Award-winning Journalist to Give Annual Sabbagh Lecture

George Packer will give this year's Sabbagh lecture, "Journalism as Anthropology: Stories from the Middle East.”  Packer’s lecture is Thursday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. at the Arizona Historical Society Museum, at 949 E. Second Street in Tucson on the corner of Park and Second Street. 

Both the lecture and the reception that follows are free and open to the public.

George Packer is a staff writer for The New Yorker and has covered the Iraq war for the magazine. His book The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq received several prizes and was named one of the ten best books of 2005 by The New York Times Book Review. In 2003, Packer was awarded an Overseas Press Club award for his examination of the difficulties faced during the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq.

Packer is also the author of two novels, The Half Man and Central Square, and two works of non-fiction, The Village of Waiting and Blood of the Liberals, which won the 2001 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He is the editor of The Fight Is for Democracy: Winning the War of Ideas in America and the World. His play Betrayed, based on a New Yorker article, won the 2008 Lucille Lortel award for best Off Broadway play. His newest book, Interesting Times: Writings from a Turbulent Decade, was published in the fall of 2009.

In the Sabbagh lecture, Packer will discuss how long-form narrative journalism is a peculiarly American prose genre. Historically, it has flourished more in domestic than foreign reporting, but in the years after September 11, 2001, this changed, and there was a renaissance of in-depth stories from abroad, especially from Muslim countries where U.S. strategic interests were involved.

Whether they know it or not, many narrative journalists borrow certain approaches from anthropology in covering foreign places, while at the same time they are far from being experts. What are the possibilities and limits of this form in educating the American public? What is the symbiosis between journalism and social science?

The Sabbagh Lecture is presented by the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. These lectures focus on the Arab cultures of the Middle East from an anthropological perspective. Through the generosity of Tucsonans Entisar and Adib Sabbagh, an expert in Arab cultures is brought to campus each year for a public lecture and a master seminar for graduate students. The Sabbaghs have sponsored the series for 18 years.

Entisar (Vivi) Sabbagh is a doctoral graduate of the UA School of Anthropology, and Dr. Adib Sabbagh is a Tucson cardiac surgeon. The Sabbaghs sponsor these lectures to enhance the public understanding and appreciation for the complexity and diversity of Arab cultures. The lectures also serve to enrich the curriculum of the School of Anthropology by bringing to it the scholarship and learning of eminent scholars.

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Note: Parking is available in the Main Gate Garage, which is on Second Street, east of Euclid.