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Southbound: War and Culture


Nov 07 2019


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Power Plant Gallery

320 Blackwell St, American Tobacco Campus, Durham, NC

War and the Recreation of Culture

[ Detail, Christopher Sims, Jihad Lamp, 2006 ]


War and the Recreation of Culture

An FSP@PPG Conversation in Conjunction with the Southbound Exhibition

How do we understand those who have been displaced by war? In this FSP@PPG panel discussion, we explore the roles that anthropological research, community-engaged language learning, and documentary photography play in how we view displaced persons and the new communities that they create. Cultural anthropologist Nadia El-Shaarawi will discuss the everyday lives of refugees in the Middle East, Europe, and Durham. Duke Asian and Middle Eastern Studies professor Maha Houssami will share her work connecting Duke students with resettled Arabic-speaking refugees in Durham. Documentary photographer and Southbound artist Christopher Sims will discuss his “Theater of War” project, which looks at the simulated Iraqi and Afghan villages used by the U.S. military to prepare for deployment. The conversation will examine the different ways we understand “culture” and how we come to know the foundational beliefs and practices of people from different backgrounds.

Free and open to the public. Light lunch served. Co-sponsored by the Power Plant Gallery and the Forum for Scholars and Publics.

About the Event Series

Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South is presented by the Power Plant Gallery in collaboration with Duke’s Forum for Scholars and Publics and the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at North Carolina State University. In this iteration, guest curator Randall Kenan, author and NC native, organizes the many framed photographs of the exhibition around the twin themes of Flux, on display at the Power Plant Gallery, and Home, on display at the Gregg Museum. The full program of events includes slow tours, film screenings, “Sit + Chat” sessions, and FSP@PPG panel discussions that engage with the issues in and around the works of art and explore the topics, places, and styles of Southbound. Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South was organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston School of the Arts in Charleston, South Carolina, and curated by Mark Long and Mark Sloan. Visit the exhibit online at

Related Coverage

“The ideas and problems which have dogged the South from the beginning are still afoot: race and the legacy of slavery; the bloody blunder that was secession and the Civil War; a powerful fondness for Jesus and the Protestant religion; a particular food culture tied directly to the agricultural bounty that sprang from that very landscape.” —Randall Kenan, quoted in Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South, Forum Online

“Before you start, know what you’re trying to achieve with the photo. Have a goal in mind, and think through what you need to do to get there.” —Titus Brooks Heagins, quoted in Titus Brooks Heagins Visits DSA, Forum Online

“McNair Evans produces choreographed works. He orchestrates photos after establishing relationships with his subjects, giving him the ability to capture images of vulnerable moments.” —Cydney Livingston, Photography as Choreography: Confessions for a Son, Forum Online


Christopher Sims

Duke University

Christopher Sims is the undergraduate educator director at the Center for Documentary Studies and a Lecturing Fellow in Documentary Arts. He has worked as a photo archivist at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and has coordinated the exhibition, awards, and web programs at Duke's Center for Documentary…...

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Nadia El-Shaarawi

Colby College

Nadia El-Shaarawi is an Assistant Professor of Global Studies at Colby College and currently a visiting scholar at the Global Mental Health Program in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. She is a cultural and medical anthropologist who specializes in transnational forced migration, humanitarian intervention, and mental health in…...

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Maha Houssami

Duke University

Maha Houssami has been an advanced Arabic language instructor for the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies department at Duke University since October 2011. She launched a Community-Based Language Initiative in an effort to increase community engagement in Duke’s academic language programs and to allow Duke students studying Arabic to practice…...

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