notes from beirut

Archive for the ‘at AUB’ Category

قطط الجامة

In at AUB on November 9, 2009 at 7:38

I haven’t said anything about the cats yet, have I? There are I don’t know how many cats at the university, I think sometimes, when on campus late or at Sundays, you probably meet more cats than students. And good thing is, they’re welcome here! Alia even told me today that there are two women hired by the university just to come and feed the cats. Isn’t that cute. Actually, I don’t think a single one of them would starve without this service; they would probably lead as good a life only from munching on left overs from people’s lunch bags. But it’s a nice gesture isn’t it, making sure that they get food every day.

A lot of them are very friendly, curious and affectionate, so when sitting somewhere with your books or your computer, you can be sure to find a furry little friend by your feet or in your lap. Or, which is less nice, across your laptop when working. Cats seem to love computers, don’t you think? Preferably for a nap, straight across the keyboard, as well. Spoke to Sanna about it earlier, and we agreed it must have something to do with how computers get warm. Or maybe the quiet humming and buzzing? My mac though, rarely gets warm and makes no noise what so ever. So what’s it? Some secret connection between cats and computers? No wonder the AUB cats like this place then, universities must be like the best places for meeting computers.

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دراسة في الظل

In at AUB on October 23, 2009 at 7:38

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Can’t say I miss Lund University at the moment.

الإستعمار و الإستقلال

In at AUB on October 22, 2009 at 7:38

Besides from the two Arabic courses I’m taking – the classical Arabic or Fusha, and the Lebanese dialect, the Amiyya – I’m also doing a political science seminar on theories of colonialism and post-colonialism. Initially I was looking at a couple of other units and couldn’t really decide on which to choose, but after hearing a lot of good things about the lecturer, Fawwaz Traboulsi, I decided to enroll in his class. Having written a lot on Arab politics and culture, translated works by Edward Said, Antonio Gramsci and Karl Marx, Traboulsi now teaches at AUB. So far, it’s been a very good decision. We’re a group of people from different backgrounds and places; several Lebanse and Americans, a few Lebanese-Americans of course (a lot of them here at AUB), and also a few Europeans, Palestinians, other Middle Easterners, one Canadian, one Russian and so on. Many have bachelor’s degrees in politics or Middle Eastern studies and are now working for their masters at AUB. Basically this makes a great bunch for discussing colonialism and and its effects, and I look forward to some interesting Wednesday afternoons this fall.

Also, so far I’ve really enjoyed listening to Traboulsi. First of all, he knows a lot. Really. He’s one of those people who seem able to speak endlessly in details about his subject, illustrating and exemplifying with anecdotes from every corner of the globe (yesterday we covered Mauritania, Australia, the former USSR, Palestine, Algeria and Vietnam to mention only some). Also, he’s constantly challenging and confronting every argument that’s brought to the table. You know those teachers commemorating their students for merely uttering a statement in class? Like, thanks for opening your mouth, no matter what it is you’re saying? Well, let’s just say Traboulsi’s not one of those people. And that’s great! Sure, you risk exposing the not always solid and well-founded arguments of yours, not to mention everything you don’t know about those fundamental processes we call history. But that’s ok! That’s what make you refine your ideas and arguments.

And next week’s topic is really interesting. We’re reading Frantz Fanon, the probably most influential thinker on anti-colonialism and racist imperial policy, and a major source of influence for liberation movements across the world. Though the heydays of the colonial era are long gone now, issues of self-determination, domination and direct or indirect control over a people by another are still dominating global politics and relations worldwide. In this regional context especially, where every country has got a history of subordination to one of the European colonial powers, and encompass substantial groups of ethnic and/or religious minorities, do these issues always form part of the very foundation of life. So, next week’s discussion will surely be taking some interesting twists when trying to find out how the legacy of Fanon has shaped past and present liberation movements around here.