NEWS & UPDATES
UC Berkeley establishes Visiting Faculty Start-Up Fund for Assyrian Studies
Contact José L. Rodríguez | University Development and Alumni Relations,
July 17, 2019
Berkeley — A new start-up fund will allow the University of California, Berkeley to bring Assyrian studies into the curriculum by supporting visiting faculty, courses, digital projects, and conferences, the campus announced.
The efforts, made possible by a $675,000 gift from Nora Betyousef Lacey, will include support for a visiting faculty member in the Department of Near Eastern Studies in the College of Letters and Science. At the discretion of the dean of the Division of Arts and Humanities, the fund may be shared jointly with the Department of History.
A search for a visiting faculty member will begin in the fall and a selection by spring 2020, with the goal of having someone in place in fall 2020.
“Nora Lacey’s gift is unique in its open-minded approach and broad-based thinking about Assyrian Studies,” said Francesca Rochberg, chair of Near Eastern Studies. “As a designated field, Assyrian Studies does not have the kind of footing in the American academy that it deserves.”
The gift will advance this diverse field of study at a critical time, according to Rochberg.
“Diaspora Studies is a relatively recent development of the late 20th century,” she said. “The field of Assyriology, that is the study of ancient Assyria, exists in relative isolation from the fields that focus on later periods in the Assyrian collective experience, from the Christian period onward. Ultimately all these areas can be brought into relation with one another just as any field with a continuity of language, literature, and history brings its disparate parts together into a single recognized field of study.”
Lacy is a scientist and founder and president of Cell Marque Corp. Her father, Avimalek Betyouself, was an international attorney who lived in Abadan, Iran before moving to the United States in 1985. He died in 2015.
Betyousef was a scholar, poet, and author of a text titled History of Assyrian Law. He was passionate about Assyrian heritage and studies, establishing a legacy as a philanthropist.
Full statement from Francesca Rochberg, chair of Near Eastern Studies:
“The Near Eastern Studies Department is proud to be the recipient of a new gift for the development of studies in Assyrian culture, language, and history. We are grateful to our donor, Nora Betyousef Lacey, who has generously committed funds for an initial three-year visiting faculty position in order to develop such a new program. We are eager to see this program take shape around the new faculty member, who will teach, conduct research in his or her own field, and engage actively with the Bay Area Assyrian community.
Nora Betyousef Lacey, daughter of the late Avimalek Betyousef of Iran, is a scientist in the field of biotechnology, and is founder and president of Cell Marque Corporation. She, like her father, is a philanthropist and advocate for Assyrian culture, heritage, and history.
The Assyrians of northern Iraq are perhaps best known as the first empire-builders of the ancient world. Less well known is the history of the Assyrian people after the fall of the imperial Assyrian state in 612 BC. This means more than 2500 years of continuous tradition of language and culture from antiquity into modernity, which includes important developments during the Roman/Parthian period, the Early Christian Period, as well as during the periods of Ummayad, Abbasid, and Ottoman Rule. The study of Assyrian history, as well as the language, arts, and cultures of Assyria and the Assyrians has found its way into various academic fields, but surely deserves a dedicated area of study unto its own.
The history of the modern Assyrian Diaspora begins in the 19th century. Most recently, following the wars in Iraq and Syria, another large part of the Assyrian community was displaced, and there are sizeable Assyrian populations across the United States, among them in the Bay Area and Central Valley. The history of the Assyrian people is, therefore, also an important subject area for Diaspora Studies, which analyzes and focuses much needed attention on the phenomenon of dispersed ethnic populations around the world.”
NEW from Undena Publications:
Dr. John L. Hayes, Near Eastern Studies
A Manual of Sumerian Grammar and Texts
Third, Revised and Expanded Edition
Aids and Research Tools in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 5
Pp.vi + 579
Hardback: ISBN 978-0-9798937-3-5, USD $65
Paperback: ISBN 978-0-9798937-4-2, USD $50
Hayes’ Manual of Sumerian (first edition 1990, second 2000) is the
standard textbook for elementary Sumerian, for both self-instruction
and in-class use. A general description of Sumerian is followed by a
series of thirty graduated lessons, and appendices.
Each Lesson includes a sign-list and vocabulary; cuneiform text(s) in
autograph and/or photograph; transliteration, transcription, and
translation; linguistic commentary; and discussion of the function of
the text, anchored in its historical and cultural context.
For this third edition, the text has been completely revised, and new
reading selections added. These includes several inscriptions of
Gudea, and passages from three major Sumerian literary texts.
Lessons 1-21 contain royal inscriptions of the Ur III period. Lesson
22 treats the inscriptions of Gudea. Lessons 23-27 contain an
assortment of administrative and legal texts. Lessons 28-30 include
selections from three literary texts.
The Tel Aviv Review's Plenary Session on the Berkeley School of Hebrew
and Comparative Literature, featuring Professor Chana Kronfeld and Dr Yael Segalovitz.
Recorded at UC Berkeley as part of the 2018 annual conference of the Association for Israel Studies.
2017 Graduating Majors, Awards and Honors:
Khairuldeen Al-Makhzoomi, High Honors
Iman H. Alzaghari, High Honors
Saman Arfaie, High Honors
Rachel Regelein, High Honors, Phi Beta Kappa
Interview with Robert Alter, Class of 1937 Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley. <http://library.vanderbilt.edu/divinity/faculty-staff/interviews/authorialintentions.php>.
In the interview, Professor Alter reflects on his scholarly trajectory, his disciplinary identity, and the theory and practice of translation.
The Khayrallah Center is pleased to announce that Dr. Elizabeth Saylor has been selected as 2016-2017 Post-Doctoral Fellow.
A native New Yorker, Dr. Elizabeth Saylor received her B.A. in Comparative Literature and Society from Columbia University, where she studied Arabic, French, German, and Italian literatures. Elizabeth holds her Ph.D. in Arabic Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, where she had the opportunity to develop her skills as a passionate and award-winning teacher of Arabic language, literature, and culture. Elizabeth has lived and traveled extensively throughout the Middle East. She studied Arabic at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) program at the American University in Cairo and co-directed an Arabic language study abroad program for two consecutive summers in Tunisia. Upon completion of her doctorate, Elizabeth joined Bard College as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Arabic, where she taught Arabic language and literature to a fantastic group of students in New York’s beautiful Hudson River Valley. This summer, she will be directing the Al-Quds Bard Summer Language Intensive, a four-week program for intermediate and advanced Arabic language students, which will be held in the West Bank, Palestine.
Teaching & Research Interests
Elizabeth’s current book project examines the work of a neglected pioneer of the Arabic novel, the Lebanese immigrant writer, journalist, and translator, ‘Afīfa Karam (1883-1924), an important contributor to the nahḍa, or the Arabic cultural renaissance of the late 19th and early 20th century. Karam published three Arabic novels in New York City between 1906 and 1910, predating the publication of Haykal’s Zaynab (1914), which is widely credited as the first Arabic novel. As such, this study challenges the dominant narrative of the evolution of the modern Arabic novel, and posits that Karam’s absence from the Arabic canon stems not only from her gender, but also from her deterritorialized status as a member of the mahjar (diasporic) community of Arabs living in North and South America. An early voice calling attention to the situation of Arab women, Karam was a pivotal figure in the nascent women’s women in the Arab world. At this embryonic stage of its development, Karam articulated a unique gendered theory of the novel that reflects her proto-feminist politics.
Elizabeth’s teaching interests include Arab women’s literature, the Arabic novel, mahjar (émigré) literature, the Arabic language, 19th and 20th century Arabic literature, Arab American studies, Palestinian literature, translation studies, and Orientalism. Elizabeth is board member and treasurer of the Washington Street Historical Society, an organization that aims to preserve the legacy of New York City’s first Arab immigrant neighborhood, Little Syria. She is a founding member of the Arab American Studies Association (AASA) and has presented her work at invited sessions of the Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA), Middle Eastern History and Theory Conference (MEHAT) and the annual Diwan Arts Conference. Elizabeth has organized panels and lectured at a number of museums and academic institutions including the Library of Congress, the University of Chicago, the Arab American National Museum, Rutgers University, and U.C. Berkeley.
Every year the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies offers a postdoctoral fellowship in Middle East Diaspora Studies (with preference given to Lebanese Diasporas). This award is open to scholars in the humanities and social sciences whose scholarly work addresses any aspect of Middle East Diasporas. Fellows are required to be in residence at North Carolina State University during the appointment period; to teach one course per semester during the academic year; to pursue an active research agenda that should result in one or more publications, as well as offer a research presentation in the Spring semester. In addition, the Fellow is expected to take an active role in the programming and activities of the Moise Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies, and in advancing the mission of the center.
Kiersten Neumann, (NES Ph.D. 2014) has received TAARII Award for Best Dissertation on Ancient Iraq.
Campus announces Bita Daryabari Presidential Chair in Iranian Studies.
The Bita Daryabari Presidential Chair in Iranian Studies, financed by her contribution and a grant of $500,000 from the University of California Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs, will support teaching and research by a faculty member in the Department of Near Eastern Studies (NES), with a preference for work focused on ancient Iran.
Tonie Catanzariti (NES Ph.D. 2015) has received Freer-Sackler Museum Fellowship and has been appointed Curator Fellow at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution.
Alison Joseph (NES Ph.D. 2012) is a recipient of a 2016 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise. She is one of ten recipients of the prestigious Lautenschlaeger Award for her first book, Portrait of the Kings: The Davidic Prototype in Deuteronomistic Poetics (Fortress Press, 2015). The Research Center for International and Interdisciplinary Theology grants the Lautenschlaeger Award annually to ten scholars from around the world and across academic disciplines. A committee of twenty-three members from nineteen different countries selected this year’s winners. Joseph and the other recipients will be honored formally with an award ceremony in May 2016 at the University of Heidelberg in Heidelberg, Germany.
Winners of the Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise 2015 - Further information
Anna Cruz, Ph.D. Student in Arabic Literature receives a prestigious Mellon Sawyer Seminar CHAT Fellowship in Comparative Global Humanities (2016-17).
The Mellon Sawyer Seminar in Comparative Global Humanities at Tufts University is a one-year postdoctoral fellowship. The fellow will take a leading role in organizing, administering and participating in a Sawyer Seminar entitled “Comparative Global Humanities: Colonialisms, Violence, and Conditions for the Human.” Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this seminar reconceives humanities and social science knowledge in relation to histories of global relation, contradiction, convergence, and exchange.
New Faculty (Spring 2016)
Ahmad Diab will be joining the NES Department as an Acting Assistant Professor in Spring 2016.
Diab received his B.A. from Damascus University, majoring in English Literature. He completed an M.A. in English Literature at City University of New York while on a Fulbright scholarship. He was awarded a PhD from the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, New York University. On an Erasmus Mundus scholarship he spent a semester of research at Universitat de Barcelona. His research interests are twentieth and twenty-first century Arabic literature; translation studies; Arabic philology; Middle Eastern cinema; post-colonial politics of culture and representation. Diab is currently completing a book manuscript on the representations of Arabs in the Palestinian literary and visual cartography. It demonstrates that Palestinian writers and artists, both before and after Al-Nakba of 1948, responded to the exigencies of their political conditions by articulating heterogeneous visions for identity and alterity around the concept of the Arab. Diab’s work has appeared in the Arab Studies Journal, Washington Square Review, Wasafiri, Jadaliyya, and Al-Shabaka.
Professor Rita lucarelli has been appointed Assistant Curator of Egyptology at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
Professor Lucarelli is also a Digital Humanities Fellow and is developing the Book of the Dead in 3D.
Professor Benjamin Porter has been appointed Acting Director of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research selected Benjamin Porter, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies and curator of Near Eastern archaeology at the Hearst Museum since 2008, as an acting director of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
As an archaeologist, Porter investigates how past Middle Eastern and Mediterranean societies built resilient communities and institutions in arid and semi-arid zones. He directs field archaeology projects in Jordan at the Iron Age capitals of Dhiban and Busayra, as well as a Hearst Museum collections project researching evidence from Peter B. Cornwall’s 1941 expedition to Bahrain and Eastern Saudi Arabia. More information is available through this link
Professor Benjamin Porter has received the G. Ernest Wright award for his book Complex Communities: The Archaeology of Early Iron Age West-Central Jordan, University of Arizona Press. The G. Ernest Wright awardis given to the editor/author of the most substantial volume(s) dealing with archaeological material, excavation reports and material culture from the ancient Near East and eastern Mediterranean. This work must be the result of original research published within the past two years.
New Faculty member
Egyptologist Rita Lucarelli joins the Department of Near Eastern Studies from the Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology, Department of Egyptology, Bonn University. Her Egyptological specialties and areas of interest include: Religion of ancient Egypt; funerary culture and literature of ancient Egypt; history and translation of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead; demonology in ancient Egypt and the Near East; magic in the ancient world; ancient Egyptian material culture and art; ancient Egyptian religious iconography; hieratic magical and funerary texts.