Ibrahim Abu-Lughod: the legacy of an activist scholar and teacher.

AuthorNassar, Jamal R.

IN INTRODUCING ARAB STUDIES QUARTERLY in 1979, Dr. Ibrahim Abu-Lughod argued for a need to combat "ignorance and prejudice where knowledge of the Arabs is concerned." (1) Ignorance and prejudice, one can argue, are still there. There, are, however, voices of justice and fairness. That is what Ibrahim Abu-Lughod dedicated his career to. His mission as a scholar and activist for justice continues on years after his passing. In some way, therefore, Ibrahim did not die. His struggle continues.

Professor Abu-Lughod's struggle began in Palestine prior to the rise of the State of Israel. After completing high school in March 1948, he, along with his friends Shafiq al-Hout and Mohamed Lasawi, volunteered to work for the National Committee in their hometown, Jaffa. Their job was to discourage residents of Jaffa from leaving the city in the face of Zionist assaults. Even when his own family left on 23 April of the same year, Ibrahim remained behind to "defend" the city. The defenders of Jaffa, however, were no match to the more organized and equipped forces of the Haganah and Irgun. On 3 May 1948, Ibrahim boarded "the last" ship out of Jaffa heading to Beirut. The Belgian ship, Prince Alexander, took Ibrahim away from his city that he did not see again until 8 December 1991. (2)

After a brief stint in Nablus, Ibrahim came to the United States for his college education. He completed a bachelor's degree in 1951 at the University of Illinois. He then went on to Princeton University for graduate work in Middle East studies. He received his Ph.D. in 1957. Ibrahim's student activism began as an undergraduate student with the Organization of Arab Students and continued throughout his career in the United States.

Soon after receiving his Ph.D., Ibrahim Abu-Lughod joined UNESCO as a field expert in Egypt. Ironically, Ibrahim's first post-Ph.D, job was with UNESCO, as was his last one. In between, he established himself as a foremost educator and scholar. In 1961, Ibrahim returned to the U.S. to join the faculty at Smith College. In 1967, he joined the political science faculty at Northwestern University where he also served as Associate Director of the Program of African Studies. At Northwestern, Dr. Abu-Lughod taught Middle East politics and comparative politics. His colleague at Northwestern, Dr. Kenneth Janda, reports that "Ibrahim was not only a rounded scholar interested in both empirical research, philosophical issues, and contemporary politics, but he...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT