21-year-old university student and former Afghan refugee, Gulwali Passarlay,speaks to Duke undergrads. photo by Catherine Angst
21-year-old university student and former Afghan refugee, Gulwali Passarlay,speaks to Duke undergrads. photo by Catherine Angst

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on FEBRUARY 29, 2016: 

51ffhcH8cRL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_“Before I died, I contemplated how drowning would feel. It was clear to me now; this was how I would go: away from my mother’s warmth, my father’s strength, and my family’s love. The white waves were going to devour me, swallow me whole in their terrifying jaws, and cast my young body aside to drift down into the cold black depths,” Gulwali Passarlay wrote in the prologue to “The Lightless Sky: A Twelve-Year-Old Refugee’s Harrowing Escape from Afghanistan and His Extraordinary Journey Across Half the World.” (HarperOne, 2016)

At the age of 12 Gulwali was sent away from his rural Afghanistan home by his mother who paid a smuggling agent at $8,000, in installments, to get him safely to Italy. “However bad it gets,” the mother told her son. “Don’t come back.” Ten months into his journey, he nearly drowned (described above) in an overcrowded boat on his way to Greece. He’s now a man in his third year at the University of Manchester in the UK — alive to tell the tale of his year-long 12,500-mile perilous journey, which he likened to “a game of Chutes and Ladders” through Pakistan; Iran (twice); Turkey (twice); Bulgaria; Greece; Italy; France (twice); Belgium, Germany, and finally the UK.

While the trip took place back in 2006-2007, his book, written with Nadene Ghouri, is an instructive lens through which to view the current refugee crisis and the complicated human smuggling and trafficking networks that have refugees and migrants using air, rail, cars, trucks, boats, and their own tired feet, across rivers and seas and over mountains — to get them to a better life.

Last month Gulwali spoke via Skype for nearly an hour with more than a dozen Duke University undergraduate students enrolled in the Refugee Lives: Violence, Culture and Identity class, co-taught by professors miriam cooke, Maha Houssami, and Nancy Kalow.

The 21-year-old politics and philosophy major answered questions and shared stories with his contemporaries about his experiences in safe-houses, prisons/detention centers and refugee camps; the dozens of unscrupulous (and a few kind) agents, smugglers, and guides he encountered; and the friends and enemies he made along the way. Continue reading

by HEATH BROWN for NEW BOOKS IN ISLAMIC STUDIES on JANUARY 26, 2016: 

Deepa Iyer
Deepa Iyer

51JalLp+z2L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Deepa Iyer is the author of We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future (The New Press, 2015). Iyer is Senior Fellow at Center for Social Inclusion and was Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) for a decade prior.

Drawing on professional experiences in the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and years leading a national advocacy organization, Iyer weaves personal anecdotes, excellent elite interviews, and policy recommendations into We Too Sing America. She calls out the organized anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim political movement in the country and calls for mobilized political action by South Asians to resist these threats. Scholars and policy practitioners interested in immigrant rights will enjoy this new book. Continue reading

by EHAB GALAL for ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN on JANUARY 19, 2014:

Ehab Galal
Ehab Galal

Scholarly interest in Arab media has increased dramatically over the past two decades, especially since the advent of the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera in 1996, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the global conflicts that followed this tragedy.

Arab media are increasingly seen as global players; not only as regional or local tools of communication. There are an ever-increasing number of Arab satellite TV channels that transmit to a large area of the world. Among these are also a number of important religiously oriented TV channels. While research into their history, development, content and circulation is still limited, it is rising. Very little has been published about the Arab audiences and the relationship between these new transnational channels (both religious and secular media) and their viewers worldwide.

I am editor of a new book Arab TV Audiences: Negotiating Religion and Identity (Peter Lang, 2014) that attempts to fill the gap by presenting six case-based studies focusing on how Arab audiences, in the Arab world and Europe, respond to mainly Islamic programming on Arab satellite television across a range of different national contexts: Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, and the United States.

The case studies examine audiences from various perspectives offered by scholars with different research interests and theoretical approaches to their analyses of Arab audiences.

Fragmented Audiences

Many insights can be gained, in this volume, into different aspects of the Arab media landscape, including the fragmentation of Arab audiences, and the role of religious media in religious identity formation and negotiation.

Knowledge about Arab audiences suffers from a lack of accurate television audience measurement systems. Speaking of a typical or characteristic Arab audience (Muslims and Christians) is extremely difficult, given the fact that Arab audiences are fragmented across a region of approximately 7.5 million square kilometers, a population of more than 250 million people and an extensive number of spoken dialects, as well as major differences, when it comes to literacy, living conditions and generational divides. Market-based studies do, however, give us some general information.

In the Arab world, television is still the most popular media outlet despite the global trend towards other platforms. Continue reading

Via SOCIOLOGY OF ISLAM LISTSERV: 

This is a Call for Papers for two panels which will be held during the Fourth World Congress for Middle East Studies (WOCMES) 18th-22nd August 2014 in Ankara (Turkey).  Continue reading

via UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE on MAY 17, 2013: 

BritishMuslimConvertUniversityofCambridgeUKConverts have the potential to be a powerful and transformative influence on both the heritage Muslim community and wider British society – Yasir Suleiman

A ground-breaking report examining the experiences of nearly 50 British women of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds and faiths (or no faith) – who have all converted to Islam – was launched in London yesterday by the University of Cambridge.

The report, produced by the University’s Centre of Islamic Studies (CIS), in association with the New Muslims Project, Markfield, is a fascinating dissection of the conversion experience of women in Britain in the 21st Century.

The first forum of its kind held in the UK, the study concludes with a series of recommendations for the convert, heritage Muslim, and wider British communities. The 129-page report also outlines the social, emotional and sometimes economic costs of conversion, and the context and reasons for women converting to Islam in a society with pervasive negative stereotypes about the faith. Continue reading