Reading & Performance: Alexandrian Cosmopolitanism by Hala Halim, with Performance by Ahmad Gamal & the Alwan Ensemble

Sat, March 22, 2014 8:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Reading & Performance "Alexandrian Cosmopolitanism" by Hala Halim, with Readings by Aktina Stathaki and Liza Béar, and Ahmad Gamal & the Alwan Ensemble Performing Sayyid Darwish & Bayram el Tunsi

Inderdisciplinary Alexandria: Literary and Poetry Readings, Film Clips and Music

Tickets $20 General | $15 Members, Seniors, Students

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Doors open at 7:30 pm


Hala Halim-author
Aktina Stathaki-reader
Liza Béar - reader
Ahmad Gamal - vocals
George Ziadeh– vocals and 'oud
Amir ElSaffar– santur, trumpet, and voice
Zafer Tawil– qanun
Sami Abu Shumays- violin
Johnny Farraj-percussion

Join Alwan for the Arts in celebrating the culture of Alexandria. The release of Hala Halim’s latest literary feat Alexandrian Cosmopolitanism: An Archive, will be the occasion to present an interdisciplinary account of the varied and layered cultures of Alexandria. The Alwan Ensemble will perform the music of the Alexandrian Sayyid Darwish and poet Bayram el Tunsi. Clips of films by Yoiussef Chahine will be shown alongside readings of Cavafy, E.M. Forester, Lawerence Durrell and others intellectual figures who have constituted the cosmopolitanism of Alexandria.

Hala Halim's study is an interrogative account of how Alexandria became enshrined as the exemplary cosmopolitan space in the Middle East and a critique of Eurocentric conceptions of cosmopolitanism. Readings and conversation on the dialectic of the book will be complemented with the poetry and music that emerged from the region. The analysis is a comparative study of literary representations, addressing poetry, fiction, guidebooks, and operettas, among other genres, and it draws as much on Arabic literary and historical texts as the European archive to orchestrate a dialogue, indeed a tension between Europe the subjects of its colonies.


Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and Comparative Literature at New York University, Hala Halim’s research and teaching address a wide variety of issues including contrasting accounts of heritage and urban spaces in relation to narratives of identity. Additionally, Halim focuses on the practise of translation, "transculturation" and comparative genealogies of cosmopolitanism. She has held an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at UCLA's Humanities Consortium, and her translation of a novel by Mohamed El-Bisatie, “Clamor of the Lake”, received an Egyptian State Incentive Award in 2006.

Aktina Stathaki is an actress and cultural manager from Greece. She is a graduate of the National Greek Theater (Acting) and the University of Toronto (PhD, Drama). She moved to New York in 2009 and founded Between the Seas Festival of Mediterranean Performing arts with the mission to promote contemporary culture from the region ( In addition to working as the festival's artistic and producing director she is also a Time Warner Fellow at the Women's Project theater and freelance actor,director and producer.

Liza Béar is a New York-based writer/filmmaker. She is a contributing editor at Bomb Magazine, artist-in-residence at Deep Dish TV and the author of Beyond the Frame: Dialogues with World Filmmakers. Recently she was a participant in Enclave Reading Series on Ludlow Street.

The Alwan Arab Music Ensemble
delivers a joyful and transporting feast of well-loved popular songs from the greater Arab World, built around mesmerizing textures of rhythmic and improvisational intensity.

Six contemporary masters of a broad range of Arab musical idioms display their seasoned sensibilities and impressive technique across a diverse array of musical selections from regional folk songs to masterpieces of Egyptian cinema and Arab concert hall culture. Their performance evokes ambiances of Cairo, Baghdad, al-Quds and Aleppo, but more importantly that of contemporary New York with its own vibrant Arab American artistic and intellectual community.

Ahmad Gamal, an Egyptian singer and actor, has been a solo vocalist of the Arabic Music Orchestra of the Opera House in Cairo, Egypt since 2001. Ahmad earned a Bachelor’s degree in Greco-Roman Archeology & Civilization from the University of Alexandria, Egypt and worked in the art center at the Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt. His professional career as an artist began in the early 90’s. Since then, Ahmad has taken part in multiple Egyptian TV series and performed in national and international concerts, world summits, and Festivals around the Arab world, Europe, and the United States. He has performed in several celebrations of historical events including the 50th anniversary of the July 23rd Egyptian Revolution at the Opera House in Cairo, the opening of the Library of Alexandria in front of 32 world leaders, and The International Women’s Day in Amman, Jordan. He has performed with the Alwan Arab Music Ensemble in New York City and as a solo vocalist with “Awtar.” Ahmad performs songs from the classical as well as modern Egyptian repertory, and has written and produced a few of his own songs. He is especially passionate about the musical works of the amazing Sayed Darweesh and is adamant about maintaining a unique, refined, and genuine artistic persona.

Last updated: 2014-03-21 23:02:04

Alexandirian Cosmopolitanism: An Archive
Alexandirian Cosmopolitanism: An Archive

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