August 3, 2021

Habibi Futurism at Room Project @ Hyperallergic

DETROIT — One of the first points of discussion at the “HBB from the future” workshop, conducted by Armenian-American weaver Levon Kafafian and Lebanese-American poet and educator Kaymelya Omayma Youssef at Room Project, was the definition of the word “habibi”( حبيبي), often abbreviated as HBB. Translated literally from Arabic, it means “my beloved one,” but like many words or phrases that intimate cultural connection, it can be pretty nuanced. Certain analogies collectively brainstormed by a group of SWANA (South West Asian and North African) andnon-SWANA attendees across a range of ages and gender identities included, sis or fam; bitch; azizam or kuzum; or even the way a diner waitress of a certain age calls everyone “hon.” Habibi is a term of relationality, instant intimacy, a sense of being perceived — but it can also be accusatory, cautionary. A term of endearment with someone you don’t know.

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