Into the Souq: Culture, Cuisine, and Cacophony


Nawal Nasrallah explores the intersections of culture, cuisine, and identity in the marketplaces of the Middle East, illustrating the global connections that underpin the sights, sounds, and smells of these hubs of humanity.

Guest Bios

Nawal Nasrallah

Nawal Nasrallah is an independent scholar previously professor of English literature at the universities of Baghdad and Mosul. She has published books and articles on the history and culture of the Middle-Eastern/Arab food, including Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and History of the Iraqi Cuisine (Equinox Publishing), Dates: A Global History (Edible Series, Reaktion Books), and two English translations of medieval Arabic cookbooks: Annals of the Caliphs’ Kitchens and Treasure Trove of Benefits and Variety at the Table, both published by Brill.

Daniel Osborn

Daniel Osborn is a Program Director at Primary Source.

Episode Acknowledgements

Special thanks to the Qatar Foundation International, which provided the seed funding and support to develop and launch this podcast and to produce this episode.

Thanks to Nawal Nasrallah for generously sharing her expertise in this episode.

Image Credits

  • Photo of spice display provided by Daniel Osborn.
  • Photo of Nawal Nasrallah provided by Nawal Nasrallah.

Featured Music

  • Kim Arar,” by Wind of Anatolia, from the album Live at the 2014 Golden Festival, used with permission from Wind of Anatolia. The track has been excerpted and mixed with narrative.

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Teach the Souq Using a Visual Essay (photos by Daniel Osborn)

Rooted in Jerusalem: The Abrahamic Faiths


Jerusalem is a city that has captivated the imagination and devotion of people for thousands of years. Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus, a rabbi and Wheaton College professor of religion, illuminates the connections between each of the Abrahamic traditions and the historical and theological ties grounding them in Jerusalem. 

Guest Bios

Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus

Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus is Professor of Religion at Wheaton College. His is the author of Gastronomic Judaism as Culinary Midrash (Lexington Press, 2018) and has published numerous articles on Jewish food in the Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and CookeryStudies in Jewish Civilization, and other journals, and has translated Rabenu Bahya ben Asher’s fourteenth-century Hebrew mystical manual on food, Shulhan Shel Arba (Table of Four) into English which is available online. He has regularly taught “The Rituals of Dinner” First Year Seminar at Wheaton for over twenty years, as well as other courses in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He holds a PhD in Religious Studies (New Testament) from Vanderbilt, and is an ordained Reconstructionist Rabbi. He lives, cooks, eats, and gardens with his wife Maia, an elementary school teacher in Providence, RI.

Susan Balogh

Susan Balogh teaches Social Studies at the Edith C. Baker School in Brookline, MA.

Free Resources and Featured Books

  • Dome of the Rock by Oleg Grabar. This book features photographs of Jerusalem, including much of the architecture mentioned by Professor Brumberg-Kraus!

  • Snow in Jerusalem by Deborah da Costa, recommended by Susan Balogh who reads the book with her middle school students.

Episode Acknowledgements

Special thaks to the Qatar Foundation International, which provided the seed funding and support to develop and launch this podcast and to produce this episode.

Thanks to Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus and Susan Balogh for generously sharing their expertise.

Image Credits

  • Photo of Jerusalem provided by Daniel Osborn.
  • Photo of Professor Brumberg-Kraus provided by Professor Brumberg-Kraus.

Featured Music

    • Kim Arar,” by Wind of Anatolia, from the album Live at the 2014 Golden Festival, used with permission from Wind of Anatolia. The track has been excerpted and mixed with narrative.

Imagining Nationhood in the Middle East

Naghmeh Sohrabi of Brandeis University unpacks the rise of nationalism in the Middle East, highlighting contending visions of national ideology while offering a reminder that nationhood was not always a foregone conclusion across the region.

Guest Bios

Naghmeh Sohrabi

Naghmeh Sohrabi is the Charles (Corky) Goodman Professor of Middle East History and the Associate Director for Research at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. She is the author of the book Taken for Wonder: Nineteenth Century Travel Accounts from Iran to Europe, and several articles on Iranian history and contemporary politics. She is currently writing a book on the experience of the 1979 revolution in Iran.

Katie Reusch

Katie Reusch teaches Social Studies at Andover High School in Andover, MA.

Free Resources and Featured Books

Learn more about Nationhood in the Middle East with these free online resources:

Episode Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Qatar Foundation International, which provided the seed funding and support to develop and launch this podcast and to produce this episode.

We are grateful to Naghmeh Sohrabi and Katie Reusch for generously sharing their expertise.

Image Credits

25 piastres,” by Ronald Chan, used under Public Domain Mark 1.0.

Featured Music

  • Kim Arar,” by Wind of Anatolia, from the album Live at the 2014 Golden Festival, used with permission from Wind of Anatolia. The track has been excerpted and mixed with narrative.

Teaching about Iraq, a State in Flux

Since the U.S. and several allies invaded Iraq in 2003 and deposed Saddam Hussein, the country has undergone a civil war, partial conquest by ISIS, and reunion. What did the 2018 parliamentary elections suggest about voters’ wishes for Iraq going forward? What are the major challenges for Iraq, and hopes of its people today? Dr. Muhamed Almaliky, a research fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, joins us to discuss these issues, while Nicholas Ristaino, a high school teacher in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, explains approaches for cultivating an understanding of Iraq’s recent past and current events.

Guest Bios

Dr Muhamed Almaliky

Dr Muhamed Almaliky is a research fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, where he teaches a seminar on the politics of health and lectures on Iraq. His research interests and journal publications focus on postwar democratization, economics, and security developments in Iraq.

Nicholas Ristaino

Nicholas Ristaino teaches Social Studies at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.

Free Resources and Featured Books

Learn more about modern Iraq with these free online resources:

Episode Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Qatar Foundation International, which provided the seed funding and support to develop and launch this podcast and to produce this episode.

We are grateful to Muhamed Almaliky and Nicholas Ristaino for sharing their expertise and teaching strategies with our listeners.

Image Credits

Proud Iraqi Women Vote in Nasiriyah,” by DVIDS, used under Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). The image has been cropped.

Featured Music

  • Kim Arar,” by Wind of Anatolia, from the album Live at the 2014 Golden Festival, used with permission from Wind of Anatolia. The track has been excerpted and mixed with narrative.

Learning from Refugees

With a burgeoning population of refugees in the Middle East, the need to teach about this humanitarian challenge is clear. But as we learn about refugees, we can also learn from them. What can their lives and choices teach us? And how can studying refugee experiences benefit our students? Joining us are Nadya Hajj, a political scientist from Wellesley College, and Rachel Barker, a middle school social studies teacher in Wayland, Massachusetts.

Guest Bios

Nadya S. Hajj

Nadya S. Hajj is a political scientist and professor in Middle East Studies and Peace and Justice Studies at Wellesley College. Her work explores how institutions develop in anarchic settings, using Palestinian refugee camps as a ground of study; since 2004, she has spent much time living in refugee camps around the Middle East. Her insights from this research are detailed in her book Protection Amid Chaos (Columbia University Press, 2016). Nadya is an expert on Middle East politics, refugee studies, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and conflict transformation.

Rachel Barker

Rachel Barker teaches Social Studies and English at Wayland Middle School in Wayland, Massachusetts.

Free Resources and Featured Books

Learn more about refugee experiences in the Middle East with these free online resources:

  • Global Refugee Crisis – resources compiled by Primary Source, assembled on Pinterest

  • Teaching About Refugees – UNHCR portal that includes a Teachers’ Toolkit and curated selection of teaching materials on refugees, asylum, migration and statelessness

  • History of Refugee Protection: Interactive Timeline from the Journal of Refugee Studies

  • We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria by Wendy Pearlman: firsthand wartime testimonies and poetic fragments from a cross-section of Syrians

  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid: lyrical novel about the experiences of a young couple who flee a wartime siege, becoming refugees (for high school and up)

  • Refugee by Alan Gratz: novel chronicling the experiences of three refugee children and their harrowing journeys, including a Syrian boy in 2015 (for middle school)

  • Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams: picture book about how two children in a refugee camp solve a shortage problem (for elementary school)

  • We also recommend this fee-based service:

    • NaTakallam – service that allows you to connect your students to Syrian refugees for Arabic language practice

Episode Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Qatar Foundation International, which provided the seed funding and support to develop and launch this podcast and to produce this episode.

We are grateful to Nadya Hajj and Rachel Barker for sharing their ideas and expertise with our listeners.

Image Credits

Working together to help Syrian refugee children in Lebanon,” by Russell Watkins/Department for International Development, used under Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). The image has been cropped.

Featured Music

  • Kim Arar,” by Wind of Anatolia, from the album Live at the 2014 Golden Festival, used with permission from Wind of Anatolia. The track has been excerpted and mixed with narrative.

Arab Youth & Youth Activism

Betty Anderson of Boston University explains the pressures and hopes that have motivated Arab students and Arab youth to speak out for change in the past and at present. Primary Source highlights classroom-friendly literature for teaching about young peoples’ activism.

Guest Bios

Betty S. Anderson

Betty S. Anderson is a professor of history at Boston University, where she is Director of the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations.  She is an expert on the History of the Middle East, the social and intellectual history of the Arab world, the history of education, and modern world history. In 2016, she published A History of the Modern Middle East:  Rulers, Rogues and Rebels with Stanford University Press. Her latest project examines the economic, educational, political and social changes that have come to Beirut, Amman, and Ramallah over the last 25 years.

Deborah Cunningham

Deborah Cunningham is Senior Program Director at Primary Source, where she has produced programs for teachers on the Middle East since 2004.

Free Resources and Featured Books

Learn more about forms of youth activism in the Arab World and broader Middle East with these free online resources:

Episode Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Qatar Foundation International, which provided the seed funding and support to develop and launch this podcast and to produce this episode.

Thanks to Betty Anderson for sharing her time and expertise so generously.

Image Credits

Anti-Sexual Harassment, Anti-Police Failures Demo, Press Syndicate,” by Hossam El-Hamalawy, used under Creative Commons License Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). The image has been cropped.

Featured Music

  • Kim Arar,” by Wind of Anatolia, from the album Live at the 2014 Golden Festival, used with permission from Wind of Anatolia. The track has been excerpted and mixed with narrative.

Water and War in Yemen

Steven Caton of Harvard University breaks down the civil war, famine, and water crisis in Yemen.

Guest Bios

Steven Caton

Steven Caton is the Khalid Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulrahman Al Saud Professor of Contemporary Arab Studies at Harvard University. His research focuses on the Arabic language, cultural studies, and the politics of water. He is one of the foremost experts on Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula.

Episode Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Qatar Foundation International, which provided the seed funding and support to develop and launch this podcast and to produce this episode.

Thanks to Professor Caton for his time and for his enthusiasm in helping to bring the crises in Yemen to light.

Image Credits

Old City Sana’a,” by Rick McCharles via Flickr, used under Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). This photo has been enhanced using basic editing functions in Apple Photos.

Featured Music

  • Kim Arar,” by Wind of Anatolia, from the album Live at the 2014 Golden Festival, used with permission from Wind of Anatolia. The track has been excerpted and mixed with narrative.

The Diversity of Islam

Ali Asani of Harvard University explores the diversity of ideology and practice within Islam. We also talk with Rachel Otty, a public high school teacher in Cambridge, MA, about why and how she teaches religious literacy.

Guest Bios

Ali Asani

Ali Asani is Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard University, where he specializes in the teaching of the practice of Islam. His own research explores the devotional traditions among Muslim communities in South Asia.

Rachel Otty

Rachel Otty is a history teacher at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, a public high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has written about teaching about Islam and religious literacy for Education Week and for PBS.org (citations and links below).

Free Resources and Featured Books

Learn more about teaching the diversity of Islam and religious literacy with these free resources:

Episode Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Qatar Foundation International, which provided the seed funding and support to develop and launch this podcast and to produce this episode.

Thanks to Professor Asani for his time and generosity, and to Ms. Otty for her willingness to share her work on teaching religious literacy.

Image Credits

Featured Music

  • Kim Arar,” by Wind of Anatolia, from the album Live at the 2014 Golden Festival, used with permission from Wind of Anatolia. The track has been excerpted and mixed with narrative.

The Saudi-Iran Cold War

David Siddhartha Patel of Brandeis University explains the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, including how this rivalry is playing out in Lebanon, Yemen, and Qatar.

Guest Bios

David Siddhartha Patel

David Siddhartha Patel is a research fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. Prior to joining the Crown Center, he served as an assistant professor in the government department at Cornell University. He holds a BA in political science and economics from Duke University and a PhD in political science from Stanford.

Episode Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Qatar Foundation International, which provided the seed funding and support to develop and launch this podcast and to produce this episode. Neither Qatar Foundation International nor the Qatar Foundation were involved in the decision to include a discussion of the nation of Qatar in this episode, or in the shaping of the content of that discussion.

Thanks to Dr. Patel for his time, knowledge, and enthusiasm in sharing his expertise on the crisis in Syria

Image Credits

Aircraft_Fighter_Jet_F-15_Eagle_Royal_Saudi_Air_Force,” by Matt Morgan, used under Creative Commons License Attribution Share-Alike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). The image has not been transformed in any way.

Featured Music

  • Kim Arar,” by Wind of Anatolia, from the album Live at the 2014 Golden Festival, used with permission from Wind of Anatolia. The track has been excerpted and mixed with narrative.

Syria, Explained

Peter Krause of Boston College breaks down the crisis in Syria and shares strategies for teaching about Syria in the classroom.

Guest Bios

Peter Krause

Peter Krause is an assistant professor of political science at Boston College, and an expert on Middle East politics, terrorism, and non-state violence. He has a PhD in political science from MIT, where he is also a Research Affiliate in the Security Studies Program. His book Rebel Power: Why National Movements Compete, Fight, and Win was published by Cornell University Press in 2017.

Free Resources and Featured Books

Learn more about teaching the war and humanitarian crisis in Syria with these free online resources:

Episode Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Qatar Foundation International, which provided the seed funding and support to develop and launch this podcast and to produce this episode.

Thanks to Professor Krause for his time, knowledge, and enthusiasm in sharing his expertise on the crisis in Syria.

Image Credits

Aleppo,” by Joshua Tabti, used under Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). The image has been cropped.

Featured Music

  • Kim Arar,” by Wind of Anatolia, from the album Live at the 2014 Golden Festival, used with permission from Wind of Anatolia. The track has been excerpted and mixed with narrative.