Assistant Professor Claudia Yaghoobi new book, Aṭṭār, Persian Sufism, and European Mysticism has been published by Purdue University Press. Traversing linguistic, national, and disciplinary boundaries, her book calls into question the presumed differences between medieval Islam and the West and makes possible a rich dialogue between civilizations that have historically been pitted against one another. This interdisciplinary study of medieval Persian Sufi tradition and ʿAṭṭār (1145-1221) opens up a new space of comparison for reading and understanding medieval Persian and European literatures.
On April 27, seven students in Assistant Professor Claudia Yaghoobi’s “Middle Eastern Women Writers” presented their research at the eighteenth annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research in the category, Diversity and Equity Track. Leah Balkoski, Neusha Zadeh, and Tahjamare Warren won an award for their presentation on Forough Farrokhzad’s poetry: “The Self Reflected: Mirrors in Persian Poetry.”
Congratulations to Diego Morro Paredes who participated in the seventh annual Chinese Bridge Speech Contest for University Students in New England (East USA division), on April 22. Diego won second place in the advanced level! An exchange student from Spain, Diego was a student in Associate Professor Wendan Li’s fourth-year Chinese class, and an advisee of Senior Lecturer Yi Zhou.
Given the overwhelming success of last year’s event “Chinese Hero—UNC Chinese Character Championship” (汉字英雄), faculty in the Chinese program, led by Lecturer Luoyi Cai, held their second such Championship on March 23. About 140 students from the Chinese program, and some twenty of their supporters—friends and family members—attended this event. Participants in the competition represented all five levels of the Chinese program, from elementary to advanced.
Eventually, after intense competition, five competitors, one from each level, stood out and became this year’s “Chinese Heroes!” Faculty in the Chinese program plan to make this an annual event, particularly since students again responded so enthusiastically to the event.
Two events organized by Doria El Kerdany, Lecturer in the Arabic program, brought local Syrian families into contact with Arabic language students this spring, allowing them to learn from each other. First, on March 4, twenty Syrian families from Carrboro, Durham, and Raleigh gathered in New West to learn about the local transit system and community services from students in the Arabic program who presented in both English and Arabic. This event was also a fundraiser with community donations going toward the support of the families.
Second, on April 20, members of three Syrian families visited students enrolled in all of the Arabic language classes, from first- through third-year. Speaking in Arabic, they shared with students their life experiences in Syria, the Syrian Civil War, their journeys from Syria to the U.S., and their hopes for the future.
Associate Professor Robin Visser has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the National Humanities Center in 2017-2018 for her research on Chinese-language environmental literature from border regions of China. During the fellowship period, Dr. Visser will be in-residence at the Center and working on her book, and “Bordering Chinese Eco-Literatures (1984-2014).”
On April 18, Peter Cooke, a major in Arab Cultures, was awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, one of two prestigious Chancellor’s Awards honoring humanitarian work by undergraduates each year.
The Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies (SECAAS) awarded two book prizes for 2016, announcing these at the SECAAS annual meeting, January 13-15, 2017 in Oxford, MS. Morgan Pitelka, Professor of Asian Studies and Director of the Carolina Asia Center, won one of these awards for his book, Spectacular Accumulation: Material Culture, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Samurai Sociability (University of Hawaii Press).
“In Spectacular Accumulation, Pitelka investigates the significance of material culture and sociability in late sixteenth-century Japan, focusing in particular on the career and afterlife of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. The story of Ieyasu illustrates the close ties between people, things, and politics and offers us insight into the role of material culture in the shift from medieval to early modern Japan and in shaping our knowledge of history.” –University of Hawai’i Press
On January 24, two Asian Studies faculty were involved in a panel on “Middle Eastern Women Writers and their Impacts.” Assistant Professor Claudia Yaghoobi organized the event, while Associate Professor and Chair of Asian Studies Nadia Yaqub served as a moderator. Two scholars were invited to give talks on the topic. Dr. Nasrin Rahimieh (UC Irvine) discussed the flourishing of Iranian women’s writing in the wake of the 1979 revolution and questioned whether this phenomenon is a reflection or byproduct of the revolution and what it might reveal about the conditions of women’s belonging to the national imaginary. Dr. Nesreen Akhtarkhavari (DePaul University) discussed Jordanian women writers and their contributions to the local and regional literary scene with a focus on the award-winning writer Samiha Kharis and her ability to breathe life into her work creating a range of Arab women protagonists, unrestrained and faithful to their social and cultural fabrics. Around 50 people both from the campus and the public community were in attendance.
On February 20, Dr. Yaghoobi organized a book reading for Dr. Mateo Mohammad Farzaneh (Northeastern Illinois University) who discussed his book The Iranian Constitutional Revolution and the Clerical Leadership of Khurasani (Syracuse University Press, 2015), and the role of Islamic jurisprudence and political reform in Iran. Dr. Yaghoobi also organized a panel on the topic of the Iran-Iraq (1980-1988) war. Dr. Mateo Mohammad Farzaneh (Northeastern Illinois University) and Dr. Amir Khadem (University of Alberta) were featured scholars who spoke on the war and its aftermath.
Dr. Fadi Bardawil recently published an essay on the Metropolitan Left’s abandonment of the Syrian struggle for emancipation in the Syrian electronic magazine, aljumhuriyya. Read it here.