CONNECT Arab America 2021: Day 2—Connecting with Cultural Institutions
By: Raneem Ghunaim/Arab America Contributing Writer
Outreach is important in edifying and promoting Arab culture and identity. Join us as we talk with leaders of major Arab cultural institutions in the U.S. who are making an impact on the Arab American narrative. On Day 2 of the Connect Arab America: Empowerment Summit you’ll meet some of the institutions and academics who are making a difference in their respective communities. Connect Arab America will take place Feb. 1-5, 2021 from 7-8 pm ET. Celebrate Arab American unity, heritage, and identity with discussions from exciting speakers in public service, cultural institutions, business innovators, influencers, and exciting artists. (Register Here)
Meet the Panelists
Malika Bilal |Moderator
Malika Bilal is a broadcast journalist, widely known for co-hosting and digital producing the Emmy-nominated Al Jazeera news talk show ” The Stream.” She currently hosts Al Jazeera’s podcast, “The Take.”
Bilal was born and raised in Chicago, United States. Her primary and secondary education was also held in Chicago. She grew up hearing about All Things Considered and Morning Edition on NPR during the long car drives to and from school along with her parents.
During Malika’s time at American University, Malika used to work as a reporter and copy editor intern for Redeye Chicago in Chicago Tribune Media Group, where she created story ideas at the national and local levels for newspaper cover and inside pages. Malika reported and wrote news and features on local government, health issues and lifestyles. She worked there from March 2005 to June 2005.
Diana Abouali currently serves as Director of the Arab American National Museum (AANM). She has worked in the higher education and cultural heritage sectors in the United States, Palestine and Jordan. Abouali joined the AANM in 2019.
Born in Toronto, Canada to Palestinian parents, Abouali completed her secondary education in Kuwait. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and received an MA in Middle Eastern Studies and a PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. Abouali taught at Dartmouth College in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures—first as lecturer, then as assistant professor—offering courses in Arab-Islamic civilization, gender studies and the social and cultural history of the Middle East.
Abouali is a member of the general assembly of Taawon-Welfare Association, the largest Palestinian NGO that provides development and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory and Lebanon. She is also on the board of the Palestinian Museum (Palestine), the Board of Directors of Arte East (NYC) and is a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She is a member of Leadership Detroit Class XLI.
Kate Seelye is vice president for arts, culture, and communications at the Middle East Institute (MEI), where she oversees the management of MEI’s Arts and Culture Center and its core asset, the MEI Art Gallery. Launched in September 2019, the MEI Art Gallery is Washington, DC’s only gallery of contemporary and modern art, video and photography from the Middle East dedicated to showing high quality, thought-provoking art ranging from Morocco to Afghanistan. Seelye has held other positions over her ten years at MEI, including as vice president for programs and communications and as senior vice president. She also currently manages MEI’s communications department.
Prior to joining MEI in 2009, Seelye worked as a radio and television journalist covering the Arab world for nearly ten years from her base in Beirut, Lebanon for U.S. and British radio and television programs, including National Public Radio, PRI’s The World, Frontline/World on PBS and the UK investigative documentary show, Unreported World on Channel 4. Prior to that, she was a producer for the PBS Newshour based in Los Angeles and began her broadcast career at Marketplace Radio.
In 2004, Seelye was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to research the history of the Arab-American relationship. That same year, she received an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Amherst College, for her efforts to increase American understanding of the Middle East. She is the recipient of several journalism awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for NPR’s team coverage of the war on Iraq. She also serves on the boards of the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University and the American Tunisian Association. Seelye grew up in the Middle East and has lived and worked in the region for more than 20 years.
Sally Howell is director of the Center for Arab American Studies and associate professor of history at UM-Dearborn. She received her Ph.D. from the American Culture Program at University of Michigan.
Her books include Citizenship and Crisis: Arab Detroit After 9/11 (2009, Russell Sage Foundation Press), Arab Detroit 9/11: Life in the Terror Decade (2011, Wayne State University Press), and Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past (2014, Oxford University Press). Howell is currently completing a book entitled Halal Metropolis: Mosques, Markets, and Neighborhood Development which explores the mutual constitution of local publics and religious minorities across the urban and suburban landscape of Detroit.
Dr. Beshara Doumani is the inaugural Mahmoud Darwish Professor of Palestinian Studies, the first chair of its kind dedicated to this field of study. He is also the founding director of Brown’s Center for Middle East Studies (CMES), and founder of New Directions for Palestinian Studies, a CMES initiative. From 2012-2020 he was the Joukowsky Family Distinguished Professor of Modern Middle East History.
Doumani’s research focuses on groups, places, and time periods marginalized by mainstream scholarship on the early modern and modern Middle East, with a focus on the social, economic, and legal history of Eastern Mediterranean. He also writes on the topics of academic freedom, and the Palestinian condition. His books include Rediscovering Palestine: Merchants and Peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700-1900, and Family Life in the Ottoman Mediterranean: A Social History. He is currently working on the modern history of the Palestinians through the social life of stone.
Doumani is the editor of a book series on Palestinian Studies published by the University of California Press, co-editor of the Jerusalem Quarterly and editorial committee member of the Journal of Palestine Studies. From 2009-2011, Doumani led a team that produced a strategic plan for the establishment of the Palestinian Museum. Doumani received the Sawyer Seminar award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the proposal, Displacement and the Making of the Modern World: Histories, Ecologies, and Subjectivities.
Doumani joined Brown in 2012 after fourteen years at the University of California, Berkeley, and was first tenured at the University of Pennsylvania. He was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. He was also a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton.
Dr. Akram Khater is University Faculty Scholar, Professor of History, and holds the Khayrallah Chair in Diaspora Studies at North Carolina State University where he also serves as the Director of the Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies
A native of Lebanon (born 1960), he earned a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, and holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in History from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and University of California, Berkeley, respectively. His books include Inventing Home: Emigration, Gender and the Making of a Lebanese Middle Class, 1861-1921, and A History of the Middle East: A Sourcebook for the History of the Middle East and North Africa, and Embracing the Divine: Passion and Politics in the Christian Middle East.
He has completed a 2012 PBS documentary on the history of the Lebanese community in North Carolina, and is the senior curator for a museum exhibit on the same topic that opened on February 21st, 2014. He also curated the traveling exhibit, The Lebanese in America, which has toured six (6) US cities, and will continue to tour through 2019. He has published a substantial number of articles and reviews, and has made conference presentations throughout the United States and internationally. He has delivered over 300 talks in the past 10 years on topics relating to the Middle East. Professor Khater has been awarded a number of teaching accolades (Outstanding Teacher, Outstanding Junior Faculty and Outstanding Extension Faculty) and grants during his tenure at N.C. State, and has also obtained fellowships from the National Humanities Center, American Philosophical Society, National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright Foundation, Council of American Overseas Research Centers, among others.
His professional affiliations include the Middle East Studies Association, Arab-American Studies Association, American Academy of Religion, and the American Historical Association. He is also the editor of the International Journal of Middle East Studies, and sits on the editorial board of a book series on immigration studies.
Connect with Cultural Institutions This February (2021)
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