Alexandru (Alec) Balasescu
Alexandru (Alec) Balasescu is an anthropologist, writer, curator, author of Paris Chic, Tehran Thrills. Aesthetic Bodies, Political Subjects, ZETA Books 2007. He publishes extensively in international journals covering interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approaches on urbanism, design, material culture, and the body.
Alec's experience covers a variety of related disciplines and work environments, from industrial design (Renault Technologies) to contemporary art. His work is centered on the relational aspects of human body in both its cultural and material manifestations, economy, and the environment – natural, built, cultural, lived. Alec obtained his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology in 2004 at the UC Irvine, and recently moved in Vancouver where he continues to explore the possibility of lateral thinking about otherwise separated domains.
Alec is a founding member of the UCR based The Moving Matters Traveling Workshop. He curated and directed "My Memory / Your History" an MMTW exhibition and performance in Bucharest in July 2015.
Dr. Ghada Masri
Dr. Ghada Masri is a Visiting Scholar of Global Studies and has published on tourism and city development, urban public space, the gendered impacts of globalization, and national identity formation in post-war reconstruction and redevelopment of Beirut. She earned her Ph.D. in Cultural Geography from the University of California, Davis and specializes in Urban Geography of the Middle East/Southwest Asia and Feminist Geography, with significant emphasis on Nationalisms, Transnational Feminisms, Tourism, and Globalization and Development. Her research draws upon the contested symbolic and political power of national meaning as enacted through public space and understood through cultural memory and the process of national identity formation and peace-building. Her current research and publication projects address the development of Halal tourism, and local understandings of gender and modernity as practiced in downtown Beirut. Her dissertation research focused on urban public space, gender, memories of violence, and peace building through the reconstruction of Beirut, which she is currently translating into a book.
EXPLANATION OF CURRENT PROJECTS
Wounds in the City, Scars in the Nation: Making sense of Identity, Modernity, and Reconstructed Urban Space in Post-Civil War Beirut
My book manuscript, examines the rebuilt urban and economic landscapes, and spatial manifestations of national identity in post-civil war Beirut. I argue that the rebuilt city is utilized by the state in an attempt not only to rebuild the tourist economy, but also to develop a shared national identity among different sectarian communities. This Lebanese national imagining is manifest through a gendered discourse on development that limit women’s access to specific tourist spaces within the city, reflecting a conflict over nation, gender, and communal identity. This approach to post-war national reconciliation heightens religious and class divisions through the violent remaking of urban space, which continue to be significant sites in claiming legitimacy to the Lebanese national ethos.
(In)Security, Surveillance and Halal Tourism—(Presented at the Association of American Geographers Annual Conference 2013). The deployment of new security technologies at airports and border sites have become hindrances to tourist travel to the United States. In response, new destination sites have emerged for Muslim friendly tourist experiences creating a new niche market in 'Halal Tourism.' Through tourism industry marketing data and tourist interviews, this paper presents the impacts of new security technologies on the development of new and creative tourism development opportunities.
Goodbye Paris, Hello New York: The Geography of ‘Liquid’ Modernity
Expanding tourism economies, driven by neoliberal economic globalization, have transfigured economic development, especially in the regions of the global south. Drawing upon multiple tourist fantasies and desires, Beirut’s rebuilt downtown city center captures the competing discourses and tensions of globalization for local residents and visitors alike. Such tensions are drawn into and reflected through spaces of the city and the landscape itself. The twentieth century city drew upon the global power of France, remapping Parisian street design and structures onto the emerging Beirut landscape. In the twenty-first century post-conflict era, the city has begun shifting its reflection and simulation towards a new city of global power—New York. Based on field research, this paper examines the tourist redevelopment of Beirut as it serves local and regional fantasies for consuming western modernity. This process is enhanced by the growing securitization of United States borders, and New York in particular. Thus, Beirut serves not only as a reflection of diverse locally grounded histories, but as a simulacrum of “other” places that identifies shifting global power in an era of expanding securitization.
Chwenliang Pao received his Ph.D. degree in 2004 from the Graduate Institution of East Asian Studies, National Chengchi University, Taiwan. He served as an assistant professor in General Education Center in China University of Technology in Taipei.
Professor Pao had been a research fellow in China Affairs Department, Democratic Progressive Party for more than 4 years where he was also the editor of the Journal of China Affairs. His academic publishes focus on the democratization, power succession in modern China, and the rising of China. His essays have been published in journals and newspapers mainly regarding cross-Taiwan strait relations, Chinese economy and politics.
His current project is “The Rise of China and Its Effect on Cross-Taiwan Strait Relations,” which will be his main research consequence during his visit in UCR. He also stands as an adjunct research fellow on the ongoing project named “Anthropology of Knowledge for Thinking China” conducted by Prof. Chiyu Shih in the Department of Political Science, National Taiwan University.
Professor Fatima Badry
Dr. Fatima Badry holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. She is professor and head of the Department of English at the American University of Sharjah, UAE. She has also served as graduate programs director at the College of Arts and Sciences at AUS.
Professor Badry’s research interests are in the areas of first and second language acquisition, globalization and higher education, Arabic sociolinguistics, bilingualism and cultural identity issues. Her current project is “The shifting Sands of Arabness: The cost of modernity.” She is investigating the language-in-education-policies adopted by the UAE and their impact on the development of biliteracy in Arabic and English of the UAE residents of the next generation. The nature of the social, cultural and identity transformations that are likely to result from the "Englishization" of the educational sector will also be explored.
Her recent publications include: Acquiring the Arabic Lexicon: Evidence of productive strategies and pedagogical implications. Bethesda, Maryland: Academica Press. (2004). “Productivity in Child language: Evidence from Arabic.” In Alhawary, M. & Benmamoun, E. Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics XVII- XVIII. Current issues in linguistic theory. Amsterdam: Benjamins (2005). “Positioning the self, identity and language: Moroccan women on the move” in S. Ossman (ed) (2007). The places we share. Lexington Books.Rowman and Littlefield. “Acquisition of Arabic as a first language.” in Encyclopedia of the Arabic language and linguistics. Germany: Brill. (2007). “Vocabulary in ESL writing: Lessons from research in the classroom” In S. Midraj, A. Jendli and A. Sellami (eds.) (2007). Research in ELT Contexts. Dubai: TESOL Arabia. The Pyjama Trail Affair: A case study in child labor. In The World of Child Labor: An Historical and Regional Survey. (2009). M.E. Sharpe, Inc.
Professor Susan H. Perry
Professor Susan H. Perry, a sinologist and specialist in international human rights law, holds degrees from Brown, Yale and Oxford universities and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (University of Paris). She is the current Chair of the Division of Politics and Government at The American University of Paris.
Both a scholar and an activist, Professor Perry is the co-founder and organizer of the French Senate Conference series on "Women, Culture and Development Practices", and has been invited to present her research on women’s rights at the JFK School of Government at Harvard, Berkeley, UCLA, Indiana University, the OECD and UNESCO. Publications include Eye to Eye: Women Practicing Development Across Cultures (ZED Books, 2001), as well as a special issue on "Women's New Development Paradigms" for Signs, the flagship journal on women's studies in the United States (University of Chicago Press, 2004). Dr. Perry has worked extensively in China and in Africa as a women’s rights consultant for the US State Department's Guest Speakers program.
Dr. Perry’s extensive experience in education and activism has led to the development of the first graduate programs at the American University of Paris, in International Affairs, in International Public Policy, and in Civil Society Communications. Her research interests include gender and human rights law, as well as human rights discourses amongst diaspora communities from Asia and Africa . She is currently writing a book on the paradox of human rights implementation in China.