Author Archives: admin

Transdisciplinary Research in Mongolia…

This week in Mongolia (Photos: Emily O'Dell)

Presenting research this week in Mongolia (Photos: Emily O’Dell)

This week, I had the joy and honor of presenting my research at a conference in Ulaanbaatar sponsored by the American Center for Mongolian Studies and BioRegions entitled, “Transdisciplinary Research in Mongolia: Bridging the Cultural/Natural Science Divide.” I loved seeing my name and the title of my research in the program in both English and Mongolian. It was a wonderful conference, and I was grateful to be a part of it (and to have my work well-received).

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Mongolian Pro-Tip…

Enjoying life in Mongolia (Photo: Emily O'Dell)

Enjoying life in Mongolia (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

If you are traveling to Mongolia, this trusty little phrasebook can come in handy — also why not add some chocolate to help boost your memory?

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Summering in Mongolia…

Exploring Mongolia (Photo: Emily O'Dell)

Life on the steppe (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

I have been too busy with speaking, research, writing, and travel engagements to blog regularly, but you can follow my global adventures on Twitter (@emilyjodell). This summer I am in Ulaanbaatar (for my 4th summer in Mongolia) as a fellow at the American Center of Mongolian Studies where I will be advancing my study of Mongolian language to further my research projects. To follow my Mongolian adventures, find me on Twitter (@emilyjodell).
Exploring Mongolian script (Photo: Emily O'Dell)

Exploring Mongolian script (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

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My Al Jazeera Feature: Elastic Girl…

Training young disability advocates in Lebanon

Training young disability advocates in Lebanon

I am very happy to share with you my new Al Jazeera in-depth feature, The Elastic Girl: Living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which describes my life with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and highlights some of my disability advocacy work in the Middle East with Syrian refugees, children with cancer, and young people with mental illness. I hope you enjoy it — and thanks for any help in sharing the piece with others.

St. Jude's in Beirut (Photo: Emily O'Dell)

Volunteering at St. Jude’s in Beirut (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

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Al Arabiya: Unexpected Coverage…

Searching for Malcolm X in Sudan (Photo: Emily O'Dell)

Searching for Malcolm X in Sudan (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

I was alerted by a Sudanese colleague here in the Sultanate of Oman to an Arabic article in Al Arabiya about my research on Malcolm X in Sudan. While doing research for my academic journal article “X Marks the Spot: Mapping Malcolm’s Encounters with Sudan,” which was published in a special issue of the Journal of Africana Religions (The Meaning of Malcolm X for Africana Religions: Fifty Years On), I had the opportunity to literally follow in Malcolm’s footsteps in Sudan with his old Sudanese friends in Khartoum. I’m delighted to see this interest in my work about this fascinating chapter of American, Middle Eastern, and African history.

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My New Huff-Po: Sufi Caravan in Sudan…

Exploring Sufism in Sudan (Photo: Emily O'Dell)

Exploring Sufism in Sudan (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

I am happy to share with you my new Huffington Post piece, Sufi Caravan in Sudan, about the time I spent with Sudanese Sufis while excavating an ancient temple from the sands of Sudan. Thank you for any help in sharing this piece/peace with others via email and social media — enjoy!

Sufi caravan in Sudan (Photo: Emily O'Dell)

Sufi caravan in Sudan (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

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Coalition for Women in Journalism…

Coalition
I am happy and humbled to share with you that I have been chosen by the Coalition for Women in Journalism to serve as a global mentor for female journalists. You can learn more about this important and innovative venture at this link. I am very inspired by their work, and I am looking forward to mentoring female journalists and writers in the region.

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Setting the River on Fire…

In bookstores now...

In bookstores now…

I feel very humbled to have received an acknowledgement in Kay Redfield Jamison’s new biography on poet Robert Lowell — one of my favorite American writers (and a confessional muse of mine). I’ve been an admirer of Kay’s work for decades (intrigued as I am with the intersections of the arts and “madness”), and I can’t wait to read her latest work — which is getting great reviews (such as in the New York Times and Washington Post). I was honored and happy to provide her with details and sources on the history of the treatment of mania and “madness” in Islam and the Middle East — a subject which I’ve been researching for several years for a book project of my own. I’m really looking forward to reading this comprehensive study of Robert Lowell’s life (including his psychiatric medical records). In the words of Lowell, “We are poor passing facts, warned by that to give each figure in the photograph his living name.”

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Grateful to be acknowledged…

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Harriman Institute…

Living in Russia (Photo: Emily O'Dell)

Living in Russia (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

cover_photo_thumbnailI’m very honored to be profiled this spring in the latest issue of Harriman Magazine at Columbia University as an alum of the Harriman Institute (where I got my Master’s in Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Studies). With the current media obsession with the so-called Russian menace, it’s a perfect time to have my expertise in Russia and the former Soviet Union highlighted and shared — and I’m grateful. Amazing that what began as an attempt to get in touch with my Russian roots became a serious course of study, followed by many grants and experiences of living in every Central Asian Republic. Life is full of surprises.

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Dune Waves…

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Stunning Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

It was awe-inspiring to cruise through these desert dunes in Oman that stretch to the sea — sand/sea serenity…

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Salt Scene…

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Exploring Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

It was a surreal experience to explore this salt flat in the desert while traveling around the Sultanate of Oman…

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Rock Garden…

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Duqm adventure (Photo:Emily O’Dell)

I enjoyed exploring bizarre rock formations in the desert of Duqm — a developing port city in the Sultanate of Oman…

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Traffic Report…

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On the road in Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

We ran into some unexpected traffic in the middle of the Sultanate of Oman on our long desert drive back to Muscat…

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Rock Yoga…

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Waking up in Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

I was inspired by this rock formation to do some morning yoga in the Rock Garden of Duqm in the Sultanate of Oman…

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Picnic in Khaluf…

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Lunchtime! (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

My friends and I stopped for a picnic on Al-Khaluf beach, while exploring sugar dunes in Oman (potato chips included!).

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Ferry Surprise…

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Surprise! (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

Omg, look what I came across today on the car ferry from Masirah Island to the mainland of Oman — quite a surprise!

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Turtle Tracks…

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Communing with turtles in Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

My friends and I discovered these turtle tracks today on Masirah Island — home to one of the largest turtle sanctuaries in the world. When I lived in Lebanon, I used to swim every day at sunset with turtles in Beirut — so it’s been great fun to explore turtle life here in the Sultanate of Oman. In fact, four species of turtles nest on Masirah’s pristine beaches: loggerhead, green, hawksbill and olive ridley. Having spent today sunning on the white sand beaches of Masirah and wading in its crystal clear waters, I can now say with confidence from personal experience that I understand why so many turtles pick this tiny remote island in the Arabian Sea to lay their precious eggs — in paradise.

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Masirah Island…

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Yay Masirah! (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

I was thrilled to finally step foot on Masirah Island — a gem in the Arabian Sea halfway between Muscat and Yemen.

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Arabian Sea Adventure…

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Cruising the Arabian Sea (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

My friends and I took a car ferry yesterday from the mainland of the Sultanate of Oman to Masirah Island — a remote Omani desert island in the Arabian Sea.

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وادي ضــم

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Wadi Damm (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

While on a road trip this week in Oman, my friends and I visited the breathtaking Wadi Damm/Dhum. Fortunately, many of its tranquil pools were filled with water, so we were able to take a dip after our long hike to the furthest flowing water channels (marked with moss and slippery waterfalls). Since we ended our hike in the late afternoon (in January), the temperature of the water was freezing when we considered taking a brave dip.

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Taking a dip (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

Slinking into the ice cold water for a swift swim down this inviting teal water channel was no easy feat. The water chilled me to the bone — all of my aches and pains from the challenging hike immediately disappeared (we couldn’t feel our limbs). Body numb, my mind also chilled — into a serene state of extreme calm (I was reminded of a Mongolian shaman in Ulaanbaatar teaching me the healing effects of cold water on the mind, body, and spirit). As you can see from these photos, being completely immersed in nature by swimming through the wonderful wadis of Oman — even in winter — is a magical experience unlike any other. So come to Oman and try it for yourself!

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Peace from Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

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Tonight in Oman…

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Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

It was a delight to watch opera legend Placido Domingo conduct the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra tonight at the Royal Opera House in Muscat. The program included Beethoven and Tchaikovsky and featured the exceptionally talented (and young) pianist Beatrice Rana (23 years old!). During his performance earlier this week and his conducting tonight, I enjoyed seeing Domingo make the hand gesture above when he received applause and showed appreciation to his fellow performers (and the audience). Below is a video of Rana performing Tchaikovsky beautifully — as she did tonight in the Sultanate of Oman.

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Graffiti in Oman…

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Exploring Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

I was delighted to come across this graffiti while exploring a faraway wadi in the Sultanate of Oman. The image is of the Sultan of Oman, and the corresponding Arabic words extol His Majesty Sultan Qaboos as a man of peace and offer a verse of poetry in praise of him. Most people do not associate street art with Oman (unlike Beirut where I last lived), but in the video below, you can see Omani graffiti artists at work during the Muscat Youth Summit. Here’s to more art — of all kinds — in the Gulf and around the world in 2017.

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Sudan Sanctions…

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At work in Sudan (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

I woke up today in Oman to the news that the United States is going to lift sanctions on Sudan — which is my favorite country in the world. From doing research in Egyptology, archaeology, and Sufism to following in the footsteps of Malcolm X in Omdurman and Khartoum, it’s where my spirit feels most at home (I love working there and cannot wait to return).

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Swirling in Oman…

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Hiking in Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

I find myself in the darndest places — like this whirlpool swirl in a wonderous wadi I explored this week in Oman…

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Desert Island…

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Exploring Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

My friends and I stumbled upon the most amazing crumbling fort in the middle of this wadi — it must look stunning (like an island!) when the water rushes through…

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Wadi Surprise…

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Exploring Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

I came across this unexpected graffiti while wandering at sunset through a wondrous wadi in the Sultanate of Oman.

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Placido Domingo in Oman…

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Royal Opera House Muscat (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

It was thrilling to hear opera legend Placido Domingo sing last night at the Royal Opera House Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman — from opera favorites to West Side Story, it was truly an experience of a lifetime.

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