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The Jack G. Shaheen Archive Comes to NYU

June 30, 2011
N-442, 2010-11

Shaheen Gives Popular Culture Collection to NYU; Scholars Will Study Hollywood’s Evolving Portrayal of Arabs

Author and Middle East media consultant Dr. Jack G. Shaheen, considered the world's foremost authority on images of Arabs and Muslims in American popular culture, has given New York University an archive that includes his papers as well as thousands of commercially made films that depict Hollywood’s evolving attitudes toward the Arab people.  NYU made the acquisition as a cooperative initiative of the Tamiment Library, the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, and the Asian/Pacific/American Institute.

“Jack Shaheen's remarkable collection is a great resource for the Middle East Studies Program,” said Michael Gilsenan, director, Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies. 

“As a collection, it offers a unique, coherent set of related films, videos, and other materials which will become more and more important with time.”  

The moving image collection includes silent films dating from the early 1900s, documentaries, comedies, dramas, and children’s cartoons.  In addition to the tapes and DVDs, the collection includes movie stills and posters, correspondence, print advertisements, and other ephemera, as well as books, teleplays, essays, and notes made by Shaheen for his numerous lectures, articles, books, television appearances, and other projects. 

“Once it is processed, the Shaheen Archive is a vehicle for collaborative and original research for students and scholars wanting to study the politics of representation and 'orientalism' over a forty year period," said Gilsenan. 

Shaheen is the author of several books including Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People and, most recently, Guilty: Hollywood's Verdict on Arabs after 9/11. He has served as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at New York University’s Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies and A/P/A Institute and is a former news consultant on Middle Eastern affairs for CBS News.

Tamiment, the Kevorkian Center, and the A/P/A Institute are seeking funds to help process the Shaheen Archive and make it accessible to faculty, students, and other scholars. Upon completion of that project, the Archive will be housed in NYU’s Bobst Library, divided between the Tamiment Library (print material and photographs) and the Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media.  

The Archive will support study in many departments and disciplines throughout NYU, including the Kevorkian Center, the A/P/A Institute, and Cinema Studies, to name a few.


The Kevorkian Center was established in 1966 to foster the interdisciplinary study of the modern and contemporary Middle East and to enhance public understanding of the region. The Center's activities focus on the histories, politics, economies, religions, cultures and languages of the area stretching from North Africa to Central Asia.

The A/P/A Institute, created in 1996,  aims to promote discourse on defying traditional boundaries, spanning Asia, to the Americas, through the Atlantic and Pacific Worlds, working to dispel socio-cultural and political misconceptions, provide cultural and scholarly connections, lead collections building, and encourage innovative research and interdisciplinary exploration.  A video on the Shaheen archive is available on the A/P/A Institute website:

The Shaheen materials will also support research in cinema studies, the Moving Image Archives Program, social and cultural analysis, American Studies, anthropology, and more.

Editor’s Note: In July 2011, Shaheen will join Turner Classic Movies (TCM) host Robert Osborne for Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film, a month-long movie event that focuses on the diverse portrayals of Arabs in cinema. On Tuesday and Thursday nights in July, Osborne and Shaheen will introduce a wide range of films and provide extensive insight into Hollywood portrayals of the Arab people.  Shaheen selected the films for the event, including the award-winning Gulf War action drama Three Kings (1999), Jewel of the Nile (1985), Lion of the Desert (1981), The Black Tent (1956), Tarzan the Fearless (1933), and the silent classic The Sheik (1921), starring Rudolph Valentino. The July lineup will also include Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), Kismet (1944), The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and several animated shorts featuring Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Popeye and other famous characters.  For a complete schedule, please visit

About the NYU Division of Libraries

The Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, designed by Philip Johnson and Richard Foster, is the flagship of a six-library system that provides access to the world’s scholarship and serves as a center for the NYU community’s intellectual life. Bobst Library houses more than million volumes and provides access to thousands of electronic resources, both on-site and online. The Library received more than 2.6 million visits in 2009-2010 and circulated over 800,000 items. The website,, received 2.9 million hits.

The NYU Division of Libraries also includes the following five specialized libraries: NYU Abu Dhabi Library, Institute of Fine Arts Library, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences Library, Jack Brause Library at SCPS Midtown, and the Library of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.  Other NYU libraries include the Frederick L. Ehrman Medical Library, the John and Bertha E. Waldmann Memorial Dental Library, and the Law Library.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
NYUToday-feature, Arts and Science, Division of Libraries, Tamiment Library

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: Christopher James | (212) 998-6876

The Jack G. Shaheen Archive Comes to NYU

Negative Images of Arabs from Hollywood Movies--

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