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DATE: April 7, 2006

Center for Arab American Studies to host international conference

DEARBORN---The Center for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn will host the first international conference in which scholars, public intellectuals, officials, cultural workers and activists will discuss the current and historical experiences of displacement and exile.

The three-day conference, titled "Mapping Arab Diasporas: Border Crossing, Exile, Displacement," will take place from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. April 27-29 at UM-Dearborn's Fairlane Center.

"The post-9/11 atmosphere of Islamophobia and racial and ethnic profiling of Arabs, central and south Asians and the targeting of immigrants for detention and deportation makes the study and analysis of the relationship of marginalized diasporic communities to the countries in which they live an absolute necessity--both intellectually and politically," according to Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi, director of UM-Dearborn's Center for Arab American Studies.

"In so doing, this first worldwide conference on Arab Diasporas has to account for race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, class and wealth, citizenship and immigration status, and other structural inequalities that shape and influence the lives and experiences of Arabs in the diaspora and their interaction with their socio-political context," she said. "We expect the conference to highlight the centrality of transnational networks through which immigrant communities maintain their links at home with the homelands from they or their ancestors descended."

The Center for Arab American Studies at UM-Dearborn is the first and only academic center in the world dedicated to the study of people of Arab descent who live in the Americas.

The "Mapping Arab Diasporas" conference builds on the Center's mission to contribute to a better public understanding of Arab experiences and concerns in the Americas, the promotion of a culture of justice, dignity, tolerance, and peace; and the deepening of a sense of fairness, ethics, and solidarity among and between our communities. As a result, CAAS is committed to projects that promote the well being of our neighborhoods in the greater Metropolitan Detroit area and its mosaic of peoples of all racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural groups," according to Abdulhadi.
The conference will include numerous panel discussions on topics such as "Borders, Boundaries and Transnational Geographies"; "9/11 and Beyond: Detention, War on Terror and the Security State"; and "Arab Women and Gender Dynamics: Families, Communities and Exile."

A concert and cultural festival with Iraqi renowned oud (lute) player, Naseer Shamma, will be held following the conference at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 28. "Jammin' for Justice" will benefit the Children's Cancer Hospital in Iraq. Shamma is the founder of Bayt Al Oud Music at Cairo Opera House, a highly selective music academy that trains young women and men in the "secrets of the oud," according to Shamma. Shamma will be joined by Syrian established poet, Lina Tibi, who was an invited speaker at the PEN international conference in 2004. Spoken word artists and local poets will also participate by donating their time and creativity for the benefit concert.

The cost to attend the conference ranges from $50-$100. Cost for attending the conference and the concert ranges from $75 to $500. For more information, e-mail caasumd@umd.umich.edu or call the Center for Arab American Studies at (313) 583-6334.

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