Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Center for Contemporary Arab Studies | Georgetown University

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) at Georgetown University directs the nation’s only Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) program. Our rigorous Arabic language training and multidisciplinary approach draw on the expertise of an academically diverse faculty. CCAS also hosts a rich calendar of public events, a Title VI-supported outreach program for K-14 educators, and a growing multimedia and publications program.

CCAS News:

Iraq Remembrance Week

Iraq Remembrance Week

On the morning of March 19, 2007, Red Square was covered with chalk tracings of more than fifty human bodies and large block letters spelling out "Iraq Remembrance 2007," while the names of lost Iraqi civilians and US troops were posted on the walls on large red posters. Iraq Remembrance Week had officially started. In October 2006, Marwa Alkhairo, a first year Arab Studies' student, mobilized a group of her classmates to organize an Iraq Remembrance Week in time for the fourth anniversary of the 2003 Iraq War. The main goal of the Iraq Remembrance initiative was to remember the lives of all those who have been killed as a result of the 2003 Iraq War and current occupation--including Iraqi civilians, US troops, and all other victims of US policy in Iraq. The heart of the effort was to bring awareness to the tragedy that has befallen Iraq and to encourage people in the Georgetown University and larger Washington, DC communities to press the American government for real policy changes in Iraq. Accordingly, the Iraq Remembrance Week Committee's motto came to be "Remembrance-Awareness-Action-Change," implying a cause and effect relationship. The objectives of the remembrance were five-fold: 1) to remember the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War and the continuing human tragedy caused by the US war and occupation; 2) to mourn the ...
Arabic Flashcards

Arabic Flashcards

One of my classmates here in Qatar often asks me, “Why do you know such random words?” She can’t understand how I came to know the Arabic word for “rowing.” It’s true, I never thought to ask Professor Baccouche, before I graduated in 2006, what the word for rowing was in Arabic. While sitting around the CCAS lounge with my classmates, playing our favorite game of “Who can find the most random word in Hans Wehr’s Arabic-English Dictionary?,” that one somehow never came up. I didn’t anticipate that I would spend the summer of 2006 teaching Arabic at the brand new Al-WaHa Concordia Language Village, nor did I anticipate spending the following year studying Arabic at Qatar University. Nor did I anticipate learning the word “tajdiif,” as I tried to teach canoeing in Arabic to American students on a lake in northern Minnesota. (Incidentally, I also learned the words for troublemaker and fingernail polish.) Being the first year of the Al-WaHa Concordia Language Village, our mix of native and non-native-speaking staff had to create everything from scratch. The songs we sang, ranging from those of Fayruz and Amr Diab to self-composed fusHa tunes, was quite amusing. We agreed to teach fusHa (Modern Standard Arabic) and to expose the students to the differences between fusHa and ‘aammiyya (colloquial Arabic) through songs, skits, etc. Staff and native ...
Abu-Lughod counters stereotypes of Arab women

Abu-Lughod counters stereotypes of Arab women

With wire-framed glasses atop her nose, a halo of brown curls framing her face, and her right arm in a sling, Columbia Professor Lila Abu-Lughod captivated a crowd of almost 200 who had ventured out into sub-freezing temperatures on February 15th to hear the noted anthropologist discuss the topic of "Do Muslim Women Have Rights?" as this year's speaker at the Kareema Al-Khoury Annual Distinguished Lecture Series in Arab Studies. The annual lecture is given in honor of Kareema Al-Khoury whose family established the event in 1976 to bring eminent scholars of the Arab world to Georgetown for a public lecture. CCAS Assistant Professor Rochelle Davis gave praise to the Al-Khoury family for allowing the Center to bring forward past speakers at the event, including the likes of Edward Said, Albert Hourani, and Janet Abu-Lughod. Lila Abu-Lughod, a noted Columbia University anthropologist best known for her work in gender studies in the Arab world, framed the evening's discussion through an examination of anthropological approaches and the phenomenon of dictating language through other forms of media and scholarship. She expressed particular interest and concern over the ethical and political dilemmas posed by the construction and the international circulation of what she called "discourses on women's rights." In the discourse present in human rights today, she asked, "what assumptions about the role of secularism and Islam lie ...
An American Teacher in Saudi Arabia

An American Teacher in Saudi Arabia

It could easily have been mistaken for a scene from A Thousand and One Arabian Nights: woven carpets spread under the open night sky with a crescent moon setting on the late night horizon of the Red Sea; warm breezes blending sweetly with soft waves on the beach; traditional musicians and dancers in baggy trousers, embroidered doublets, and tasseled turbans—performers still faithful to the culture of their Hejazi forefathers; and servants offering cardamom-infused coffee and moist dates, while the sweet-scented “hubbly-bubbly” made its rounds among the guests reclining on sofas. We, the honored guests, were 25 American social studies teachers and media specialists, selected as members of the Aramco Educators to Saudi Arabia Program by the Institute of International Education to participate in a 10-day study tour in November 2006. Our host was Saudi Aramco, the Kingdom’s largest oil corporation. Our itinerary took us to Dhahran, Jeddah, and the capital of Riyadh; there were extended visits and open exchanges in schools, a women’s business college, private homes, medical centers, cultural and educational organizations, and the Saudi Aramco headquarters in Dhahran. It was a rare opportunity and a most remarkable experience. But that starry night with the Hejazi musicians and dancers at a resort on the sea was not without a counterpoint that most certainly was not from the Arabian Nights. Across from the space reserved ...
Event Celebrating Naguib Mahfouz's Work

Event Celebrating Naguib Mahfouz’s Work

Join the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, in collaboration with the Egyptian Embassy in Washington DC, the American University in Cairo, Georgetown University’s Lannan Literary Programs of the Department of English, Georgetown University’s Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, and the Georgetown University Library to celebrate the life and work of Egyptian author and Nobel Prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz on Wednesday, November 8th, at 7:00 pm in the ICC Auditorium (reception to follow). Roger Allen, Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at the University of Pennsylvania who has written widely on Arabic literature and was a friend of Mahfouz, and Hosam Aboul-Ela, a translator and professor of English literature at the University of Houston, Texas, will both speak about Naguib Mahfouz’s life and works, and their implications for his society and the global community they enchanted. Short readings from Mahfouz’s works in both the original Arabic and the English translation will be performed. Naguib Mahfouz was born in Cairo in 1911 and lived there his entire life, writing about the daily lives, struggles, and dreams of the Egyptian people. He is credited with making the novel a popular form of modern Arab literature – producing more than 30 novels, along with numerous short story collections, essays, and regular newspaper columns. His novels and screenplays have been made into some of the most beloved Egyptian films, and ...