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Arab American Heritage from A-Z

In case you missed it, April was Arab American Heritage Month! We put together an A-Z list of music, books, poetry and more to celebrate Arab heritage in the United States.

Explore this three part series and join Mizzou Libraries in supporting Arab American voices:

Series written by: Rachel Brekhus, Melissa Fayad & Sireen Abayazid (Student worker, DMiL)


Taira Meadowcroft

Taira Meadowcroft is a Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Missouri. She focuses on quality improvement, reference, and marketing for the University of Missouri Libraries.

home Resources and Services Arab American Heritage from R-Z

Arab American Heritage from R-Z

In case you missed it, April is Arab American Heritage Month! We’ve put together an A-Z list of music, books, poetry and more to celebrate Arab heritage in the United States. Read the first part of this series and join Mizzou Libraries in supporting Arab American voices.

Rachel Brekhus, Melissa Fayad & Sireen Abayazid (Student worker, DMiL)




Rahim AlHaj NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Ancestor to the lute and the guitar, the oud ‎is an ancient stringed instrument commonly played throughout the Middle East, North Africa and countries like Greece and Turkey. Rahim AlHaj learned to play the oud at age 9, and later graduated with honors and a degree in music composition from the Institute of Music in Baghdad. Today, he composes traditional and contemporary pieces for a variety of ensembles — solo oud, string quartets and symphony orchestras. This Tiny Desk concert features 4 songs, three of which AlHaj played with percussionist Issa Malluf, playing the dumbek. – NPR



Sons of the Prophet, Stephen Karam

This award winning play by Stephen Karam is a comedy-drama about two Lebanese brothers, Joseph and Charles Douaihy, whose father recently died of a heart attack. After their father’s passing, the brothers must take of themselves and their Uncle Bill. The play is an exploration of the fragility of the human condition, and the relationships and dark comedy born from tragedy.





Sweet Dates in Basra, Jessica Jiji

Just when her family should be arranging her marriage, Kathmiya Mahmoud, a young Marsh Arab maiden, is sent from her home in Iraq’s idyllic countryside to the unfamiliar city of Basra, where she must survive on her paltry earnings as a servant. Her only asset is her exquisite beauty which brings more peril than peace. Worse, her mother appears to be keeping a secret about her own mysterious past, one that could threaten Kathmiya’s destiny forever. Set during the tumultuous years surrounding the Second World War, Sweet Dates in Basra is the redemptive story of two very different cultures, and a powerful reminder that no walls can confine the human spirit. – Author’s Website





The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria, Alia Malek

In The Home that Was Our Country, Syrian-American journalist Alia Malek chronicles her return to her family home in Damascus and the history of the Jabban apartment building. Here, generations of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Armenians lived, worked, loved, and suffered in close quarters. In telling the story of her family over the course of the last century, Alia brings to light the triumphs and failures that have led Syria to where it is today.




The Thirty Names of Night, Zeyn Joukhadar

Five years after a suspicious fire killed his mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother’s ghost has begun to visit him each evening. The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria. One night, he finds the tattered journal of a Syrian American artist named Laila Z. She famously and mysteriously disappeared more than sixty years before, but her journal contains proof that Laila Z’s past is intimately tied to his mother’s-and his grandmother’s–in ways he never could have expected.



Tiffany – “I Think We’re Alone Now (Re-Recorded)”

Tiffany Darwish is an American singer, songwriter and former 1980’s teen pop star of Lebanese Descent. Her 1987 cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James and the Shondells was her biggest hit, and spent two weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This video is a rerecording of the cover, filmed in 2019. 


Unsettled Belonging: Educating Palestinian American Youth After 9/11, Thea Renda Abu El-Haj

Unsettled Belonging tells the stories of young Palestinian Americans as they navigate and construct lives as American citizens. Following these youth throughout their school days, Thea Abu El-Haj examines citizenship as lived experience, dependent on various social, cultural, and political memberships. For them, she shows, life is characterized by a fundamental schism between their sense of transnational belonging and the exclusionary politics of routine American nationalism that ultimately cast them as impossible subjects. – Publisher’s Website



What is SWANA?

SWANA Alliance is an organization dedicated to fighting for the liberation of South West Asian/North African peoples. The term SWANA is a decolonial word for the South West Asian/North African region used in place of other colonial terms meant to conflate the region, its people and its cultures. The organization invites members of these communities to practice solidarity on the basis of a joint struggle rooted in their differences.


White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race, Ian Haney-López

White by Law was published in 1996 to immense critical acclaim, and established Ian Haney López as one of the most exciting and talented young minds in the legal academy. The first book to fully explore the social and specifically legal construction of race, White by Law inspired a generation of critical race theorists and others interested in the intersection of race and law in American society. Today, it is used and cited widely by not only legal scholars but many others interested in race, ethnicity, culture, politics, gender, and similar socially fabricated facets of American society. 


home Resources and Services Arab American Heritage from I to P

Arab American Heritage from I to P

In case you missed it, April is Arab American Heritage Month! We’ve put together an A-Z list of music, books, poetry and more to celebrate Arab heritage in the United States. Read the second part of this series and join Mizzou Libraries in supporting Arab American voices.

Rachel Brekhus, Melissa Fayad & Sireen Abayazid (Student worker, DMiL)



Invasive Species, Marwa Helal

In Invasive Species, Marwa Helal’s searing politically charged poems touch on our collective humanity and build new pathways for empathy, etching themselves into memory. This work centers on urgent themes in our cultural landscape, creating space for unseen victims of discriminatory foreign (read: immigration) policy: migrants, refugees–the displaced. Helal transfers lived experiences of dislocation and relocation onto the reader by obscuring borders through language – Publisher’s website




“Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye is an American poet, songwriter and novelist of Palestinian, German and Swiss descent. Nye spent her adolescent years in Jerusalem and San Antonio, TX and her experience in differing cultures has influenced much of her work. She has published or contributed to over 30 volumes of poetry, and this poem, “Kindness,” is from her collection Different Ways to Pray, published in 1980.


Loeb Music Library – Arabic 78 Collection

The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library is Harvard’s home for musical materials. The library’s 78rpm Arabic records collection has over 600 records from the Arab Renaissance of the early 20th century, known as Al-Nahḍa. The collection features music from famous performers and composers from the era such as Yūsuf Al-Manyalāwī and Sayyid Al- Ṣaftī from acclaimed record companies of Arab, American and European origin. The physical copies are located at the library in Boston, MA but they’ve been digitized for anyone to access.



Many Voices of Casey Kasem – An Animated Tribute 

Kemal Amin “Casey” Kasem was an American voice actor of Lebanese descent, best known for being the first to voice Shaggy Roberts in the Scooby Doo franchise and for voicing Dick Grayson/Robin in Super Friends. Kasem was also a disc jockey and radio personality, and was one of the founders of American Top 40, a weekly radio countdown started in 1970.




MENA, an acronym in the English language, refers to a grouping of countries situated in and around the Middle East and North Africa. It is also known as WANA, which alternatively refers to the Middle East as Western Asia. The region shares a number of cultural, economic, and environmental similarities across its comprising countries. Some terms have a wider definition than MENA, such as MENAP or Greater Middle East, which extends to South Asia to include the countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan.



Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies at NC State

A pilot project to research and preserve Lebanese history in North Carolina was funded by Dr. Moise A. Khayrallah in 2010. The initiative started with projects like the PBS Documentary Cedars in the Pines and a touring museum exhibit of the same name. It expanded to the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies, dedicated to researching Lebanese history in the United States and beyond. 



Music at the Limits, Edward W. Said

Music at the Limits is the first book to bring together three decades of Edward W. Said’s essays and articles on music. Addressing the work of a variety of composers, musicians, and performers, Said carefully draws out music’s social, political, and cultural contexts and, as aclassically trained pianist, provides rich and often surprising assessments of classical music and opera. – Book Jacket







“I Remember My Father’s Hands” by Lisa Suhair Majaj

Lisa Suhair Majaj is a Palesitinian-American poet. Her 2009 manuscript, Geographies of Light received the Del Sol Press Annual Poetry Prize, and features the poem “I Remember My Father’s Hands.” This video is a visualization of the poem.



Paul Orfalea’s Top 10 Rules For Success

Paul Orfalea is an American business man of Lebanese descent. He founded the copy-chain Kinko’s in 1970, now known as FedEx Office after being acquired by FedEx in 2004. Now resigned from the role of CEO, he has focused his energy on philanthropy. Here are his top 10 rules for success.

home Resources and Services Arab American Heritage from A to H

Arab American Heritage from A to H

In case you missed it, April is Arab American Heritage Month! We’ve put together an A-Z list of music, books, poetry and more to celebrate Arab heritage in the United States. Read the first part of this series and join Mizzou Libraries in supporting Arab American voices.

Rachel Brekhus, Melissa Fayad & Sireen Abayazid (Student worker, DMiL)





Amreeka is a movie that proves that the American spirit doesn’t come with citizenship papers–it comes from the hearts of the people who live there. A family of immigrants, along with a couple of first-generation American teenagers, finds themselves inexorably caught between their heritage and their new home. Can they unite to make themselves a whole American family, or will the various influences on their lives pull them apart? The award-winning film was directed by Charien Dabis and was released in 2009. 

Anton Abdelahad: “Miserlou”

This is one of the oldest renditions of Miserlou/Misirlou (made famous by Dick Dale and later in Pulp Fiction). The Arabic title translates literally to “Come so I can tell you.”

Anton “Tony” Abdelahad was born in Boston on July 25, 1915, a child of immigrants from Damascus, Syria. Despite being American-born, he quickly developed a passion and a gift for Arabic music. At the age of fifteen, he embarked on his professional career. During the sixty years that followed, Tony performed throughout the United States and Canada, entertaining his countless fans including such notables as King Saud of Saudi Arabia, for whom he performed privately on a number of occasions. From Boston to New York, Detroit to Montreal and beyond, Tony would travel nearly every weekend to perform at haflat (concerts) and mahrajanat (two and three-day music festivals), often accompanied by such legendary violinists as Philip Solomon or Fred Elias, as well as the great Ronnie Kirby on the darbakka (drum). 


Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine, Ibtisam Barakat 

Picking up where Ibtisam Barakat’s first memoir, Tasting the Sky, left off, Balcony on the Moon follows her through her childhood and adolescence in Palestine from 1972-1981 in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. This memoir about pursuing dreams in the face of adversity chronicles Ibitsam’s desire to be a writer and shows how she finds inspiration through writing letters to pen pals and from an adult who encourages her to keep at it. But the most surprising turn of all for Ibtisam happens when her mother decides that she would like to seek out an education, too. Enlightening and at times funny, Balcony on the Moon is a not often depicted look at daily life in a politically tumultuous region. — Provided by Publisher


Between Arab and White: Race and Ethnicity in the Early Syrian American Diaspora, Sarah M. A. Gualtieri 

This multifaceted study of Syrian immigration to the United States places Syrians–and Arabs more generally–at the center of discussions about race and racial formation from which they have long been marginalized. Between Arab and White focuses on the first wave of Arab immigration and settlement in the United States in the years before World War II, but also continues the story up to the present. It presents an original analysis of the ways in which people mainly from current day Lebanon and Syria–the largest group of Arabic-speaking immigrants before World War II–came to view themselves in racial terms and position themselves within racial hierarchies as part of a broader process of ethnic identity formation.  — Provided by Publisher


Beyond Memory: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Creative Nonfiction, Pauline Kaldas, Khaled Mattawa 

This anthology brings together the voices of both new and established Arab American writers, creating a compilation of essays and creative nonfiction that reveal the stories of the Arab diaspora. Coming from different countries and religions and including first and second-generation immigrants as well as those whose identities encompass more than a single culture, these writers tell stories that speak to the complexity of the Arab American experience. They travel through time and geography to reveal the circular nature of identity, inviting the reader to enter into an ever evolving landscape. At this point in our history, such stories are urgently needed, and this anthology gives greater insight into the lives of Arab Americans. Entering into these personal stories allows readers to engage with the complexity of the Arab American community. The varied experiences of being an Arab American emerges through these pages with astounding vision. — Provided by publisher


Danner, Patsy Ann (Pat) | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives 

Elected to the U.S. House by unseating an eight-term incumbent, Patsy Ann (Pat) Danner carved out a reputation as a moderate, independent Democrat.

Danner became involved in Missouri politics during the 1970s and in 1983 she won election to the Missouri state senate, where she served for a decade. In 1992, Danner was elected to represent Missouri’s 6th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served as a moderate-to-conservative Democrat. Much of her legislative work focused on the needs of her district, but she was also a consistent critic of the Clinton administration’s foreign policy, particularly its decision to send in U.S. troops for peacekeeping duty in the Balkans. In 1995 she took to the House Floor to oppose a troop deployment in Bosnia, noting she had “grave reservations” about placing U.S. peacekeepers in harm’s way when neither side in the civil war had yet accepted the terms of a ceasefire. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 1999 and receiving treatment, Danner announced in May 2000 that she would not seek re-election to a fifth term, and left Congress in January 2001. 

Dick Dale: “Nitro”

Richard Anthony Monsour, known professionally as Dick Dale, was an American guitarist and a pioneer of surf music who used Middle Eastern music scales to influence his music. Dale was of Lebanese descent from his father, James Monsour. Leading surf music bands, such as the Beach Boys and the Trashmen were influenced by Dale’s music and featured recordings of his songs on their albums. Dale also worked with inventor Leo Fender to develop new electric amplification technology, including the first 100 guitar amplifier. This song, “Nitro,” is from his 1993 album Tribal Thunder. 


Ferras: “Speak In Tongues”

Ferras Alqaisi is an American singer-songwriter of Jordanian and Montenegrin descent. Ferras’ career began in Amman, Jordan where he learned to make music on a small keyboard. He began pursuing a career in music at the age of 17, and made his major record label debut with the album Aliens & Rainbows in 2008. He has been credited as a songwriter to songs by many major artists including Katy Perry, The Chainsmokers and Dua Lipa. This song, Speak in Tongues, is from Ferras’ self-titled EP released in 2014.


Guitar Center Sessions: Dick Dale – Misirlou 

This rendition of Misirlou, recorded by Dick Dale in 1962, was used in Quentin Tarantino’s film Pulp Fiction in 1994. Its use to open the film is credited with the revival of the surf music genre in the 1990s. The folk song is popular in Eastern Mediterranean countries, and has origins in the Ottoman Empire. Younger generations may recognize Dale’s riff from the Black Eye’d Peas’s hit song “Pump It.” Another, more traditional version of the song is featured on Dale’s 1993 album Tribal Thunder.


Hanine – Arabia, Violin and Dance show 

“The primary idea upon which the video was built was mainly the beat as the music had already been written for a dancer at a club where Hanine used to play the Arabic violin. Upon hearing it, Hanine decided to alter some of its elements, marking a transition from pure dancing beats to a more musical, more oriental violin-oriented piece.”