Posted on October 08, 2013

Hamad bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) Translation and Interpreting Institute (TII) hosted the internationally acclaimed scholar and media critic, Dr. Jack Shaheen, on October 7th as part of its Distinguished Public Talks series.

A committed internationalist and a devoted humanist, Dr. Shaheen has given over a thousand lectures and written hundreds of essays in publications such as Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. His lectures and writings illustrate that racial and ethnic stereotypes injure innocent people. He defines crude caricatures, explains why they persist, and suggests strategies to undo misconceptions.

Dr. Shaheen’s  lecture, entitled “Images of Arabs in American Popular Culture; Problems and Prospects”, is derived from his latest book, “A is for Arab: Archiving Stereotypes in U.S. Popular Culture”, which features photographs of objects and materials from his archives which delves deeply into popular American culture representations of Arabs and Muslims from the early 20th century to present day. The lecture aims at stimulating discussion about the impact of stereotypes on both individual perceptions and national policy.

Professor Jack Shaheen

The event also featured a screening of the award-winning documentary, “Reel Bad Arabs”, which addresses the orientalizing aspect of American cinematic history that has remained unchallenged in cinema studies. Featuring Dr. Shaheen, the documentary highlights the discourse of categorizing and degrading images of Arabs. Also, it challenges viewers to recognize the urgent need for counter-narratives, for more accurate representation of Arabs and the reality of Arab history and culture. 

Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of HBKU’s TII, Dr. Amal Al Malki, said “We are honored to have the renowned author Jack Shaheen who has spent his life exposing the negative images associated with Arabs and Muslims in American media that have been so entrenched in the western popular memory. His long-life conviction is relevant to who we are and what we do in the Translation and Interpreting Institute. We don’t only work on building translators that are sound academically but more building bridges between cultures and promoting tolerance and understanding. In TII, we work on creating academic conversations through inviting distinguished speakers who can attract different ideas, transcending barriers of languages and cultures.”

Dr. Shaheen is also the author of “Nucshaheen The TV Arab, Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture”, the award-winning book and film, “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People”, and “GUILTY Hollywood’s Verdict on Arabs after 9/11”.

HBKU’s TII Distinguished Public Talks series are open to the public and host renowned scholars and writers, who have made international contributions during their prolific literary and academic career. The talks are aimed at raising cultural awareness and stimulating discussion on current issues.

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