2014-2015 CIRS GU-Q Faculty Fellow

Amira El-ZeinAmira El-Zein is the CIRS SFS-Q Faculty Fellow for the 2014-2015 academic year. She is Associate Professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, author of Islam, Arabs, and the Intelligent World of the Jinn and co-editor of Culture, Creativity and Exile. She is also a published poet in Arabic, French, and English. During her fellowship, El-Zein will be working on a project titled, "Contemporary Saudi Literature: The Grueling Adaption to Modernity." The research argues that contemporary Saudi literature conveys the dilemma of Saudi society torn between fascination with everything Western and obligations to unbending traditions. The question of tradition in its extremely arduous adaptation to rapid changes has led to a profound malaise, loss of identity, and confusion, which are characteristic of neocolonialism. The research will interpret several novels and poems that mirror the ordeals Saudi people experience when they challenge the harsh rules of the establishment. Comparisons will be made between Saudi literature and that written by other authors in the Gulf.

She is the author of Islam, Arabs, and the Intelligent World of the Jinn (Syracuse University Press, 2009) and the co-editor of Culture, Creativity and Exile (Bethesda Maryland, Kitab Publications, 2003). She is also a published poet in Arabic, French, and English. Among her published poetry are The Bedouins of Hell (2002) and The Jinn and Other Poems (Arrowsmith, Boston, 2006). She read her poetry at the UN in New York, Paris, London, Washington DC, and Boston. 

El-Zein is a translator in Arabic, French, and English. Among her numerous translations: Les Tarahumaras of Antonin Artaud (from French into Arabic), Malraux par lui-même by Gaeton Picon (from French into Arabic), and a co-translation of the poetry of Mahmud Darwish in Unfortunately it Was Paradise (California University Press, 2006). 

El-Zein is the author of more than a dozen articles published in refereed journals, such as “Christian-Muslim Relations”, “Connaissance des religions”, and “Alif: The Journal of Comparative Poetics.” She has authored several book chapters on an ample range of topics including but not limited to Sufism in medieval and contemporary Islam, Francophone literature, Arabian Nights, and contemporary Arabic poetry and fiction. 

She is currently working on a book project on Gulf literature dealing especially with gender issues and globalization. Her book of discussions on Sufism with Seyyed Hossein Nasr will appear in 2012. 

El-Zein’s work has been featured at Voice of America, NPR, PBS, and several Arab satellites, including Aljazeera. 

Amira has taught a wide range of courses in Arabic, French, and English at Tufts University and at Georgetown U in DC. At SFSQ she teaches various courses in Arabic language and literature such as “Modern Arabic Poetry”, “the Contemporary Arabic Novel”, Globalization and Identity”, “the Arabian Nights”, "Arabic Writing Workshop”, “Translation Workshop", and “Contemporary Gulf Literature.”