- Associate Professor
- Boston University
This project explores the modern history of Arab-Russian and Arab-Soviet literary and cultural ties. For over a century, Russian culture offered important models against which Arab intellectuals developed their styles and ideas. Beyond particular authors or texts, the idea of Russia (and later the USSR) exerted a magnetic pull on intellectual life throughout the Arab world’s encounter with western-driven modernity. Russia was a potent exemplar: a civilization able to overtake and even join Europe without giving up its cultural integrity or status as an alternative to western culture. Focusing not on Russia’s cultural “influence” but on Arab intellectuals’ responses and appropriations, the project draws on travelogues, memoirs, poetry, novels, journalistic reports, documentary films, and archival research in Moscow and Cairo, as well as personal interviews with living writers, filmmakers, and other alumni of Soviet educational institutions.