In November 2016, the MBI Al Jaber Foundation awarded a ‘Small Grant’ of £1,500 to one of its Alumni members, Lobna Ben Salem. Lobna had been invited to the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Virginia as a Visiting Researcher. During her one-month stay, she presented several talks on her latest studies to both colleagues and students. She also finalised two chapters of a monograph she was working on, making the best of the university’s facilities, such as their well-renowned library. Her publication deals with topics that fall into the field of Trauma Studies and Postcolonial Literature from the viewpoint of women. Testimony, she argues, is therapeutic to people who have witnessed war and violence in general, but women have seldom been made a part of the narrative and have been denied the opportunity to testify to their own suffering. The healing property of storytelling is Lobna’s main focus throughout the book.
Lobna’s work was very much appreciated by her colleagues at the University of Virginia, to the extent that she was offered a place to lecture there on Arabic literature. However, she decided to continue with her research and has now completed her monograph.