Journey to a part of the Arab world little known to US readers with The Scent of Jasmine: Coming of Age in Jerusalem and Damascus.
Palestinian sociologist and activist Anan Ameri weaves her sometimes poignant, sometimes funny personal experiences with the historical, political, and social changes that dominated the region in which she lived during the first thirty years of her life.
A reading by the author will be followed by book sales and signings, accompanied by light refreshments.
The Scent of Jasmine: Coming of Age in Jerusalem and Damascus is comprised of twenty-three stories that take place in various Arab cities. It starts with a few vignettes about the displacement of Anan’s family during the 1948 Nakba (“Disaster”) and her constant movement from west Jerusalem, to Damascus, to east Jerusalem, to finally settling in Amman.
The early vignettes contrasts that instability with the security, fun and luxury offered by her mother’s wealthy Syrian family. It takes the reader into the life of an elegant Damascene home, with all its elitist traditions, powerful women, as well as the intrigue of its many secrets and rumors.
The later stories focus on the author’s gradual coming of age during 1950s and 1960s; an era of Arab nationalism and international solidarity. Readers will venture with Anan to Amman, the capital of Jordan; to Cairo, the political and cultural capital of the Arab world; and finally to Beirut, the new home to the Palestinian Liberation movement.
Anan Ameri’s experiences reflect the evolving of post-colonial Arab societies of her time, and the contradictory world around her. The result is a compelling and unforgettable memoir.
About the author
Dr. Anan Ameri is the founding director of the Arab American National Museum (AANM), the only cultural institution in the United States that documents, preserves and presents the history, culture and contributions of Arab Americans.
She joined the Museum’s parent organization ACCESS in 1997 and retired from AANM in 2013. Anan Ameri was born in Syria and grew up in Amman, Jordan, where she earned a B.A. in Sociology at the University of Jordan. She also holds an M.A. in Sociology from Cairo (Egypt) University and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Wayne State University in Detroit.
Before immigrating to the U.S., Ameri worked as a television producer and as an educator and community organizer in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.
Prior to her ACCESS/AANM tenure, she was executive director and national president of the Palestine Aid Society of America in Washington, D.C.; a Fellow at the Bunting Institute, Radcliffe College; and a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
Under her aegis, AANM has received numerous awards, among them a national Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities for exemplary youth after-school programs.
Ameri herself has been honored many times, receiving recognition as a “Michiganian of the Year” from The Detroit News; a “Woman of Wayne” from her alma mater Wayne State University; and “Arab American Businesswoman of the Year” from the Arab American Women’s Business Council.
In 2016, she was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.
Ameri is a respected author and editor with several titles to her credit, including Telling Our Story: The Arab American National Museum (2007, AANM); Arab Americans in Detroit: A Pictorial History (2001, Arcadia); and Etching Our Own Image: Voices from the Arab American Art Movement (2007, Cambridge Scholars Press).
She was a contributing author and co-editor of The Arab American Encyclopedia (2000, UXL) and the school textbook Daily Life of Arab Americans in the 21st Century (2011, Greenwood Press).