February 2009

organized by
The Museum for African Art
Thursday Feb 19th, 2009
5-7pm on the 15th Floor of Ogilvy New York
Worldwide Plaza 309 West 49th St.
RSVP to ogilvyrsvp@gmail.com

Interflow presents recent painting and mixed media works on paper by New York-based artist Emna Zghal. Color and line continually search for boundaries they never find. Forms emerge to take on shapes that feel simultaneously familiar and foreign. Though the canvas fights to act as a boundary, poetic lines overflow into infinite space. Each mark acts in unison with the next to challenge the seemingly simple nature of line itself. Emna Zghal’s artwork elicits a never-ending network of nerves pulsing with colorful abstractions and an energy that suggests organic patterns in a continual search for form. (more…)

Howard Carter cleaning the sarcophagus.

February 16, 1923 — one of those days that marks a momentous event, if you are an Egyptologist or just curious about the Pharaonc past. On this day British archaeologist Howard Carter entered the tomb of what turned out to be the golden hold of King Tutankhamun. For a treasure trove of photographs and details about this discovery, see Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation, an online resource of the Griffith Museum at Oxford.

The tomb when first opened.

Nawal al-Samarraie, Photo by Karim Kadim

Iraqi Women’s Minister Resigns, Draws Support

by Corey Flintoff, NPR, February 12, 2009

Women in Iraq’s parliament have rallied behind the country’s minister for women’s affairs, who resigned earlier this week saying she was frustrated by a lack of support from the government.

The resignation highlights the plight of many Iraqi women, especially widows created by the country’s decades of war.

Nawal al-Samarraie had served as Iraq’s minister for women’s affairs for less than six months when she created a stir by turning in her resignation. She complained she had never received support from the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and that her budget for projects had been slashed from about $7,500 a month to around $1,500.

“I think it is wrong to stay as a minister without doing anything for my people, especially in this time and in this situation of Iraqi women — we have an army of widows, violated women, detainees, illiteracy and unemployment — many, many problems. I had to resign,” she said. (more…)

Divestment is a two-edged sword. Earlier this week a number of pro-Palestinian sites were ethused with the apparent decision of Hampshire College to divest its financial portfolio from investments in companies involved in the occupation of Palestine. I provide one such report below, followed by a clarification from Hampshire College that the decision was purely on financial grounds and not political.

Hampshire College becomes first college in U.S. to divest from Israeli Occupation!
Global BDS Movement, 2/12/2009

[press kit attached below] – Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, has become the first of any college or university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

This landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign by the campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The group pressured Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees to divest from six specific companies due to human rights concerns in occupied Palestine. Over 800 students, professors, and alumni have signed SJP’s “institutional statement” calling for the divestment. (more…)

The illustrations provided in the books of Rev. John G. Wood are interesting not only for what they portray, but how they are described. Here is Wood’s folksy spin on three major fishes of Egypt and Palestine:

In order that the reader may see examples of the typical Fish which are to be found in Egypt and Palestine, I have added three more species, which are represented in the following illustration.


Today is a momentous day, especially if we turn back the clocks 200 years exactly. On February 12, 1809 two freedom fighters were born at opposing ends of the Atlantic: Lincoln and Darwin. Abraham Lincoln freed America from the intolerable idea of human slavery; Charles Darwin freed the human mind from the dogmatic shackles that viewed scientific inquiry as heresy. I have been preparing a paper on Darwin’s reception by Muslims for an upcoming conference at Hofstra University on “Darwin’s Reach” March 12-14. As you might suspect, the initial reaction was not very positive. Of course information about Darwin’s new theory of natural selection did not come through any scientific venues but through the negative filter of Protestant missionaries. Branded a materialist and atheist, there was little enthusiasm in the late 19th century for a challenge to the traditional view of Adam and Eve. (more…)

Azadeh Moaveni, left; Azar Nafisi, right

Memoirs Recount Limitations Of Life In Modern Iran

NPR, Morning Edition, February 10, 2009
Two new memoirs chronicle life in pre- and post-revolution Iran and offer a glimpse of a people struggling to find pockets of freedom within a repressive regime.

Azadeh Moaveni, a California-born journalist who lived in Iran from 1999 until 2002 and again from 2005 until 2007, is the author of Honeymoon in Tehran, in which she recounts the complexities of moving in with her boyfriend and becoming pregnant — before getting married — in a restrictive Islamic regime.

Moaveni describes modern Iran as an “as if” society, where young Iranians avoid the rules by acting as if they don’t exist and where what people do in private tends to be very different from the way they are forced to behave in public.

“For example, you have a middle class of young people who has premarital sex, drinks alcohol — behaves as young people around the world, and this is something the regime can’t do anything about because, for the most part, it all takes place behind closed doors,” Moaveni tells Morning Edition’s Rene Montaigne. (more…)

Art by Olaf Hajek for The New York Times

Why the Muslim World Can’t Hear Obama
By ALAA AL ASWANY, The New York Times, February 7, 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA is clearly trying to reach out to the Muslim world. I watched his Inaugural Address on television, and was most struck by the line: “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers.” He gave his first televised interview from the White House to Al Arabiya, an Arabic-language television channel.

But have these efforts reached the streets of Cairo?

One would have expected them to. Mr. Obama had substantial support among Egyptians — more than any other American presidential candidate that I can remember. I traveled to America several days before the election. The Egyptians I met in the United States told me — without exception — that they backed Mr. Obama. Many Egyptians I know went to his Web site and signed up as campaign supporters. (more…)

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