“The Scent of Jasmine: Coming of Age in Jerusalem and Damascus”


Dr. Anan Ameri
Author and Founding Director of the Arab American National Museum in Detroit

*A light lunch is served at 12:30 p.m. Talk begins promptly at 1:00 p.m.

The Scent of Jasmine: Coming of Age in Jerusalem and Damascus is comprised of twenty-three stories that take place in various Arab cities. It starts with a few vignettes about the displacement of Ameri’s family during the 1948 Nakba and her constant movement from west Jerusalem, to Damascus, to east Jerusalem, to finally settling in Amman. The instability of these movements is contrasted with the security, fun and luxury offered by her mother’s wealthy Syrian family, which takes the reader into the life of an elegant Damascene home, with all its elitist traditions, powerful women, and the intrigue of its many secrets and rumors.

The later stories focus on Ameri’s gradual coming of age during the 1950s and 1960s, the era of Arab nationalism and international solidarity. Readers will venture with her from Amman, the capital of Jordan, to Cairo, the political and cultural capital of the Arab world, and finally to Beirut, the new home of the Palestinian Liberation movement. Her experiences in these cities reflect the changes within the post-colonial Arab societies of her time, in relation to the contradictory world around her. The result is a compelling and unforgettable memoir.


Dr. Anan Ameri was born in Syria and grew up in Amman, Jordan, where she earned a B.A. in Sociology at the University of Jordan. She also holds an M.A. in Sociology from Cairo (Egypt) University and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Wayne State University in Detroit. Before immigrating to the U.S., Ameri worked as a television producer and as an educator and community organizer in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon. Prior to her ACCESS/AANM tenure, she was executive director and national president of the Palestine Aid Society of America in Washington, D.C.; a Fellow at the Bunting Institute, Radcliffe College; and a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

Ameri is the founding and former Director of the Arab American National Museum in Detroit. She is also an author and editor with several titles to her credit, including Telling Our Story: The Arab American National Museum (2007, AANM); Arab Americans in Detroit: A Pictorial History (2001, Arcadia); and Etching Our Own Image: Voices from the Arab American Art Movement (2007, Cambridge Scholars Press). She was a contributing author and co-editor of The Arab American Encyclopedia (2000, UXL) and the school textbook Daily Life of Arab Americans in the 21st Century (2011, Greenwood Press).

Copies of The Scent of Jasmine: Coming of Age in Jerusalem and Damascus will be available for purchase at the event.


Bookings are no longer available for this event.