The Markaz Review (TMR) is a nonprofit publication and virtual center that seeks to promote the writers, artists, filmmakers and other creative people of the greater Middle East, generally thought to include the Arab world, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Africa. As an online community, TMR is a creative and literary destination that seeks to erase the boundaries between peoples and celebrate culture.
Why Now? Why TMR?
Because we wish to continue to speak in our own voices, and there is still so much work to do…
In 2020, the New York Times published a damning report that showed that the vast majority of the literature published in the United States since 1950 has been by white writers: “Of the 7,124 books for which we identified the author’s race,” the authors wrote, “95 percent were written by white people.” In addition, the last time we checked, only about 3% of the literature published in the US consists of translations. To compare, as of 2019 one of six books published in France were translations—roughly 15%.
TMR consistently publishes Arab, Iranian and other artists and writers from beyond the Eurocentric pale. We translate from Arabic, Persian, Turkish, French and Spanish. And so the purpose and value of The Markaz Review becomes evident: rather than being akin to the missionaries of yore who brought the Gospel to the world’s perceived backwaters, TMR brings the rest of the world to European and American shores—or at least the Arab/Muslim world, which includes parts of Africa and Asia.
The Markaz Review or TMR is published in affiliation with The Los Angeles Review of Books, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and disseminating rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts.
For nearly 20 years in Los Angeles, there was a cultural arts center celebrating the stories of people from the greater Middle East and North Africa—a place called the Levantine Cultural Center (June 2001-June 2015), renamed The Markaz (from July 2015).
Over the years as a presenting organization, The Markaz welcomed an estimated 100,000 people to its diverse public programs—art exhibits, concerts, conferences, festivals, literary fora, film screenings, language classes, conflict-resolution series, comedy shows, theatrical performances, writing and art workshops, and much more. In part due to the Covid-19 pandemic, The Markaz officially closed definitively on May 31, 2020 as noted in the Los Angeles Times.
The Markaz Review seeks to replace this brick-and-mortar destination with an online platform that will be at once global and local.
Sharing our stories, our arts and culture, our history, and our aspirations for a more peaceful, just world, we come together in dialogue. But we are under no illusions—the reality today is that there is far too much anti-refugee, anti-immigrant, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment. Xenophobia and racism in Europe and the United States are rampant. TMR is a place to mitigate this negative void and fill it by educating people worldwide, to prevail in the search for creative, intellectual and spiritual evolution.
TMR is a new iteration on The Markaz, where from 2001–2020:
with racism, violence and extremism on the rise, our challenge was to raise the consciousness of Americans in such a way as to humanize all the peoples of the greater Middle East while serving our communities in diaspora.
Markaz programs served the interests of rapprochement and peer-to-peer diplomacy by welcoming people of every nation and religion, erasing the boundaries between peoples.
895 programs | over 100,000 people served | 95 videos | 129 partner organizations