We have a new name! SPACE has become Masahat.
What is Masahat?
Masahat: Plural form for space in Arabic.
We were established in 2015 in the wake of the ongoing crisis in Syria. Inspired by the explosion of defiant cultural expression against the collective punishment of protestors following the 2011 mass uprisings in the Arab world, we set out to forge spaces from which newly exiled Syrian intellectuals, artists and activists could talk back about the complexities of the Syrian war and its social, political, cultural and economic consequences.
Every year, our events in Oslo attracted Arab emigres in increasing numbers. Together we discovered that we shared not only this Norwegian exile, but also commonalities that are at the very crux of why our lives have become unlivable in our home countries.
Masahat was born out of this emergent awareness of a shared tragedy, and a new potential in Norway that allows us to use cultural means against authoritarian rule, occupation, and dispossession of millions of Arab peoples.
Today Masahat is at the forefront of opening spaces for Arab culture in exile. We create thriving arenas and masahat (spaces) for the dissemination of histories, arts and culture from the Arab world. We provide a meeting place for Norwegian and Arab cultural actors to come in conversation with one another.
Who is an Arab, and what is Arab culture?
Masahat celebrates Arab identity as a composite of multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and polylinguistic cultural registers that can be democratically imagined and that is capable of safeguarding the political, economic and cultural rights of all its people.
By presenting to Norwegian audiences an alternative notion of who is an Arab, we actively work against reductive representations that can sometimes dominate the political discourse and media images about the region.
We take pride in a democratic society that is premised on the right to cultural expression and we work towards an open Norwegian society that nurtures the expression of ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity.