Don’t neglect your own culture, Arab-American author tells women

DUBAI - Renowned Arab-American author Dr Salma Khadra Jayyusi has exhorted women to be prepared for the 21st century, which she called the century of women.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Fri 8 Apr 2005, 12:07 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:58 PM

“Don’t neglect your own culture and rich heritage and blindly accept other cultures - you must have integrity,” Dr Jayyusi, acknowledged worldwide as an Arab/Islamic cultural ambassador, told a gathering at the Dubai Women’s College, hosted by its Unesco Chair for Communications Technology and Journalism. Dr Jayyusi, whose Project of Translation from Arabic (PROTA) organisation founded in 1980 with the mission of translating Arabic literature into English and other languages helped bridge cultural gaps, talked about the challenges she had faced as a pioneering Arab woman writer.

Often referred to as the ‘one-woman cultural institution’, Dr Jayyusi’s contribution to shaping the Arab cultural landscape and its interface with the world spanned 50 years and crossed the boundaries of disciplines, geographies and human languages, said Reem Obeidat, the DWC Unesco Chair.

“We are honoured to have Dr Jayyusi, an inspiration and role model for women all over the world visit Dubai Women’s College,” Obeidat said.

“She has opened doors for Arab women through her courage, strength and wisdom. It is through her great passion and loyalty to the Arab world that she has enlightened so many about the extensive Arab/Islamic contributions to civilisation.”

Dr Jayyusi is an innovative poet, leading literary critic, scholar, visionary cultural curator, and a humanist. Shocked at the fact that very little Arabic literature had been translated into leading modern languages, she founded PROTA, Obeidat said.

A Palestinian, Dr Jayyusi was one of the early innovators in the contemporary Arab poetic movement that first emerged after the Nakbah, entering effectively into the tumult of Arab critical debates on literature and its relationship to society.

Her literary criticism, which appeared in a range of significant publications, called for a literature which was both innovative and, at the same time, critically engaged with the issues of freedoms, social change and collective trauma and predicament that continue to be paramount in the Arab world today.

Her first collection, Return from the Dreamy Fountain, was published in 1960. In addition to the present anthology, she has finished editing two others: Modern Arabic Fiction and Drama and The Literature of Modern Arabia.

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