Cultural Reflections on the So-called "Arab Spring"
Event Date and Time:
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - 2:30pm to 4:30pm
2113 Chincoteague Hall
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.
Professor Suheil Badi Bushrui (B.A., Ph.D., Hon L.H.D) is Research Professor Emeritus at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management and the Department of Anthropology. He is the first incumbent of The George and Lisa Zakhem Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace at the University of Maryland. He is a distinguished author, poet, critic, translator and media personality, well known in the United States, Europe, and the Arab world, and the recipient of several literary and interfaith awards. Professor Bushrui is the foremost authority on the works of Kahlil Gibran and Chairman of the International Association for the Study of the Life and Works of Kahlil Gibran. Professor Bushrui has taught at several universities in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and North America. Between the years of 1982-1988 he served as Senior Cultural Advisor to the President of Lebanon. His publications are extensive in both English and Arabic; among his recent publications are the following: Selected Speeches of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales (co-editor David Cadman), translated into Arabic by Suheil Bushrui as Al Amir Charles Yattahadath; The Spiritual Heritage of the Human Race (co-author M. Massoudi), and its translation into Arabic by Mohamed Ghuneim, under the title Tourath-unah al-Ruhi; and more recently his forthcoming two-volume edition entitled The Literary Heritage of the Arabs (co-editor James Malarkey), and the Annotated Edition of 'The Prophet' by Kahlil Gibran.