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Of Maps and Men

A few months ago, my friend Joshua Landis wrote an essay for this blog called “The Great Sorting Out,” which generated one of the more interesting discussions we’ve hosted. I’ve been thinking about Joshua’s argument ever since, and trying to make sense of what I find to be right and wrong about it. This piece at The New … Continue reading

Translating Disney’s Frozen into Arabic

See below for an excerpt from my latest piece for The New Yorker, on Disney’s translation of its hit musical Frozen into Modern Standard Arabic. We’ve discussed this subject before on this blog. If you’re interested in reading earlier discussions, check out the following comment sections: The Death of Arabic is Greatly Exaggerated Divided Societies After reading the New … Continue reading

Orientalism and Encyclopedism

Just a note about a talk I’m giving tomorrow evening at Brown, in the Medieval Studies lecture series. It’s at 5:30pm in Providence, in case any Boston-area medievalists are interested. And here’s an essay on a related topic (“Why was the 14th century a century of Arabic encyclopedism?”) that just came out a few months … Continue reading

The Rolling Stones of Morocco: Nass el-Ghiwane

A million years ago, I spent some time living in Morocco hanging out with Nass el-Ghiwane, the great shaabi ensemble that more or less invented the modern Moroccan popular song. I wrote about the experience in an article for Transition magazine: Nass el Ghiwane debuted in 1971, when Omar Sayyed was twenty-four years old. All five members sang, … Continue reading

What WikiLeaks Tells Us About Assad’s Foreign Policy Record

Al-Akhbar has published an article of mine about the Assad regime’s relations with the West and its foreign policy objectives, as revealed by the original WikiLeaks cache of US diplomatic cables. Needless to say, this article is a response of sorts to Amal Saad-Ghorayeb’s multi-part series which argues that Arab intellectuals should support Assad because … Continue reading

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