22 April 2008

-AUB alumni named Carnegie Scholar

Tufts University professor and Cambridge resident Leila Fawaz was named a 2008 Carnegie Scholar by the Carnegie Corp. of New York and will receive a two-year grant of up to $100,000 for her research on "The Experience of War: Muslims in the Middle East and South Asia, 1914-1920."

"My plan is for my research to be a book that will help to give people a deeper understanding of the complex issues of power and identity that continue to affect the Muslim world today," said Fawaz.

Fawaz was among 20 new Carnegie Scholars selected this year for their compelling ideas and commitment to enriching the quality of the public dialogue on Islam. The corporation provides funding, with two-year grants of up to $100,000, and intellectual support to well-established and promising young thinkers, analysts and writers. The 2008 awardees are the fourth consecutive annual class to focus on Islam, bringing to 91 the number of Carnegie Scholars devoted to the topic since the program began in 2000.

Fawaz is the Issam M. Fares Professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies and director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies. She holds a joint appointment at Tufts as professor of history in the School of Arts and Sciences and as professor of diplomacy at The Fletcher School.

A social historian, her research will focus on connections between the Middle East and South Asia and the influence World War I had on Islamic identities. About one million South Asian soldiers fought on the side of their British colonial power, some in the Ottoman-controlled Middle East -- the largest Muslim territorial empire of the time. Her research will examine the complex relationship this caused for the Muslim and Hindu soldiers, especially the Muslim soldiers who sided with non-Muslims against their own religious leaders.

Born in the Sudan and raised in Lebanon, Fawaz attended the American University of Beirut and later received her doctorate from Harvard University. She joined the Tufts faculty in 1979 as an assistant professor, was promoted to the rank of professor in 1994, and served as chairperson of the history department from 1994 to1996 and dean for humanities and arts from 1996 to 2001. She has written and co-edited three books, including "Modernity and Culture: from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean," as well as articles and reviews.

Established by Vartan Gregorian in 1999, the Carnegie Scholars program provides financial and intellectual support to writers, analysts and thinkers addressing some of the most critical research questions of our time. Scholars are selected not only for their originality and proven intellectual capacity, but for their demonstrated ability to communicate their ideas in ways that can catalyze public discourse as well as guiding more focused and pragmatic policy discussions. Since 2005, the program has supported scholars whose work seeks to promote American understanding of Islam as a religion, the characteristics of Muslim societies, in general, and those of American Muslim communities, in particular.

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.