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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Auditorium, Pembroke College, Cambridge
Event date: 
Thursday, 25 April, 2024 - 18:00

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.

To register to attend please use this google form:

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.

Dr Assef Ashraf: