The John and Mary Bennett Memorial Lecture
The Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge invites you to its biennial John and Mary Bennett Memorial Lecture, to be delivered this year by Dr Elisabeth Kendall, the Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge.

Arabic Poetry as a Weapon of Jihad 

Abstract: Over recent decades, militant jihadist magazines, videos and speeches have regularly featured Arabic poetry as part of their propaganda outreach. However, scholars and analysts alike have almost entirely neglected this phenomenon, skipping over the poetry (notoriously tricky to translate) in favour of more direct position statements and theological debates. Yet poetry can carry messages to a broader audience as it plugs naturally into a long tradition of oral transmission, particularly on the Arabian Peninsula, spreading ideas through repeated recitation or conversion into anthems (anashid) with little need for literacy, print culture or technology. This talk will reveal why such poetry is relevant, explain its main characteristics and explore its core functions.
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Arabic Poetry as a Weapon of Jihad 

Dr Elisabeth Kendall, The Mistress, Girton College, Cambridge

 Thursday 25 April 2024

Venue: Auditorium, Pembroke College, Cambridge

  • 17:45 (doors open)
  • 18:00 (lecture begins)
  • 19:00 (drinks in the Foyer)
For enquires please contact Dr Assef Ashraf ( or Prof. Andrew Marsham (
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