Heritages: Our Story, Part I

In November 2015, the Fares Center hosted a screening of Heritages, a film by Lebanese director Philippe Aractingi. The film tells the story of Aractingi’s family over several generations in which the family moves back and forth within the region, and back again to Lebanon— while exploring themes of memory, identity, belonging and exile. The Aractingis’ story echoes that of many people who have been forced to leave their homes around the world and more specifically from the Eastern Mediterranean region, some of whom have settled in the Boston area. Boston and its suburbs are now home to many immigrants from the region: Greeks, Armenians, Lebanese, Jews, Palestinians, Syrians and others. To the Fares Center, Heritages celebrates the rich shared history of the Boston-area diaspora from the Eastern Mediterranean.

The film was introduced by Professors Elizabeth Prodromou, Rouben Shougarian and Nadim Shehadi who all spoke about the cosmopolitan character and the richness that the interaction between multiple  identities creates. This is combined with a tragic history in the 20th century that many of the people from the region are grappling with and having to explain to the new generations as Philippe Aractingi also shows in the film. These are themes that the Fares Center explores further often through film screening events.

Prior to the screening, the audience saw a video message from both director Aractingi and by his mother Andre Sultan, whose role in the film was very moving for the audience. A reception before the screening brought together Tufts students, faculty and members of the community. Several of them shared the stories of their own family’s heritage with us, which we are delighted to share with you in this video series.  

Our series begins with with Fletcher student Beatriz Zarur Valderrama, who describes her family’s migration from Lebanon to Mexico, which is now home to a large and close-knit community of Lebanese diaspora. Her grandparents’ story sparked Beatriz’s curiosity about her heritage and identity. “It is definitely an important part of who I am,” she says, “and perhaps of what has driven me to become so interested in international affairs, migration and especially the Middle East.”

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