Basem Lutfi Ra’ad
Basem Lutfi Ra’ad, born in Jerusalem, is a writer and academic who received his BA and MA at the American University of Beirut and Ph.D. in English from the University of Toronto. He has taught at various Palestinian and international universities and has initiated many projects related to community work and academic programs, in addition to organizing a number of conferences. He has published extensively in journals on topics including literature, linguistics, landscape aesthetics, cultural studies, travel writing, and articles on Palestine, Gaza and the colonization of Jerusalem. His book Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean, which also appeared in Arabic, provides an alternative reading of the long history of a region commonly called “the Middle East,” “the cradle of civilization,” and “the Holy Land,” emphasizing the continuities among its people and discrediting many old and new myths on the basis of the most recent scholarship. Its eleven chapters cover topics related to ancient history, the development of polytheistic and monotheistic religions, religious sites, regional civilizational accomplishments, Ugarit, writing systems, and reflections on the present in such subjects as identity formation, appropriation, self-colonization, place names, and retrieval of cultural heritage. The book has been described by critics as “perhaps the first corrective history of Palestine,” “a brilliant tour de force of recovery, de-colonization, re-vision and inclusivity.” Professor Ra’ad is currently conducting a study of the Palestinian school curriculum, to assess its contents in the relation to contemporary scholarship and to examine the extent to which it fulfils national aspirations or presents a coherent national narrative that nourishes a purposeful identity. He is completing a historical novel about a revolt in Sicily against the Roman Empire led by a Syrian, connecting the region’s past to its present.