Zein El-Amine and George Fourlas in conversation

Zein El-Amine and George Fourlas in conversation

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Saturday, May 13th 2023
7:00 pm
Red Emma's
A conversation around literature, political theory, and Middle Eastern identities.

Zein El-Amine's Is This How You Eat a Watermelon? invites readers into a world where love, war, and trauma collide with the desire to consume life—or be consumed by it.

Here, a dozen boarding school students find themselves stranded at the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War. A young man, a young woman, and a mistreated monkey unite in a bid to survive. Even Israel’s war on Lebanon cannot stop an old woman from getting her fix of nicotine. A young Lebanese student on a visit to Bahrain is wrongly implicated as a terrorist and placed in a prison with other political prisoners where light and hope is absconding. Fresh snow compels a sacrilegious undertaking from a father much to the shock of his children. Shared trauma takes the shape of spectral phantoms. And in the titular story, a hedonistic man eats himself to an early death with the desecration of the city of Beirut forming the backdrop.

Proficient and empathetic, these seven short stories span war-torn Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United States to tell stories of transit and survival. With commitment to the vulnerability of the human experience and a fierce loyalty to characters bearing the trauma of war, Zein El-Amine’s collection is joyful and devastating, daring the reader to look away.

George Fourlas' _Anti-Colonial Solidarity: Race, Reconciliation, and MENA Liberation _confronts the racialization of Middle-Eastern and North African (MENA) perceived peoples from a global perspective. Fourlas critiques the ways that orientalism, racism, and colonialism cooperatively emerged and afforded the imaginary landscapes of the recently recategorized Middle East. This critique also clarifies possibility, both in a past that has been obscured by the colonial palimpsest, and in the present through exemplary cases of MENA solidarity that act as guideposts for what might be achieved through effective coordination and meaning-making practices. Hence, in confronting the problem of racialization, the author reflects on the conditions of the possibility of a solidarity amongst MENA peoples, and subjugated peoples more generally, that resists the cyclical character of violent domination which has defined colonial power since at least 1492.

Rather than offer a blueprint for a well-ordered free society, however, Anti-Colonial Solidarity explores what is required to enact an open-ended collectivity that resists rigid universalism, as well as reification, and prioritizes reciprocal relations with others and the environment. At once a rejection of orientalist narratives and a critique of solidarity that illuminates defensive possibilities for MENA people beyond the insufficient, yet still necessary, politics of recognition, Anti-Colonial Solidarity is a call to action for MENA people, and subjugated people more generally, to reclaim ourselves and our history from the trappings of colonial domination.

Zein El-Amine is a Lebanese-born poet and writer. He has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Maryland. His poems have appeared in Wild River Review, Folio, Beltway Quarterly, Foreign Policy In Focus, CityLit, Graylit, Split This Rock, Penumbra, DC Poets Against The War: An Anthology, Ghostfishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology. His latest poetry manuscript “A Travel Guide for the Exiled” was recently shortlisted for the Bergman Prize, judged by Louise Glück. His short stories have appeared in the Uno Mas, Jadaliyya, Middle East Report, Wild River Review, About Place Journal, and in Bound Off.

George Fourlas is a senior researcher with Security in Context. Formerly the SHIFT Endowed Associate Professor of Applied Ethics at Hampshire College, Dr. Fourlas has also held positions at Franklin and Marshall College, Worcester State University, the University of Oregon, and Globernance (Instituto de Gobernanza Democrática). George’s teaching and research take place at the intersection of social-political theory, applied ethics, critical race theory, conflict resolution, decolonial theory, and global studies. His publications have appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as the International Journal of Transitional Justice, Critical Philosophy of Race, and Philosophy and Social Criticism. He is also a co-editor of the Radical Philosophy Review and the senior managing editor for Global Insecurity, the Security in Context blog. When not working the academic grind, George enjoys spending time with his family, being outside, and practicing martial arts. Learn more about Dr. Fourlas from his website: gnfourlas.com

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