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By Hanna Guido

Arab American National Museum and Center for Arab American Studies launch new podcast “Seen Jeem”
The collaboration will feature author readings and conversation on the work of contemporary Arab-American authors

Representation matters because what’s visible often transforms our understanding of what’s possible. It’s in that spirit that the Arab American National Museum (AANM) and Center of Arab American Studies have started a new podcast, Seen Jeem—meaning Q&A in Arabic. Part conversation, part author reading, the episodes explore the work of contemporary Arab-American authors.

In an article in “Metromode” the producer and editor of Seen Jeem Mohamad Jaafer said, “I hope that the guests that come onto our show will serve as inspiration and role models for young writers, for young Arab American people in general.”

These readings were originally slated for open-mic-style events at the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s campus. But when COVID-19 emerged, plans shifted, and what was set to be a university-specific offering became a public initiative for everyone to enjoy. The show aims to showcase Arab American, Middle East and North African diaspora authors through 15 episodes with poets, essayists and fiction writers.

Hosts of the show include two professors from the University of Michigan-Dearborn—Sally Howell and Ghassan Abou-Zeineddine—the director of the museum, Diana Abouali, and Matthew Jaber Stiffler, AANM’s research and content manager.

In the first episode for the month of February, Stiffler spoke with the award-wining author Zaina Arafat, whose debut novel You Exist Too Much was selected as a most anticipated book for 2020 by O, The Oprah Magazine, Good Morning America, Vogue, Elle, and Harper's Bazaar. The book follows the life of a young LGBTQ Palestinian-American woman’s progress from blushing teen to sought-after DJ and aspiring writer. According to Arafat, the novel explores how much our cultural and personal histories affect our present.

The Seen Jeem podcast is produced by CAAS in partnership with the Arab American National Museum and funded by the University of Michigan Arts Initiative and the Ford Community Development.

Seen Jeem is available on all major streaming platforms. To start listening you can click here. And to learn more about the show and its team, visit their website.

For those interested in visiting the National Arab American Museum, 13624 Michigan Ave. 48126, they will be opening their doors for the first time since the pandemic on Feb. 10. Their hours are Thursday-Friday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. More information, including their COVID-19 protocols and safety measures, can be found on their website.