Episodes
Kerning Cultures season 4 launches next week, December 8th. Subscribe wherever you get podcasts so you don't miss an episode. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month.
Published 12/01/22
We’re thrilled to share another podcast from Kerning Cultures Network with you: “Beyond the Raging Sea: State of Mind”. In 2016, Omar Samra called Omar Nour with a life-changing idea: “How about we row across the Atlantic Ocean?” Within a matter of hours, the two were registered to compete in the world’s toughest race: a 3,000-mile unsupported row across the mighty Atlantic Ocean, in a seven-meter rowing boat. However, nine days into their journey, when their boat capsized in a severe storm...
Published 11/24/22
Published 11/24/22
It’s 1988, and Somalis are fleeing the city of Hargeisa. People are trying to get out, trying to save their families. But in the city’s radio station, staff are packing cassettes and reel to reel recordings into a secret underground bunker. On them: A slice of their country’s musical heritage, to remain for years in an underground room—until now. This episode was produced in collaboration with Far Flung with Saleem Reshamwala, from the TED Audio Collective. To listen to other episodes that...
Published 07/07/22
We’re excited to share another podcast from the Kerning Cultures Network with you. Masafat is Kerning Cultures’ soul sister. It’s a series of Arabic audio documentaries driven by curiosity. Exploring unfamiliar dimensions from the past or the present. In this episode, we introduce a music genre surrounded by a lot of controversy: Mahragant music in Egypt. Why do we only listen to Mahraganat by men? Why haven’t women broken into Mahraganat yet? Masafat is a Kerning Cultures Network...
Published 06/23/22
A blind oud player from humble beginnings, Sheikh Imam’s destiny changed drastically when he met a dissident poet called Ahmed Fouad Negm, and they formed a duo. Together, they would go on start a new era in Egyptian popular music. Their songs would shake regimes, travel the world on cassette tapes, and transcend their own time to become part of the soundtrack to Egypt’s revolution decades later. Today, the story of Sheikh Imam: the Egyptian singer who became an icon of dissent. This...
Published 05/27/22
Stuck in his Palestinian hometown of Jenin during lockdown, Mo’min Swaitat walked into an old music shop where thousands of dusty cassettes lined the walls. They contained decades of Palestinian music and field recordings once confiscated by the Israeli army, long since forgotten, and never meant to make it out of Palestine. This is the story of what was on those cassettes, and Mo’min’s mission to give them a second life. This episode was produced by Nadeen Shaker and edited by Dana...
Published 05/13/22
In the 1960s, a college professor and his group of students were determined to build and launch rockets into space. And so, they did. This week, on Kerning Cultures, a story about the first-ever rocket launched from the Arab world into space. This episode first aired in 2020 and was produced by Tamara Rasamny with editorial support from Dana Ballout, Zeina Dowidar, Alex Atack, Nadeen Shaker, and Hebah Fisher. Sound design by Mohamad Khreizat, and fact-checking by Zeina Dowidar. Support this...
Published 04/29/22
Azzam Alwash remembers the marshlands of southern Iraq as a magical place, where he would spend long days gliding through the thick reeds by boat with his father. But for decades now, the area has been under threat, so Azzam has become part of the effort to save the natural wonder before it's too late. This episode was produced by Dana Ballout, Alex Atack and Tamara Juburi with fact checking by Deena Sabry. Sound design and mixing by Alex Atack and Mohamad Khreizat. A special thanks to...
Published 04/22/22
In the 1930s, the architect Nasri Khattar had an idea to singlehandedly overhaul the Arabic script. For the next 47 years, he worked day and night to get the world to adopt his writing system, Unified Arabic. Ultimately, he failed. This is his story.  This episode was produced by Jahd Khalil and edited by Dana Ballout with Alex Atack and Hebah Fisher. Sound design and mixing was by Alex Atack and Mohamad Khreizat. You can find Yara Khoury's book - Nasri Khattar, a Modernist Typotect -...
Published 04/15/22
In 2012, a Yazidi family fled to Sweden in the hope of a better life, far from persecution. After nearly six troubled years struggling to seek asylum without proper paperwork, their traumatised daughter “fell asleep” - and didn’t wake up again for another five years.  For half a decade she has been in a coma-like state, a condition called resignation syndrome that afflicts thousands of other asylum-seeking children in Sweden. Producers Zeina Dowidar and Andrei Popoviciu travel to Sweden and...
Published 04/08/22
A warning: This episode contains descriptions of sexual violence and assault. As Egyptian women celebrated the arrest of serial predator and rapist Ahmed Bassam Zaki in the summer of 2020, another case came to light: An alleged gang rape in the upscale Fairmont Hotel. If the men involved were convicted, this case would be another big success for the #MeToo movement in Egypt. But instead, it took nasty turns; evidence would be buried, case witnesses would be arrested and campaigners for the...
Published 04/01/22
A warning: This episode contains descriptions of sexual violence and assault. In the summer of 2020, a 22-year-old Egyptian woman made the difficult decision to publicly call out her harasser on social media. In a moment of rage, she picked up her phone and typed out a post that would end up travelling much further than she expected - far beyond her social circle. Over the next few weeks, in a whirlwind of Tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram stories, it became clear that she wasn’t the only...
Published 03/25/22
In 1917, a musical prodigy called Zabelle Panosian recorded a song that captured the heartbreak of a generation of Armenian Americans in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide. She toured the world, selling thousands of records. And then, she was almost completely forgotten.  This episode originally aired in July 2020. This episode was produced by Alex Atack with editorial support from Dana Ballout, Tamara Rasamny, Nadeen Shaker, Zeina Dowidar and Hebah Fisher. Sound design by Alex Atack...
Published 03/17/22
In 1962 the library at the University of Algiers was burned to the ground, turning hundreds of thousands of books to dust. But it was overshadowed by Algeria’s independence from the French, and was largely forgotten. So one man has made it his mission to answer a simple question: are these books really gone? Or were they smuggled out by the extremists who set the library on fire in the first place? Thank you to Samir Hachani and Bruno Boulanger for speaking to us for this episode. Thank you...
Published 03/10/22
We’re holding off on releasing this week’s Kerning Cultures episode. Instead, we’re sharing resources on how to help the crisis in Ukraine. You can read the full list here.We’ll be back next week.
Published 03/04/22
This week, we’re following the trail of an elusive camel herder called Hadj Ali (or, as the Americans called him; Hi Jolly). He was one of the first people from the Middle East to move to the USA, and although he died penniless, alone and almost entirely forgotten, he played a big role in America’s westward expansion... all on camelback. It's a wild ride, so saddle up. This episode was produced by Laith Majali, Dana Ballout and Alex Atack, and edited by Dana Ballout. Fact checking by Deena...
Published 02/24/22
How do you preserve a language when your government is actively trying to erase it? Abduweli Ayup is a Uyghur linguist who was trying to stop the Chinese government from replacing Uyghur with Mandarin. He had been studying the language’s history, teaching Uyghur to younger students and writing books in Uyghur. But when the Chinese government began forcibly detaining Uyghurs in Xinjiang, his work got much riskier. Then, they came for Abduweli himself. This week on Kerning Cultures, Abduweli’s...
Published 02/17/22
A family secret, hidden for decades by a grandfather in Iraq, gets uncovered by his grandson - who chooses to revive a potentially dangerous legacy. This episode was produced by Alex Atack and Tamara Juburi, and edited by Dana Ballout with additional support from Nadeen Shaker and Zeina Dowidar. Fact checking by Tamara Juburi and sound design by Mohamad Khreizat. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month. Find a transcript for this episode here.
Published 02/10/22
During the Syrian war, a group of archeologists risk their lives to record the damage being done to their country’s cultural heritage, just as it was being taken away from them. This episode was written and produced by Zeina Dowidar and Alex Atack, and edited by Dana Ballout with additional support from Nadeen Shaker. Fact checking by Tamara Juburi and sound design by Sara Kaddouri. Thank you to Alice Fordham and Salman Ahad Khan for their help recording interviews for this story, and to...
Published 02/03/22
Since 9/11, US governmental agencies have poured millions of dollars into spying on Arabs, Muslims and Arab Americans. Their surveillance has changed countless lives as ordinary citizens all over the country were interrogated, arrested or had their homes raided. But this didn’t start in 2001. Invasive - and even illegal - surveillance programmes against Arabs and Arab Americans have a long history in the US, going all the way back to the 1970s, with a program code-named Operation Boulder....
Published 01/27/22
Kerning Cultures season 3 launches next week, January 27th. Make sure to subscribe wherever you get podcasts so you don't miss an episode. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month.
Published 01/21/22
Ahead of the latest season (which launches at the end of this month!), our team gets together to talk about what they’re excited for, and what they’ve learned from producing the upcoming season of Kerning Cultures. Kerning Cultures’ season three launches on January 27th. Make sure you’re subscribed wherever you get podcasts so you don’t miss an episode. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month.
Published 01/14/22
Lynn left behind her hometown village in the Philippines for a housekeeping job in Lebanon at the age of 23. It was only meant to be temporary… until she met Butros, her employer’s nephew, and they fell in love. But for Lynn, marrying Butros has meant choosing to settle down in a country where she’s treated as an outsider. This episode originally aired in June 2019 and was produced by Dana Ballout, Nathalie Rosa Bucher and Alex Atack. Editorial support from Hebah Fisher. Sound design by...
Published 07/01/21
His whole life, Walid Waked had been told that his great grandfather invented the Arabic typewriter. And then, one day, he learned that another family – the Haddads – believed they invented it. This week on Kerning Cultures, the contested history of the Arabic typewriter. This episode originally aired in September 2019. Thank you to everybody we spoke to for this story: Ahmed Ellaithy – for taking us down the rabbit hole with you – Walid Waked, Anis Waked, Alexandre Cordahi, Nagla Badran,...
Published 06/25/21