Media Literacy & the Middle East

Hussein Rashid of Barnard College and Columbia University discusses the importance of thinking critically about news, information, and stories relating to the Middle East. We also highlight five activities you can do to promote media literacy in your classrooms.

Guest Bios

Hussein Rashid

Hussein Rashid is a contingent faculty member at Barnard College and Columbia University, where he teaches about the intersection of media and Islam. He is also the founder of Islamicate, L3C, a consultancy that promotes religious literacy and cultural competency. He holds a BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Columbia, a Masters in Theological Studies focusing on Islam, and a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from Harvard.

Free Resources and Featured Books

Learn more about teaching media literacy as it pertains to the Middle East with these free online resources:

  • Media Constructions of the Middle East, a free digital teaching kit developed by Project LookSharp that includes a teaching guide, lesson plans, and relevant online media examples ready for classroom use.

  • Exploring Stereotypes with Aladdin,” a free lesson plan developed and distributed by Barbara Petzen of Middle East Connections. This lesson plan features longer, more involved activities related to the film than those we discuss in the episode.

  • This short film by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR), in which notable celebrities help explain that the words we use to describe refugees, migrants, internally displaced persons, and others really do matter in how we think about the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the eastern Mediterranean.This short film by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR), in which notable celebrities help explain that the words we use to describe refugees, migrants, internally displaced persons, and others really do matter in how we think about the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the eastern Mediterranean.

  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. This book is great for helping students of any age understand that there are two sides to every story.

  • Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People by Jack Shaheen, which highlights the ways that Arabs have been negatively depicted in movies since before the first “talkies.” (A classroom-friendly documentary version of the book exists, too!)

Episode Acknowledgements

Thanks to Dr. Hussein Rashid for his time, knowledge, and enthusiasm in promoting media literacy as it relates to the Middle East.

Image Credits

Image of Hussein Rashid courtesy of Mr. Rashid, taken by Ali Ansary and featured on www.husseinrashid.com.

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.

Underneath the Veil

Why do some Middle Eastern women wear headscarves or full-body coverings? The answers might just surprise you. Joining us are Barbara Petzen, Director of Middle East Connections, who explains the social, political, and economic reasons for veiling, and Subheen Razzaqui, a hijab-wearing world history and political science teacher in Newton, Massachusetts.

Guest Bios

Barbara Petzen

Barbara Petzen is the director of Middle East Connections, a nonprofit initiative that provides professional and curriculum development services to K-12 educators, as well as the former president of the Middle East Outreach Council, a national consortium of educators working to further teachers’ understanding of the Middle East. She has also previously served as the education director at the Middle East Policy Council and as the outreach coordinator at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. She holds degrees in international politics, Middle Eastern Studies, and education from Columbia, Oxford, and the University of Illinois. She also conducted doctoral work in Middle Eastern history at Harvard University before leaving to focus on her work with the K-12 community.

Free Resources and Featured Books

Learn more about the historical, cultural, and political reasons for veiling with these free online resources:

  • The chapter Today’s Middle East: Women, Rights, Leadership in the digital book Teaching the Middle East: A Resource Guide for Educators. The digital book was developed by TeachMidEast, the educational division of the Middle East Policy Council, a nonprofit organization.

  • The website Reorienting the Veil, an online educational resource that “explores Islamic veiling practices in transnational contexts and from a multi-disciplinary perspective.” The site was developed by the Center for European Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Episode Acknowledgements

Thanks to Barbara Petzen and Subheen Razzaqui for their insights, patience, and humor in producing episode #2. We would also like to thank Jihane, Laila, and Subheen, who were willing to share their personal thoughts on covering in this episode with our audience of teachers.

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.

What and Where is the Middle East, Anyway?

Helping K-12 teachers bring the modern Middle East to their classrooms, one topic at a time. Because there’s so much more to the region than conflict and terrorism.

Free Resources and Featured Books

Whether you’re new to teaching the Middle East, or just looking for new material to spice up your existing curricula, check out these free online resources for educators!

Episode Acknowledgements

Thanks to the anonymous high school students who shared their thoughts about the Middle East in this pilot episode; and to the educator who conducted the interviews on our behalf.

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.