Sally Davis and Arabic: Commitment to a language

Sally Davis and Arabic: Commitment to a language
Tuesday 17 December 2019

Congratulations to Sally Davis who graduated in December with a Bachelor of Languages (Honours) and a Bachelor of International Security Studies. Her achievements are remarkable and we wish her the best for her continuing research.

Sally Davis is the first CAIS student to complete a thesis entirely in Arabic. As part of her degree, Sally wrote a thesis entitled: 'The Islamic State: Building the State and the Failed State'. Her work has received glowing reports along with a recommendation for publication in an Arabic academic journal.

“After four years of studying Arabic, my major was finished, but I was not ready to leave the language behind. So, I started piecing together my honours research and wondering whether to make the daunting commitment to write my thesis in Arabic. I had been thinking about the topic for months as I watched events unfold in Iraq, and the precarious socio-economic outcomes of Daesh’s capture of territory and the group’s disastrous attempt at civic governance.

With the cursor positioned on the right of the screen, I started constructing the first paragraph, after all, to read and write about this region was the reason I initially enrolled in Arabic. Some of those paragraphs took me days to find the right words. I had to accept it was often impossible in a language that was not my own to give an adequate explanation to events that were commonly simplified in the Western media as senseless waves of violence, with foreign fighters as the protagonists and the Iraqi people fading into the background.

Working through this challenging topic was a great deal more than just an extension of my study of a foreign language. It was a constant reminder to check both my status as an outsider and my choice of words (against the wise judgement of my tireless supervisor, Huda). It was also a way to use the thousands of hours of language study in an attempt to apply some kind of academic logic to events in Iraq.

There is so much more research to be done on this topic but undertaking just a small aspect of it has heightened my appreciation of the fact, that it is only with the language of a region that one can gain insight into the causes, manifestations and real consequences of the most complex of threats to human security.”


Updated:  18 December 2019/Responsible Officer:  Centre Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications