Georgetown Professor pens new book on Arab Culture in Doha

Georgetown Professor pens new book on Arab Culture in Doha
Share this Story:

Georgetown Professor pens new book on Arab Culture in Doha

The Doha Experiment by Gary Wasserman is a fascinating and illuminating window into Arab culture by a professor teaching American politics at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Doha, Qatar. The following is quoted from the author about his newly relased book, The Doha Experiment:

“This is a true story that sounds like a politically incorrect joke. A Jewish guy walks into a fundamentalist Arab country he has never heard of to teach American politics at a Catholic college. This takes place 4 years after 9/11.  Relatives, only half-smiling, assure me that they will recite the mourners kaddish if needed. My elderly aunt quietly and unhelpfully takes my hand, “Gary, stay away from Arabs.”

After eight years the fears have subsided.  Teaching at Georgetown University’s new Foreign Service School in Doha, Qatar didn’t get me killed, kidnapped or even treated badly.  Instead I became part of a significant, little known movement of American higher education into the embattled nations of the Middle East.  By accident I dropped onto the frontlines of a clash of civilizations; or more accurately a confusion of cultures where liberal universities confront a gaggle of students– fundamentalists, gay Muslims, wealthy jet setters, Arab valley girls, Asian nerds, budding jihadists and tomorrow’s world leaders.  The stakes are high, the process often chaotic.

Souq Waqif, Doha, Qatar

Souq Waqif, Doha, Qatar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unlike much of today’s reporting from the Middle East I did not come away with a blood-soaked narrative of despair.  Instead there are simpler, often funny, honest stories of a wide diversity of people, dealing with each other and their foreign teachers. The intimacy of the classroom allows candid exchanges with surprisingly diverse Muslim youth struggling to find their way amid conflicting worlds. Throughout is my own journey, with the experiences and changes that I went through, offering insights and humor, irony and hope.”

Gary Wasserman was a Professor of Government at Georgetown University in Qatar for eight years. He taught courses in American Government, International Relations, Media and Foreign Policy, and Interest Groups and Lobbies. He has written for The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Political Science Quarterly, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He is a frequent TV political commentator, worked as a Washington communications consultant, and taught at Johns Hopkins SAIS in China, at Columbia University and Medgar Evers College. His book, The Basics of American Politics, published for over 40 years, has become the standard brief American government text, and is now in its 15th edition.

“Gary Wasserman is a splendid tour guide to a country few of us know anything about, let alone visited. Deeply insightful, he has written a wonderful book with ingratiating humility, honesty and respect. . . . reads like an edgy sitcom, as humorous as it is sad.”

LEWIS BLACK, comedian, actor, and New York Times bestselling author of Nothing’s Sacred

A fascinating and illuminating window into Arab culture by a professor teaching American politics at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Doha, Qatar.

The Doha Experiment

Arab Kingdom, Catholic College, Jewish Teacher

By Gary Wasserman

The Doha Experiment: Arab Kingdom, Catholic College, Jewish Teacher(Skyhorse Publishing hardcover; November 14, 2017; $24.99) by Gary Wasserman with foreword by Dick Durbin is a fascinating and illuminating look at the frontlines where Arab and American cultures confront each other, written by a professor of American politics at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Doha, Qatar for eight years.

Wasserman’s decision to head to Qatar to teach at Georgetown sounds questionable, at best. Written with a sharp sense of humor, The Doha Experiment argues that Americans need to go beyond a ‘clash of civilizations’ to the story of a welcomed and largely successful American involvement in the Arab Gulf.

Most importantly, his experiences counter the despair many Americans feel toward the Middle East. Georgetown joined a significant, largely successful yet little-understood movement to introduce liberal values into traditional societies. The Doha Experiment offers a clear-eyed view of where the region is going, how Western universities can positively influence that direction, and why Americans need to understand this vital overseas challenge.

About the Author:

Gary Wasserman was a Professor of Government at Georgetown University in Qatar for eight years. He taught courses in American Government, International Relations, Media and Foreign Policy, and Interest Groups and Lobbies. He has written for The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Political Science Quarterly, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He is a frequent TV political commentator, worked as a Washington communications consultant, and taught at Johns Hopkins SAIS in China, at Columbia University and Medgar Evers College. His book, The Basics of American Politics, published for over 40 years, has become the standard brief American government text, and is now in its 15th edition.

Continued Praise for The Doha Experiment

“This book despite its many moments of levity offers a serious and important lesson about the possibilities, and limitations, of American education as a bridge between cultures.”
—Senator Dick Durbin, from the foreword

“Given the number of American universities that have established satellites in distant parts of the world, it’s remarkable so few people have written about this phenomenon. Gary Wasserman’s account of his experience in Qatar is a fascinating introduction to this very twenty-first century meeting of cultures: subtle, full of insight, often wise and sometimes hilarious.”
Adam Hochshild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost and Spain in Our Hearts

The Doha Experiment is a thought-provoking memoir about the experience and difficulty of imparting a liberal education in a segment of the Arab Gulf. The challenges confronting the bright and highly motivated women students are richly drawn. Wasserman describes the tensions between the boundaries imposed by tradition and the impact of a western college education that expanded horizons and promoted individualism. Were women students being educated for a world inimical to their environment? Would they become change makers or revert to their previous lives? It’s a fascinating read.” —Melanne Verveer, former US ambassador for global women’s issues, author of Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose

“This is a richly informative first-hand account of what it is like to live and to teach US politics in a conservative Arab-Muslim society. Professor Wasserman went to Qatar armed with wry wit, street smarts and no pretensions; he receives an ‘A’ for his ability to understand, sympathize, and identify with his students.” —Ira M. Lapidus, emeritus professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic history at the University of California at Berkeley, author of A History of Islamic Studies

“Gary Wasserman has written a funny, intelligent, insightful, little book about an important experiment in higher education that is still unfolding. There is a lot that is uplifting and promising about the story, but there is much that points to the limits of the engagement as well, and Wasserman does not spare the reader. It is an honest book with a good story, warts and all.” —Robert Gallucci, former dean of the School of Foreign Service, former president of the MacArthur Foundation

“This is a lively, highly readable, and informative book. Perceptive, frank, and relentlessly probing, Wasserman takes on one of the most important and controversial questions currently facing America’s liberal ‘super brand’ universities: whether they can successfully transplant their liberal curricula and scholastic traditions to parts of the world where liberalism has yet to secure a firm foothold. To get a handle on the problems of globalized Western education, there is no better place to begin than Wasserman’s wise, sensitive and unbiased assessment.” —Robert G. Wirsing, professor of government (retired), Georgetown University School of Foreign Service at Qatar

“A fascinating, deeply personal account of a remarkable experiment. Wasserman captures the promise and peril of seeking to impart liberal education in an illiberal environment while maintaining the integrity of the providers.” —Robert J. Lieber, professor of government and international affairs, Georgetown University, author of Retreat and Its Consequences: American Foreign Policy and the Problem of World Order

“It is amazing, so smooth to read, too friendly to realize easily it is not only a narrative of a personal experience, but a journey to a different culture that has been misrepresented by simplifications, and stereotypes.” —Abbas Al-Tonsi, senior instructor at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar

“‘A Jewish guy walks into a Catholic school in an Arab country…’ Not surprisingly, the guy’s family get ready to chant the customary prayer for the dead. ‘Stay away from the Arabs,’ his elderly aunt pleads. Fortunately for us, Gary Wasserman did not take their advice and lived to tell this amusing and informative story of The Doha Experiment. This is a highly entertaining and insightful book from a natural story-teller and teacher who possesses an instinct for bending people’s views by getting them to laugh with him.” —John Harte, author of How Churchill Saved Civilization and Churchill The Young Warrior

“Gary Wasserman has written a marvelously engaging study of Qatar’s ambition to transform itself from an oil kingdom into an educational oasis. It is rich in insight about teachers and students, the roles of women and men, and the clash between Westerners and Middle-Easterners. The themes it touches upon are as timeless as the call to prayers, and as relevant as today’s news headlines. Read it. It will help you understand the world you live in.” —Chris McNickle, author of Bloomberg: A Billionaire’s Ambition

The Doha Experiment is riveting reading about the complexities of introducing American-style university education in a distinctly non-American culture. But it is also important for its insights into the unexpectedly important state of Qatar, which is at the center of current Middle Eastern politics. Though very much about universities and their missions, it is written in a conversational style that is accessible to any reader. And it deserves a wide audience!” —Sanford Levinson, author of Our Undemocratic Constitution

“Students at Georgetown’s Doha campus master the art of thinking globally while living locally. They hold the promise of a new generation of culturally-rooted and broad-minded global leaders. Gary Wasserman’s striking account is candid about the challenges but also shows how much has been accomplished.” —Jim O’Donnell, former provost, Georgetown University

“In this gripping narrative, Gary Wasserman reflects not only on what the globalization of American education in the twenty-first century means for a troubled region, what opportunities it opens up, and what challenges it poses, but also how this rich journey helped him overcome his apprehensions and see the region in a different light. Written in a lucid style and accessible language, the book offers a firsthand account of what it means for an expatriate academic living in the Middle East to venture outside his or her zone of comfort and discover how culture, religion and politics intersect in complex ways.” —Mohamed Zayani, editor of The Digital Middle East: State and Society in the Information Age

“This memoir about living and teaching in Doha, Qatar, offers an intriguing look inside an Arab country: the tension between fundamentalism, custom and liberalism; the impact of wealth in a society where only a tiny proportion are Qataris; the place of outsiders; and the value of an education, particularly for women. Wasserman offers an insightful take on the difficulties (and modest successes) in teaching western liberal ideas in a Middle Eastern setting. An invaluable read for anyone interested in cross-cultural education.” —Julia C. Tobey, editor, Captain McCrea’s War

“In The Doha Experiment, Gary Wasserman blends entertainment with education as he describes his experiences as a Jewish teacher at Georgetown’s newly-established School of Foreign Service in Qatar. Using humor as a tool, not only while teaching his students about the ways of American democracy but also in detailing his eight years as a fish out of water in the desert of the Middle East, Wasserman finds the common denominators that hold us together as human beings instead of the differences that tear us apart. He learned as much as he taught, and readers will do the same.”—Mike Farris, author of the Amazon bestseller A Death in the Islands: The Unwritten Law and the Last Trial of Clarence Darrow

“Gary Wasserman’s laugh-out-loud book is a rarity in an age of social media narcissism: an acutely self-aware book about the writer’s limitations set against a quixotic attempt to resolve the Middle East to the West. The best parts are when he lets his students speak: They are funny, heart-breaking. and wise, and his love for them will make your day.”—Ron Kampeas, Washington bureau chief of the Jewish Telegraph Agency

“Awash in a sea of liquid natural gas, Qatar enjoys the world’s highest per capita GDP. The ‘Doha experiment’ is fueled by that wealth and has many faces—Al-Jazeera, ‘charitable’ donations to terrorist groups, military bases for Americans, a ludicrously extravagant $200 billion bid for the 2022 World Cup, and the importation of US universities lock, stock, and barrel to Doha’s ‘Education City.’ Gary Wasserman was a key player in Georgetown’s Doha program, and his entertaining account of eight years teaching there to a mix of students from Qatar, the surrounding Arab world, and big non-Arab states like Pakistan reveals as well as any analysis the sharp limits to change in today’s Islamic world.”
Geoffrey Wawro, author of Quicksand: America’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East

Facebook Comments

The Arab Daily News

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

THIS POST HAS BEEN READ 15238 TIMES SO FAR. THANK YOU!

rayhanania

rayhanania

Managing Writer at The Arab Daily News
RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

Click here to send Ray Hanania and email.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
rayhanania
Share this Story: