Global Americana Institute
Board of Directors
-Juan Cole, President and Treasurer (History, University of Michigan)
-Nadine Naber, Secretary (American Culture, University of Michigan)
-Michael Bonner (Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan)
-John Carson (History, University of Michigan)
-Jonathan Marwil (History, University of Michigan)
-Raji Rammuny (Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan)
-Jonathan Rodgers (Bibliographer, University of Michigan)
Donate to the Global Americana Translation Project: - Donate here by credit card
By land mail:
c/of Juan Cole, Dept. of History, 1029 Tisch Hall,
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1003*
The classics of American thought and history have been little translated into Arabic. If you peruse Arab bookstores, you find almost nothing about the US, though sometimes anti-American polemics are displayed, and a few critics of US foreign policy are occasionally translated. But books on political thought, history and culture are rarely encountered. Worse, even when they have been translated, they have appeared in small print runs, and fairly quickly go out of print. The distribution system for Arabic books is poor, and there are few public libraries. Many books that have been published in the past are no longer available to most readers.
We have therefore begun a project to translate important books by great Americans and about America into Arabic, and to subsidize their publication so that they can be bought inexpensively. We are also subventing their distribution. We seek funding from the general public as well as from foundations. Our publishing partner is Dar al-Saqi of London and Beirut.
In Septemer, 2012, we brought out with Dar al-Saqi Marshall Frady's short biography and selected works of Martin Luther King.
In spring of 2011, we brought out in Arabic a one-volume translation of selections from key works of Thomas Jefferson, translated by Professors Mounira Soliman and Walid Hamamsy of Cairo University. The volume treats constitutional and governmental issues such as freedom of religion, the separation of powers,inalienable rights, and the sovereignty of the people. For more, see this announcement.
This project is a non-profit. We received 501(c)3 status as a charitable foundation in December, 2005 via the Internal Revenue Service of the federal government. All donations made to the Global Americana Institute are tax deductible. Supporters desiring updates on the project may join an e-mail announcement list at: The e-mail list of the Global Americana Institute.
We intend to have all the founding fathers translated Madison, Franklin, Washington, Paine, and so on. We would also like to see works that treat issues in democracy and multi-culturalism, as well as engaging histories of the United States. Eventually it would be nice to see in Arabic a good solid book about, e.g., the history of the American Jewish community, and other important minority groups about which most most Arab readers would find it difficult to get solid knowledge from the sources now available to them.
Likewise, it would be nice to put into Arabic Western books about the Arab world. Our Middle East Studies programs and university presses publish a great deal of interest to the Arab world, and yet little of it gets translated, and even where books are translated they are often poorly distributed and difficult subsequently to find.
Contributions will allow us to locate and fund qualified Arab translators, to arrange for printing, to subsidize the printing so as to ensure the book is affordable and that there is a paperback version, and to subsidize and ensure wide distribution, to bookstores, street vendors and libraries throughout the Arab world. Although we will definitely launch a web site and try to make things available on the internet, readers should remember that that is still a small and underdeveloped medium in the Middle East. Inexpensive and well-distributed paperbacks will have more impact at this point in time. Eventually, if we can attract enough funding, it might also be possible to subsidize courses on American studies at Arab universities or even to endow some chairs. The translations of source material would then be available for use in the classroom as texts. It is especially important to begin offering Arab high school teachers some training in American studies so that they can work it into social studies and literature classes, e.g.
The Global Americana Institute and the translation project are non-partisan and welcome support from and cooperation with all persons committed to democratic principles and human rights. The Institute also hopes to build on past such efforts as well as parallel work done by other organizations, which it acknowledges, and for which it is grateful. We would like to help with distribution and reprinting of suitable works already published.
The Center for American Studies and Research at the American University in Beirut, founded in 2004 through a generous endowment by Alwaleed Bin Talal, will play an increasingly important role here, though its focus is Anglophone at the moment. There is a US government translation project that has done some excellent work , focusing on contemporary works of political science by US authors, which we see as complementary to our own efforts. There was also an important Social Science Research Council translation project headed by Steve Heydemann and Dan Brumberg and published in Arabic by Saqi Books, which paid special attention to modern political philosophy. In the middle decades of the twentieth century and until 1977, the Franklin Book Program helped publish hundreds of books in the Middle East, including a few on American subjects, but few of these are still in print or widely available. Franklin's main emphasis was on fostering an independent book industry, and translations of Americana were a small part of its interest in the region. Some of the works it supported, such as `Abbas Mahmud al-`Aqqad?s biography of Benjamin Franklin, would be worthwhile republishing, assuming rights can be acquired. Among our main goals, which we think are distinctive, is the formation of a large corpus of Americana in Middle Eastern languages, maintaining them in print and available inexpensively, and ensuring continued distribution and availability.
(Graphics by Coledesign)