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Muslim identity inspires new series of talks

The Center for Bilingual/Bicultural Studies (CBBS) is hosting a series of talks and events that explore the experience of "hyphenated" Muslim identities.

The overarching topic of the year's offerings is "Emerging Muslim Identities in Diasporic Communities," and the series begins with a panel discussion by the same name on Friday, Sept. 23, from 3 to 5 p.m. in Room 3-343.

Arundhati Banerjee, lecturer in foreign languages and literature, will moderate. Panelists are Nil̹fer G̦le, ��cole des Hautes ��tudes en Sciences Sociales, MIT visiting professor and author of "Europe and Islam:�� Lost in Translation"; Moustafa Bayoumi, Brooklyn College, City University of New York and author of "When Islam Was All the Rage"; and Miriam Cooke, Duke University, author of�� "Networking for Power and Change:�� Muslim Women's Transnational Activism and the Construction of Alternative Identities."

"We are extremely fortunate to benefit from Nil̹fe G̦le's expertise at a particularly challenging moment in terms of the Muslim presence in Europe, and we hope that by focusing on a new generation of hybrid identities, we can expand the dialogue and foreground the complexity of this situation," said Isabelle de Courtivron, Ann F. Friedlaender Professor of the Humanities, MacVicar Faculty Fellow and CBBS director.

G̦le, an expert on the subject of Islam and modernity, is teaching a weekly seminar at MIT this semester titled "Close Encounters: Gender, Islam and the West."

Filmmakers from Spain, Germany and England have begun to explore generational differences in immigrant Muslim communities, de Courtivron noted, and CBBS will showcase some of these works in the "Diaspora" series.

On Oct. 4, Franco-Moroccan filmmaker Ismael Ferroukhi will present his film, "Le Grand Voyage" (in French and Arabic with English subtitles). Ferroukhi's film portrays a traditional North African father and his French-raised, thoroughly Westernized son as they travel from Europe to Mecca and reconcile their differences en route.

There will be a question and answer session with Ferroukhi after the film, which will screen at 7 p.m. in Room 26-100.

Other films in the CBBS series include "The Fond Kiss" (British/Pakistani) on Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. in Room 2-105; "Head On" (Turkish/German/Muslim) on Thursday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. in Room 56-114 and "Poniente" (Spanish/Muslim) on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. in Room 56-114.

The identity issues that arise from belonging to at least two cultures and speaking two or more languages inspired the founding of CBBS in 1998. "Thinking about and analyzing the implications of these issues is the realm of the CBBS," de Courtivron said.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 21, 2005 (download PDF).

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