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Kerning Cultures

Kerning Cultures

Author: Kerning Cultures Network

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Stories from the Middle East and North Africa, and the spaces in between. 

Kerning Cultures is produced by Kerning Cultures Network. Support this podcast on https://www.patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month.
134 Episodes
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‘A game’ is what smugglers and migrants call attempting to cross illegally from one country to another. As Aizen leaves his childhood behind in Afghanistan, his only way to get to Europe is to play the game, travelling through this dangerous network of human traffickers. This episode was produced by Al Shaibani and edited by Alex Atack and Dana Ballout, with editorial support from Heba El-Sherif. Fact checking was by Eman Elsherif and Deena Sabry, and sound design was by Monzer El Hachem and Paul Alouf. Artwork by Ahmad Salhab. Our team also includes Zeina Dowidar, Nadeen Shaker and Finbar Anderson. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month.
‘Aizen’ says he’s the most unlucky person in the world. This football-obsessed teenager from Afghanistan grew up in the chaos of Kabul, and at 15, was imprisoned in one of the worst adult prisons in the world. All for a crime he didn’t commit. In this four part series, we’re following Aizen’s journey as he leaves his childhood in Afghanistan behind for what he hopes will be a better life in Europe. This episode was produced by Al Shaibani and edited by Alex Atack and Dana Ballout, with editorial support from Heba El-Sherif. Fact checking was by Eman Elsherif and Deena Sabry, and sound design was by Monzer El Hachem and Paul Alouf. Artwork by Ahmad Salhab. Our team also includes Zeina Dowidar, Nadeen Shaker and Finbar Anderson. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month. Find a transcript for this episode at our website, kerningcultures.com/kerningcultures.
When you think of good quality olive oil, which countries first come to mind? This week, we’re travelling to the heart of the world’s largest exporter of organic olive oil to learn all about the liquid gold that graces dinner tables around the globe. And it’s not where you’d expect. This episode was produced by Zeina Dowidar and edited by Dana Ballout. Fact checking by Deena Sabry and sound design by Youssef Douazou. Our team also includes Alex Atack, Nadeen Shaker and Finbar Anderson. Kaia Olive Oil is on Instagram at @worldofkaia and at worldofkaia.com. You can find a transcript for this episode at our website: kerningcultures.com/kerningcultures. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month.
A father and daughter journey to their ancestral homeland, looking to track down the place their family had lived before being forced to flee the Armenian genocide. They’re among hundreds of Armenian families who, over the last three decades, have returned to their ancestors' home on a search for answers, in a country that that still denies the genocide ever took place. This episode was produced by Alex Atack and Deena Sabry, and edited by Dana Ballout. Fact checking was by Deena Sabry and sound design by Monzer El Hachem. Our team also includes Nadeen Shaker, Zeina Dowidar and Finbar Anderson. A special thank you to Syuzanna Petrosyan and Salpi Ghazarian at the University of Southern California’s Institute of Armenian Studies. Find out more about Nubar’s upcoming documentary here: scarsofsilence.com. Carel’s book is called A House in the Homeland, and you can find it at Stanford University Press.  Find out more about Annie’s tours and see pictures and videos of previous trips at her Facebook page, @historicarmenia. Find a transcript for this episode at our website. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month.
Scoring the World Cup

Scoring the World Cup

2022-12-1539:32

This is the final week of the first World Cup hosted in the Middle East. And it’s been a tournament like no other: We’ve seen Morocco advance further than any Middle East or African team has before, making the whole region proud. And we’ve seen many joyous moments go viral as fans from across the world descend on Doha. But it’s also a World Cup shrouded in controversy, that has left many of us with mixed feelings. So, over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been going out to speak with fans around the world to get a sense of what people make of it all, from the highs and lows of the tournament itself, to everything happening off the pitch. This episode was produced by Ban Barkawi, Alex Atack and Ahmed Ashour, with help from Sarah Risheq, Al Shaibani, Shahd Bani-Odeh, Maher Ali, Soumaya Bouabdellah, Youssef Douazou, Sara Kaddouri and Zeina Dowidar. It was edited by Sarah Risheq and Dana Ballout. Sound design was by Paul Alouf. Our team also includes Nadeen Shaker and Finbar Anderson. Our sister podcast - Masafat - has also released an episode about the Qatar world cup in Arabic. To hear that, search Masafat in your podcast app. Find a transcript for this episode at our website, kerningcultures.com/kerningcultures. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month.
Alex Odeh was well known in the Arab community in Santa Ana, California. He was often on TV or writing into newspapers, talking about discrimination against Arabs in the US or about his beloved homeland, Palestine. But on the morning of October 11th 1985, he stepped through his office door and a pipe bomb exploded. He died hours later. From the beginning, the FBI had strong leads and a list of suspects. But decades later, Alex Odeh’s murder is still unsolved. This episode was produced by Alex Atack and edited by Dana Ballout. Fact checking by Deena Sabry and sound design by Mohamad Khreizat. Our team also includes Zeina Dowidar, Nadeen Shaker and Finbar Anderson. You can read David Sheen’s story for The Intercept here. Find a transcript for this episode at our website, kerningcultures.com/kerningcultures. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month.
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.
The Secret Somali Tapes

The Secret Somali Tapes

2022-07-0732:301

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 travel all over the world to explore ideas, follow Far Flung with Saleem Reshamwala wherever you're listening to this. This episode was produced by Sawsan Abdillahi, Hiwote Getaneh, Alex Atack and Saleem Reshamwala. Production support in Hargeisa by Ismaaciil C. Ubax. Fact checking by Nicole Bode and Paul Durban, and sound design by Kristin Mueller. The executive producer was Eric Nuzum. Special thanks to Vik Sahonie at Ostinato Records for letting us use the music from the Sweet As Broken Dates album. You can hear songs from the buried tapes on this Spotify playlist. Find a transcript for this episode on our website: kerningcultures.com/kerningcultures.  Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month.
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 episode was produced by Nadeen Shaker, Heba El-Sherif and Alex Atack, and edited by Dana Ballout. Fact checking was by Deena Sabry and sound design, music and mixing by Monzer El Hachem. Voice over by Eihab Seoudi, and translation help from Maha El Kady. Cover art by Ahmad Salhab. The songs you heard on this episode were composed and performed by Sheikh Imam and written by Ahmed Fouad Negm and Zein Alabidin Fouad. Lyric translations were by Ahmed Hassan and Elliott Colla. Fill out our listener survey here (it’ll only take 5 minutes!) Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month. You can find a transcript for this episode at our website, kerningcultures.com/kerningcultures.
The Intifada Tapes

The Intifada Tapes

2022-05-1323:581

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 Ballout. Fact checking by Deena Sabry, sound design and mixing by Nadeen Shaker, Alex Atack and Monzer El Hachem. Our team also includes Zeina Dowidar. You can listen to the Intifada album on Bandcamp. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month.
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 Azzam Alwash for speaking to us. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month. Find a transcript for this episode at our website, kerningcultures.com/kerningcultures.
The Sleeping Children

The Sleeping Children

2022-04-0850:003

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 meet the families, doctors and social workers who are trying to figure out what this mysterious illness is, and how to treat it. This episode was produced by Zeina Dowidar and Andrei Popoviciu. It was edited by Dana Ballout with support from Alex Atack and Nadeen Shaker. Fact checking on this episode was by Deena Sabry, audio editing by Youssef Douazou, and sound design and mixing by Mohamed Khreizat. Translation by Amina Khalil. A special thanks to all of the families we spoke to, as well as Dr. Elisabeth Hultcrantz, Dr. Karl Salinn and Dr. Debra Stein for speaking with us for the episode. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month. Find a transcript for this episode at our website.
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 victim would face threats and intimidation. Many began to ask: was this the end of the #MeToo movement in Egypt? This week, the second in a two-part series: the rise and fall of #MeToo in Egypt. This episode was written and produced by Nadeen Shaker and Zeina Dowidar, with editing by Dana Ballout and Alex Atack. Fact checking by Deena Sabry and sound design and mixing by Mohamad Khreizat and Paul Alouf.  Special thanks to everyone who made this story happen: Sabah Khodir, Noor Gohary, Nadine AbdelHamid, Farah Desouky, Zeina Amr, and Nadine Enan. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $1 a month. Find a transcript for this episode at our website, kerningcultures.com/kerningcultures. Editor's note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately stated that Sabah Khodir had seen the Fairmont video. In fact, she had only seen screenshots of it. The audio has been updated to reflect this correction.
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 person this man had assaulted: over 50 other women stepped forward with a laundry list of accusations against him. It was the first step towards a major reckoning for Egypt; one that inspired big changes in how the country - and the law - deals with sexual assault cases. But for the activists driving that change, it would turn out to be exhausting, and even dangerous. This week, the first in a two-part series: the rise and fall of Egypt’s #MeToo movement. This episode was written and produced by Nadeen Shaker and Zeina Dowidar, with editing by Dana Ballout and Alex Atack. Fact checking by Deena Sabry and sound design and mixing by Paul Alouf. Special thanks to everyone who made this story happen: Sabah Khodir, Noor Gohary, Nadine AbdelHamid, Farah Desouky, Zeina Amr, and Nadine Enan. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month. Find a transcript for this episode at our website, kerningcultures.com/kerningcultures.
The Burning Library

The Burning Library

2022-03-1025:562

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 also to Dr. Andrew Bellisari, and Rayane from @ze.art.nerd.  This episode was produced by Zeina Dowidar and edited by Dana Ballout. Additional support from Alex Atack and Nadeen Shaker, fact checking by Deena Sabry, with sound design and mixing by Paul Alouf. Additional production support from Abdelraouf Meraga. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month. Find a transcript for this episode here.
Hi Jolly

Hi Jolly

2022-02-2437:25

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 Sabry and additional support by Nadeen Shaker and Zeina Dowidar. Sound design and mixing by Mohamad Khreizat and Alex Atack. A special thanks to Doug Baum, Marshall Trimble, Heba Afify and all of the cameleers who spoke to us for this story. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month. Find a transcript for this episode here.
The Freemason

The Freemason

2022-02-1038:161

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.
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 Abdullah Al Assil, who performed the voice of Adnan. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month. Find a transcript for this episode here.
Operation Boulder

Operation Boulder

2022-01-2738:38

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. But it wasn't until a lawyer named Abdeen Jabara took his own government to court that the true size and scale of the programme was revealed. This episode was produced by Suzanne Gaber and Will Thomson, and edited by Dana Ballout and Alex Atack. Fact checking by Deena Sabry. Additional support from Nadeen Shaker and Zeina Dowidar. Sound design and mixing by Paul Alouf. Thank you to Afnan, Amaney Jamal, Abdeen Jabara, Anan Ameri, John Shattuck, and Nicole Nguyen for speaking with us for this episode, and to the Bentley Historical Library for the use of their archives. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $2 a month. Read this episode’s transcript here.
Escape to Cairo

Escape to Cairo

2021-05-2733:101

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 and away to the safety of Cairo. This week on Kerning Cultures; Patrice Lumumba's children, and their escape to Cairo. This episode was produced by Nadeen Shaker and edited by Dana Ballout and Alex Atack, with additional support from Zeina Dowidar, Shraddha Joshi and Percia Verlin. Fact checking by Tamara Juburi, and sound design and mixing by Alex Atack and Mohamad Khreizat. Bella Ibrahim is our marketing manager. Support this podcast on patreon.com/kerningcultures for as little as $1 a month.
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Comments (11)

Maria Ray

What a greatat episode!!! Hamed seems like a genuinely lovely person!!!

Sep 14th
Reply

Euphoria

WHAT IS THIS BEAUTYY

Jul 28th
Reply

ardalan hadjirahim

you guys have a great show. I think it's time you interview these guys again.

Jan 8th
Reply (1)

Mariam Ismail

I love the format you used, all the interviews were great, and you really were able to capture the essence of what's happening. Great job 👌👌

Nov 21st
Reply (1)

Nicola Hodges

one of my favourite podcasts! Thanks for creating great content!

Nov 17th
Reply

Thomas McCall

Excellent episode! Keep up the great work!

Nov 13th
Reply

Dave Lee

Wow. Incredible stories.

Nov 4th
Reply

Hebah Fisher

Thanks Abdelrahman!!

Sep 5th
Reply

Abdelrahman Magdy

great work, KC!

Sep 5th
Reply
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