Department of Religious Studies
Celebrating the food, music, dance, crafts, and vibrant Arab American community in East Tennessee is at the heart of Arab Fest. Hosted by the UT Department of Religious Studies and Middle East Studies program and supported by the Arab American Club of Knoxville, the cultural festival draws thousands of visitors to UT – making it the largest public-facing event for the department.
“Arab Fest introduces our UT students to the diverse range of cultures in our Knoxville community,” said Erin Darby, associate professor of religious studies and co-coordinator of the event. “It also allows us to give back to East Tennessee as the only major Knoxville cultural festival that takes place on the UT campus. Arab Fest has become a safe and exciting place to learn, experience the world, and form relationships that last well beyond the end of the festival.”
In its fifth year, Arab Fest began when students from the UT Dig Jordan study abroad program wanted to share their cultural experiences with the UT community. Partnering with the Arab American Club of Knoxville, they kicked off Arab Fest in 2014. The festival grows each year and focuses on what makes up the majority of everyday life – food, music, art, family, and community.
“The festival also aims to encourage cooperation and integration between various Knoxville community groups throughout the rest of the year,” Darby said. “Providing a sensory learning environment, we hope to break down barriers and correct misconceptions that too often divide us.”