Contemporary Art


Newsweek has an interesting article by Christiane Gruber, an associate professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Michigan, about Muslim cartoons against ISIS. Check it out here.

A painting that says it all by Sulafa Hijazi on Arab Women Artists.

Check out the artwork of twenty-five year old Iranian artist, Maryam Sabbaghpour on Mouftah.

by Kathryn Zyskowski, Cultural Anthropology

Click here to read the five articles and interviews with the authors.

This collection gathers together five articles previously published in Cultural Anthropology, by Naveeda Khan, Hayder Al-Mohammad, Carolyn Rouse and Janet Hoskins, Kenneth George, and Arzoo Osanloo. The collection also includes interviews with the authors, who reflect on their work, as well a commentary on the whole collection from Charles Hirschkind. The articles engage with everyday aspects of living, negotiating, and constructing the world among contemporary Muslims. Moving beyond a focus on the aesthetics of dress, gender relations, or the text in Islam, the collection crosses national boundaries and thematic areas, touching on the immense diversity of nations, peoples, languages, and ideas that fall under the category of Islam. A broad array of ethnographic material is included in the collection: gathering to eat soul food in Los Angeles, navigating a kidnapping in post-invasion Iraq, a child’s relationship to a jinn (spirit/ghost) during sectarian violence in Karachi, discourses around justice in media and conversation surrounding a young man’s death sentence in Iran, and debates about the production of Islamic art in Indonesia.
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Image by Naji al-Ali. Painted on the Palestinian side of the separation barrier close to Bethlehem.

by Ammiel Alcalay, Warscapes,
August 11, 2014,

You know as well as I do that a people under occupation will

be unhappy, that parents will fear for the lives of their precious children,

especially when there is NOWHERE TO HIDE.

You know as well as I do that a husband’s memory of his wife forced to

deliver their child at a checkpoint will not be a happy one. You know as

well as I do that the form of her unborn child beaten to death in the womb

will never leave a mother’s mind. And you know as well as I do that a girl will

have cause to wonder at the loss of her grandfather, made to wait on his

way to the hospital, and she’ll have cause to cry at the bullet lodged

in her brother’s head — You know as well as I do that watching

someone who stole the land you used to till water their garden

while you hope some rain might collect to parch your weary throat

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Turkey – “The sick man of Europe”, by John Leech, Punch, September 17, 1853

For a fascinating collection of cartoons, many from Punch, since 1853, check out the website “A Cartoon History of the Middle East,” compiled by Peter Casillas.


Banksy’s two girls: #WithSyria campaign (L) and “There is always hope” (R)

by Hisham Ashkar, on/off..but mostly off, March 7, 2014

Ahead of the third anniversary of the Syrian uprising, a coalition of international organizations was formed, #WithSyria, urging people around the world to hold vigils on 15 March, with the aim to “show our leaders that we will not give up on the people of Syria, that they must act to bring an end to the bloodshed and to get aid to all those who need it.”

Among the organizations, we can find Amnesty International, Save the Children, Reporters Sans Frontières and the Church of England.

In their mobilization effort, they recruited Banksy, and indeed the famous anonymous British graffiti artist didn’t fail to impress us once again. He produced an original Banksy for the campaign, that Amnesty proudly twitted it.

This new Banksy reminds us of an old Banksy: A young girl losing a heart-shaped balloon to the wind. Behind her on the staircase is written “There is always hope.” The graffiti was made in 2007.

For #WithSyria campaign, the little girl was given a veil. Well yes, it’s very logical! Syria is a Muslim country. Muslim women are dotted with veils. So to be politically correct , and to take in consideration and not to offend the feeling of Muslims, the little girl wears a veil.

Maybe Banksy didn’t thought much of that while drawing his work. But this reveals an unbearable amount of ignorance, stereotyping and orientalism, not only from Banksy, but also from the organizations in #WithSyria camapign. (more…)


“The Start: Arabs Setting out with Falcons to Course Gazelles. It is difficult to tell just when hawking began. The Arabs, perhaps as early as any other people, trained certain hawks to course the swift desert game. In coursing gazelles, three, five or more hawks are used, and the aid of dogs is required for the actual kill, the hawks worrying and bewildering the game until the dogs can catch up. These hawks are always fed from the eye-sockets of a calf’s head, and naturally turn to this spot in their living quarry. There is great danger that the hawks may be impaled on the horns of the gazelle.

In leafing through a vintage National Geographic Magazine from December, 1920, I came across an article entitled “Falconry, the Sport of Kings” by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, who also drew the paintings included with his text. Falconry, as Fuertes writes, was far more than the sport of kings: “A vast impetus was given to falconry by the returning crusaders, who had become familiar with the methods of the Orient and had brought with them both falcons and trainers. War lords never left their courts without their falconers and a cadge of hawks, to be flown at anything that might be deemed worthy.” The author noted that hunting with falcons was greatly curtailed after the introduction of guns, but continued as a sport. But he wrote just after the Great War, now known as World War I, had ended, and hoped that some of the “less serious pursuits” like falconry would be revived. Although his article does not discuss the falconry of the Middle East in any detail, it does provide two illustrations, which I provide above and below.


This is one of the most thrilling of all uses of the falcon, for the chase often continues for many miles over the rough desert, where only the stanchest horse can follow. The size and stamina of the quarry, combined with the habit of fleet running instead of flying, make it hard as well as dangerous for the little lanner falcon to kill, as there is so little space to turn away from the ground after the stroke.

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