It’s officially October! I don’t have much to say up top this week, but can you believe we are three full months away from 2022?! That’s w i l d.
Okay friends, let’s get right into it for this week. I am so excited to introduce our guest feature: Farah Bazzi!
Farah was born in Beirut and raised in The Hague. She is a Ph.D. candidate in early modern global history at Stanford University. In her work, Farah attempts to bridge both Mediterranean and Atlantic history by focusing on how objects, people, and imaginations moved between the Ottoman world, Morocco, Iberia, and the Americas during the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Furthermore, Farah’s research interests include environmental thought, race, indigeneity, cartography, and technologies of conquest. Currently, Farah is one of the project founders and managers of the ‘Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic’ project sponsored by CESTA, the History Department, and the Division of Languages and Cultures. She is also the graduate coordinator for the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (CMEMS) at Stanford and the student counselor director on the board of the Renaissance Society of America. Farah also co-hosts the Dutch podcast ‘Het Redelijke Midden,’ which is a progressive podcast that attempts to make scholarly knowledge accessible to a broader audience. She writes poetry and is fascinated by Levantine food and clouds.
Farah runs the world, clearly! Her work and her research provide so much important context and insight into the culture. I was incredibly excited when she agreed to come through and share some of her go-to songs:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
“Ne-am Despărțit” by the Romanian music group Raze de Soare. This was the first song I “Shazamed” after the lock-down in The Netherlands. I was sitting in my favorite café and heard the song. It reminded me of an Arabic song, but I still haven't figured out which song! So if anyone knows, please let me know!
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
Warda's “Batwanes Bek” and “Sa'altak Habibi” by Fairuz. I can't get enough of these two songs. I play (and sing) them literally whenever and wherever. The song “Glimlach” (Smile in Dutch) by the Dutch rapper Fresku is a beautiful song I listen to when I want to remind myself that, indeed, everything should always start with a smile.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
For me, home can also be a period of time. My parents fled the Lebanese Civil War in 1990 and ended up in The Netherlands. I was a year old when we left. When I listen to Arabic music from the 90s, it reminds me of “homemaking”. Now in retrospect, I understand that my parents were trying to fashion a new home for themselves and us in a place that felt alien to them. Arabic songs allowed them to bring the sounds of Beirut’s streets to our new home in The Netherlands. If I had to pick specific songs, I would go for Assi el-Helani's “Wani Marek Maret”, Ragheb 'Alameh's “Moghram ya Layl”, Nawal al-Zoghbi's “Wala Behimini”, and Diana Haddad's “Amaneh”.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
But also, growing up in the Netherlands meant that I was surrounded by people from various cultural backgrounds. We shared a lot of music and that's why I know the words to songs like “Mere Haath Mein” (Fanaa), “Şimarik” (Tarkan), “Man Amadeham” (Googoosh), “Iparho” (Stelios Kazantzidis), “Partir Loin” (113), “Gracias a la Vida” (Mercedes Sosa).
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
Big shout out to Farah for joining and sharing her song selections! Most of Farah’s songs are available on Spotify and will be included in this week’s playlist too, so be sure to take a listen. And be sure to follow Farah on Twitter to keep up with all of her latest and greatest work!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Flows by Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Artists 🎧
Ghazaly - Hamid Al Shaeri
Bia Bia - Liraz
Boom Boom - Maestro
Bled - DJ Kayz featuring Moha K
Tempted To Touch - Ioanna featuring Ramriddlz
Aarfa - Lege-Cy
All In - Uzu & 77 featuring Soulja
Tesh - Moro
Mn Hadid - Aziza
Lugere - Aya Metwalli
🎤 Vibes by Latinx & Hispanic Artists 🎤
Experimento - Myke Towers
Imposible Amor - Natti Natasha featuring Maluma
Amigos - Sofia Delfino featuring Jerry Di
Sei Que Tu Virás - Ghen
Mi Problema - Chiquis
DEJA VU - Fano featuring Callejo and DAAZ
fue mejor - Kali Uchis featuring SZA
Dame La Fuerza - Monogem
Conoce - Nohemy featuring LAYENIGHTJIGGY
El Tiburon - Alexis y Fido featuring Baby Ranks
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
Alone With You - Arz
Box In The Ocean - Alessia Cara
Northside Southside - Meek Mill featuring Giggs
Bouquets - Yumi Nu
Too Late - The Weeknd
X - Tinashe featuring Jeremih
Counting - Not3s
Roadside - Mahalia featuring AJ Tracey
favorite crime - Olivia Rodrigo
Monalisa - Lojay & Sarz
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
Through a Glass, Darkly: How Lebanon’s Central Bank Wants You to See the Financial Collapse - Karim Merhej & Yazan Al-Saadi, The Public Source
The Public Source dove into what the Lebanese Central Bank’s 2020 Annual Report shows and doesn’t show — so that you don’t have to.
'Cautiously optimistic': First criminal case filed under Lebanon's sexual harassment law is closely watched - Rana Tabbara, L’Orient Today
Earlier this year, more than 20 Lebanese women took to social media with allegations of sexual harassment against Jaafar al-Attar, a well-known local activist, journalist and director. A group of seven of the alleged victims filed a lawsuit against Attar in May, and last week the public prosecutor formally charged Attar with sexual harassment and referred the case to the criminal court in Beirut.
Lebanon: What life is like in a ‘failed state’ - Arwa Ibrahim, Al Jazeera
As the economic crisis grinds on, Lebanese navigate soaring food costs and fuel and medicine shortages.
Shiva Karout says he is very proud to represent Lebanon, the country he loves.
In crisis-struck Lebanon, school year is gripped by chaos - Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press
This fall, the academic year in Lebanon is gripped by the same chaos that has overwhelmed everything else in the country in its financial and economic meltdown.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
From hajj to Italian Jews: Egypt’s national dish has a mixed heritage - Joseph Hammond, Religion News Service
Unlike the national dish of other nations, the origins of Koshari are much disputed, and it may have come to Egypt by way of religious minorities.
Tunisian President Appoints Prime Minister Amid Protests Over Power Grab - Vivian Yee, The New York Times
Tunisia’s “newly named head of government, Najla Bouden Romdhan, believed to be the Arab world’s first woman prime minister, is a former geology professor and current director-general at the Ministry of Higher Education.”
How the Tragic Algeria Wildfires Illuminate State Deficiencies - Yasmina Allouche, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy
“With the fires now tamed, but the government in crisis and still reeling from the toll of the coronavirus pandemic, there are now a mountain of questions over that state’s mistake-laden response, in addition to the plethora of other grievances that have dealt blows to its legitimacy for many Algerians.”
Near-Famine, Civil Conflict And COVID Leave Yemen In Devastating Humanitarian Crisis - Leila Fadel, Sarah Handel, and Mia Venkat, NPR
NPR speaks with David Gressley, the United Nation's resident coordinator in Yemen, about the worsening humanitarian crisis in the nation.
Shadow contracts, corruption keep the lights out in Iraq - Samya Kullab, Associated Press
In Iraq, electricity is a potent symbol of endemic corruption, rooted in the country’s sectarian power-sharing system that allows political elites to use patronage networks to consolidate power.
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Palestinian-Chilean singer Elyanna wants Arabic music to ‘transcend language barriers’ - Sara Alhumiri, Cosmopolitan Middle East
19-year-old Elyanna is taking over the music industry, song by song.
Between Two Islands: How British Bahrainis found a home in poetry - Ali Al-Jamri, Middle East Eye
Between Two Islands is an anthology nostalgic of a certain vision of diaspora Bahrainis, a Bahrain of villages, palm trees and sea, which also projects a vision of the future.
How Taco Bell Inspired a Concerto about California’s Colonial History - Chloe Veltman, KQED
Bells feature prominently in Gabriela Ortiz’ new concerto for flute and orchestra inspired by El Camino Real. But the composer says the tubular bells and crotales are meant to satirize Taco Bell, the Mexican-style fast food chain, invented by an American in California in the 1960s, which famously uses a mission bell as a logo.
AlRawabi School for Girls’ Makes ‘Mean Girls’ Look Like Cotton Candy - Swara Ahmed and Mae Abdulbaki, The Middle Geeks
Created by Jordanian creator Tima Shomali, AlRawabi School for Girls is a devastatingly excellent series on Netflix exploring the dynamics of a Jordanian high school. What causes these girls to escalate their psychological wars on each other? How does this series do at exploring some of the systemic patriarchal problems in Middle Eastern societies? Swara and Mae discuss all of that and why they love this series.
What Finally Brought R. Kelly Down - Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic
To convict the R&B singer, prosecutors focused on his network of enablers.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Hispanic Heritage Month is a meme now (because we are exhausted) - Daniel Hernandez, Los Angeles Times
“With so much coding whiplash bearing down on the community at all times, and in the face of our persistent underrepresentation, the memes have offered solace from the noise and exhaustion of it all.”
A Woman of Color Cannot Save Your Workplace Culture - S. Mitra Kalita, TIME
“Some managers view hiring as the solution to their “diversity problem,” which—just to be clear—is a problem they created by not hiring inclusively to begin with.”
When Powerful People Play the “Mental Health” Card - Shannon Palus, Slate
Obliquely referring to a “mental health issue” and asking for privacy in instances of severe professional misconduct weakens the concept that sometimes people really do need a break. Moreover, people with mental health issues can possess integrity just the same as people without them.
A Jamaican Chef’s Journey Home - Mayukh Sen, The New Yorker
Norma Shirley immigrated to the U.S. and tried to make it as a restaurateur. Then she became an icon by cooking for her own people.
In Search of African Arabic - Vaughn Rasberry, Newlines Magazine
The majority of the world’s Arabic speakers inhabit Africa and its diasporas. So why is much of continental Africa absent in Arabic language curricula?