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(DIS)PLACED: Philadelphia is an initiative of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture exploring the theme of displacement across Philadelphia’s diverse communities and from the perspectives of four artists-in-residence of Arab heritage.

Over the span of 18 months, the project engaged the public through storytelling, music performances, poetry readings, visual art, and community forums through Spring 2018.

12 Profiles

Interviews conducted by Ann de Forest with photography by Dave Tavani.

Your stories

If you or someone you know has a story of (dis)placement, of moving from the familiar to the unknown – be it within a neighborhood, across a city or an ocean – we invite you to share it with us. Our project aims to bring together individuals, communities and artists to experience and share stories of displacement and placement. We want to hear your voice.


Submit your story

Commissioned Artists




Ann de Forest: Writer

Ann is a writer, editor, teacher and consultant with a strong interest in design, architecture, the visual arts, and the built environment. Her short stories, essays, and poetry have been published in Cleaver Magazine, Found Poetry Review, The Journal, Hotel Amerika, Timber Creek Review, Open City, and PIF, as well as performed onstage at InterAct Theatre’s “Writing Aloud.” Her design and culture column, “Hi/Lo Tech,” appeared regularly in Attachè, US Airways inflight magazine. Ann has taught at the University of the Arts and the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and runs an after-school creative writing club at the University City Arts League.

Dave Tavani: Photographer & Videographer

Dave is a freelance videographer and photographer based in Philadelphia. He has worked on a variety of projects, mostly for nonprofit and arts organizations. He shot second camera for Danny’s Guitar Shop, a television program that aired on WHYY. He co-produces a monthly arts video feature for He is currently working on video projects for McCarter Theatre Center, Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Visit Philadelphia, The Food Trust, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, and Philadelphia magazine.


Huda Fakhreddine: Literature

Fakhreddine is a specialist in Arabic literature. Her work focuses on modernist movements or trends in Arabic poetry and their relationship to the Arabic literary tradition. Her book Metapoesis in the Arabic Tradition (Brill, 2015) is a study of the modernist poetry of the twentieth century Free Verse movement and the Abbasid muhdath movement, as periods of literary crisis and meta-poetic reflection. She is interested in the role of the Arabic qasida as a space for negotiating the foreign and the indigenous, the modern and the traditional, and its relationship to other poetic forms such as the Free Verse poem and the prose poem. She also has an interest in Translation Studies, the politics of translation and its role in creating the image and status of Arabic literature, and especially poetry, in other languages. Fakhreddine holds an MA in English literature from the American University of Beirut and a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Salwa Mikdadi: Art

Mikdadi is Associate Professor of Art History at NYU Abu Dhabi, specializing in the history of modern and contemporary art of the Arab world. Prior to joining the NYUAD, she worked at Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, and was a lecturer at the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi in the postgraduate program – History of Art and Museum Studies. Mikdadi was the Executive Director of the Arts and Culture Program at the Emirates Foundation in Abu Dhabi. She wrote the reference guide on the history of the twentieth-century art of West Asia, North Africa and Egypt for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Timeline web pages and is the editor and co-editors of several publications on the subject. Mikdadi curated “Rhythm and Form: Visual Reflections on Arab Poetry” in 1997, an exhibit of artists whose work was inspired by poetry. He recent research focuses on the governance and management of museums and art institutions in Jordan, the West Bank, UAE, Syria and Lebanon. Mikdadi curated several exhibitions including the first Palestinian collateral exhibition at the Venice Biennial in 2009. She holds a B.A. from American University of Beirut, and a M.A. J. F. from Kennedy University.



Sharene Azimi: Public Relations


Ashley Choukeir:  Graphic Design


Major support for this project is provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The Pew Center is dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. It fulfills this mission by investing in ambitious, imaginative projects that showcase the region’s cultural vitality and enhance public life, and by engaging in an an exchange of ideas concerning artist and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders.


Additional support is provided by The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture. Based in Beirut, Lebanon, AFAC was established in 2007 by local cultural lobbyists as an independent initiative that funds individuals and organizations in the fields of cinema, performing arts, literature, music and visual arts while facilitating cultural exchange, research and cooperation across the Arab world and globally.


For 30 years Mural Arts Philadelphia has united artists and communities through a collaborative process, rooted in the traditions of mural-making, to create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives. Mural Arts engages communities in 50–100 public art projects each year, and maintains its growing collection through a restoration initiative. Core Mural Arts programs such as Art Education, Restorative Justice, and Porch Light yield unique, project-based learning opportunities for thousands of youth and adults.


Penn Global provides strategic direction for the University of Pennsylvania’s global endeavors with a focus on efficient investment of university resources for global activities. Penn Global collaborates with schools and centers across the University and seeks to catalyze cross-school collaborations to integrate knowledge that addresses key issues. Penn Global provides additional university support services, such as academic year study abroad, immigration services for international students, and operational and compliance support for international projects.


Reopened to the public in September 2012 with the completion of a total interior renovation, the Philadelphia History Museum unveiled redesigned galleries to showcase its outstanding collection of historical objects, art, and artifacts. Located in Old City Philadelphia, the Museum provides historical context for issues of contemporary urban life using its premier collection of over 100,000 objects, paintings, and photographs in exhibitions, programs, and interactive media. The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30am to 4:30pm.


Nationalities Service Center is Philadelphia’s leading immigrant and refugee service organization empowering individuals to build a self-sustaining and dignified future. NSC prepares and empowers immigrants and refugees in the Philadelphia region to transcend challenging circumstances by providing comprehensive client-centered services to build a solid foundation for a self-sustaining and dignified future.


Since 1882, HIAS Pennsylvania and its predecessor organization, the Association for Jewish Immigrants, have exemplified the full meaning of the Jewish value of welcoming the stranger, as well as the American sentiment of sanctuary as engraved inside the Statue of Liberty with the words of Emma Lazarus. HIAS Pennsylvania provides legal and supportive services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from all backgrounds in order to assure their fair treatment and full integration into American society. HIAS Pennsylvania advocates for just and inclusive public policies and practices.


(DIS)PLACED Factsheet

Legal Status of Migrants:

Displacement Internationally and Historically in the US

Syrian Refugee Crisis in the US and Philadelphia

© 2016 Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture