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USC Fellow to Host Al Jazeera Program

By Eddie North-Hager
July 8, 2011

Maytha Alhassen, a doctoral candidate in USC Dornsife's Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, focuses on African-American and Arab relations.

Maytha Alhassen, a doctoral candidate in USC Dornsife's Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, focuses on African-American and Arab relations.

Maytha Alhassen, a member of the Provost's Ph.D. Fellowship Program, will interrupt her travels across North Africa and the Middle East to host Al Jazeera’s The Stream, a live TV program covering current events through social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Alhassen, a doctoral candidate in USC Dornsife's Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, built a summer program focusing on academic pursuits and civic engagement in Tunisia, where an American hip-hop group collaborated with youth activists and rap artists; Spain, where she studied critical Islamic thought; and Lebanon and Morocco, where she conducted oral history interviews.

“Although I have visited [the Middle East and North Africa] many times before, there was something markedly different on this trip — the ripening of a self-determining vision planted by the Arab Spring movements,” Alhassen said. “I saw glistening hope in the eyes of youth, a group largely responsible for the pronounced visibility and success of Arab Spring movements.

“I saw the aftermath of spirited uprisings mired in the bureaucratic reality of constitutional reform. I saw a reinvigorated pan-Arab consciousness, one that fashions solidarity across ideological and physical borders. Upon learning of my Syrian ancestry, Moroccan and Egyptian taxi cab drivers passionately asserted ‘our hearts are with you.’ ”

Alhassen’s research focuses on African-American and Arab relations from international perspectives; her work bridges the worlds of social justice, academic research and artistic expression. She has co-hosted the Arab-American TV variety show What's Happening and was featured on CNN, talking about what it means to be a Muslim-American woman.

The Stream will start online at stream.aljazeera.com at 12:20 p.m., 10 minutes before the TV broadcast begins, on July 11 and 12. Viewers can watch on cable or online at english.aljazeera.net/watchnow. When the TV broadcast ends at 4 p.m., the program will remain on the Internet for 20 additional minutes.

Alhassen previously conducted research for the Malcolm X Project at Columbia University, worked with the arts-based social justice organization Blackout Arts Collective and organized creative writing workshops with incarcerated youth at Rikers Island.

The Provost's Ph.D. Fellowship Program funds about 100 outstanding Ph.D. students annually. Fellows are selected from an application pool containing some of the most highly recruited students in the world.