professor and chair of LAU’s Department of Education, will present a paper on “Sunset Boulevard By Way of Wadi Shahrour: A Psychological Profile of Sabah,” and Zeina Meskaoui, an instructor at the School of Architecture and Design, will give a presentation on “Performing the Body; Haifa Wehbi in the Becoming.”

On April 22, Saba Haider, MarCom associate director, will present a paper on “The Challenges of Palestinian Film Production in the Palestinian New Wave.” On April 23, the final day of the conference, Ayman Itani, an instructor in the Department of Communication Arts, will talk about “The Internet as Popular Culture,” and Dr. Ramez Maluf, chair of LAU’s Department of Communication Arts, TIMTAR director, and organizer of the conference, will present a paper on “Dubbing into Arabic and the Popularization of Hollywood.”

Members of the public are welcome to attend the panel sessions to which entry is free of charge. To find out more, or to register for the entire conference, contact the conference director, Dr. Ramez Maluf, by email at: rzmaluf@lau.edu.lb, or by phone at: 01-786456, extension 1401.

Check out the program of the three-day conference.

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