Salwā Salāma Aṭlas

Title

Salwā Salāma Aṭlas

Subject

Arabs--Brazil
Books

Description

Salwā Salāma was born in Homs, Syria in 1883As a young girl, her avid interest in reading and writing was encouraged by her brothers, Ḥabīb and Qablān, who became her first teachers. Eventually, Salwā’s family sent her to a school for girls in Homs where she excelled in her studies and went on to become a teacher in Homs and later Zahle, in the region of Mount Lebanon. During this period, Salwā’s writing is first reported to have been published in the burgeoning Arab press in the Levant.

Salwā’s literary pursuits distinguished her within her community and more widely. In fact, her reputation as a writer and intellectual led to her engagement and marriage to Jūrj Aṭlas, a polyglot writer, poet, and preacher educated in American Protestant schools on several continents.[1] Shortly after the death of his first wife, Jūrj made a trip to his birthplace of Homs specifically to meet Salwā Salāma, and they were married there in 1913. Their extended honeymoon took them to the main capitals of Syria, Lebanon, Europe, Egypt, and Brazil. However, the outbreak of World War I forced them to stay in Brazil where they became active participants in the cultural and intellectual life of this vibrant outpost of Syrian life in the mahjar, or diaspora.

Shortly after their arrival in Brazil, in 1914, Salwā and her husband founded the magazine al-Karma (A Vinha, The Vineyard). Subtitled “majalla ‘āmma takhdim al-mar’ā wa-‘l-rajul” (“a general magazine serving women and men”), al-Karma would later become the “official organ” of the prominent Syrian social club, al-Nādī al-Homsi, founded by Jūrj Aṭlas and several others in 1920.[2] It was within the walls of this club that the Syrian community in Brazil convened, including the many writers who would later go on to establish prominent literary societies, including al-‘Uṣba al-Andalusiyya (The Andalusian League)Salwā continued to edit al-Karma following her husband’s death, apparently, in collaboration with his son Julio.[3]

In addition to being the owner (ṣāḥiba) of al-Karma, Salwā published a collection of short stories, entitled, Amāma al-mawqid (In Front of the Fireplace) (São Paulo, 1948), a collection of her speeches, entitled Jarrat al-mann (A Jar of Manna) (São Paulo, c. 1930), and Ḥadīqat khuṭab (Garden of Speeches) (São Paulo, 1928). Following her husband’s death, Salwā arranged for a collection of his speeches and writings to be published in a 1928 collection she called al-Kalimāt al-Khālida (Sincere Words), with an introduction by prominent Syrian writer Da‘ūd Shakūr.

Salwā was a prominent figure in the Syrian community in Brazil. She opened a school in São Paulo in 1914 and later became headmistress at the Syrian orphanage in that city, Dār al-Aytam al-Suriyya.[4] At the Silver Jubilee for al-Karma, she was recognized as a feminist and a Syrian nationalist and was honored for her many contributions to Syrian life in Brazil. Salwā is an exemplar not only of the intellectual influence of Syrian immigrants on Brazilian society during the early 20th century, but also of the active and prominent roles played by Syrian women in social and cultural lives of their communities.


[1] Jūrj Aṭlas’ father Mikhā’īl Sam‘ān Aṭlas helped Aḥmad al-Shidyāq translate the Bible into Arabic in the 1950s. For more, see Stacy Fahrenthold, “Sound Minds in Sound Bodies: Transnational Philanthropy and Patriotic Masculinity in al-Nadi al-Homsi and Syrian Brazil, 1920-32.” International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 46 (2014), 264.

[2] Fahrenthold, “Sound Minds in Sound Bodies: Transnational Philanthropy and Patriotic Masculinity in al-Nadi al-Homsi and Syrian Brazil, 1920-32,” 278.

[3] Fahrenthold, “Sound Minds in Sound Bodies: Transnational Philanthropy and Patriotic Masculinity in al-Nadi al-Homsi and Syrian Brazil, 1920-32,” 265.

[4] Fahrenthold, “Sound Minds in Sound Bodies: Transnational Philanthropy and Patriotic Masculinity in al-Nadi al-Homsi and Syrian Brazil, 1920-32,” 271.

Creator

Salwa Salama Atlas

Source

Dr. Elizabeth Saylor

Publisher

Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies

Date

1923-1941

Contributor

Biography written by Dr. Elizabeth Saylor

Rights

Donor retains full ownership of any and all copyright currently controlled in agreement with Khayrallah Center. Nonexclusive right to authorize all uses of these materials for non-commercial research, scholarly, or other educational purposes are granted to Khayrallah Center pursuant to Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA).

Language

Arabic

Alternative Title

Salwa Salama Atlas

References

Stacy Fahrenthold. “Sound Minds in Sound Bodies: Transnational Philanthropy and Patriotic Masculinity in al-Nadi al-Homsi and Syrian Brazil, 1920-32.” International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 46 (2014), 259-83.
Muḥammad al-Tūnjī. Mu‘jam a’lām al-nisā’. Beirut: Dār al-‘ilm lil-malāyīn, 2001, 106.
‘Īsā al-Na‘ūrī. Adab al-mahjar. Cairo: Dār al-ma‘ārif, 1959, 26. 

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