Welcome to Mabisir!
This blog has been created with the purpose of sharing our own insights and everyday experiences throughout the Middle East, in the capacity of Arabic students, workers, volunteers, journalists, academics or tourists since 2003 onwards. It has been named “ma bisir” – literally meaning “it is not happening” – that is a typical Lebanese exclamation expressing surprise, astonishment or incredulity about what is being told. In some linguistic contexts you can translate it with the English “no way!” or “are you kidding me?” (in Australian English “far out!”).
By creating this space, we’d desire to build and enrich connections between the people who crossed our paths in every Middle Eastern country we have visited or lived in. We have decided to create a common blog to conciliate Estella’s anthropological and sociological analyses of events and sources – therefore closer to ethnographic responses – with Andrea’s journalistic approach and its detailed documentation of events. In this way, attention to and ascertaining of facts run parallel with emotional traces and subjective experiences.
We invite you all to give us your feedback on our political, social, cultural and literary insights, share your own ideas, and start precious debates! You’re all more than welcome to post/re-post your writings here. This blog is an attempt to give a contribution to the knowledge and the understanding of the middle eastern region.
Estella and Andrea
p.s.: a special thank to Anja Pietsch (anjapietsch.wordpress.com) for the two beautiful photos we have used for the front page. The header image is a Syrian refugee in Wadi Khaled (Northern Lebanon, 2012) and the background photo was shot in Hama in 2010.
Estella Carpi: I received my PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Sydney (Australia). I’m presently based in London, working as a postdoctoral research associate at University College London, focusing on South-South Humanitarian Responses to Displacement from Syria, with a special focus on Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. In 2016/2017 I was Humanitarian Affairs Adviser at Save the Children UK, looking at humanitarian livelihood programming and refugee self-reliance in northern Lebanon and southern Turkey. While living in Beirut, offering research consultancies on different matters concerning the Syrian refugees and host communities in the region. I worked with the American University of Beirut and UN-Habitat, the New York University of Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), and Lebanon Support. I also worked in the United Arab Emirates as a research fellow for Trends Research & Advisory, working on social issues in the MENA region. At the time of my doctorate, I was also a PhD Fellow at the American University of Beirut. I conducted research on the social response to humanitarian aid provision in Beirut’s southern suburbs after the July 2006 war, and in Akkar’s village (Northern Lebanon) after the Syrian refugee influx. I received my BA and my MPhil degrees from the University of Milan (2002-2008) where I studied Arabic for 5 years, in addition to the University of Damascus (2005) and at the Mezzeh Institute in Damascus (2007). Other relevant experiences of mine in the Arab world are the following: I volunteered in Alexandria (Egypt) with Gudran Association (2004). I participated in the programme “Peace Perspective in the Middle East” in Bethlehem (2006) organized by the International Palestinian Youth League. Random people I met in the streets of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt have been my best Arabic teachers! I worked at the United Nations Development Programme – Regional Office based in Cairo (2008) for the Trade and Human Development Monitor Project; also as a Junior Consultant for the International Development Research Center (IDRC) based in Cairo (2009-2010) for a project aimed to strengthen social protection systems in Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Morocco and Algeria. My guitar, writing, learning languages and traveling are my lifeblood!!
Andrea Glioti: I’m a freelance journalist, research consultant and an editor, who has been covering West Asia (Lebanon, Syria, Kurdistan, Turkey, UAE among others) since 2010, when I finished a MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies. The Arabic language has been a cornerstone of all my work and I also had the chance to work for an Arab newspaper while in Australia. My writings are mainly about Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Kurdistan (politics, society and media). At the moment, I supervise Good Morning Syria , a bilingual (ar-en) project built on a network of Syrian correspondents based all over Syria, and I am the editor-in-chief of the English version of SyriaUntold, a website that was born in 2012 to document Syrian civil resistance. I am also a regular columnist for “Lo Strillone di Beirut“, a daily section about Middle Eastern affairs and Arab media curated by SiriaLibano on Limesonline, an Italian geopolitical e-magazine. Since 2000, I have been (more or less) active in the Italian hip hop underground scene and I have continued to perform and record tracks with Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese emcees: to put it simply, my passion is for writing, whether it’s about lyrics, poems or articles.