It is hard to overestimate our continued enthusiasm for working on Jadaliyya.
But amid the current state of affairs in the region, it is difficult to maintain unfettered enthusiasm. We started this project shortly before the euphoria of revolutionary upheaval. Now we find ourselves in a moment of protracted despair, with glimmers of hope. Yet, we are determined to forge ahead. We tried to delay this anniversary announcement until "things" settled down, but it increasingly seems unwise. so here it goes.
Five years after we launched this publication, we remain wedded to treating it as brand new, with all the care, vigor, and even insecurity of launching a new project. We have come a very long way since then—on more fronts than we can summarize in this one short post. In fact, we are increasingly hesitant to list accomplishments and milestones lest we appear too self-congratulatory at a time when the publication has been well established and well received. The other side of this introspective reflection is that we also do not want to appear that we are taking its success for granted—because we are not.
Every day, each week, we remind ourselves not only of the principles and standards we all vowed to uphold early on (all organizations do, actually), but we also strive to go back to square one in practice and scrutinize what we are actually doing in a manner that makes some of our toughest critics sound mild. Yes, it is a kind of reflexive sickness of sorts, but the kind that keeps us true to ourselves and to what we set out to do. It emanates not from a sense of needing affirmation but from a critical streak that reminds us of the importance of the unintended, despite all intentions. We have always shared that we still have room for continued improvement, and it is that room that most of us inhabit incessantly lest we become drunk on success and broad appeal.
The bottom line is that any and all of this has been much of a perpetually reproduced pleasant surprise, and the main consistent and honest way that kept us in check, and endlessly tireless, is the constant overwhelming support and appreciation we receive from readers from all corners of the world. Most importantly, even the most scathing and—we dare say—hostile critique (with which we do not always all agree) comes packaged in language that considers the object of criticism a fall from grace, a fall from existing expectations. We listen, read carefully, and take note.
We can easily go over the history of Jadaliyya again, and over the landmarks and the continued developments (but we did this in previous posts. see below). Instead, we will only highlight a few of the special moments and projects that we undertook this past year, and emphasize a bit more what many of our readers know less about: the backbone of Jadaliyya, its four equally fledgling sister organizations and its/their umbrella institution, the Arab Studies Institute.
Jad Turns One:
Jad Turns Two:
Jad Turns Three:
Jad Turns Four:
Moments in 2015 and the ASI Connection
This past year was always going to be the end of what we conceived as the first phase, one of turning a chapter after having institutionalized Jadaliyya as an organization. Indeed, this was a year when Jadaliyya was featured in multiple publications for being a pioneer project, a unique one-stop-shop on the region, and/or a source of new life in Middle East studies. [link to nyt]. But the more important signs come from our readers, and refer to the manner in which Jadaliyya has occupied a particular space, one they can depend on and trust as both incisive and on-mark. For others, it might not be so, but it has apparently become a must-see, e.g., let’s see what Jadaliyya is publishing on this or that issue?
Beyond media coverage and readership, this has to be the year where we have attracted the most announcements for conferences, lectures, and workshops by organizations interested on having their programs, initiatives, events, and job listings features on Jadaliyya. This broader recognition by most conveners of important conferences in the field reflects in part a milestone of the first phase.
Internally, we have consolidated our review procedures across our many pages (topical and country-/region-related) and finalized the institutionalization process within them. We sought to delve deeper to attract a broader array of writers who were also enthusiastic to be featured on our pages. Thus, our writers base expanded considerably, not let from the region itself and in both Arabic and Turkish.
Though we had put the creation of new pages on hiatus in 2013/2014, we did create two new pages, Palestine and Law and Conflict, out of the womb of the former O.I.L. (Occupation, Intervention, Law), which no longer exists. Immediately, the Palestine Media Roundup became a hit and a target for many readers, even before the recent flare up of what might turn out to be another Intifada. Two more media roundups have been added to our repertoire this past year and have quickly rose to become among the most frequented on Jadaliyya: ISIS in the News Media Roundup and Foreign Policies Media Roundup. We will soon be providing Arabic versions of these and other roundups, though selectively at first.
During the past year, Jadaliyya’s content made its way into two publications by Tadween Publishing. First, a JadMag under the title Afterlives of the Algerian Revolution and an edited volume titled Critical Voices, edited by Ziad Abu-Rish and Bassam Haddad. On the one hand, Jadaliyya continues to attract analytical material on the region, which we are turning into pedagogical tools through JadMags—each with an extensive categorized bibliography. On the other hand, Jadaliyya’s continues to be curated to produce edited volumes that are of significant interest to researchers and educators. This tradition will continue and is likely to expand. Other new publications include our first illustrations book, Too Big to Fail, and a pedagogical guide, Creative Refuge (links below).
Our busiest set of projects this year has been our sister organization’s FAMA (Forum on Arab and Muslim Affairs) series of workshops conducted along with George Mason University under the rubric of Enhancing Publicly Engaged Scholarship in the Arab World. During the past year, we have conducted more than eight workshops and conferences, the tenor of which will be featued in one form or anothere on Jadaliyya. The topics are wide-ranging and are features below. More information can be found on www.ArabandMuslimAffair.org. Most of these efforts are not a one-time event. Rather, they are ongoing projects connected to networks of researchers, activists, journalists, and artists, mainly from the region. The aim is to produce a community of engaged knowledge/culture producers that might offer an alternative vision/approach/narrative on various fronts.
Ongoing Research Projects
- Exploring Agendas for Active Citizenship Project
- Political Economy Project
- Reporting the Middle East Project
- Refugees, Migrants, and Statelessness Project
- Syria Timeline Project
- State Building, Public Institutions, and Social Mobilization in Lebanon Project
Initiatives, Workshops, Conferences
- Research Project and Workshop on the Arab Uprisings and the Western Sahara
- Research Project and Workshop on the Uprisings and the Moroccan “Exception”
- Knowledge Production on the Arab Uprisings
- NGOs in the Arab World Post-Arab Uprisings
- Egypt’s Cultural Cartography
- Gardens Speak: An Oral Histories of Syria’s Dead (Interactive Artist Book Publication)
- ISIS Workshop I: The Nature, Expansion, and Limits of ISIS
- Syria Between Civil War and Reconstruction
- ISIS Workshop II: The Impact of ISIS on the Future of Political Islam
- Censorship and Education in Egypt
- Displaced Iraqis of Northern Iraq: Christians and Other Minorities
For the longest time, well, for five years, we were intent on keeping Jadaliyya and ASJ (Arab Studies Journal) separate as organizations. We still are. But we will be increasing the cooperation and cross-postings, though in a one-way direction for the most part, from ASJ to Jadaliyya. ASJ’s content has been celebrated since its inception in 1992 and has become a dependable staple for robust as well as innovative research. Our attempt started earlier in 2013, but we are looking to make it much more consistent and rich. Look out for more articles, more reviews, and more ASJ content on Jadaliyya in the coming year. Also, lookout for our fat ASJ issue coming out this Fall, packed with incisive scholarship (www.ArabStudiesJournal.org).
A related development has been that of Jadaliyya’s sister organization, Quilting Point, an audio-visual production collective. Quilting Point led the establishment of a multi-lingual audio journal, Status/الوضع, based principally on regional partnerships and the idea of the necessity of an independent source of audible analysis. Status saw the light in November 2014 and has produced a quarterly issue replete with informed interviews and conversations from nearly all corners of the Arab world. This project is gearing up for an overhaul that would integrate it further with the websites of partner organizations, not least Jadaliyya’s.
Finally, we are forging ahead with the last stages of the Knowledge Production Project. For now, it is a title that some of you have seen here and there, but will become a reality in Spring 2016. The project will potentially change the way we do search and possibly some aspects of research, and will bring to the fore not just innovative and visually stimulating ways to survey knowledge production, but will also provide the tools to scrutinize the process and politics of knowledge production. As always . . . more soon.
Watch our first video upload from August 2010! It tells all.
What Jadaliyya is About With No Audio
Posted by Jadaliyya on Thursday, August 5, 2010