It is a late night, and Anand Kuchibotla, a.k.a. A.K., has left his friends after clubbing, a regular weekend ritual. The music wasn’t so great. He’s had one too many, and he should probably go directly home and into bed. But there is no one going home with him, nor is anyone there waiting there for him once he gets there. The night is kind of a bust.
He is hungry, and he decides to stop at a popular Middle Eastern shawarma cart in his East Village neighborhood. As he nears the cart run by a father-son team, his apprehension kicks in. They are wearing garments appropriate for praying in the nearby mosque and speaking Arabic. What will they think when a tipsy dark-skin guy stumbles up to them asking for food? They come from a culture that discourages drinking and encourages piety and clean living. Should he approach them? But his need for food overrides his concern, and he places his order. read more
And while we’re on the topic of refugees, let’s not forget about a four decade-plus ongoing refugee issue in Western Sahara that began following its 1975 independence from Spain and its subsequent struggle for nationhood against the Kingdom of Morocco. Aziza Brahim is a Sahrawi singer-songwriter who has spent most of her life exiled from her Western Sahara homeland, and she has not forgot. read more
Those lucky enough to be in London right now will enjoy a spectacular treasure trove of culture from the Middle East. Each year the city hosts the Nour Festival featuring visual art, literature, music, and performance — this year, from fifteen countries. Appropriately, the themes of this year’s festival focus on topics of displacement and conflicted identity as millions of people are driven from homelands by war forcing them into exile and causing them to face challenges that migration brings. read more
The important thing to know about Heartbeat is that it is an educational instrument for changing the dynamic between Israeli and Palestinian inequality using creative communication, its vehicle being music. By choosing music — an art form that is, hands down, the most widely distributed, universal, and addictive of cultural art forms — the lessons propagated through Heartbeat’s curriculum lead its Israeli and Palestinian youth participants on a path that diverges from socially conditioned confrontation to creative partnership by demanding equality toward fellow musicians and devotion to making music. read more
The website, Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution, is a comprehensive database of art produced by Syrians in the wake of the ongoing war-revolution. The producers of the site note that the war, now in its sixth year, has unleashed an astonishing wave of artistic expression that communicates the challenges to Syrians, its political and cultural upheavals, not to mention the ever-present threat to life and livelihood. read more