Middle East Librarians Association (MELA)

The Story of the Abushady Archive,” MELA Notes, 2022. Middle East Librarians Association, Chicago, IL [PDF archive]

The Story of the Abushady Archive – MELA 2020-[Slides PDF]

19 October, 2020: The story of how the collection found a home at the Archives and Special Collections of NYU Abu Dhabi Library in the midst of a global pandemic. 19 October: Recovering Hidden/Historical/Special Collections. Conference theme: “Pandemic, Crisis, and Cultural Institutions: The Intersection of Library Work with COVID-19 and Other Crises.”


The Bee Kingdom sticker, Cairo ca.1930. Courtesy the Abushady Archive.

Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW), University of Edinburgh, Cultures of Diversity: Arts and Cultural Life in Arab Societies before Independence, December 3-4, 2015

Lecture: Pollen & Fragments examines artifacts of scholarship, science, poetry and art produced in mid-20th century Egypt. It refers to Blütenstaub (Pollen), an early philosophical work by the German poet Novalis, published in 1798. Consisting of aphorisms and texts that range from laconic to dream-like and mystical, Blütenstaub is devoted to many subjects including poetry, art, language, epistemology, philosophy of science, religion and metaphysics, and is one of the most important philosophical sources of 19th-century Romanticism.

Funded by a CASAW research grant, this workshop will focus on the diverse sources of artistic and cultural practice in the modern Arab world by examining the interplay between diverse local traditions and non-indigenous elements during the formative late colonial period. In interrogating the social, economic and intellectual connections operating between these different cultural sites across wider Middle Eastern society and beyond, it seeks to explore the vibrant dynamics of the cultural world that existed before the changing political terrain of independence saw more narrow definitions of national culture emerge. Conceived to highlight the diverse roots of modern Arab cultural practice, it will also serve as a basis for a critique of the notion of national culture. Participants: Yasmine Taan, Lebanese American University; Sarah Awad, Aalborg University; Cafer Sarıkaya, Boğaziçi University; Ami Ayalon, Tel Aviv University; Sarah Irving, University of Edinburgh; Hussam R. Ahmed, McGill University; Elena Chiti, Oslo University; Idriss Jebari, University of Oxford; Joy Garnett, Visual artist and writer, New York; Ismail al‐Bahar, Writer and Researcher, Cairo; Raphael Cormack, University of Edinburgh; Alia Musallam, American University in Cairo; Rebecca Wolfe, University of Edinburgh


Abushady Archive

Annual Meeting, Middle East Studies Association (MESA), Marriott Wardman Park Hotel Washington, DC, November 22-25, 2014

Panel: The Archive: Collections and Counter-Collections. Panel Sponsor: Middle East Librarians Association (MELA). Organizer: Laila Shereen Sakr (aka VJ Um Amel). Chair: Robin Dougherty. Discussant: Khaled Fahmy. Papers: “The Bee Kingdom: An Accidental Archive,” Joy Amina Garnett; “A Sand Castle in the Tide: Qatar’s Primary Sources,” Tammi Moe; “Archives of the Palestinian National Movement: A Battle Over the Production of History‬,” Hana Sleiman; “UMAM Documentation and Research,” Kelly Stedem; “Archivisme is a local disease,” Nadia von Maltzahn.

In the contemporary world, there is an archival impulse at work that represents something palpable–an opportunity to provide a counter-collection, standing against the monumental history of the state. Such an impulse has resulted in new public archives, individual projects, digital archives (including digitization of old manuscripts, as well as collecting digitally-born information), fictitious archival projects, and collections of urban histories. This panel critiques historical information on the contemporary Middle East by engaging with independent archival projects that collect information currently under siege, in real time and place, as cultures change and are lost in conflict.

Figures and Sphinx, Gizeh, c.1945. Courtesy the Abushady Archive.

Radical Archives Conference, Asian/Pacific/American Institute (A/P/A) at New York University, April 11-12, 2014

PANEL: No Instructions for Assembly: Case Studies in Radical Archiving: With artists Joy Garnett on excavating the Abushady Archive, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Michelle Wong on her research at Asia Art Archive and Ian Alden Russell on his work with the Museum of Innocence in Istanbul. Moderated by Steffani Jemison.

RADICAL ARCHIVES was a two-day conference (April 11-12, 2014) organized around the notion of archiving as a radical practice, including: archives of radical politics and practices; archives that are radical in form or function; moments or contexts in which archiving in itself becomes a radical act; and considerations of how archives can be active in the present, as well as documents of the past and scripts for the future. It was curated by 2013-14 A/P/A Institute Artists-in-Residence Mariam Ghani and Chitra Ganesh., the website that accompanies the conference, was built to grow over time and serve as a resource for teaching, research and networking.

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