Arab Studies Institute
Washington DC - Beirut
Jadaliyya turns Three: A Journeys Recap
This past week, Jadaliyya turned three.
We are not tired. We are exhausted, and have never felt better.
When Bassam first called me [in July 2010] to ask me to join the Jad team he said “oh yeah, it will only take a few of hours of your time.” I did not know he meant per day!
—Lisa Hajjar, Jadaliyya Co-Editor
We look back with amazement at where we were when we first started in the summer of 2010, and how much we have grown since, especially in the past year alone. We expanded in terms of sections/pages, number of languages, team members, readership, citations, social media presence, countries’ accessibility, and classroom use. This summer, our Facebook reach consistently exceeded one million and visitor/downloads activity skyrocketed as a result of our coverage of events in Turkey, Egypt, and, recently, Syria. Our culture and Arabicsections are making their way into the screens of a dramatically increasing number of readers in the region and beyond, and our other eighteen pages keep quite busy.
[Early Screenshots from Summer 2010, before Jadaliyya became public. We actually wrote/published articles for three months before we launched so readers can be exposed to a thick publication from the get-go. See a sample below.]
Jadaliyya’s Initial Twenty Posts (2 July 2010 to 1 September 2010)
1. Syria's Economic Outlook by Bassam Haddad
2. A Portrait of an Iraqi Person at the End of Time by Sinan Antoon
3. Fadlallah and Abuzeid Die Within Two Days by Bassam Haddad
4. More than a stain by Sherene Seikaly
5. Another Credible Israeli Investigation by Noura Erakat
6. Anniversary of Salah al-Bitar's Assassination by Bassam Haddad
7. An Incredible Finding in Israel's Investigation of Itself by Noura Erakat
8. Good News From Iraq by Sinan Antoon
9. Reich Is No Marxist, But... by Bassam Haddad
10. Arabic Comes to Jadaliyya
11. Al-Tahir Wattar (1936-2010) by Sinan Antoon
12. The Poet Lives by Sinan Antoon
13. The Safety of Objects by Maya Mikdashi
14. Endless Negotiations: Palestinian Quicksand by Noura Erakat
15. To Stay Modern by Sherene Seikaly
16. My Great and Terrible Obsession: Torture by Lisa Hajjar
17. The Politics of Power Cuts In Egypt (Part 1) by Mohammad Waked
18. The Predicament of Independent Opposition in Syria (Part 1) by Bassam Haddad
19. Neoliberalism's Populist Engine and Race in America by Noura Erakat
20. An Open Invitation to An Occupation Masquerade by Sinan Antoon
During the past three years, we expanded from having one main page to twenty, with an equivalent number of relatively autonomous teams to go along. We have addressed issues from culture to intervention, reviewing books, films, and art exhibits, and chronicling resistance struggles and daily developments across a contested region and time. We added a fabulous Turkey Page with a brand new team of stellar writers, expanding thereby the languages we publish to four—Arabic, English, French, and Turkish. A few more new additions are coming to Jad this fall, including our much-awaited Cities Page on urban studies, space, and more, due to launch next week. Stay tuned.
[our current Jadaliyya bars/pages]
Speaking of “tuned,” we just launched our first Podcast (Jad for Reel عن جد), in BETA form, waiting to benefit from our listeners/readers’ feedback in order to deliver a state of the art, insightful, and enjoyable monthly program. Our intention is to provide a monthly digest for those who would like a quick recap, plus additional new material/interviews produced for the podcast. “Jad for Reel” is the first installment of future audio-visual programs/podcasts.
[Jadaliyya's first Podcast. CLICK TO PLAY.]
Our Media Roundups for nearly all pages on Jadaliyya deserve a special mention. The fantastic junior team members have been producing weekly roundups of relevant and significant articles in Arabic, English, French, and Turkish. These have become go-to places for readers interested in the respective country or topical pages, and have become an important one-stop-shop for those who missed last week’s news and analysis, on Jadaliyyaand beyond. All roundups, and top “10s, 20s, 50s, and 100s,” can be found on our vibrant Roundups page here.
Other exciting pages and initiatives include our Profile page, Photography page, and From the Archives posts.
More than any other development, our Arabic Section grew tremendously and, at times, outstripped our English section in topping Jadaliyya in terms of readership. We are particularly excited about the increasing number of writers from the region, from Morocco to Bahrain, passing through the Levant and Egypt, who found in Jadaliyyaan appropriate and productive forum for their stellar work and analysis. This year, the Arabic section will grow further as it will benefit from an expanded team, and from deeper collaboration with other publications, chief among them being Tadween Publishing’s informative and insightful blog.
Our team grew from five co-founders (founding story here), to twelve and then seventeen Co-editors, and then shot up to sixty team members working on twenty pages, with overlapping page teams. Jadaliyya page teams are relatively autonomous and set their own agendas with organic consultation with the rest of the teams and the Co-Editors (i.e., such conversations happen naturally because of Jadaliyya’s mode of work and open/continuous communication). We have had our challenges and glitches, but continued to learn and develop our team to create a unique work-mode and solidarity-based organizational experience and development. This formula had its start in 1992 when Jadaliyya’s sister organization, the peer-reviewed Arab Studies Journal, was born. By 2011, our team exceeded one hundred volunteers, and we found ourselves incapable of maintaining our productivity without funding (see our About page for more). Our main caveat was certainly retaining absolute editorial independence and maintaining our majoritarian volunteer status in terms of all labor conducted, so as not to become dependent on external funds. We plan to continue refining our solidarity-based work-mode and learning from experience in a rapidly changing work-place environment where both technology and censorship are in flux.
[~33% of Jadaliyya's Co-Editors during a bedroom meeting at MESA in Washington DC, November 2011]
We have lots in store for our readers this fall, including the launching of exciting pages that we will refrain from revealing at the moment. Thereafter, we will begin to wind down our page expansion for some time (we parodied ourselves in a post about how Jad keeps creating new pages here).
Pedagogy and Pedagogical Publications
We would like to highlight two future initiatives. First, we intend to begin developing our Pedagogy section to include vast resources for educators and researchers. This will take place through Jadaliyya’s pedagogy page, but, more broadly, through the launching of the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) that Tadween Publishing and Jadaliyya are embarking on along with a few other educational institutions/universities. (more information can be found on the nascent project here).
[The Pedagogical Publication, JadMag. Click to go to www.JadMag.org]
The first outcome of this project is a new kind of series of publications that focus on one particular topic at a time. We are calling this JadMag. The first issue of JadMag is available now, and is titled “Theorizing the Arabian Peninsula.” You can access the first issue here. These publications are intended for pedagogical purposes but are quite accessible to the general audience. They include a vast resource section that highlights select books and peer-reviewed articles on the respective topic as well as numerous links to important twitter handles, blogs, websites, organizations, and maps. In order to support educators, a practical Teaching Guide will always accompany JadMag. To take a peek, click here.
[JadMag's First Issue on Theorizing the Arabian Peninsula. Click HERE for more to come.]
Collaboration with ASI
The second and related initiative involves deepening collaboration with Jadaliyya’s four sister organizations at the Arab Studies Institute (ASI), including Arab Studies Journal (peer-reviewed research Journal intended for researchers); Quilting Point (research-based documentary production collective intended for general audiences);Tadween Publishing (a new kind of publishing house intended for educators and the general public); and FAMA(Forum on Arab and Muslim Affairs, the research arm of ASI, engaging primarily in research on Knowledge Production on the region). MESPI (Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative) is one such avenue. But we intend to develop more collaborative publishing projects with both Tadween and the Arab Studies Journal, and addition audio-visual material with our production collective, Quilting Point.
[Jadaliyya's sister organizations at the Arab Studies Institute. Click HERE for more information]
Though we are not ready to announce ASI's mammoth project on Knowledge Production on the Middle East (where Jadaliyya will play a role in dissemination and beyond) , we would like to share a tidbit. This 8-year project will allow for an unprecedented comprehensive and interactive search for both generic research pursposes and, more critically, for the purspose of scrutinizing knowledge production on the region as a politicized process/affair, related as much to power and financing as it is to the desire for the pursuit of knowledge. More, much more, coming in 2014.
[ASI's Knowledge Production Project involves Jadaliyya and its sister organizations at the Arab Studies Institute.
Click HERE for more information. We will announce this project shortly.]
We can write/share more but this is long enough (perhaps too long). On our pages henceforth, and acrossJadaliyya’s sister organizations, you will see productive developments in the coming year. We are nowhere near done and, frankly, considering the gravity of mainstream discourse on the region, we are going to be around for the long haul, with or without uprisings. So, enjoy the ride!
Finally, we would like to thank each and every one of our readers, including our haters and closet Jad addicts, who have contributed to our development through support, critique, promotion, and constructive feedback. We truly listen and are responsive to what will strengthen and deepen our message/mission. And, clearly, we would not be here had it not been for the increasingly growing pool of stellar writers, from the region and beyond, who have helped us bring near comprehensive coverage and analysis on a broad array of topics and countries. Most of all, we would like to thank the incredibly superb team that runs Jadaliyya, from contributing editors, to researchers, writers, designers, and “interns” who usually end up sticking around and joining the team. Soon, you will see a list of each and every person who joined our team and how they contributed to Jad’s development.
Happy reading and more.