Talk to Explore Political Unrest in Egypt

Heather Keaney and Jim Wright

Heather Keaney and Jim Wright

Heather Keaney, Westmont assistant professor of history, and Jim Wright, codirector of Westmont in Istanbul, talk about the currents that came together in the Arab spring in a lecture, “The Arab Spring: Where Are the Swallows?” on Thursday, Oct. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at University Club, 1332 Santa Barbara St. The lecture is free although seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, please call (805) 565-6051.

“In England, a swallow is the first sign of summer,” Wright says. “Hence we will discuss when will the Arab spring, representing potentiality, turn to summer, representing actuality, for the people of this region.”

The speakers, who are married, were living in Egypt during the Egyptian Revolution and were based there during the past decade. The talk will focus on Egypt as an exemplar of the Arab Spring. The presentations will combine big-picture historical analysis with more personal, anecdotal insights.

Keaney, a Westmont alumna, earned a master’s degree and doctorate in Middle East history at UC Santa Barbara. Keaney has spent the past 11 years living and teaching in Cairo at the American University in Cairo and at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities’ (CCCU’s) Middle East Studies Program (MESP).

Wright, who was born in Devon, England, has lived in Egypt for the past 17 years. He graduated with a law degree from Cambridge University and has worked for a multi-national corporate law firm in London and Dubai. He studied cross-cultural and Biblical theology in the U.K. before arriving in Egypt, where he has studied Arabic and worked as a corporate lawyer.

While the issues of what comes next are inevitably speculative, the couple will try to extrapolate from the multiple and often contradictory forces at play to suggest some possible outcomes. “By the end of the evening I would like the audience to see that the situation is a little more complex, subtle and interesting than they thought at the beginning,” Wright says.

The lecture is part of Westmont Downtown: Conversations about Things that Matter, which is sponsored by the Westmont Foundation.


  1. Marla Kranick Palmer says

    Wish I could be there to participate!