MENA Hosts Workshop on Arab-Russian Cultural Ties


Nabil Matar, Suha Kudsieh, Eileen Kane, Roy Bar Sadeh and Simon Rabinovitch.

The Middle East and North Africa Studies Program at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University hosted a workshop on Arab-Russian and Arab-Soviet cultural ties on February 17-18, 2017. The workshop was co-hosted by the BU Center for the Humanities, the BU Arts Initiative and BU World Languages and Literatures.

Margaret Litvin, MENA Director and Associate Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature, kicked off the workshop with welcoming remarks, and said the goal of the event was to foster interdisciplinary conversation across humanities, social sciences, and the arts by bringing together scholars who might not ordinarily engage with each other’s work.

Alexandra Chreiteh

“This weekend’s workshop ‘Russia in the Arab World: History, Literature, Arts’ makes room for an interdisciplinary group of participants across humanities and social sciences, bringing together scholars who might not ordinarily engage with each other’s work,” Litvin said. “You will notice that this event is organized like a conference – there are no discussants, and we have not precirculated any papers – but in spirit it is really a workshop. We are sitting around a table presenting work in progress, with a view to eventually pulling together one or more publications if that seems a useful thing to do.”

The workshop included panels on “Orthodox Church Institutions and Early Arab-Russian Ties,” chaired by Betty AndersonDirector of the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations and Associate Professor of History at the Pardee School; “Migrations, Connections, and Echoes,” chaired by  Simon Rabinovitch, Associate Professor of History at Boston University; “The USSR and the Interwar Arab Left,” chaired by Katerina ClarkProfessor of Comparative Literature and of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University; and “Cold War Literature, Art, and Rhetoric,” chaired by Alexis PeriAssistant Professor of History at Boston University.

The workshop also included a reading by novelist Alexandra Chreiteh from her 2009 novel Ali and his Russian MotherThe reading was followed by a question and answer session with Chreiteh moderated by Litvin.