The Columns

W&L’s Contact Speaker’s Series Presents the Second Talk on the Middle East: Spotlight on the Culture

— by on November 1st, 2007

The second lecture of Spotlight on the Middle East, Washington and Lee University’s Contact-sponsored speaker series will be on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Spotlight on the Culture will be given by Davar Ardalan, author of My Name is Iran, at 7:30 p.m. in Lee Chapel.

Ardalan’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the Fishback Program for Visiting Writers.

Ardalan is Iranian American. Although born in the U.S., she moved to Iran as an infant, returning to the States as a teenager. She agreed to return to Iran and to an arranged marriage at age 18, agreeing to this marriage because she wanted to live the Iranian culture.

The hurdles of her particular dual identity are intriguing. She has worked as a news anchor in Iran, presenting all the news the Iranian government wanted to share, and then, upon her return to the U.S., became the producer of NPR’s Morning Edition.

Ardalan traces her personal experiences after the 1979 Islamic revolution and the struggle of a nation-Iran-as reflected in her family’s remarkable story in her talk as well as her book. Traveling and drawing insight from the cultural, geographical and philosophical boundaries between Iran and America, her talks give, as Middle East scholar Vali Nasr puts it, “a rare glimpse into the many layers of life in that nation and the aspirations and frustrations that have shaped its recent history.”

Spotlight on Religion in the Middle East will be the third lecture on Tuesday, Nov. 27, and will be given by Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington D.C. The final lecture of the series, Spotlight on War in the Middle East, will be Thursday, March 6, 2008, and will be given by Gen. Anthony Zinni (ret.).