Colloquium explores faculty research on cultural narratives and social media communication

September 27, 2018

The first NU-Q research colloquium of the academic year examined the depiction of the refugee experience in American literature and the use of Twitter to drive library patron engagement.

Hariclea Zengos, senior associate dean and director of the Liberal Arts Program, presented her paper The Un-American Refugee, arguing that refugees challenge the American cultural and national narratives.

“[Refugees] are an embodiment of social and political critique, challenging ideas of the American Dream and the United States as a melting pot… they present a case for why those concepts need to be rethought,” said Zengos. 

In her paper, Zengos explores the refugee experience depicted in Viet Thanh Nguyen’s short story collection, The Refugees. “Nguyen’s perspective as a Vietnamese-American reminds us that what we call in the U.S. history “The Vietnam War” is called “The American War” to some – and those voices have been silenced throughout history.” 

Also at the colloquium, Technical Services Librarian Iman Khamis presented findings from her research on how Twitter is being used as a communications tool in Qatar. 

Specifically, her research explored the use of the combination of two hashtags (#Qatar and #library), finding that these tweets fell into various communication categories, including marketing, employment, announcements, and news.

Khamis explored the differences between English-language and Arabic-language tweets, and discovered that a large number of English posts had a focus on employee recruitment, while Arabic-language tweets referred to bookstores, rather than libraries. “Because the word for bookstore and library is the same in Arabic, most of the Arabic tweets are about bookstores. In this paper, I propose an alternative word to help alleviate this problem,” Khamis said.

Research colloquia present an opportunity for faculty members to workshop ongoing projects. Both presenters received feedback from faculty and staff, all of which will help to consolidate their research.