Arab American Heritage Month

Welcome to our digital exhibit celebrating Arab American Heritage Month. This page is a companion to the physical display in the HKS Library, available through April 2024. Harvard affiliates can request books via HOLLIS, for pick-up at the library of your choice.

Launched in 2017 by Arab America and the Arab America Foundation, National Arab American Heritage Month has taken place in the U.S. every April to formally recognize the achievements of Arab Americans and "celebrate our community's rich heritage and numerous contributions to society." In 2022, President Biden recognized National Arab American Heritage Month, joining Congress, the U.S. Department of State, 45 governors, and 140 counties, municipalities, and local school districts in commemorating the initiative.

The Arab America Foundation traces its roots to Kahlil Gibran, the celebrated Lebanese-American writer, poet, and philosopher who a century ago helped to create al-Rabita al-Qalamiyya (also known as Al Mahjar or The Pen League). According to the Arab American National Museum, this collective of writers and scholars who had emigrated to America from Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine "encouraged the revitalization of Arab literature" through individual works and contributions to each other's periodical publications. Many consider the Mahjari writers to be successors of the Nahda movement (also known as the Arab Renaissance) - a period of cultural flourishing during the late-19th and early 20th century spurred by Ottoman Empire reform, the Young Turk Revolution, and encounters with the West. al-Rabita al-Qalamiyya dissolved following Gibran's death in 1931, but its goal of promoting and preserving Arab heritage through cultural production and education lives on.

The books in this display pay homage to this Arab American literary tradition, featuring works by Mahjari and contemporary Arab American writers and scholars.

The Baker Library at HBS has also curated resources for Arab American Heritage Month, including books, databases, interviews, art, and special collections.

Did you know? Kahlil Gibran spent much of his early life in Boston, immigrating to the city from Lebanon with his mother and siblings. Living in the South End, Gibran educated himself at the Boston Public Library. He wrote the first draft of his acclaimed work The Prophet in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. Learn more about Gibran's adolescence in Boston and visit his memorial in Copley Square.

Harvard Library Research Guides

Research Databases on Arab Countries

Groups & Initiatives around HKS & Harvard

  • Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) - Harvard initiative supporting research, teaching, and learning on topics related to the Middle East.
  • Middle East Initiative - HKS research project "dedicated to advancing public policy in the Middle East by convening the world's foremost academics and policy experts, developing the next generation of leaders, and promoting community engagement on campus and in the region." Part of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
  • Palestine Program for Health and Human Rights - "An academic hub engaging in a broadly collaborative justice and rights-based approach in the study of Palestinian health through knowledge production, education, and multidisciplinary community engagement." Part of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  • Africa Policy Journal - Former HKS student journal that "promotes dialogue about African policy and current affairs in the areas of business, culture, design, education, governance, health, and law."
  • Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy - Former HKS student journal that "presents analysis and new perspective, addresses complex issues, and explores growing trends shaping the contemporary Middle East and North Africa region."
  • Africa Caucus - HKS student organization that "promote[s] the engagement of the HKS community with the African continent."
  • Arab Caucus - HKS student organization that "aims to shed light on the Arab World's rich history and traditions as well as its political, social and economic issues."
  • The Lebanon Society - HKS student organization that is "dedicated to engaging the HKS community around Lebanese political, economic, social, and cultural affairs."
  • Moroccan Caucus - HKS student organization that "provides an environment to discuss topics related to Moroccan society, economy, and culture among students interested in the country."
  • Palestine Caucus - HKS student organization that is "committed to promoting awareness of cultural and political issues in Palestine by educating the HKS community through regular events and activities."
  • Saudi Caucus - HKS student organization that "foster[s] cross-cultural understanding and focuses on initiating meaningful conversations and intercultural dialogues."

Display Books: Mahjari Writers

Click on the circular "i" icons to view book descriptions. Click on the Harvard shield icons to access ebooks (Harvard Key required).

Display Books: Contemporary Writers

Click on the circular "i" icons to view book descriptions. Click on the Harvard shield icons to access ebooks (Harvard Key required).