La Formoisie

Critical Social Theory in the Middle East

January 27, 2019

Much of the recent analysis of Tunisia has taken on a tone of pessimism and anxiety about the fear of “authoritarian backsliding,” with some like Sarah Souli even going so far as to claim that “some of the healthier gains of the revolution—namely freedom of speech and movement... seem to have gone out the window.” It is true that nostalgia for Ben-Ali’s rule is on the rise, institutions have been slow to democratize, and the c...

December 11, 2018

Burj Al-Salaam, Old City of Sana'a, 2013

I wrote the word “Yemen” on the blackboard then asked my students: “What’s the first thing that comes to mind?” Confused faces stared back at me. Few moments later a girl in the front row broke the silence and responded: “Famine.”  “Ah, oui!” I heard someone else shout in the back and then without hesitation others joined: “War, refugees, conflict, displacement.”  “Anything else?” I aske...

June 13, 2018

Sallam speaking at the 13th AWID Women's
Rights Forum in September 2016

Today, after many long months of not doing any sports (because of frequent travel and falling sick), I decided that this should be my kick start. I took my bike to the gym and decided to try a new branch, Gold's Gym Maadi.

I started my workout quiet happy listening to my music. I always put in my earphones to detach myself from casual talk while I'm wor...

June 8, 2018

Photo credit: @YemenPhoto on Instagram

Imagine spending hours in an overcrowded unventilated room. No matter where you turn, your nose itches with confusion after involuntarily inhaling a mix of perfumed sweat, cigarettes, and incense.  Doesn’t sound appealing, right? Well, that’s how I felt at times when I was living in Yemen. Yet now, I am saddened by the fact that I hadn’t appreciated the genius of the tufruta...

May 30, 2018

This sitara decorated our wall in Sana'a, then Tunis and now Lille. It desperately needs to be washed but I don't want to lose the bukhoor scent of a 'once upon a time' qat--filled room. I'm afraid that if the smell disappears or the colors lose their vibrancy, then I would be deprived of a lifeline to a place I had called home.  

Proudly showcasing this cultural heritage is my way of saying: Yemen...

May 21, 2018

My father (Baba) was raised on stories of the sweetness of the grapes in Sarise. I, however, was raised on Baba stories about his life in a Palestinian refugee camp.

                      Hammad on his skateboard in Detroit, MI. 

Sarise is the name of my father's village, which was just on the outskirts of Jerusalem and ethnically cleansed 70 years ago by Israeli paramilitary for...

May 13, 2018

The photo my daughter tried to hug of my former neighborhood in the old city of Sana’a.

In her high pitched toddler voice, my daughter asked: “A-maan?” as she pointed to a photograph above our dining table. “Aywa habeebati, that’s Yemen,” I nodded and then planted five wet kisses on each cheek. In that moment I felt pride akin to someone watching her child graduate. However a moment later, she raised her two little arms toward...

February 1, 2018

Earlier this month, protests erupted in Tunisia against austerity measures that were presented in the wake of recent IMF reforms and lingering poor economic conditions. The protests were met with mass arrests, leading some to draw comparisons to the Ben Ali regime and contributing to a continued narrative of pessimism surrounding Tunisia’s turbulent path toward democracy.

There are two ways the current situation in Tunisia can...

November 25, 2017

After the trilateral (between Russia, Iran, and Turkey) meeting in Sochi Russian President Vladimir Putin, stated, "The presidents of [Russia and] Iran and Turkey supported the initiative to convene an All-Syrian Congress for national dialogue in Syria. We agreed to hold this important event at the proper level and ensure the participation of representatives of different sectors of Syrian society" (my emphasis).

While pundits a...

September 27, 2017

Polls are closing on the Iraqi Kudirstan referendum and Catalonia is about to hold its own vote to determine its future: whether to secede from Iraq and Spain and join the club of sovereign, independent states, or else to maintain their current status as autonomous regions. One may immediately notice the vast differences separating the two cases, too many to be listed here exhaustively: there is no Catalonian Halabja; Kurdista...

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