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Petra Stienen

Petra Stienen - foto Jeanette Schols
Petra Stienen - foto Jeanette Schols

(Roermond, NL, 1965) studied Arabic and Middle East studies. Her second book was published in 2012: Het andere Arabische geluid (The Other Arab Voice), about voices of humanity and hope during the hectic transition period in the new Middle East. Her first book Dromen van een Arabische lente (Dreaming of an Arab Spring, 2008) was about the life and work of a human-rights diplomat in the Arab world. In both books she goes in search of the kind of stories that get little attention in Western media. Currently, Stienen is a publicist and independent consutant. She writes for NRC Handelsblad and De Volkskrant newspapers, has a column in the women's monthly magazine Opzij, and reguarly appears as a commentator on radio and television programmes and in debates at home and abroad.

(WU 2013 GR)

Archive available for: Petra Stienen

  • Winternachten 2015

    Opening Night: Free the Word!

    With: David Van Reybrouck, Dinar Rahayu, Farah Karimi, John Ralston Saul, Joris Wijsmuller, Karl Ove Knausgård, Leela Corman, Mano Bouzamour, Manon Uphoff, Mohammed Benzakour, Nelleke Noordervliet, Pauni Trio, Petra Stienen, Razan al-Maghrabi, Ton van de Langkruis

    A special opening night featuring a keynote speech by Karl Ove Knausgård, the Oxfam Novib PEN Awards for Freedom of Expression, a debate moderated by Petra Stienen, and concluding words by David Van Reybrouck.

    Freedom of speech and the power of the word are central issues on the festival's opening night. The president of PEN International, John Ralston Saul, will introduce the Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård, who delivers the keynote Free Word Speech. Farah Karimi, director of Oxfam Novib will announce the laureates of the prestigious Oxfam Novib PEN Awards for Freedom of Expression. The awards honour writers who seek out and propagate the truth, sometimes at the risk of their own lives. Razan al-Maghrabi was one of the laureates, who could be present at the festival to receive the award. After an interview with Manon Uphoff (president of PEN Nederland), there will be adebate, moderated by Petra Stienen, on religious extremism and the value of provocation. Panellists include writers Mohammed Benzakour, Mano Bouzamour, cartoonist Leela Corman and Dinar Rahayu (Indonesia). David Van Reybrouck rounds out the evening with one his poems. After the programme, Writers Unlimited chair Nelleke Noordervliet and Alderman for culture of The Hague Joris Wijsmuller adress founder and festivaldirector Ton van de Langkruis on the occasion of the 20th edition of the festival. This event was put together with the collaboration of PEN International, PEN Nederland and Oxfam Novib.

  • Winternachten 2014

    Wim Brands Reading Club: De Ontheemden (Les Desorientés) by Amin Maalouf

    With: Fouad Laroui, Petra Stienen, Wim Brands

    Wim Brands, maker and host of the VPRO-programme Brands met Boeken (Brands with Books) on radio and television discusses the Dutch translation of Amin Maalouf's latest novel with the audience. Two writers, Arabist Petra Stienen and Fouad Laroui, lecturer in Arabic culture and French literature at the University of Amsterdam, first give their opinion about the book. Read this beautiful novel and join the Reading Club.

    The main character in the novel De ontheemden (The Disoriented) is Adam, a historian. He lives in exile in Paris, far away from Lebanon, the country he had to flee twenty-five years earlier. But one telephone call is enough to make him return at once. An old friend is dying and wants to see Adam one more time. In Lebanon Adam rediscovers the people and the places he used to love so much. His friends have all made different choices; some of them have blood on their hands. But who is Adam to judge them? Wasn't his exile a luxury, which made him distance himself from the difficulties his friends had to struggle with? '

    In an excellent way Amin Maalouf gives an insight into the thoughts and feelings that can lead to emigration. […] A splendid, impressive novel.' Le Monde des Livres

    'Maalouf writes exciting novels of an exceptionally high level.' NRC Handelsblad

    On Sunday morning 12 January the literary programme Brands met Boeken on the tv channel Nederland 1 was be dedicated to Amin Maalouf. You can watch the English spoken interview here.

  • Winternachten 2014

    Amin Maalouf interviewed by Petra Stienen

    With: Amin Maalouf, Petra Stienen

    Arabist and writer Petra Stienen talks to the festival's guest of honour, the Lebanese/French author Amin Maalouf.

    Multiculturality in the Dutch debate has almost become anathema, but for Amin Maalouf it is a human right: 'We live in a world in which we force people to choose where they belong. We need a new attitude with regard to identity, it must be made legitimate to have more than one identity.'

    In his latest novel Les Desorientés (The Disoriented) he describes the feelings and thoughts leading to migration: 'Maybe my life doesn't amount to anything, just like the lives of the people I have known, compared to that of a famous conqueror. But it is my life, and if I believe it only deserves to be forgotten, then I haven't deserved to live.'

    In English.

    Watch an English spoken interview by Wim Brands on Sunday 12 January on Dutch televisionk here.

    Thirty minutes after this programme, at 4 p.m. feel free to join the Wim Brands Reading club, in which the Dutch translation of Maalouf's novel will be will be discussed with the audience, and with writer Fouad Laroui and Arabist Petra Stienen. That programma is in Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2014

    Opening Night: Free the Word!

    With: Farah Karimi, Frank Westerman, Ian Buruma, Laura McVeigh, Manon Uphoff, Marente de Moor, Marjolein de Jong, Oksana Chelysheva, Petra Stienen, Trio Mäshräp

    On the opening night of the festival the freedom of speech and the power of the word are highlighted. The opening speech will be held by Dutch writer and journalist Ian Buruma. With the award ceremony of the prestigious Oxfam Novib/PEN Awards for Freedom of Expression PEN and Oxfam Novib honour international writers, journalists and film makers who, sometimes risking their own lives, seek the truth and make it known. The three winners are announced in January and one of them will take delivery of the prize.

    The award winning ceremony is followed by a debate on social media in the struggle against repression, with among others Dutch writers Marente de Moor and Frank Westerman. Social media form an increasingly influential stage for the cultivation of the free word. Through their own sites, facebook pages and blogs writers, journalists and other citizens can give their opinions outside official channels, expose evils and fight forms of repression and corruption. How can we, as citizens of a growing 'Global Community' guarantee this freedom of expression? How can we prevent governments from curbing that freedom? Meanwhile in many places worldwide internet papers are controlles and bloggers prosecuted and detained.

    The Alderman for Culture of the Municipality of The Hague Marjolein de Jong welcomes the audience. Arabist Petra Stienen presents the evening and leads the discussion. With music by the Uighur Trio Mäshräp.

    The programme is in English, and organised in cooperation with PEN International, PEN Nederland and Oxfam Novib.

  • Winternachten 2014 – FRIDAY NIGHT UNLIMITED

    Let's talk about Sex

    Two writers with diverse cultural backgrounds talk about the role of sex and violence in their literary work. The Indonesian writer Linda Christanty highlights religious, political and gender themes. In his novels Gary Barker - who calls himself a 'masculine feminist' - describes love in times of violence and war, situated in Latin America and Congo. In English.

    Gary Barker replaces the Chinese Geling Yan, who for health reasons will not perfom today. She will be peforming on Saturday night.

  • Writers Series

    Syrian poet Adonis in Writers Unlimited the Series

    With: Adonis, Hassnae Bouazza, Petra Stienen

    Poetry International and Writers Unlimited presented an evening with the famous Syrian poet Adonis on Sunday 16 June in the Central Library in The Hague. He was interviewed by Arabists and journalists Petra Stienen and Hassnae Bouazza. The interview and readings were in Arabic, with Dutch translations. YOu can watch the videoregistration here.

  • Winternachten 2013

    Winternachten Lecture by Hanan Al-Shaykh

    With: Hanaan as-Sjaikh, Jet Bussemaker, Mohammed Hanif, Ngwatilo Mawiyoo, Peter Buwalda, Petra Stienen

    Shame in the Arab world. Shame as part of culture and literature. On this subject Lebanese writer Hanan al-Shaykh wrote an opening lecture on the invitation of the festival. Hanan al-Shaykh is regarded one of the most important Arabic woman writers. After her lectuer Ms al-Shaykh will be interviewed by Arabist Petra Stienen, and will discuss the lecture with the Dutch writer Peter Buwalda (Bonita Avenue) and the Pakistani author Mohamed Hanif. But first there is the offical opening of the festival by the Dutch minister for Education, Culture and Science, mrs Jet Bussemaker.

    'Our lives were always permeated by shame, without it ever being discussed. Shame was part and parcel of our lives like the colour of our eyes or hair, whether that shame stemmed from our personal lives or the fact that we Arabs had made such a deep fall from historic glory to domination.' In Kamila, the Story of My Mother Hanan al-Shaykh writes about her mother's courage in the face of religious pressures, the family and tradition. Her mother chose for herself and left her husband and children in order to go and live with the love of her life. To her amazement she was swamped with criticism owing to the candidness with which she had written on her grandparents' poverty and illiteracy.

    Kenyan poet and singer Ngwatilo Mawiyoo provides the musical opening, accompanied by musicians Serigne Gueye and Mark Tuinstra. In English.

  • Winternachten 2013

    Oxfam Novib PEN Awards

    With: Joris van Casteren, Manon Uphoff, Michel Maas, Petra Stienen, Remco Breuker, Samar Yazbek, Sheila Sitalsing

    With the PEN Awards Oxfam Novib and Dutch PEN honour writers, journalists and filmmakers who, against the current, and at the risk of their own lives, search for the truth and spread it. Writer an secretary of PEN Netherlands Manon Uphoff will present the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award in Theater aan het Spui, as part of the Writers Unlimited Winternachten festival The Hague. The Syrian writer Samar Yazbek witnessed the brutal violence against demonstrating citizens in her country. She published about it, was severely threatened and consequently had to leave the country.

    The other prize winners this year are Enoh Meyomesse (Cameroun), Nargess Mohammadi (Iran), Déo Namujimbo (Congo) and Büþra Ersanlý (Turkey). Samar Yazbek is the only winner present during the ceremony.

    The prize-winning ceremony is followed by a debate organised by Dutch PEN about censorship, self-censorship and the ethics of writers, journalists and bloggers, chaired by Volkskrant columnist Sheila Sitalsing. Arabist Petra Stienen, Remco Breuker (a professor and an expert on East Asia), Michel Maas (a correspondent in Indonesia) and writer Joris van Casteren. Prizewinning ceremony is in English, the debate in Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2013 – Winternacht 1 - schrijvers, muziek en film op vijf podia

    Hassnae Bouazza's film choice: Watching Arabs

    Writer and journalist Hassnae Bouazza likes to drop a bombshell to wake people up. In her articles she chides Dutch people stigmatising Muslims, as well as Muslims doing nothing to put the Dutch in place. We look at her choice of film fragments in connection woth the publication of her latest book Watching Arabs, the Undistinguished Revolution. Arabist Petra Stienen interviews her. In Dutch.

  • Winternachten 2013 – Winternacht 1 - schrijvers, muziek en film op vijf podia

    Arab Demons

    January 2011 proved a turning point in the Arab region: people raised their voices and succeeded in chasing away some of their dictators. But what about the demons? Is the real struggle yet ahead? Petra Stienen discusses the current state of the Arab world with writers and bloggers from the region. In English

  • Winternachten 2012 – Winternacht 1

    Wet Dreams on a Winter's Night

    Four liberated writers about the joys of shamelessness. Petra Stienen hosts a discussion on writing about sex, the narrow-minded reactions of (some) men and their 'je m'en fou' attitude vis-a-vis conservative readers. A conversation without embarrassment, without borders, without rules: four women talking about the joys of shamelessness, sprinkled with spicy anecdotes and fine fragments. In English.