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Jan Jasion, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the Other

Dec 6, 2020
'Abdu'l-Baha and the 'Other' - flyer featuring Jan Jasion

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View/Download Jan Jasion’s presentation files
1. Xenophobia – Comments and Exhibits
2. Transcript

This presentation is based on reflections on Bahá’u’lláh’s Tablet of the Land of Bá and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s statement published in Paris Talks and His activities in America. ʻAbdu’l-Bahá met with people of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds and He delighted in doing so. The Bahá’ís are very proud of this, and justly so. Many scholars have investigated the travels of ʻAbdu’l-Bahá in America: Alan Ward, Hassan Balyuzi, Robert Stockman, Earl Redman, Steven Kolins, Amín Egea. The latter two concentrated their efforts on newspaper coverage. Yet despite their efforts and the efforts of more localized research there appears a void which in a real sense undermines the intentions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s efforts toward establishing the unity and dignity of all peoples. This void concerns the hundreds of non-English newspapers which existed at that time.

Firstly there are no articles from the newspapers of the groups whom He met in their venues: the Armenians, the Jews and the Japanese. Secondly there are very few articles, less than a score, from all the other diverse ethnic groups represented in the American Bahá’í community of that time: Syrian, French, Turkish, Norwegian, Polish, German, Swedish, Russian, Hungarian, Italian, etc. The importance of these other newspaper articles is based on the statement from Bahá’u’lláh, and their demise is a reflection of the perniciousness of the virus attacking the body politic.

This presentation will attempt to explore the causes of this situation and its consequences and possible restoration and utilization of these articles.



Jan Jasion

Jan Teofil Jasion is a retired librarian. He was born in Canada of Polish parents. His varied career included working as a roofer in housing construction and as a labourer at an iron-ore smelter, as a librarian in a remote Labrador town, a library technician at the National Library of Canada, at the Library of the University of New Brunswick and later at a college in Cardiff, Wales; as an economic journalist and translator in Warsaw, Poland, as an acquisitions and periodicals librarian at the Bahá’í World Centre Library, as an editor at the Department of Philosophy, Warsaw University; and as a cataloguer for a library vendor in England. He was educated at universities in Ontario, Newfoundland, England and Poland. His Bahá’í activities include pioneering to Labrador (1967-70) and Poland (1970-72; 1992-1999), and service on numerous national committees and local assemblies and lately as an editor at Librarie bahá’íe, Paris, France. He currently lives with his wife Annie-Joëlle in a southern suburb of Paris. Jan has published over 35 articles in journals in Canada, USA, UK, France, Poland and Pakistan in the field of library studies, economics, human rights, biography, corporate structures and bio-bibliography.  He has authored and edited a dozen monographs including An International Guide to Legal Deposit (2nd ed. 2019); Never Be Afraid to Dare (George Ronald, 2001), ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in France (English 2016 and French 2017); ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the West (English 2012 and French 2015); Táhirih In History (2004). His latest article was a bio-bibliography of John E. Esslemont for The Book Collector (2020).

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