FALL 2012

The Levantine Review

In May 2012 the Slavic and Eastern Languages Department in collaboration with Boston College Libraries launched a new Open Access, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal, The Levantine Review. The journal is dedicated to a study of the Levant from multiple perspectives, including History, Theology, Religion, Linguistics, Archaeology, Political Science, etc.

Since the term Levant is not widely used these days, it may be worth remembering that, geographically speaking, the Levant is the stretch of land around the Eastern Mediterranean that includes Anatolia, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and Egypt. The term was coined in the 16th century by French travelers and came from "le soleil levant", referring to the sun rising from the East. Though it began as a geographic term, over the years Levant evolved into a strong cultural and political concept that has been defining the extremely diverse, multilingual, multicultural, and cosmopolitan part of the Middle East - a true crossroad of cultures, religions, and civilizations. Multiple ethnic groups (Maronites, Druze, Copts, Jews, Assyrians, Arabs, Armenians, Greeks, and others) professing various religions and speaking many languages and dialects have been living side by side in the Levant for centuries, and compose a sophisticated mosaic of interweaving cultures and traditions. Centuries of Ottoman rule and increasing European presence in the 19th/20th centuries only added to the complex political and cultural tapestry of the region. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of new nation states in the 1920s, the term Levant practically disappeared from common conscience; while over the years the region, at least on the surface, was looking more and more religiously and culturally homogenized. However, there now appears to be a growing interest in the revival not only of the term Levant itself, but also of a concept of a multicultural, multilingual, and multireligious region.

Modern Near Eastern Studies mostly tend to offer a somewhat monochrome approach to this part of the world, its major constituencies and players. According to Franck Salameh, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Boston College and Editor-in-Chief of the Review:

... the journal proposes a study of the Near East from a broad, diverse, and inclusive purview, with the hope of bringing into focus the larger conceptual, geographic, social, linguistic, and cultural settings of the region. In line with its commitment to an "ecumenical" approach, The Levantine Review welcomes new research in a variety of Near Eastern Studies sub-fields and disciplines-examining narratives, histories, cultures, and intellectual traditions often overlooked in traditional scholarship... The Levantine Review's aim is to advance an inclusive, deep understanding of the Near East, and cast a broad look at the region beyond soothing familiar settings, and prevalent dominant models.

The idea of this new Open Access journal generated significant interest within the academic community, attracting to its editorial board such leading scholars in the field as Fouad Ajami from the Hoover Institute, Itamar Rabinovich from Harvard University and others. The first issue offered an array of articles by scholars from all over the world, including Sweden, Poland, France, Canada and covered a wide variety of topics such as the relationships between Turkey and Israel, Facebook written Levantine vernacular languages, and the history of violence in Lebanon. The journal publishes articles in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Hebrew.

At a time when the Middle East is once again at the forefront of international concern, the journal hopes to offer a fresh and balanced look at this complex and fascinating region. We are excited that this new journal will help disseminate high quality scholarly information freely to interested parties all over the world, independently of their academic affiliations.

Nina Bogdanovsky
Subject Specialist, O'Neill Library