Prof. John Karam has been awarded the very competitive and prestigious Fulbright Scholar award to conduct research in Brazil for the next two summers.
John Tofik Karam
I was born and raised in upstate New York, hearing stories my grandmother told of her birthplace, a town she called “trinta e três,” literally thirty-three. The name derived from the town’s location at the thirty-third kilometer of the Madeira-Mamoré railroad between Porto Velho and Guajará-Mirim, near Brazil’s border with Bolívia. Her Lebanese mother and father had migrated separately to Providence in the U.S., met and married there, and moved to Brazil. My grandmother remembered the mango tree in the backyard of her family’s home and a milking cow provisioned by a “coronel” who her parents had chosen as her godfather. With less than ten years of age, she was sent to Lebanon to be raised. Upon her arrival in the port of Beirut, she recalled the almost suffocating embrace of an old woman, probably her own grandmother, who spoke a language she did not understand. She later married in Lebanon and moved with her husband to upstate New York, where she gave birth to three children, and eventually helped to raise six grandchildren, of which I am one. I began traveling to Brazil as a teenager, and followed an academic track because it brought me there, again and again.
- Area and Ethnic Studies, Diaspora and Transnational Studies
John Tofik Karam contributes to the transnational turn in area and ethnic studies. His first book, Another Arabesque: Syrian-Lebanese Ethnicity in Neoliberal Brazil, won awards from the Arab American National Museum and the Brazilian Studies Association. It was translated by the Editora Martins Fontes into Portuguese and by the Centre for Arab Unity Studies into Arabic. With María del Mar Logroño Narbona and Paulo G. Pinto, Karam coedited the volume, Crescent over Another Horizon: Islam in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latino U.S.A.. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, his current book project is titled, “Manifold Destiny: Arabs at an American Crossroads of Exceptional Rule.” With Akram Khater and Andrew Arsan, he co-founded the peer-reviewed Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies, http://go.ncsu.edu/mashriq. Published in the journal's inaugural issue, his article, “The Lebanese Diaspora at the Tri-Border and the Redrawing of South American Geopolitics, 1950-1992,” was awarded the best article prize by the Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association. In 2017, he was named Conrad Humanities Scholar. In 2019-20, he was awarded a Fulbright award to collaborate with Professor Antonio Carlos Lessa at the Universidade de Brasília (UnB). Currently, he serves as Acting Director of the Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies of the University of Illinois.
- Ph.D. in Anthropology, Syracuse University, 2004
- M.A. in Anthropology, Syracuse University, 2000
- B.A. in Anthropology, University of Rochester, 1996
Distinctions / Awards
- National Endowment for the Humanities
- Immigration History Research Center, University of Minneapolis
- Fulbright Scholar Award
- Postdoctoral Fellowship, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley
- Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Award
- Writing Brazilians into the U.S.
- Redrawing Hemispheric Borders
- Introduction to Latin America
- Writing Migration into Latin America and the Caribbean
- Brazil in Hemispheric Context
- Culture and Power in Brazil
- The Telenovela
- Brazil as Global Power
- Contemporary Brazil
In The News
Prof. John Karam has been awarded the Conrad Humanities Professorial Scholar Award. These awards are designed to recognize tenured faculty members who are established or emerging leaders with exceptionally strong scholarly recognition and significant promise for continued achievement.