2016-2017 Annual Lecture Series

All events are free and open to the public.

How Can a French Novel Speak Arabic? Lebanese Women’s Writing and the Politics of Language

Dr. Michelle Hartman

Thursday, 9 March 2017, 7 PM - 9 PM

SFU Vancouver Campus; Segal Building, Room 1300-1500; 500 Granville St., Vancouver.

Lebanese poet Nadia Tuéni is one of many Lebanese women authors who claimed that her French-language poetry was able to capture the musicality and rhythm of Arabic. One reason for this may be that French-language writing in Lebanon has often marginalized or seen as politically suspect and Francophile because it uses the colonial language of the region. Invoking Arabic is a way to neutralize these critiques and many Lebanese women writers of French engage questions of language thoughtfully in their texts to explore political and poetic possibilities. Using Arabic in French novels may be a promising challenge to colonial languages on the surface, but how can we understand the more specific complexities of the literary and social features of this linguistic play? What techniques do Lebanese women authors use to engage multiple languages in their novels written in French? And what are the politics of these poetic moves? This talk will use an anti-colonial framework and draw upon specific examples of ways in which Lebanese women authors use Arabic in their French-language novels to engage and explore these and larger questions about the politics of language use and literature.

Michelle Hartman is Associate Professor of Arabic Literature at the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University, where she teaches courses on contemporary Arabic literature with a focus on gender and the politics of translating Arabic into English. Dr. Hartman is the author of Native Tongue, Stranger Talk: The Arabic and French Literary Landscapes of Lebanon (Syracuse University Press, 2014) and the translator into English of four Arabic novels.

Good Politics in Translation: Race, Gender and the Ethics of Arabic Literary Translation

A seminar for faculty members, research scholars, and students

Dr. Michelle Hartman

Friday, 10 March 2017, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm AQ 6229

It has become a truism to claim that, as the title of a recent work in the field has it, “translation changes everything.” But while we may readily agree that words, expressions, tone, and humour change and become something new in translation, we less often acknowledge or explore how politics change in translation as well. The highly politicized environments in which Arabic literature is translated and consumed in English translation are often very different from those in which this literature is produced; what constitutes “good politics” in these locations—similarly to what constitutes “good literature”—is often very different. This workshop will use examples from my recent work as a literary translator as well as scholarship in translation studies to explore some of the complexities of theory and practice in translating race and gender between Arabic and English. Some questions explored include: How can we develop an ethics of translation in both theory and practice between these different languages and contexts? In what ways do expressions of race and gender not translate politically? How can we theorize this and what practical solutions can we draw on to work towards solutions to the problems we identify?

Iceland, Egypt, Istanbul, Climate

Dr. Alan Mikhail

Thursday, 3 November 2016, 7 PM - 9 PM

SFU Vancouver Campus; Segal Building, Room 1300-1500; 500 Granville St., Vancouver

In June 1783, the Laki volcanic fissure, one of the largest volcanic discharges in recorded history, began erupting in Iceland. It would continue to do so for the next eight months. This lecture examines the impacts of the explosions on Ottoman Egypt and uses the climate history of Iceland and Egypt to analyze ways of doing global environmental history.

Dr. Alan Mikhail is Professor of History at Yale University. An environmental historian focusing on the history of empires and environments, he is the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Roger Owen Award of the Middle East Studies Association, the Alice Hamilton Prize of the American Society for Environmental History, and the Ömer Lütfi Barkan Prize of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association. He is the author of The Animal in Ottoman Egypt (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt: An Environmental History (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

"Wood and Food: How and Why to Build Ships in Ottoman Suez"

A seminar for faculty members, research scholars, and students

Dr. Alan Mikhail

4 November 2016, 11:30 AM, SFU-Burnaby Campus.

A gateway to the Indian Ocean and Red Sea, the port of Suez was one of the most vital and strategic coastal cities in all the Ottoman Empire. Although Egypt was famously the largest producer of foodstuffs in the empire, it was sorely lacking in forests and hence in useable lumber supplies for shipbuilding and infrastructural projects. Since Egypt’s food usually moved on ships, the empire regularly undertook extremely complex and costly projects of timber harvest and transport to get wood to Egypt to move its food. This presentation will follow the story of one of these projects of timber provisioning to ask questions about the Ottoman economy and early modern governance.

Friday, 4 November 2016, 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Simon Fraser University - Burnaby Campus
Academic Quadrangle 6229
8888 University Drive, Burnaby

Remembering Devotion: Oral History and the Pilgrimage to Mecca from Southeast Asia

Dr. Eric Taglicozzo

Thursday, 22 September 2016, 7 PM - 9 PM

SFU Vancouver Campus; Segal Building, Room 1300-1500; 500 Granville St., Vancouver.

What do pilgrims remember about their Hajj? What aspects of this incredible journey, which used to take months in a passage by sea, but now takes hours in a voyage by air, are worth remembering, and what is forgotten? How do Southeast Asians organize their experiences in their memories, what is sifted as crucial to a Muslim life well-lived, and what is incidental? Are material circumstances remembered as vividly as spiritual obligations, and what do various pilgrims’ memories have in common? Perhaps most importantly, how do Southeast Asian Muslims explain the Hajj to others and to themselves in the act of narrating experience? Is this process different from writing a memoir of the pilgrimage, which many Hajjis indeed have done as an act of devotion? Dr. Tagliacozzo examines these questions first from the standpoint of several decades-old Hajj memories trapped in an archival vault. He then conveys some of the memories of pilgrims as to the physical circumstances of their journeys, spanning travel, health, residence, and living in the Hejaz. A third section of the talk explores the spiritual dimensions of the pilgrimage, as religion itself comes to the fore in the lived experience of devotion. As a conclusion Dr. Tagliacozzo asks how useful Oral History may be in narrating the journey to Mecca, as a source of information but also as a vestige of what is often described as the most charged spiritual moment in any Muslim’s lifetime.

Eric Tagliacozzo is Professor of History at Cornell University, where he teaches Southeast Asian history. He is the director of Cornell's Comparative Muslim Societies Program and the contributing editor of the journal Indonesia. Tagliacozzo received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1999. His latest books include The Hajj: Pilgrimage in Islam (co-editor, Cambridge University Press, 2016) and The Longest Journey: Southeast Asians and the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Oxford University Press, 2013). Dr. Tagliacozzo’s first book Secret Trades, Porous Borders: Smuggling and States along a Southeast Asian Frontier, 1865-1915 (Yale University Press, 2005) won the prestigious Harry J. Benda Prize from the Association of Asian Studies in 2007.

Zamboanga, Mindanao: Islam and Christianity at the End of the World

A seminar for faculty members, research scholars, and students

Dr. Eric Tagliacozzo

Friday, 23 September 2016, 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
SFU Burnaby Campus; Academic Quadrangle 6229; 8888 University Drive, Burnaby

Zamboanga, a port city at the end of Mindanao’s southwestern peninsula, looks and feels like the end of the world. This is the place where the Philippines ends and where the Malay world begins. It is connected to the latter through a history of shared religion (Islam) and shared trade (in ocean products). The Catholicism of that most Christian of places, the Philippine archipelago, is certainly present, but it stands equally alongside this presence of diasporic Islam. Though Zamboanga is the “end of the world” in numerous senses--the end of Philippine Catholicism; the end of the “abode of Islam” (dar al-Islam); the end of several nation-states--it is also its own place. In terms of maritime connectivity and the role of religion in the binding of far-flung locales, it is difficult to imagine a more central place. This seminar looks at Zamboanga as such an ending-locale, one with multiple and sometimes contravening meanings.