Visions of America: Voices of Arab American Experiences – Exploring the Arab American National Museum

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Program Description:

Join VISIONS OF AMERICA: All the Stories, People & Places as we highlight Arab Americans stories and communities through our episode Voices of Arab-American Experiences, Exploring the Arab American National Museum. VISIONS OF AMERICA is a collaboration between PBS Books and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that highlights cultural institutions and captures first-person experiences to celebrate the diverse tapestry of America, as we approach the American’s semiquincentennial.

IMLS Deputy Director Laura Huerta Migus talks with the Director of the Arab American National Museum Diana Abouali, Ph.D. about her important institution, its cultural and community significance, and some exciting museum projects. IMLS Acting Deputy Director of Library Services Anthony Smith discusses with librarian and scholar Kaoukab Cherbaro about her work, Arab American culture, heritage, and preservation, while highlighting her recent exhibit Science, Nature and Beauty: Harmony and Cosmological Perspectives in Islamic Science.

More to discover with Visions of America:


Discover more with Dr. Kaoukab Chebaro who has spent her career championing for the preservation of the individual history of Arabs across the globe. Her work within these institutions has brought first person storytelling center stage. Hear more about the important work being done to amplify the Arab American story through incredible archive efforts across the areas of math, science, poetry, language, culture and more. 

Exhibits & Projects: 

Arab American National Museum – Museum Website

Science, Nature and Beauty: Harmony and Cosmological Perspectives in Islamic Science – Exhibit Brochure, Learn More About the Exhibit

The Muslim World Project – Muslim World Project, What Can Manuscripts Teach Us?

Palestinian Oral History Archive – Archive

Islamic Science Exhibit CatalogExhibit Brochure, Learn More About the Exhibit

Sam Hamod, Poet – Dying With the Wrong Name, About Sam Hamod

Dunya Mikhail, Poet – About Dunya

Guest Biographies:

Diana Abouali – Director of the Arab American National Museum

Diana Abouali is the director of the Arab American National Museum (AANM). She has worked in higher education and in the museum and cultural heritage sectors in the United States, Palestine and Jordan. Diana joined ACCESS in 2019.

Born in Toronto, Canada to Palestinian parents, Diana completed her secondary education in Kuwait. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and received an MA in Middle Eastern Studies (1995) and a PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies (2004) from Harvard University. From 2005 to 2012, Diana was an assistant professor at Dartmouth College, teaching courses in Arab-Islamic civilization, gender studies and the social and cultural history of the Middle East.

From 2012 to 2013, Diana worked as Head of Research and Collections at the newly established Palestinian Museum in Birzeit, Palestine. Relocating to Amman, Jordan in 2014, she worked as Director of Education, Outreach and Awareness at the Petra National Trust. She was Project Manager at Tiraz: Widad Kawar Home for Arab Dress on an AHRC-ESRC Global Challenges Fund (UK) project, in cooperation with Plymouth University and the Information and Research Center-King Hussein Foundation. In that position and as part of a larger study of resilience among male Syrian artisan refugees in Jordan, she co-produced a training program and toolkit in social-enterprise creation to preserve cultural heritage. Diana has organized and delivered cultural heritage education workshops to Syrian children and women in the Azraq and Zaatari refugee camps, and occasionally teaches college-level courses in the U.S. and Jordan. Diana is a member of the general assembly of Taawon-Welfare Association, the largest Palestinian NGO that provides development and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory and Lebanon. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of ArteEast (NYC) and CultureSource (MI) and serves on the Citizens Advisory Committee at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She is a graduate of Leadership Detroit XLI.

Kaoukab Chebaro - Headshot

Kaoukab Chebaro – Head, Global Studies, Columbia University

Kaoukab Chebaro currently serves as the Head of Global Studies at the Columbia University Libraries. She previously served as Associate University Librarian for Archives and Special Collections at the Libraries of the American University of Beirut, and as the Islamic and Middle East Studies Librarian at the Columbia University Libraries.

Kaoukab has served on numerous Library, archives and cultural heritage committees in or about the region. She has also served as the PI for the NEH-funded Palestinian Oral History Archive (2016-19). Kaoukab is interested in oral history as a tool at the service of expanding the politics of knowledge production and representation, specifically around the Global South, the Middle East, and human rights.

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