The fifth AJI Book Launch was held! Professor Wendy Pearlman introduced her book to Japan.

On June 9th, 2022, a Book Launch was held online by the Asian-Japan Research Institute of Ritsumeikan University and the Center for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, also of Ritsumeikan University, featuring a new translation into Japanese of the much acclaimed book entitled:『シリア 震える橋を渡って:人々は語る』We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled: Voices from Syria). The author Wendy Pearlman is a professor at Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois, and specializes in Middle East politics. She was educated at Harvard, Georgetown, and Brown, speaks Arabic, and has spent more than twenty years studying and living in the Arab World.

Introducing her book, she said that Syria is far away, and it is easy to ignore the horrors that have killed more than half a million and forcibly displaced more than half the population, leaving a shattered the country. She explained that her book assumes no prior knowledge of Syria or the Middle East; all it asks of readers is an open mind and heart.

It features a collection of testimonials from more than 450 displaced Syrians individuals across the globe that gradually coalesced into a collective narrative that needed to be more widely heard, so she set about expressing these voices in a unique style. The introduction is in her own words, followed by a powerful story of the origins, escalation to war, and ongoing exile of the largest displacement of human beings in the 21st century, exclusively in the words of Syrians themselves.

She presented compelling extracts, sad, thought provoking, heartwarming and even humorous like this post: “The most important and beautiful thing about the revolution is that people have rid themselves of the words, ‘Hush, the walls have ears’.” Comment: “That’s true. But there are no more walls left. Everything’s gone”. She concluded by saying, “Syrians have gone through a dangerous, painful, and courageous journey to be able to tell their own stories. The very least and yet perhaps the most important thing we should do is listen”.

In the Q&A session, attendees posed enthusiastic questions to Prof. Pearlman about her interview methods and she had chosen to write in a journalistic, rather than an academic style. She replied that she usually wrote academic papers, but in this case, unlike journalists, she had the luxury of time, and had used it to meticulously edit the narratives in order to give voice to what she felt was an important message. Needless to say, there were more questions than time, but all the participants enjoyed the extremely interesting and informative event. Lastly, the Institute really appreciate your participation in this Book Launch.

Professor Pearlman talking about her book

Professor Pearlman (with her books)

Dr. Fukiko Ikehata moderating this Book Launch

Professor Pearlman and institute members