My name is Joey Ayoub. I sometimes go by Joey Husseini-Ayoub to include my mother’s family name or use Ibn Baldwin as a pen name, which means son of (James) Baldwin in Arabic. Originally from Mount Lebanon, Lebanon, I grew up in a Franco-Arab household with additional Palestinian, Italian, Argentinian and Swiss heritage. I would add a bit of British – Brit(ish) as Afua Hirsch puts it – as that island was my home for four years. I used to be uncomfortable with the lack of a single coherent national identity, but now I’m glad I don’t have one.
I enjoy writing, reading, learning languages, watching movies/documentaries/series/anime, taking photos and pretending to know how to cook. And I miss my dogs quite a lot.
As part of my desire to experiment with words, I identify myself like this: a pessoptimist writer, poetically displaced, intersectionally angry, writing in the protracted now.
Studies/Locations: My formative years, in many ways, were 2010-2013 during my undergraduate studies at the American University of Beirut (AUB) where I did a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health. I lived in Hamra, Beirut between 2012 and 2014 and briefly in Achrafieh before moving back to my hometown in Mount Lebanon.
In 2015, in the middle of the ‘You Stink’ protests, which I helped organise, I moved to London to do my MA in Cultural Studies at SOAS, University of London. My MA thesis was entitled ‘Jewish Identity and Language Politics: Hebrew, Yiddish and the Contemporary Debate on Zionism”.
I lived in London between 2015 and 2017 where I was part of the SOAS Palestine Society (2015-2016) and the SOAS Syria Society (2016-2017). In October of 2017, I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where I am started doing a PhD on Lebanese cinema at the University of Edinburgh. After a (fairly public) falling out with the university two years in, I left it.
I am now continuing the PhD at the University of Zurich where I am an associate doctoral researcher on the Dissonant Narratives team.This project is a study about temporality, or the way we perceive time, in postwar Lebanese cinema between the years 1990 and 2018. The case will be made in this thesis that the Lebanese civil war produced its own temporality, only to be then interpreted/re-imagined in postwar Lebanon/Lebanese cinema. This requires a shift from our usual understanding of linear time to accommodate the reality of a “protracted now”, coined by Walid Sadek, in which the line between past and future is often blurred. The protracted now sets the temporal context of this thesis, a way of studying the past/future while recognising that movies are produced in the present. Thus, this project will ask: how is temporality conceived of in postwar Lebanese cinema when the past is contested and the future is uncertain?
Work/Writing: My interests vary and are multiple, but I tend to focus on a few projects at a time. These could be: cinema, the climate emergency, literature (and, increasingly, speculative fiction, science fiction and fantasy), conflict, grief, gender, race, displacement, intersectional politics/feminism, degrowth, mutual aid, photography and so on.
include speculative fiction, intersectional politics, the climate emergency and what it means to be displaced. I have been a freelance writer, editor and researcher for most of my adult life. I’m published in Al Jazeera, AlJumhuriya.net, Harvard’s Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy, Raseef22, Global Voices Online, The New Arab (Al Araby), Pulse Media, IB Times, Middle East Eye, RS21, GenderIT, LSE Middle East Blogs, Shado Mag, Mangal Media, Crimethinc, Addis Standard, El Diario, and Lebanon Support, among others. These articles are usually republished on this site which I’m using as an archive.
Between August 2016 and April 2019, and between January 2018 and June 2019 respectively, I was Middle East and North Africa (MENA) editor at Global Voices and IFEX. I’ve also been freelancing as an editor for, among other websites, The Arab Tyrant Manual.
Between 2011 and early 2020, my primary blog and podcast was Hummus For Thought. As of March 2020, it’s become The Fire These Times, a project dedicated to exploring the theme of ‘the local is global’ for the 21st century.
As for Hummus For Thought, it is currently under reconstruction as I am turning it into a bilingual Arabic/English platform to interview activists, artists, academics, and/or workers from/who work on/think about Lebanon.
Affiliations: I am a research associate of Lebanon Support, a member of the British Sociological Association, Long Now Foundation, Lebanese Studies Association, Citizens, Nations and Migration (CNaM) Network at the University of Edinburgh, Council for British Research in the Levant and Anarchist Studies Network (ASN). I’m also a fellow of Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum (GMF) and, of course, a member of IFEX and Global Voices.
Publications (not including essays/articles):
- “Black-Palestinian Solidarity: Towards an Intersectionality of Struggles”. Book Chapter in Social Justice and Israel/Palestine: Foundational and Contemporary Debates, July 2019. Edited by Aaron J. Hahn Tapper and Mira Sucharov. Published by University of Toronto Press.
- Editor of “Enab Baladi: Citizen Chronicles of the Syrian Uprising“, May 2019. It’s available for free on Hummus For Thought. Print Publication date: November 26th, 2019 (by Amnesty International UK)
- “Decay as Political Metaphor in Ely Dagher’s Waves’ 98 and Mounia Akl’s Submarine“, March 2019. Journal essay. Published by Université Saint-Joseph, “Regards”.
- “The Civil War’s Ghosts: Events of Memory Seen Through Lebanese Cinema”. Book Chapter in The Social Life of Memory: Violence, Trauma, and Testimony in Lebanon and Morocco, 2017. Edited by Norman Saadi Nikro and Sonja Hegasy. Published by Palgrave Macmillan as part of Palgrave Studies in Cultural Heritage and Conflict.
Seminars, Lectures and Workshops:
- “The Yiddish-Hebrew Kulturkampf: Historical and Contemporary Implications”. Middle East History and Theory (MEHAT) Workshop, Uni. of Chicago, Chicago, USA — Lecture, May 2019
- “A Baldwinian Reading of Lebanese-ness”. Northeast Modern Language Association (NemLA), Washington DC, USA — Lecture/Panel, March 2019
- “The Lebanese Migration Experience: A Screening of ‘Zozo’”. Citizens, Nations and Migration (CNaM) Network, Uni. of Edinburgh, UK— Screening/Discussion, December 2018
- “Minorities Beyond Ethnic and Religious Divides”. Heinrich Böll Stiftung Middle East, Beirut, Lebanon — Panel, November 2018
- “Haunting and the Postwar Generation in Lebanese Cinema”. Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) Department, Uni. of Edinburgh, UK — Seminar, October 2018
- “Critical Theory and Practice Panel on Syria”. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK — Discussion, April 2018
- “On the International Men and Gender Equality Survey for the MENA Region”. London School of Economics (LSE), London, UK— Lecture, January 2018
- “On Syria 2011-2017 and Lebanon 2005-2017”. University of Bologna and Mediateca Gateway, Bologna, Italy — Lecture, March 2017
- “On Syria Stories Map Project”. Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK — Lecture, March 2017
- “Social Media and Advocacy for Women’s Rights in the Arab World”. Womanity Foundation, Soul Cities and Oxfam, Amman, Jordan — Workshop, January 2014