The Middle East Studies Center at Portland State University promotes understanding of the people, cultures, languages and religions of the Middle East. The Center started in 1959 as the first federally supported undergraduate program for Arabic language and Middle East area studies in the nation and is now designated as a National Resource Center for Middle East Studies under the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI program.
The Center’s distinguished faculty includes Assistant Professor of Arabic Language and Literature, Yasmeen Hanoosh, whose work is unified by the theme of Iraqi modernity. Hanoosh’s current book project engages Iraqi literary history and underscores the significance of the literary history and political and intellectual interplay between cosmopolitan centers such as Baghdad and Basra and the marginalized production of non-official culture in the provincial peripheries.
As Hanoosh fosters her own analysis of Iraqi literature and culture, she also promotes awareness of Iraq and its literary output internationally through translation. In addition to publishing stories periodically in prestigious and widely read literary journals, she has made a personal commitment to translate and disseminate significant works of contemporary Iraqi fiction; of these are Luay Hamza Abbas’ collection of short stories, Closing His Eyes, and Murtedha Gzar’s Al-Sayyid Asghar Akbar.
While cultivating her passion for literature through scholarship and translation, Hanoosh also bears in mind the harsh realities of post-invasion Iraq through ethnographic work with U.S.-based Iraqi refugee and immigrant communities, by organizing relevant public and scholarly events, and by fostering constructive liaisons between her students and the local Iraqi refugee community.
More information about the Middle East Studies Center is available at http://www.pdx.edu/middle-east-studies/.