SOCAL'S MIDDLE EASTERN CULTURAL ARTS CENTER CELEBRATES 9th ANNIVERSARY WITH THE EAST-WEST AWARDS GALA AWARDS SHOW IN BEVERLY HILLLS
[Los Angeles- November 1, 2010] On December 1st, 2010 the Levantine Cultural Center will host the East-West Awards gala to mark its 9th anniversary in Southern California. In celebration of the LCC's mission to bridge political and religious divides and champion a greater understanding of the Arab/Muslim world, the LCC will recognize the excellence of three individuals who have contributed to a positive dialogue between the Middle East and the US.
Reza Aslan, a national advisory board member of the Levantine Cultural Center, introduces a new anthology of Middle Eastern literature, Tablet & Pen, as part of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles' award-winning Aloud at Central Library series at the downtown library. RSVP.
This anthology spans the years 1910-2010 and showcasing the tumultuous changes in literary culture across the Middle East and South Asia, ranging from the renaissance of Arabic literature to Urdu writing after partition. Included are familiar names such as Khalil Gibran, Orhan Pamuk, and Naguib Mahfouz as well as many extraordinary writers and works that have never before been translated into English.
A celebratory reading with Aimee Bender, Howard Gordon, Heather Graham, Evan Handler, Jaime Ray Newman, Sholeh Wolpe, Gideon Yago, and Necar Zadegan. Followed by a book sale and signing.
With traditional Persian music by Hamid Saeidi, hosted by Reza Aslan.
"I didn't expect this kind of reception," musician Saeid Shanbehzadeh told a small but adoring crowd cheering him on at the Troubador, "based on what I had seen from Persian TV." One can see why, given that his music is such a far cry from the hip-hop-infused bubble-gum pop that permeates the Iranian channels here in L.A. Mr. Shanbehzadeh hails from the southern part of Iran—the gulf town of Boushehr, to be exact—and the sound he and his ensemble brought to Los Angeles on Oct 24th, 2010 is the essence of traditional 'Bandari' (Persian Gulf) music: by turns rhythmic and fluid, wistful and passionate, meditative and exhilarating. It's also reflective of the region's long, rich history as a cultural crossroads: infused with strong African, Arab, and even Indian elements.
I am back in Baghdad after seven years away.
Since 2003, a million people have died in Iraq in the wake of post-invasion violence. (1) Sectarian wars have torn the country apart, foreign troops have established huge military bases, and politicians who have sworn to crack down on militias have their own private armies. This once secular nation has been scarred by extremism, with terrible consequences for women, gay people and religious minorities. As government ministries remain feeding troughs for cronyism and sectarian patronage, national reconciliation remains elusive.
Contact: Jordan Elgrably, Nile El Wardani, Elie Karam
Levantine Cultural Center
310.657.5511 or 310.402.8866
[Los Angeles, May 20, 2010] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's top aide, Special Representative to Muslim Communities Farah Pandith, will speak in a public forum on cultural diplomacy organized by the Levantine Cultural Center on Thursday, May 27, 2010, at 7 pm at the Mark Taper Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles.
The "clash of civilization" dialectic and the "war on terror" discourse require Americans to broaden our international outreach, to improve understanding of the Arab/Muslim world. In fact, the alchemy of change requires that we empathize with narratives that may differ from our own; and sometimes these narratives are strikingly similar. Cultural diplomacy efforts use the arts to address communities in conflict-or groups that appear to have opposing interests whether because of different religious traditions, political beliefs or ethnic identification.
By Tamim Ansary
Review by Tara Marie Good
In 1940 Walter Benjamin wrote, "To articulate what is past does not mean to recognize ‘how it really was.' It means to take control of a memory, as it flashes in a moment of danger." For the German-Jewish Marxist philosopher that moment of danger was the Nazi march on Europe. The moment of danger that inspired Afghani born Tamim Ansary to articulate Islamic history in Destiny Disrupted was September 11th.
Destiny Disrupted is a historical narrative of the Islamic world addressing the chasm seen to separate Western and Middle Eastern histories. The main thesis presented by Ansary is that the history of Islam and the West are two parallel histories, which overlap at points, but are fundamentally separate. Claiming to represent a general Muslim perception, Ansary charts Middle Eastern history from the ancient world to the western colonial and economic expansion in the modern era.