In celebration of the life and work of the late Dr. Jack G. Shaheen (September 21, 1935 – July 9, 2017), the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU and Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU co-host the Inaugural Dr. Jack G. Shaheen Memorial Lecture, to be delivered by Ralph Nader on Thursday, May 3, 2018. The prominent Arab American political activist and presidential candidate called Dr. Shaheen a friend and colleague, and his lecture “Ethnicity: Values, Virtues, and Vexations—with Special Attention to Arab Americans” will address the impact of Dr. Shaheen’s work in combating anti-Muslim and anti-Arab discrimination in the United States.
Michele Tasoff and Michael Shaheen, Dr. Shaheen’s children, will also offer remarks, alongside Sut Jhally (Executive Director, Media Education Foundation), Greta Scharnweber (Associate Director, NYU Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies), and Jack Tchen (Founding Director, Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU).
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Born in 1935 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dr. Jack G. Shaheen dedicated his career to identifying and contesting damaging stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims in US media. A professor, author, and NYU Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Dr. Shaheen, with the help of his wife Bernice Shaheen, collected over 3,000 moving images, and paper ephemera that depict Arabs and Muslims. In 2010, the Jack G. Shaheen Collection on Arabs in U.S. Film and Television was donated to the NYU Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive.
Dr. Shaheen was the author of The TV Arab (1984), Guilty: Hollywood’s Verdict on Arabs after 9/11 (2008), and the award-winning Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (2001, 2009), which was produced as a documentary by the Media Education Foundation. He was an Oxford Research Scholar, and served as a consultant to the Los Angeles Commission on Human Relations, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and New York City’s Commission on Civil Rights. Dr. Shaheen was the recipient of two Fulbright teaching awards, the University of Pennsylvania’s Janet Lee Stevens Award, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Archangel Michael Award (from the Greek Orthodox church), and the Pancho Be Award. He is survived by his wife Bernice Shaheen, children Michele Tasoff and Michael Shaheen, and four grandchildren.
An author, lecturer, attorney, and political activist, Ralph Nader’s life-long work and advocacy has led to safer cars, healthier food, safer drugs, cleaner air and drinking water, and safer work environments. In 2006, he was cited by The Atlantic as one of the one hundred most influential figures in American history, TIME Magazine has called him the “U.S.’s toughest customer,” the New York Times has said of him that “[w]hat sets Nader apart is that he has moved beyond social criticism to effective political action.”
Among the advocacy organizations he founded and co-founded to enhance public awareness and increase government and corporate accountability are the Center for Study of Responsive Law, Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), Center for Auto Safety, Public Citizen, Clean Water Action Project, Disability Rights Center, Pension Rights Center, and Project for Corporate Responsibility. His example has inspired a whole generation of consumer advocates, citizen activists, and public interest lawyers who in turn have established their own organizations throughout the country.
Nader first made headlines as a young lawyer in 1965 with his book Unsafe at Any Speed, a scathing indictment that lambasted the auto industry for producing unsafe vehicles. He is also the author of Breaking Through Power (2016) and Animal Envy (2016), among many books. Today, Nader remains focused on empowering citizens to create a responsive government sensitive to citizens’ needs. He continues to work relentlessly to advance meaningful civic institutions and citizen participation as an antidote to corporate and government unaccountability.
Co-sponsored by the NYU Division of Libraries, NYU Abu Dhabi, Provost's Global Research Initiatives Program, NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study, Iranian Studies Initiative (ISI) at NYU, Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity & Strategic Innovation, Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies at NYU, Ottoman Studies at NYU, Jadaliyya, NYU Center for Multicultural Education and Programs (NYU CMEP), and NYU International Relations Program.