While the world has turned its back on Syria and called the 2011 Revolution a civil war, artist-activists insist that a revolution persists and hope is not lost. On Wed 12th July as part of the Celebrating Syria festival, we were happy to have Miriam Cooke come and give a talk focusing on the expressive reactions to the violence engulfing the country, including graffiti, songs, art, videos, films and literature. Miriam Cooke is Professor of Arab Cultures at Duke University, USA. Her writings have focused on the intersection of gender and war in modern Arabic literature and on Arab women writers’ constructions of Islamic feminism. She has also written about Arab cultures with a focus on the Gulf and Syria. She is the author of several monographs that include War’s Other Voices: Women Writers on the Lebanese Civil War (1987), Women and the War Story (1996); Women Claim Islam (2001); Dissident Syria: Making Oppositional Arts Official (2007), and Dancing in Damascus: Creativity, Resilience and the Syrian Revolution (2017). She has also published a novel, Hayati, My Life (2000).
Afterwards there was a book signing of Miriam's book Dancing in Damascus: creativity, resilience and the Syrian revolution. Tracing the roots of the Syrian revolution in the dissident work of artists and writers from the Hafiz Assad era, Dancing in Damascus talks about the role of memoirs, film, video, Facebook and popular music in keeping the revolution alive after the world had turned its back and declared the regime’s catastrophic attacks on the people to be a civil war.