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Diana Abouali

Director, Arab American National Museum (AANM)

Diana Abouali has lived a nomadic life both personally and professionally. At home in both North America and the Middle East, fluent in English and Arabic, Abouali has worked in the higher education, cultural heritage and museum sectors in the United States, Palestine and Jordan.

 

Born in Toronto, Canada, in 1971 to Palestinian parents who emigrated from Kuwait in 1967, Abouali moved to Kuwait in 1978, where she completed her primary and secondary education. She moved to the U.S. in 1989 to study at Wellesley College, and graduated in 1993 with a BA cum laude in Economics and History. She later received an MA in Middle Eastern Studies (1995) and a PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies (2004) from Harvard University. From 2004 to 2012, she taught at Dartmouth College in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures, first as lecturer then as assistant professor, offering courses in Arab-Islamic civilization, gender studies, social history of the Middle East and Arabic language.

 

After 22 years in the U.S., Abouali traded the mountains of New Hampshire for the hills of Ramallah, Palestine, when she moved there to work as head of research and collections at the newly-established Palestinian Museum (which opened to the public in 2016 in Birzeit). Relocating to Amman, Jordan, in 2014, she worked as director of education, outreach and awareness at the Petra National Trust and later as a senior consultant for Turquoise Mountain in Jordan. She was project manager at Tiraz: Widad Kawar Home for Arab Dress on an AHRC-ESRC Global Challenges Fund (UK) project, in cooperation with Plymouth University and the Information and Research Center-King Hussein Foundation. In that position, she studied the resilience of male Syrian artisan refugees in Jordan, co-producing a training program and toolkit in social-enterprise creation as a way to preserve cultural heritage. She has organized and delivered cultural heritage education workshops to Syrian children and women in the Azraq and Zaatari refugee camps, and she occasionally teaches college-level courses in the U.S. and Jordan.

 

Diana Abouali currently serves as a member of the general assembly of Taawon-Welfare Association, the largest Palestinian NGO that provides development and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory and Lebanon; on the board of the Palestinian Museum; and on the steering committee of the Sijal Institute for Arabic Language and Culture in Amman, Jordan.