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Professor John Karam named LAS Conrad Scholar

10/8/2017  8:00 am

John Tofik Karam, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and associate director of the Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies is one of three professors from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences have been granted the distinction of a Conrad Humanities Scholar beginning this academic year.

He and the other two recipients, Soo Ah Kwon, professor of Asian American studies, and Marc Hertzman, professor of history, will receive $5,000 a year until the academic year of 2021-2022.

According to Feng Sheng Hu, Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS, these three recipients have been recognized for their scholarship in the College of LAS and on campus.

"The Conrad Humanities Scholar designation was created to recognize outstanding mid-career scholars in humanities fields. We are excited about their future as leaders in the humanities at Illinois," Hu said.

The Conrad Humanities Scholar awards are funded by a gift from the late Arlys Conrad, whose estate gift shared by the College of LAS and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences is intended to assist and retain promising mid-career faculty.

For John Karam, the borders on maps don’t always lend to the complexities and relationships he studies. As professor and researcher, Karam has come to see the globe in a unique way.

With around 20 years of experience studying Brazil and South America, Karam is close to completing a solo book project titled “Manifold Destiny: An Arab Crossroads of the Americas,” which delves into a multitude of unexpected relationships.

“It explores how mostly Lebanese and Palestinian traders at the trinational border between Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina unevenly connect multiple hemisphere centers of power. Through these and other projects, I attend to flows across world areas and ethnic boundaries,” Karam said.

Karam plans to use the $5,000 to build relationships with colleagues in Latin America who work on Middle East area and migration studies, as well as with colleagues in the Middle East who specialize in Latin American studies and migration studies.

On campus, Karam teaches courses on culture and power in Brazil, Brazil in the hemisphere and world, and an introductory course to Latin America. Through teaching these courses, Karam demonstrates his passion for the humanities.