Episodes
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
Faysal Bibi and his team of palaeontologists have been captivated by this one particular moment that took place in the Abu Dhabi desert seven million years ago. This week, a journey back to a time before the desert was the desert… when elephants, crocodiles and monkeys reigned supreme in the UAE. This episode was produced by Alex Atack, with editorial support from Dana Ballout, Nadeen Shaker, Tamara Rasamny and Zeina Dowidar. Fact-checking by Zeina Dowidar and Dina Salem. Sound design by...
Published 06/17/21
Ronnie Chatah started giving his walking tours of Beirut in 2008, during a period of stability for the city. He would guide tourists through the city, telling stories of Phoenician ruins, French architecture and Ottoman houses. He’d also talk about Lebanon’s civil war, and the problems that came to follow it. These were always stories about other people, other eras and other lives, until December of 2013, when Ronnie’s own life was sucked into the political unrest that he'd spent years...
Published 06/10/21
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Published 06/04/21
In 1968, a trio of Palestinian filmmakers began making films about life under Israeli occupation. Almost 15 years and over 90 films later, their film unit became a dominant force in the Arab film industry. But in 1982, their film reels disappeared. Overnight, decades of footage and thousands of hours of archives were gone. Today on Kerning Cultures, the search for the Palestinian Film Unit’s lost archives. This episode originally aired in August 2020 and was produced by Zeina Dowidar, with...
Published 06/03/21
In October 1960, the walls were closing in for Patrice Lumumba. Months earlier, he had been celebrated as the Congo’s first democratically elected prime minister after decades of brutal colonial rule. But now, he had been overthrown in a coup and was being kept under house arrest by his political opponent. With Lumumba's life at risk, the Egyptian government under Gamal Abdel Nasser proposed a dangerous and unusual plan to have three of Lumumba's young children smuggled out of the country...
Published 05/27/21
After their employer abandoned the vessel they was working on, Vikash Mishra and his crew spent nearly three years stuck on a slowly sinking ship off the coast of the UAE. This week on Kerning Cultures: Vikash’s ordeal, and how he eventually made it back home to his family in India. This is the second of two episodes about ship abandonment in the Middle East. Listen to part one here. This episode was produced by Alex Atack and edited by Dana Ballout, with additional support from Zeina...
Published 05/20/21
Because of what's happening in Palestine this week, we're holding off airing our usual programming. Instead we're going to re-air one of our favourite episodes from last season: Jerusalem Calling. With this episode, we hope to remember the rich history of Palestine, and that the occupation and Israel's apartheid policies go back decades. If you'd like to learn more about ways you can help Palestinians, we've put together a list of resources on our website, and will be sharing them on our...
Published 05/13/21
When seafarer Mehmet Gulsen stepped on board the Kenan Mete, he thought he was signing up to a pretty standard 7 month contract, and then he’d be home in Ukraine with his young daughter and his dog. But a few months in, things started going wrong, and he ended up abandoned with his crew at a port in the Suez Canal, with no idea when they’d be able to go home. This week on Kerning Cultures, the strange legal limbo that allows seafarers to wind up abandoned and unable to leave their ships......
Published 05/06/21
Loving Lebanon is one thing; living there is another. Generation after generation, surviving in the homeland sometimes costs too much. This essay was written and read by Zahra Hankir, and it was originally published in Guernica. The episode was produced by Alex Atack with support from Dana Ballout. Sound design and mixing was by Paul Alouf and Alex Atack. Bella Ibrahim is our marketing manager. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $1 a month.
Published 04/29/21
Two stories of music getting lost… and then found again. A record producer unearths a Moroccan masterpiece in the back of a dusty electronics shop in Casablanca, sending him on a long and complicated mission to find out what happened to the artist. And, a song that was never meant to be heard outside a small group of friends becomes an internet sensation. This episode was written and produced by Alex Atack and Dana Ballout, with editing support from Zeina Dowidar and Nadeen Shaker. Fact...
Published 04/23/21
In 1942, Lebanon’s National Museum opened in Beirut, celebrating the country’s golden age, and inside, it housed some of the region’s most important artifacts. So when the Lebanese war started in 1975, the museum staff came up with an elaborate scheme to save everything inside the museum. This week on Kerning Cultures, the story of how a small team of museum employees protect thousands of years’ worth of history. This episode originally aired in December 2019, and was produced by Alex Atack...
Published 04/09/21
Nagi Daifallah was a young farm worker from Yemen who moved to California in the early 1970s, when he was just 20 years old. He went on to become one of the organisers of the influential 1973 grape strike in California, led by Cesar Chavez. But one night, after a day of striking, he was beaten to death by a local county sheriff outside a restaurant in Lamont, California. Although the sheriff who killed him never faced justice, Nagi’s story - and the movement he helped organise - went on to...
Published 04/02/21
Over the last half century, as many nations around our region have gained independence or been through regime change, they’ve have had to ask themselves big questions. Like, what makes our country, our country? What are the symbols that define us? And, who gets to decide the answer to those questions? In our episode today, two stories about the complicated paths two countries took to arrive at those decisions. This episode was produced by Alex Atack and Abde Amr, and edited by Dana Ballout...
Published 03/25/21
The graceful courtyards of Mexico and Puerto Rico aren’t the first places you’d go looking for a secret Islamic history. But a closer look at the tiles and teacups reveals a bloody, beautiful and largely forgotten past. This episode was produced by Alice Fordham and edited by Dana Ballout, with additional support from Alex Atack. Fact checking by Percia Verlin, and sound design and mixing by Mohamad Khreizat. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $1 a month.
Published 03/18/21
What happens when somebody dies in a country that’s not their home? In the UAE, the answer to that is complicated. This week on Kerning Cultures, stories about the families who've had to go through the experience, and the group of volunteers who help repatriate the bodies of foreigners after they’ve died in the UAE. This episode originally aired in September 2019. Special thanks to Zaki, Max, Ashraf Thamaraserry, Vidhyadharan, Amal Mathew, Ambika and Renji. The people at the Indian...
Published 03/11/21
In celebration of International Women's Day, we're bringing back our interview with Lebanese director Nadine Labaki on Al Empire, another Kerning Cultures Network show. Nadine chats with us about how her love for film began, the years of preparation and work for her 2018 film Capernaum, and her journey to becoming the first Lebanese woman in history to be nominated for an Academy Award.  Note: This episode mistakenly claims that Nadine was the first Arab woman to be nominated for an...
Published 03/08/21
In 2015, our producer Nadeen Shaker visited the Cairo Genizah in one of Egypt’s oldest synagogues. It was the place where, thousands of years ago, the Jews of Egypt literally stored any papers with God’s name on them instead of throwing them away. After a prominent Egyptian Jew, Jack Mosseri, discovered the Genizah manuscripts almost a century ago, and his untimely death afterwards, the manuscripts disappeared from view for decades. When they were  finally rediscovered, the question of...
Published 03/04/21
On August 2nd 1990, the Iraqi military invaded Kuwait City overnight, and its residents woke up to a city under occupation. The only airport was put on lockdown, and the Iraqi military set up checkpoints on the city’s streets. The US, UK and Russia condemned the invasion, and some British and American citizens were taken as hostages. But the Indian government had no stake in the conflict, and around 165,000 Indian citizens living in Kuwait were caught up in a situation that didn’t involve...
Published 02/25/21
Ahmed Twaij explores an often-overlooked issue in the Arab world; racism towards Black Arabs. In this episode, he looks at racism in his own community, taking us from his Iraqi roots, through to modern day slurs still commonly used in many Arab communities around the world. This episode was produced by Ahmed Twaij, with editorial support from Dana Ballout, Nadeen Shaker, Zeina Dowidar and Alex Atack. Fact checking by Shraddha Joshi, sound design by Alex Atack, and mixing by Mohamad Khreizat....
Published 02/18/21