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Spring 2017 Events


Center for Middle East Studies

End of Year Celebration & Recognition Party

Monday, June 5 / 12:00-2:00pm
Student Resources Building, Multi-Purpose Room

Join the Center for Middle East Studies for its annual end of the year celebration!

d Free food and drink!

Middle Eastern Music!

Come give a big cheer to graduating seniors and other accomplished students and faculty, and bid bon voyage to travelers!





Andrew March (Yale University)

"The People is the Source of all Power”: Ambiguities in Modern Islamic Political Theory

Monday, June 5th, 5:00pm, HSSB 4080

It is a standard trope of contemporary Islamic political theory that “the people is the source of all political authority” (al-shaʿb masdar al-sulutāt). This has become such a commonplace in modern Islamist discourse than even Salafi parties that contest elections include this in their manifestos. The ubiquity of the professed commitment to the people being the source of all political authority in modern (Sunni) Islamic political thought thus seems to indicate a potentially profound commitment to democratic self-rule, certainly more profound than more traditional ideas that governance in Islam must incorporate some kind of consultation (shūrā) between the ruler and representatives of the people. However, how deep can any Islamic commitment to fully autonomous popular legislation be? Is a people permitted to authorize any forms of government whatsoever, or are there divinely revealed constraints on both the kinds of law that can be authorized and the kinds of offices or institutions that a people may authorize? If Islam retains its close association with a pre-political, revealed, and commanded law (even if that law is open-ended and subject to interpretation and extension), it seems difficult to imagine how any Muslim community is radically free to create its own legal and political institutions.

ANDREW MARCH is Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University. During the 2017-8 academic year he will be a Berggruen Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and a Law and Social Change Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Islamic Legal Studies Program. He is the author of Islam and Liberal Citizenship (Oxford University Press, 2009) and articles on religion, liberalism and Islamic law in, amongst others, American Political Science Review, Philosophy & Public Affairs, Journal of Political Philosophy, Cardozo Law Review, and Islamic Law and Society. He is presently working on a book on the problem of sovereignty in modern Islamic thought, tentatively entitled The Caliphate of Man.




The UCSB Middle East Ensemble
Sat., June 3rd, 7:30 pm 
Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall, UCSB
Tickets: AS Ticket Office (805-893-2064), www.music.ucsb.edu, & at the door
Adult: $15; Non-UCSB Students: $10; UCSB students: $5

Please join the UCSB Middle East Ensemble, as we present our formal Spring concert on Saturday, June 3rd, 2017, in UCSB’s Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall.  The concert will begin at 7:30 pm.

We are excited to present a great variety of music and dance from throughout the Middle East.  UCSB Persian music lecturer, Bahram Osqueezadeh, will perform a solo on the santur (the Persian hammered dulcimer).  Nick Ragheb and Nader Mansi, Cantor at Coptic churches in Simi Valley and Oxnard, will lead the Ensemble in a Coptic hymn for Palm Sunday.  Sarah Salim will perform a song by the Egyptian superstar singer Umm Kulthum (d. 1975).  Maz Kavandish will lead the ensemble in two Persian songs;  Andrea Fishman will perform a Sephardic song from Morocco; and Sam Khattar will perform a song by the Egyptian singer/composer Sayyid Darwish (d.1923) popularized by Syrian singer Sabah Fakhri (b.1933).  

As always, the Ensemble's Dance Company will perform a wonderful variety of dances, from Egyptian, Greek, and Turkish cultures and an Arab-Latin fusion dance, with choreographies by Cris! BasimahJatila Van der Veen, and Alexandra King.  In a special highlight, Ellen Chang, a long-time member of the Ensemble’s Dance Company, will perform an extended dance solo.  We are also excited to once again present a dance by the UCSB Armenian Student Association’s Yeraz Dance Team.




R. Stephen Humphreys Distinguished Visiting Scholar

Everett K. Rowson
Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
New York University


Monday, May 15, 2017, 6:00pm
HSSB 4080

It’s Complicated: Sexuality in Premodern Islamic Societies

Views of sexuality in modern and contemporary Islamic societies are in general completely at variance with those held in premodern Islamic societies, largely due to the impact of Western colonialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  This talk will attempt to sketch out some of the complexities of premodern attitudes, noting that our available Arabic textual sources are anything but reticent about questions of gender and sexuality, aspiring to a full and frank taxonomy of variations in both realms, but also exhibiting a range of attitudes that can by no means be reduced to a simple exposition of what “Islam” says about sex.

Everett K. Rowson is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at New York University.  He earned a B.A. in Classics from Princeton and a Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Yale.  Before coming to NYU he held positions at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania.  His initial specialization was in Islamic philosophy and his first book was on a tenth-century work on the immortality of the soul.  He has subsequently translated historical chronicles, explored aspects of medieval Arabic prose literature, and published a series of articles on gender and sexuality in premodern Islamic societies.

Sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies, R. Stephen Humphreys Distinguished Lecture Series




National Geographic Live

aLynsey Addario
A Photographer’s Life of Love and War

3:00 PM


$25 : General Public
$15 : UCSB Students 
(Current student ID required)
$15 : All Students 
(Student ID required for high school age and up)

MacArthur fellow Lynsey Addario is an intrepid and courageous photojournalist who documents humanitarian crises for National GeographicTime magazine and The New York Times. Her recent work includes reportage on the plight of Syrian refugees, the ISIS push into Iraq and maternal mortality in Sierra Leone. Listed among Newsweek’s 150 Fearless Women, Addario has been kidnapped twice – in Iraq in 2004 and Libya in 2011. She relates these and other experiences from her heroic work in her memoir, It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War, currently being adapted into a Steven Spielberg film starring Jennifer Lawrence. (Mature content)

Books will be available for purchase and signing



The large-scale picture-poems (mudabbajāt) that the exiled Spanish poet, mystic and physician al-Jilyānī dedicated to Saladin and other Ayyubid princes are remarkable productions both visually and verbally. Al-Jilyānī demonstrated how he made them to the bio-bibliographer Yāqūt, and they have survived in several manuscripts, been described in some detail by nineteenth and twentieth-century cataloguers, and, in 2010, were published in part-facsimile by Kamal Abu Deeb. They remain a well-kept secret, however, and are not mentioned in any history of Arabic literature, even though al-Jilyānī’s “straight” poetry is often quoted by medieval and modern Arab scholars of the Crusades. The picture-poems raise numerous questions, among others: What were they for? What was their original format? What inspired them? Did they influence later poets? This lecture offers an overview of ongoing research and of what has come to light since I began to work on the picture-poems in 2013.

brJulia Bray studied Arabic at Oxford, wrote her DPhil on the tenth-century AD Arabic poetic critic al-Āmidī, edited the records of the British Political Agency in Kuwait as an archivist at the India Office Library & Records, London, published Media Arabic with Edinburgh University Press in 1993, has taught Arabic and classical Arabic Literature at the universities of Manchester, Edinburgh, and St Andrews in the UK and Paris 8-Vincennes—Saint-Denis in France, and since 2012 has been A.S.Al-Babtain-Laudian Professor of Arabic at the Oriental Institute, Oxford, and a fellow of St John’s College, Oxford. She is a member of the editorial board of the Library of Arabic Literature (NYU Press) and series co-editor, with Wen-chin Ouyang, of Edinburgh Studies in Classical Arabic Literature (EUP). She has published on medieval Arabic biography, story-telling, and poetry, and on the family and the relative positions of men, women and slaves as seen through a literary lens, as well as on the social functions of pre-modern Arabic literature, and the literary reception of medicine. Current research interests include the picture-poems of al-Jilyānī and the history of emotions in pre-modern Arabic culture. She is working on a complete edition and translation of the tenth-century story collection Deliverance follows Adversity of al-Tanūkhī for the Library of Arabic Literature.



For more information please visit: http://www.cmes.ucsb.edu/medievalbestsellers.html



Thinking Palestine Panel, Poster Exhibit, Reception
Felice Blake, Richard Falk, Lisa Hajjar, Sherene Seikaly, Jennifer Tyburczy

Please join us on April 28 from 4-6:30 pm for a panel, poster exhibit, and reception for the event “Thinking Palestine: 1967 and Beyond.” The event will be at Wireframe Studio (Music Library, Music Building 1st floor, Parking Lot 3). June 2017 will mark fifty years of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. The anniversary makes all too evident what activists and scholars have long noted: the Israeli military occupation is not temporary. It is a defining structure of the Israeli and Palestinian political landscape.

Along with UCLA and UCB, UCSB is hosting a day of commemoration that will include a pane, a poster exhibit, and a reception. The panel seeks to build on decades of critical thinking and political organizing around Palestine and justice more broadly. It will engage how legality, legitimacy, and history have intersected over the last half a century.

Panelists: Felice Blake, Richard Falk, Lisa Hajjar, Sherene Seikaly
Discussant: Jennifer Tyburczy


lLaila Lalami
Muslims in America: A Secret History

7:30 PM



FREE event; no advance tickets required

Among today’s most influential and articulate voices, author and essayist Laila Lalami delivers salient explorations of timely issues such as injustice and Islamophobia. Born in Morocco and educated in England and the U.S., Lalami is celebrated for her deft interplay between the local and the global, the personal and the collective and the contemporary and the historical. Her most recent novel, The Moor’s Account, received the American Book Award and was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and her cultural commentary regularly appears in publications including the Los Angeles TimesThe Nation and The New York Times.

Books will be available for purchase and signing



This talk locates marriage as a key historical arena where politics and economics intersect. It examines how men and women imagine their nation through marriage and understand their rights and duties in 20th-century and early 21st-century Egypt. It demonstrates how marriage is a lens that reflects and critiques larger socioeconomic and political issues. By focusing on both elite and non-elite men and women, juxtaposing press accounts with court practices, and combining diverse disciplinary approaches, it argues that marriage can be used as a category of analysis for understanding the history of nationalism and revolutions in modern Egypt, rather than just its legal, political, or women’s history. The talk highlights how my empirical and theoretical findings make key analytical, methodological, empirical, and theoretical interventions to various disciplines within and beyond history and Middle East studies. It demonstrates that marriage can be used as a comparative category of analysis to examine not just modern Egypt, but other societies from late nineteenth-century Brazil to mid-twentieth-century Zanzibar to contemporary Japan, to reveal how various peoples during different eras deploy the institution of marriage to talk not only about intimate relationships, but also to understand the nation, its problems, and various socioeconomic and political transformations. As a result, the study of marriage contributes to the recent trend in history and other disciplines to take a transnational approach in analyzing events, discourses, and processes that cannot afford to be considered in isolation from the larger world. The talk concludes with an analysis of Egypt’s most recent marriage crisis on the eve of the 2011 Egyptian ‘revolution’ and how it can help us interpret recent socioeconomic and political events in Egypt.

Hanan Kholoussy is Associate Professor of History at The American University in Cairo. She earned a joint Ph.D. with distinction in history and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies from New York University, and a joint B.S./M.A. with honors in foreign service and Arab studies from Georgetown University. She has published several articles on marriage, gender, Islamic law, and Egyptian history and has been a frequent commentator in the Egyptian and international media about Egypt's contemporary marriage crisis. Her book, For Better, For Worse: The Marriage Crisis That Made Modern Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2010; AUC Press, 2010), explores how the marriage crisis became the lens through which Egyptians critiqued larger socioeconomic and political concerns in early twentieth-century Egypt and imagined a postcolonial nation free of British rule. She most recently co-edited with Kristen Celello Domestic Tensions, National Anxieties: Global Perspectives on Marriage, Crisis, and Nation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), an interdisciplinary collection of articles by scholars examining how diverse individuals have deployed the institution of marriage to talk not only about intimate relationships, but also to understand the nation, its problems, and various socioeconomic and political transformations in twelve different nations.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Middle East, the King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud Chair in Islamic Studies, the Iranian Studies Institute, and the Department of History at UCSB


The 2017 Hamdani World Harmony Lecture

kTawakkol Karman
An Evening with the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

7:30 PM


FREE event; no advance tickets required


2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman is the first Yemeni, the first Arab woman and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Prize. A human rights activist, journalist and politician, she was dubbed the “Mother of the Revolution” for her key role in the Arab Spring, during which she was imprisoned numerous times. She is also the co-founder of Women Journalists Without Chains, an NGO that works toward freedom of expression and democratic rights for women around the world. An advocate for education, social equality and responsible investment as means to counteract poverty and oppression, Karman offers hopeful solutions to uphold the democratic spirit across the globe.

Co-Sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies


*Books available for cash purchase and signing

From 1975 to 1990, Lebanon experienced a long war involving various national and international actors. The peace agreement that followed and officially propelled the country into a "postwar" era did not address many of the root causes of war, nor did it hold main actors accountable. Instead, a politics of "no victor, no vanquished" was promoted, in which the political elite agreed simply to consign the war to the past. However, since then, Lebanon has found itself still entangled in various forms of political violence, from car bombings and assassinations to additional outbreaks of armed combat.

In War Is Coming, Sami Hermez argues that the country's political leaders have enabled the continuation of violence and examines how people live between these periods of conflict. What do everyday conversations, practices, and experiences look like during these moments? How do people attempt to find a measure of certainty or stability in such times? Hermez's ethnographic study of everyday life in Lebanon between the volatile years of 2006 and 2009 tackles these questions and reveals how people engage in practices of recollecting past war while anticipating future turmoil. Hermez demonstrates just how social interactions and political relationships with the state unfold and critically engages our understanding of memory and violence, seeing in people's recollections living and spontaneous memories that refuse to forget the past. With an attention to the details of everyday life, War Is Coming shows how even a conversation over lunch, or among friends, may turn into a discussion about both past and future unrest.

Shedding light on the impact of protracted conflict on people's everyday experiences and the way people anticipate political violence, Hermez highlights an urgency for alternative paths to sustaining political and social life in Lebanon.

Sami Hermez, PhD, is assistant professor in residence of anthropology at Northwestern University in Qatar.  He obtained his doctorate degree from the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University.  His recently published book with Penn Press, War is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon (2017), focuses on the everyday life of political violence in Lebanon and how people recollect and anticipate this violence.  His broader research concerns include the study of social movements, the state, memory, security, and human rights in the Arab World.   He has held posts as Visiting Scholar in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, Visiting Professor of Contemporary International Issues at the University of Pittsburgh, Visiting Professor of Anthropology at Mt. Holyoke College, and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Lebanese Studies, St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. At Northwestern in Qatar he teaches classes in anthropology that include topics such as violence, gender, and anthropology in the Middle East.


Winter 2017 Events



Area studies is often simplistically depicted as little more than a Cold War form of knowledge, but its emergence as a component of the postwar American academic scene was in fact propelled and shaped by visions, exigencies and contingencies that were not initially or exclusively about the needs of the national security state. Zachary Lockman’s 2016 book Field Notes: The Making of Middle East Studies in the United States draws on extensive archival research to offer a different perspective on the origins and trajectory of area studies in the United States and to explore how the field of Middle East studies in the United States was actually built. The book’s focus is not on intellectual paradigms or scholarly output but rather on funding decisions and their rationales, efforts to elaborate a distinctive theory and method for area studies, the anxieties these efforts generated for Middle East studies, and the unanticipated consequences of building these new academic fields.

Zachary Lockman has taught modern Middle Eastern history at New York University since 1995. His most recent book is Field Notes: The Making of Middle East Studies in the United States (2016). His other books include Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism (2004/2010); Comrades and Enemies: Arab and Jewish Workers in Palestine, 1906-1948 (1996); and (with Joel Beinin) Workers on the Nile: Nationalism, Communism, Islam, and the Egyptian Working Class, 1882-1954 (1987). He is a former president of the Middle East Studies Association, chairs the wing of MESA’s Committee on Academic Freedom that deals with North America, and is a contributing editor of Middle East Report.


The UCSB Middle East Ensemble Winter Concert


Sat., March 11th, 7:30 pm
Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall, UCSB
Tickets: AS Ticket Office (805-893-2064), www.music.ucsb.edu, & at the door
Adult: $15; Non-UCSB Students: $10; UCSB students: $5

Please join the UCSB Middle East Ensemble, as we present our formal Winter concert on Saturday, March 11th, 2017, in UCSB’s Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall.  The concert will begin at 7:30 pm.

We are excited to present a great variety of music and dance from throughout the Middle East. UCSB Persian music lecturer, Bahram Osqueezadeh, will lead the Ensemble in a Kurdish song and a Persian instrumental composition and Temmo Korisheli will perform two classic Arab songs including in-Nahr al-Khalid by Muhammad ‘Abd al-Wahhab.

We are also excited to present an extended set of Sabah Fakhri songs from Aleppo, Syria; two songs by the Lebanese superstar, Fairuz, featuring vocalist Gabriela Quintana-García; and two songs by the beloved Greek singer Roza Eskenazy, featuring vocalist Melanie Hutton.  We will also feature three instrumental soloists: Gus Novak on drum, Brandon Langford on nay (flute), and Ben Seilhamer on oud (lute).

As always, the Ensemble's Dance Company will perform a wonderful variety of dances, includingdances from Kuwaiti/Gulf, Lebanese, Persian, and Turkish cultures, with choreographies by Cris! BasimahLaurel Victoria Gray, and Alexandra King.

Scott Marcus, Founder & Director
Sue Rudnicki, Director of the Ensemble’s percussion section
Cris! Basimah, Director of the Ensemble’s Dance Company
and Special Guests
Bahram Osqueezadeh (Director of a Persian/Kurdish set)
Temmo Korisheli, solo vocalist


The Price of Salvation:
The Medieval Islamic Economy as Contested Terrain

Michael Bonner
(University of Michigan)


Tuesday, February 21 / 4:00 pm / HSSB 4020

The unitary Caliphate of the fi rst two or three centuries of Islam is often portrayed as a golden age, including in the economic domain, where its achievements were indeed considerable. At the same time, we can detect plenty of disagreement and confl ict in this area. In modern scholarship we have the convergence of several debates over the emergence of Islamic law, the character of early Arabic historiography, and other things. Meanwhile,
a fresh look at the events and developments of that time (so far as possible) also reveals confl ict and contestation, for instance, between eastern and western Arabia at the time of the rise of Islam, and between patrimonial elites and their adversaries in the early Caliphate.

mMichael Bonner is Professor of Medieval Islamic History in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan. He received his PhD in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University in 1987. His publications include Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practices (Princeton University Press, 2006, 2007), and Poverty and Charity in Middle Eastern Contexts, co-edited with Amy Singer and Mine Ener (SUNY Press, 2003). He has recently completed a translation of Image of the Earth by the tenth-century Arabic geographical writer Ibn Hawqal. He has been a Helmut S. Stern Fellow at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities, and Professeur Invité at the Institut d’Etudes de l’Islam et des Sociétés du Monde Musulman, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, as well as Chaire de l’Institut du Monde Arabe, also in Paris. He was Director of the University of Michigan Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies in 1997-2000 and 2001-2003, and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Studies in 2007-08 and 2010-14.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies and the King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud Chair in Islamic Studies


The Reception of Aristotelian Science in Early Islam:
A Historical Account

Dimitri Gutas
(Yale University)


Monday, February 13th
5:00 pm
HSSB 6020 (McCune)

Hellenic science in late antiquity in its historical, social, and political context. The consolidation of the Aristotelian/(Neo-)Platonic curriculum of higher studies, expressing the scientific outlook on reality of Hellenism in its defense against Christianity. The beginning of translations of parts of the curriculum into Syriac and Middle Persian, culminating with its wholesale translation into Arabic after the appearance of Islam. The social and historical context of the reception of the Aristotelian treatises into Arabic and their role in the formation of classical Islamic civilization, successor to the Hellenic.

Dimitri Gutas, Professor of Arabic and Graeco-Arabic in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale University, has devoted a large part of his scholarly career to the edition and study of Greek philosophical texts translated into Arabic and their influence in the Islamic world. In this field he has published Greek Wisdom Literature in Arabic Translation: A Study of the Graeco-Arabic Gnomologia (New Haven 1975), Greek Philosophers in the Arabic Tradition (Aldershot, Hampshire 2000), and has been involved from the beginning as co-editor in Project Theophrastus. He has also been involved in the longstanding project to compile A Greek and Arabic Lexicon. Dr. Gutas is also the author of Greek Thought, Arabic Culture (winner of the 2002 Special Honorary Award for the Study of Civilization, awarded by the Greek Society of Letters), Introduction to Reading Avicenna’s Philosophical Works (Leiden 1988; second, revised and augmented edition, including an inventory of Avicenna’s authentic works, Leiden 2013), and numerous articles.

Image: MS Istanbul, Topkapi Palace Library, Ahmet III 3206, f. 90r., copied and illuminated in mid-13th century. Al-Mubashshir ibn-Fatik, Choice Maxims and Best Sayings (Mukhtar al-hikam wa-mahasin al-kalim), composed in 1048-49.
F. 90r includes the last section on Aristotle’s life and depicts him holding an astrolabe while delivering a lecture to students, one of whom has an open book in front of him written in uncial (capital) Greek letters.

Presented by the Center for Middle East Studies, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, and the Departments of History, Medieval Studies, Philosophy, and Religious Studies at UCSB


Scholars at Risk:
Global Challenges to Academic Freedom


Thursday, February 9, 2017, 3:30-5pm, at Mosher Alumni House

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of institutions and individuals whose mission is to protect scholars and promote academic freedom. UCSB recently became a member of the SAR network. The UCSB panel is entitled "Global Challenges to Academic Freedom.” Pardis Mahdavi (Pomona College) will give information on the SAR network and academic freedom in the Middle East region and Can Aciksoz and Zeynep Korkman will speak on challenges to academic freedom in Turkey. The panel will also be joined by Alison Brysk (UCSB) to discuss academic responses.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies and the UCSB Faculty Association



Imperfect Strangers: Americans, Arabs, and U.S.-Middle East Relations in the 1970s

Salim Yaqub (UCSB, History)


Wednesday, January 25th, 5:00 pm, HSSB 6020 (McCune)

Salim Yaqub argues that the 1970s were a pivotal decade in U.S.-Arab relations—a time when Americans and Arabs became an inescapable presence in each other’s lives and perceptions, and when each society came to feel profoundly vulnerable to the political, economic, cultural, and even physical encroachments of the other. Throughout the seventies, these impressions aroused striking antagonism between the United States and the Arab world. Over the same period, however, elements of the U.S. intelligentsia grew more respectful of Arab perspectives, and a newly assertive Arab American community emerged into political life. These patterns left a contradictory legacy of estrangement and accommodation that continued in later decades and remains with us today.

*Books will be available for purchase and signing.

ySalim Yaqub is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Director of UCSB’s Center for Cold War Studies and International History. He is the author of Containing Arab Nationalism: The Eisenhower Doctrine and the Middle East (University of North Carolina, 2004) and of several articles and book chapters on the history of U.S. foreign relations, the international politics of the Middle East, and Arab American political activism. His second book, Imperfect Strangers: Americans, Arabs, and U.S.-Middle East Relations in the 1970s, was published by Cornell University Press in September 2016.

Sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies



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