Content Skip to content.
San Diego State University

Experience Movement

The Clash of Movement and the Politics of Cultural Mediation: Translating the Refugee and Migrant Experience Across Languages and Literatures

We define movement as the migration of people from one region of the globe to another for political and economic reasons. Such movement also entails the travel of cultural values and norms that sometimes puts migrants on a collision course with the country of final destination. This project will allow for a comparative analysis of the contemporary situation of refugees and human rights in Europe and the Mediterranean on the one hand, and the US-Mexico border on the other. This project will focus on the various problems refugees face when entering and trying to integrate into a new society. In particular, we propose to address the clash that such movement engenders from the perspective of cultural mediation, language, and literature translation. Roundtable speakers include: Amara Lakhous (Italian-Algerian writer), Norma Bouchard (Dean of the College of Arts and Letters), Nancy Marlin (Professor of Psychology and Provost Emerita).

Date: Thursday, October 20, 2016

Italian-Algerian writer Amara Lakhous, author of the acclaimed novel Clash of Civilization for an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (2006) will be visiting SDSU.

During the day he will meet with students in the Italian program, discussing his experience as a refugee in Rome, his work as a student and cultural mediator in Italy, and the role of writing and translation across languages and cultures.

Date: Thursday, October 20, 2016, 6:00 p.m.

Roundtable Event:  The Art of Migration: Challenges and Opportunities

Time: 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Where: Templo Mayor, Aztec Student Union

Speakers: Amara Lakhous (Italian-Algerian writer) Norma Bouchard (Dean of the College of Arts and Letters) Nancy Marlin (Professor of Psychology and Provost Emerita).

Bio: Amara Lakhous

Amara Lakhous is Italian-Algerian writer, author of the award-winning novel Clash of Civilization for an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (2006) and several other books, including Divorce Islamic Style (2010) and Dispute over a very Italian Piglet (2013). He was born in 1970 in Algiers, the sixth of nine children. His parents were Berbers, and they sent him to a Koran school for four years where he learned classical Arabic. He learned French at junior school and found himself mediating between his Algerian and his French heritage. He went on to work for Algerian radio, but was forced to leave Algeria after repeated threats. In 1995 he moved to Rome where he studied anthropology and worked as a cultural mediator and translator for several years before moving to other locations in Italy and eventually arriving in the U.S.A.


His novels have been translated in many languages. Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio was the revised version of a novel first written in Arabic under the title How to be Suckled by the Wolf Without Getting Bit and released in 2003 in Algeria and Lebanon. The book tells with irony and comedy the story of a murder in Rome, a pretext to address the complex theme of identity in a multicultural environment: «I lived for six years on the Piazza Vittorio, it’s a kind of laboratory for the future, the prototype of intellectual cohabitation». In this and his other works of literature Lakhous experiments with language by enriching his Italian prose with expressions, imagery and terms from his original language: «I Arabise the Italian and Italianise the Arabic». He now lives in New York where he continues to write in multiple languages.


For more information visit: Amara Lakhous's Website

Bio: Kinda Hibrawi

Kinda Hibrawi is an acclaimed Syrian American artist, creative strategist and program director with experience in the international development field. Originally from Aleppo, she grew up between Saudi Arabia, Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon, and the United States. She has worked on various art projects with the U.S. State Department, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, UNRWA and UNICEF. She co-founded and helped develop Karam Foundation’s Innovative Education programs and directed the foundation’s creative vision from 2013 to 2015, as well as design their logo and website. Hibrawi jointly ran these education programs every six months for displaced Syrian refugees on the Syrian-Turkish border, starting in Atmeh, Syria from June 2013 and Reyhanli, Turkey until December 2015. The United Nations named her a 2012 Global Thinker & Influencer at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. In May 2014, she was awarded the Ward Humanitarian Medal by the Williston Northampton School, in MA. Prior to that, she was recognized as an internationally known painter in Arabic Calligraphy using her artwork to bring awareness to non-profits on Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and local charity work for children with cancer. Hibrawi is paving the way for a new generation of young Arab American artists. Her original artwork is sought by collectors worldwide and is currently exhibited in group and solo shows across the US, including the Arab American National Museum and the Venice Bienniale in 2015.


For more information visit: Kinda Hibrawi Website

Event Details:

Topic: The Clash of Movement and the Politics of Cultural Mediation: Translating the Refugee and Migrant Experience Across Languages and Literatures


Roundtable: The Art of Migration: Challenges and Opportunities


Date: October 20, 2016, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.


Where: Templo Mayor, Aztec Student Union


Featuring keynote presentations by Italian Algerian writer Amara Lakhous and Syrian American artist Kinda Hibrawi.


Respondents: Dr. Norma Bouchard, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and Dr. Nancy Marlin, Provost Emerita and Professor of Psychology.


The roundtable will address the contested issue of migration in Europe, the Mediterranean and the U.S./Mexico Border as well as the current Syrian refugee crisis through the lens of art and activism.

Organizers: Mounah Abdel-Samad (Public Administration and Policy), Clarissa Clò (Italian and European Studies), Kellie Quinn (School of Communication)


Sponsors: The Common Experience, The College of Arts and Letters, The Circolo italiano, The School of Public Affairs, SDSU Arts Alive.


Co-sponsors: The Center for Arabic and Islamic Studies, The Department of European Studies, ISCOR, The Italian Studies Program

Amara Lakhous

Amara Lakhous in Rome, Italy

Kinda Hibrawi

Kinda Hibrawi
Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view; download Adobe Acrobat Reader.