CAC Human Library- Documenting the Lives of Arab Americans

Free and Open to the Public 
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At the Human Library we are planning to invite community members who can share their life stories and experiences.

The Human Library concept is of a library that lends people rather than books.

Introducing the youth and young adults to the experiences and journeys of other community members is one of the pillars of this program.  In addition, it is an effective way to build bridges between different cultures and communities through introducing the experience that Arab American can share with everyone regardless of their backgrounds.

The ‘Books’ are people who have experienced various life experiences like success, struggles, prejudice…. etc. They are ‘borrowed’ by ‘Readers’ who can ask any question they like, to both learn about the other person and also challenge their own prejudice.

The idea is about sharing, questioning and reflecting that can radically shift perceptions. and people who have taken part in these events elsewhere have reported that they can be profound experiences.

Wish you happy reading!

Human Library Archive:

Professor Nasser Rabbat Talk Recording

Souad Akeeb Talk Recording

Upcoming events:

CAC is pleased to partner with the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT (AKDC) to present the human library on Sat. Feb. 10, 2024 @6:30 pm

MIT- Entrance at 77 Mass Ave. Cambridge, MA Room 3-133

Professor Kanan Makiya

Kanan Makiya, is the author most recently of Fi Al-Qaswa (On Cruelty), published in Arabic (Dar al-Djamel, 2020) and the novel The Rope (Pantheon, 2016), which appeared in Arabic as Al-Fitna (Dar al-Djamel, 2016). Since 1995, he has taught at Brandeis University, where he was the Sylvia K. Hassenfeld Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. In 2016, he retired from teaching to devote himself to writing and scholarship on Iraq and the Arab Mashriq.

Born in Baghdad, he left Iraq to study architecture at M.I.T, later joining the architectural practice of Makiya Associates to design and build projects in the Middle East. In 1975 he established the London office of that practice and was instrumental in the design and construction of many important buildings in Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE. In 1981, he left the practice of architecture and began to devote himself exclusively to writing about Iraq.

Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq (1989), became a best-seller after Saddam Husain’s invasion of Kuwait. Makiya’s next book, The Monument (1991), is an essay on the aesthetics of power and kitsch. Both Republic of Fear and The Monument were written under the pseudonym, Samir al-Khalil.

Cruelty and Silence: War, Tyranny, Uprising and the Arab World (1993), was the first book to be published under Makiya’s own name. It was awarded The Lionel Gelber Prize for the best book on international relations published in English in 1993. In the year 2000 he published The Rock: A Seventh-Century Tale of Jerusalem, a work of historical fiction that tells the story of the building of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Professor Makiya’s books are available in many languages including Arabic, French, Dutch, Turkish and Spanish.

Along with these books, Makiya has written for The Independent, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement and The Times. Makiya has been profiled in many books and publications including The New Yorker (Jan 6, 1992) and The New York Times Magazine (Oct.7, 2007). He has lectured widely in universities and public forums in the United States and all over the world.

Makiya has collaborated on several films for television, the most known of which exposed for the first time the 1988 campaign of mass murder in northern Iraq known as the Anfal. The film, originally aired in January 1992 on the BBC, was shown by

Frontline in the U.S. under the title ‘Saddam’s Killing Fields,’ and received the Edward R. Morrow Award for Best Television Documentary on Foreign Affairs for 1992.

In 2003 he founded the Iraq Memory Foundation, an NGO based in Baghdad and the US dedicated to issues of remembrance, violence and identity formation. The Memory Foundation has collected and digitized nearly 10 million pages of Ba’th era documents and was supported by both the Iraqi and US Governments as well as many foundations. He is also, since the late 1990s, the Managing Trustee of the Makiya-Kufa Charitable Foundation based in London, which issues grants to struggling writers in the Middle East and other related cultural projects.


Past Events: 

Friday December 1st, 2023

Lasell University- Winslow Academic Center- Rosen Auditorium

80 Maple St, Auburndale, MA 02466

Professor Nasser Rabbat:

Nasser Rabbat is the Aga Khan Professor and Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT.  His interests include Islamic architecture, urban history, heritage studies, Arab history, contemporary Islamic art, and post-colonial criticism.  He teaches lecture courses on Islamic architecture, the architecture of Cairo, and Islamic architecture and the environment and seminars on Orientalism and colonialism; Issues in Islamic Urbanism; Historiography of Islamic Architecture; Late Antiquity and the foundation of Islamic architecture; Reading Ibn Khaldun; (Re)constructing Memory; Urbicide; and Balancing Globalism and Regionalism in the Arabian Gulf cities.

Professor Rabbat has published more than a hundred scholarly articles and several books on topics ranging from Mamluk architecture to Antique Syria, 19th century Cairo, Orientalism, and urbicide.  His most recent books are Writing Egypt: Al-Maqrizi and His Historical Project (2022); ‘Imarat al-Mudun al-Mayyita (The Architecture of the Dead Cities) (2018), and an online book, The Destruction of Cultural Heritage: From Napoléon to ISIS, co-edited with Pamela Karimi (2016).  His co-edited book, Construction as Destruction: The Case of Syria will be published in 2023 by AUC Press.  He is currently editing a book on the cultural history of Syria to be published by Edinburgh University Press.  His next book project is a history of Mamluk Cairo, which is under contract with AUC Press.

To read more about Professor Rabbat, please click here Nasser Rabbat | Architecture (

Professor Nasser Rabbat Talk Recording


October 21, 2022 @7 pm

Boston College-Fulton Hall Room 511

Souad Akib:

Souad Akib is a Moroccan-American community activist , a mother of two daughters, a wife and a full-time banker at Citizens Bank. In her position as a personal banker, she met many Arab families who were facing various difficulties and needed translation/interpretation services. In 2010, Souad who is fluent in Arabic, French, and English formed the American Association for Arab Women (AAAW). She felt the need of leadership and community organizing for the Arab community in particular women. Souad’s inspiration is to build Arab leaders in the community who can take on civic responsibilities. She was honored with the 2012 YMCA’s “Women of Distinction” award for her community service and commitment to AAAW’s mission.

AAAW Team (

Souad Akeeb Talk Recording (Coming Soon)