Research Update 2: Syrian Ladies’ Aid Society, in Conclusion

I finished the paper for this project (see post title) just over two years ago. I never got a chance to update my blog to document the research and writing process as planned, but I thought I might hit the high points and conclude that project out here. I hope you’ll find some helpful insights and maybe more info about the project that intrigues you.

As I alluded to in my first and only post on the subject, the research itself was a bit of a weather adventure and I didn’t get to spend as much time in the archive at the Arab American National Museum as I would have liked (in fact, I spent most of my trip watching Netflix and the accumulation of snow). I was able to get enough to complete the project, but it is something I hope to return to in the future. Some highlights from the project (research, writing, and completion):

Title: “To Help All Syrian and Lebanese Wherever”: The Syrian Ladies’ Aid Society and Cultural Maintenance in the Diaspora

Main argument: Through their charitable and fundraising activities, the women of the Syrian Ladies’ Aid Society played a key role in the creation of a Syrian-American identity in the diaspora as they moved women’s role in cultural maintenance from the home to the political and transnational public sphere.

Research process: Pictures (approximately 300; researchers who spend weeks and months in the archive have thousands of pictures to sort through). Because my time in the archive was limited to begin with and ended up being even more limited as a result of weather, the two half days of research I was able to do was a flurry of picture-taking and quick note-making that I got to process when I got home. Here’s an image of my image database, using Excel (this was the first half day, when I thought I would have two and a half more days of research, so my notes are more complete):

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 6.22.27 PM

I duplicated this list to some extent in Evernote in order to draw out some of the main themes (see image below). It worked well for me, but I think it was a lot of duplicating work and I’m thinking of better ways to organize myself for my dissertation, where my pictures will number in the several thousand, I’m sure. One of my colleagues uses Google Drive and tags his pictures so that he can easily search for specific documents. I think you can also describe and annotate the image. I’ll check it out and write about it as my research progresses.

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 6.26.46 PM

Writing: A LOT of drafts. Going through my folder, I have about 15 drafts saved, from initial thematic write-ups to several versions of the full document. Looking through them, I can see how my paper evolved in significant ways over the several weeks and many drafts. I also remember the many breakthroughs and insights I had while working on these drafts that, in many ways, reshaped my paper’s entire argument and, ultimately, made it a better paper. I seem to recall that, in order to complete this project, I devoted a particular amount of time per day to writing for it. I’m guessing about an hour. This is a process I hope to continue as I work on my dissertation and other future projects. I’ll keep you updated on how that works out, too.

Completion: Though this project had a formal completion date, I find that none of my projects are ever really done, and I look forward to returning to this one at some point, maybe revising it to write an article. If that happens, I’ll keep you in the loop about that, too!

What is your writing process like? What projects (academic, non-academic, personal) are you working on right now?




Week 4 Roll Call

Week 4’s Roll Call is a week late. But, for those who are interested in what I did read, here it is.

Historical Scholarship of the Modern Middle East

Gokalp, Ziya. The Principles of Turkism. E.J. Brill: Leiden, Netherlands, 1968.

Antonius, George. The Arab Awakening. New York: Capricorn Books, 1965.

Research Seminar in United States History
This week’s theme: The Archive and the Subaltern

Alvarez, Luis. “On Race, Riots, and Infrapolitics in Wartime Los Angeles.” French Review of American Studies 131 (2012): 20-32.

Bastian, Jeannette A. “The Records of Memory, the Archives of Identity: Celebrations, Texts and Archival Sensibilities.” Archival Science 13 (2013): 121-131.

Guha, Ranajit. “The Prose of Counter-Insurgency.” In Ranajit Guha, ed., Subaltern Studies: Writings on South Asian History and Society, volume 2. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1983, 1-42.

Howard, John. “The Politics of Dancing under Japanese American Incarceration.” History Workshop Journal 52 (2001): 123-151.

Johnson, Walter. “On Agency.” Journal of Social History 37 (2003): 113-124.

Portelli, Alesandro. “What Makes Oral History Different.” In Robert Perks and Alistair Thomas, eds., The Oral History Reader. London: Routledge, 1998, 63-74.

Ramírez, Catherine. “Saying Nothin’: Pachucas and the Language of Resistance.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies 27, no. 3 (2006): 1-33.

History and Theory

Fieldhouse, David. “Can Humpty-Dumpty Be Put Together Again? Imperial History in the 1980s.” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 12, no. 2 (1984): 9-23.

Ghosh, Durba. “Another Set of Imperial Turns?” The American Historical Review 117, no. 3 (2012): 772-793.

Said, Edward. “Orientalism Reconsidered.” Race & Class 27, no. 1 (1987): 1-15.

Thompson, James. “Modern Britain and the New Imperial History.” History Compass 5, no. 2 (2007): 455-462.

Wolfe, Patrick. “History and Imperialism: A Century of Theory, from Marx to Postcolonialism.” The American Historical Review 102, no. 2 (1997): 388-420.

Women in Arabic Literature

Leila Abouzeid, Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman’s Journey Toward Independence, and other stories (excerpts)

Anyone read any of these? Be well.

Week 3 Roll Call

Hello again, all. Here’s the reading list for this week (luckily, I’ve already read all these and it’s on to the next!). Enjoy!

Historical Scholarship of the Modern Middle East

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 1983.

Hodgson, Marshall. The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization vol. 1. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1974. (Introduction only)

Research Seminar in United States History

Anjal, Arondkar. “Without a Trace: Sexuality and the Colonial Archive.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 14, no. 1-2 (Jan-April 2005): 10-27.

Brown, Richard, and Beth Davis-Brown. “The Making of Memory: The Politics of Archives, Libraries, and Museums in the Construction of National Consciousness.” History of the Human Sciences 11, no. 4 (November 1998): 17-32.

Dick, Lyle. “The 1942 Same-Sex Trials in Edmonton: On the State’s Repression of Sexual Minorities, Archives, and Human Rights in Canada.” Archivaria 68 (Fall 2009): 183-217.

Dominy, Graham. “Overcoming the Apartheid Legacy: The Special Case of the Freedom Charter.” Archival Science 13, no. 2-3 (June 2013): 195-205.

Gutiérrez, Rámon. “Women on Top: The Love Magic of the Indian Witches of New Mexico.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 16, no. 3 (September 2007): 373-390.

Samonte, Cecilia. “Obtaining ‘Sympathetic Understanding’: Gender, Empire, and Representation in the Travel Writings of American Officials’ Wives, 1901-1914.” The Journal of Transnational American Studies 3, no. 2 (2011): 1-14.

Stoler, Ann. “Colonial Archives and the Arts of Governance.” Archival Science 2, no. 2 (2002): 87-109.

History and Theory

Burke, Peter. “Strengths and Weaknesses of Cultural History.” Cultural History 1, no. 1 (2012): 1-13.

Cook, James W. “The Kids Are All Right: On the ‘Turning’ of Cultural History.” American Historical Review (June 2012): 746-771.

Hoffman, Philip T. “Opening Our Eyes: History and the Social Sciences.” The Journal of the Historical Society 1, no. 1 (March 2006): 93-117.

Scott, Joan W. “Unanswered Questions.” American Historical Review (December 2008): 1422-1430.

Scott, Joan W. “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” The American Historical Review 91, no. 5 (December 1986): 1053-1075.

Women in Arabic Literature

Nawal El-Saadawi, The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World (excerpts)

Fatima Mernissi, The Forgotten Queens of Islam (excerpts)


Has anyone read any of these? Any thoughts?



Week 2 Roll Call

Well folks, life has been busy, so I apologize for the tardiness in this post, as well as my lack of summary from last week’s (one) reading. Also, a few amendments have been made to my schedule for this quarter. This list includes those changes. I also apologize for any errors in the spelling or general correctness of names, titles, volume numbers, etc.

Historical Scholarship of the Modern Middle East

Carr, E. H. What is History? New York: Random House, 1961.

Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Random House, Inc., 1978

Research Seminar in United States History

This week’s topic: Theorizing the Archive

Bradley, Harriet. “The Seductions of the Archive: Voices Lost and Found.” History of the Human Sciences 12, no. 2 (May 1999): 107-122.

Featherstone, Mike. “Archive.” Theory, Culture, & Society 23 (May 2006): 591-596.

Schwartz, Joan, and Terri Cook. “Archives, Records, and Power: The Making of Modern Memory.” Archival Science 2, no. 2 (2002): 1-19.

Steedman, Carolyn. “The Space of Memory: In an Archive.” History of the Human Sciences 11, no. 4 (November 1998): 65-83.

Tollebeek, Jo. “Turn’d to Dust and Tears: Revisiting the Archive.” History and Theory 43 (May 2004): 237-248.

Velody, Irving. “The Archive and the Human Sciences: Notes Toward a Theory of the Archive.” History of the Human Sciences 11, no. 4 (November 1998): 1-16.

History and Theory

This week’s topic: Social History

August, Andrew. Narrative, Experience and Class: Nineteenth-century Social History in Light of the Linguistic Turn.” History Compass 9, no. 5 (2011): 384-396.

Eley, Geoff. “Dilemmas and Challenges of Social History since the 1960s: What Comes after the Cultural Turn?” South African Historical Journal 60, no. 3 (2008): 310-322.

Joyce, Patrick. “What is the Social in Social History?” Past and Present, 206, no. 1 (2010): 213-248.

Kocka, Jürgen. “Losses, Gains and Opportunities: Social History Today.” Journal of Social History 37, no. 1 (2003): 21-28.

Stearns, Peter N. “Social History Present and Future.” Journal of Social History 37, no. 1 (2003): 9-19.

Stearns, Peter N. “Coming of Age.” Journal of Social History 10, no. 2 (1976): 246-255.

Women in Arabic Literature

Hanan al-Shaykh, translator, One Thousand and One Nights (excerpts)

Qasim Amin, The Liberation of Women (excerpts)

What’s on your to-do or to-read list this week or month?