Society & Culture
Ep. 4: Arab American Identity with Dr. Hani Bawardi
Hani Bawardi is Associate Professor of History in the Department of Social Sciences, and principal member of the Center of Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He is the author of The Making of Arab Americans: From Syrian Nationalism to U.S. Citizenship. Bawardi has amassed a sizable private collection of manuscripts, and established oral history archives on Arab immigrants from the turn of the nineteenth century at the libraries of University of Michigan, Flint and Dearborn. Bawardi's private papers have the most complete documentation of the activities of four major immigrant political organizations prior to WWII, as well as the personal papers and letters of seminal thinkers and writers including Mikhail Naimy, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, and their contemporaries in the US. Currently, Dr. Bawardi is researching his next book on Arab American advocacy and organizations from 1951 to the present, and editing two Arabic language volumes in preparation for translating them.
Hani J. Bawardi, The Making of Arab Americans: From Syrian Nationalism to U.S. Citizenship (University of Texas Press, 2014). 397 pages.
While conventional wisdom points to the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 as the gateway for the founding of the first Arab American national political organization, such advocacy in fact began with the Syrian nationalist movement, which emerged from immigration trends at the turn of the last century. Bringing this long- neglected history to life, The Making of Arab Americans overturns the notion of an Arab population that was too diverse to share common goals.
Tracing the forgotten histories of the Free Syria Society, the New Syria Party, the Arab National League, and the Institute of Arab American Affairs, the book restores a timely aspect of our understanding of an area (then called Syria) that comprises modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. Hani Bawardi examines the numerous Arab American political advocacy organizations that thrived before World War I, showing how they influenced Syrian and Arab nationalism. He further offers an in-depth analysis exploring how World War II helped introduce a new Arab American identity as priorities shifted and the quest for assimilation intensified. In addition, the book enriches our understanding of the years leading to the Cold War by tracing both the Arab National League’s transition to the Institute of Arab American Affairs and new campaigns to enhance mutual understanding between the United States and the Middle East. Illustrated with a wealth of previously unpublished photographs, The Making of Arab Americans provides crucial insight for contemporary dialogues.
Conducting the interview, Wissam Charafeddine:
Wissam Charafeddine was born in the United Arab Emirates to Lebanese parents. He attended the Islamic Hanbaly Educational Institute and graduated with a diploma in Islamic Shariah. After the first gulf war, his family emigrated to the U.S. and he became an American citizen in 2004. During his academic studies, Wissam continued to study and give lectures on Islamic Shariah through distant-study programs in Iran, and with local scholars.
In 2008-2009, while researching in order to write an article about Islam and evolution, Wissam found a new understanding of science, and adapted a new understanding of life based on it. The article was never finished, but a new intellectual journey had begun.
Mr. Charafeddine co-founded Muslimish in 2012 in order to create an environment for support and dialogue among ex-Muslims and questioning Muslims, and fight for the freedom of expression against blasphemy laws in Islamic countries. In his free time, Wissam enjoys sailing, poetry, reading, music, and traveling with his 2 daughters and son.
Email Wissam at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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