Performance to Put Human Face on Women Refugees in Mideast

Laila Farah, associate professor of women’s and gender studies at DePaul University, and Isis Nusair, associate professor of international studies and women’s studies at Denison University, have been collecting stories of women refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Syria.

  • On Tuesday, April 16, the performance “Weaving the Maps: Tales of Survival and Resistance...
    On Tuesday, April 16, the performance “Weaving the Maps: Tales of Survival and Resistance” will come to the Merrimack campus. 

A year ago, they decided to weave the narratives they have been collecting into a multi-media performance piece “Weaving the Maps: Tales of Survival and Resistance.” Careful not to lose the meaning and anguish in the course of translation from Arabic to English, they pieced together a collage of stories that are heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

The Merrimack College performance, rescheduled due to flight cancellation, will take place on Tuesday, April 16, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in Cascia Hall. Those who attend will get an additional treat: the opportunity to sample delicious Middle Eastern food.

Farah is not new to using performance to put a human face on headlines that don’t garner the attention they deserve. After Sept. 11, 2001, she created and toured with a one-woman show titled “Living in the Hyphen-Nation.” That show, like the current one, addressed border crossing.

“This performance is a composite of women’s narratives of crossing, displacement and forced migration, and the challenges of remaking life and stitching survival. The stories we share trace how violence and the consequences of war are linked to the enactment of geopolitical power structures,” said Farah.

“We start by using the metaphor of veiling and unveiling because so much of the knowledge people have about Middle Eastern women is framed by the stereotypes of a veiled, powerless woman on one hand and a seductive belly-dancer on the other,” said Nusair, during a pre-performance talk on campus.

Students from three different courses – Women in Theatre; Diversity, Social Justice and Ethics; and the Internationalization of Higher Education – attended the talk and participated in a conversation about how the crisis involving refugees relates to our lives as faculty, staff, students, and global citizens.

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