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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

John And Mary Bennett Lecture 2024

The Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge invites you to its biennial John and Mary Bennett Memorial Lecture, to be delivered this year by Dr Elisabeth Kendall, the Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge.

Arabic Poetry as a Weapon of Jihad 

Abstract: Over recent decades, militant jihadist magazines, videos and speeches have regularly featured Arabic poetry as part of their propaganda outreach. However, scholars and analysts alike have almost entirely neglected this phenomenon, skipping over the poetry (notoriously tricky to translate) in favour of more direct position statements and theological debates. Yet poetry can carry messages to a broader audience as it plugs naturally into a long tradition of oral transmission, particularly on the Arabian Peninsula, spreading ideas through repeated recitation or conversion into anthems (anashid) with little need for literacy, print culture or technology. This talk will reveal why such poetry is relevant, explain its main characteristics and explore its core functions

Date: Thursday 25 April 2024
Venue: Auditorium, Pembroke College, Cambridge


  • 17:45 (doors open)
  • 18:00 (lecture begins)
  • 19:00 (drinks in the Foyer)

For enquires please contact Dr Assef Ashraf ( or Prof. Andrew Marsham (

To register to attend please use this google form: