A major Ivy League university in the US has become the first in the country to appoint a faculty chair in Palestinian Studies. Rhode Island's Brown University announced this week that the position will be named after the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.
The official announcement stated that Darwish was "a towering and beloved figure of Palestinian and Arab literature and humanistic values. "This chair is the first of its kind at a major research university."
The Palestinian poet, who died in 2008, is viewed as a significant symbol of the Palestinian cause and struggle against the Israeli occupation and the displacement of his people. Having written over 30 books of poetry and eight books of prose, he was also a figure who fits well into the academic setting that the university has established with the new position.
The first holder of the chair at Brown University will be Professor Beshara Doumani, a well-known academic in Middle Eastern studies. The tenure will begin in July.
"By joining together the names Mahmoud Darwish and Beshara Doumani," explained the university, "the appointment embraces the vitality of Palestinian life as a driving concern in academic, cultural and political affairs at the global level."
Another professor at the university, Elias Muhanna, told the UAE-based newspaper The National, "This is the first faculty chair in Palestinian studies at a North American university, which represents a major milestone."
Muhanna added that it is especially significant due to the fact that Palestinian studies had long been overlooked and neglected in the academic world. "It has faced the kind of pressure that other fields rarely encounter."