• July 2019 "Crisis and Culture, Disenchantment and Dysfunction, Relevance and Redefinition. The 1990s in the Arab World"

    Panel Discussion with

    Hakim Abderrezak, University of Minnesota
    Zeina G. Halabi, American University of Beirut
    Christian Junge, CNMS Marburg
    Felix Lang, CNMS Marburg
    Tristan Leperlier, CNRS Paris

    Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 9:30-11:30 am, CNMS (Room 00A02)

    “In crisis” is a common qualifier applied to many countries in the Arab world– Syria and Yemen come to mind, yet other countries such as Algeria and Lebanon are more than familiar with problematic political situations as well as security concerns. Were one to look for the origin of this situation, the attacks on the World Trade Center of 2001 could be considered or perhaps the financial crises of 2008. The reasons behind the ascription of being “in crisis”, however, go further back in history: A decade worthy of inspection are the 1960s and their defeats that left the Arab world frustrated and that formed the basis of the 1990s, a decade commonly perceived as ‘apolitical’ and therefore less interesting. The panel discussion interrogates the 1990s and attempts to set straight its apolitical image and discuss its implications for the presence. Cultural production and the role of the intellectuals are at the centre of the debate that will pursue the notion of “crisis” further. To do so, the panel discussion brings together five researchers who will add their specific perspectives and various regional insights on the 1990s to the conversation.


  • July 2019 "Disasters and the Silence of Intellectuals"

    Zeina G. Halabi, American University of Beirut

    Monday, 1st July 2019, 4:15pm, CNMS (Room 01A03)

    The aftermath of disasters casts new light on the dialectics of bearing witness and writing; theory and practice. It points to the limits of the word—the very core of intellectual self-fashioning—in conveying the magnitude of loss. If word is praxis, what becomes of speech in the aftermath of incapacitating defeats and setbacks? How do we read the suspension of the word when a thinking subject is no longer an agent of history, but merely its casualty? As intellectuals keep silent in the wake of tragedies, questions persist about what intellectual silence unfolds, upholds, and performs. Halabi builds on the vast critical corpus pertaining to the Syrian playwright Saadallah Wannous by making sense, not of his words, but rather of his silence in the aftermath of disasters that blur the boundaries between personal and political loss.

    Read more on Zeina G. Halabi


  • February 2019 "Roundtable Discussion: Dynamics of Mass Violence - A Dialogue on Syria and Cambodia"

    Yassin al-Hajj Saleh and Timothy Williams

    Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 4:15pm, CNMS (Room 01A03)

    Why does mass violence occur and how does one write about it? We want to discuss these questions in a dialogue between the cases of Syria and Cambodia. The war in Syria and the mass violence in Cambodia are separated by about forty years, but both raise the question of why people participate in torture, rape and murder and how conflicts can turn into civil war and genocide. At the same time people who write about and research such forms of extreme violence face the challenge of finding suitable forms and styles, in order to understand and explain the occurrence and dynamics of mass violence.

    Read more on Yassin al-Hajj Saleh and Timothy Williams


  • Juli 2018 "Understanding Syria through Refugee Stories: We Crossed A Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria" 

    Wendy Pearlman, Northwestern University

    Monday, 2nd July 2018, 4:15pm, CNMS (Room 00A23)

    How can we make sense of the tragedy in Syria? Wendy Pearlman has conducted open-ended interviews with more than 300 displaced Syrians across the Middle East and Europe from 2012 to 2017. She has brought together these personal stories in the new book, We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria (HarperCollins 2017), called “essential reading” by the New York Times and longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. In this talk, Pearlman will share a selection of voices from the book, along with her own commentary and analysis, to explain the origins and evolution of the Syrian conflict, as well as what it has been like for the ordinary people who have lived its unfolding. Her talk will paint a portrait of silence and intimidation under an oppressive authoritarian regime before 2011, expresses the euphoric experience of participating in protest against that regime, conveys the resilience of communities enduring unspeakable violence thereafter, and offers a window into the challenge of becoming and being a refugee. This talk will offer a humanistic interpretation of the current conflict in Syria and how it has transformed those who have experienced it.

  • Mai 2018 "Ex-Centric Directions: The Maghreb in the Wake of Trans-Mediterranean Clandestine Crossings."

    Hakim Abderrezak, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

    In his lecture, Professor Hakim Abderrezak argues that due to a growing number of trans-Mediterranean crossings, the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) has recently become a different entity. Migration is the origin of this region’s transformation—both the human migratory movements across the western Mediterranean that have been ongoing since the 1990s and the “refugee crisis” across the central and eastern Mediterranean in the current decade. Professor Abderrezak contends that human migratory movements and their political, societal, ideological and cultural implications are fundamental in rethinking this region. The Maghreb, which has dramatically changed in light of tragedies that used to be local and have now become a global concern, should not be conceptualized without a proper assessment of the multifarious causes and consequences of human migrations across the Mediterranean basin.

    Read more on Hakim Abderrezak or follow his work on academia.edu.

  • Mai 2018 "No Exit: Arab Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre and Decolonization"

    Yoav Di-Capua, University of Texas / EUME Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung 2017/18

    Jean Paul Sartre is no stranger to the Arab world. For two long decades, from the end of World War II until June 1967, Sartre was the uncontested champion of the Arab intelligentsia. His existentialist philosophy famously nourished the post-colonial Arab quest for a new Arab subjectivity, or, as they called it, a “New Arab Man.” Sartre’s political writing manifested itself in unflinching support for the cause of Third Worldism thus framing the liberationist struggle against neo-colonialism, imperialism and, most importantly, Zionism. His influence on Arab thought and action and his two-way relationship with an important circle of Arab thinkers was therefore very significant. In fact, Sartre was so crucial for the post-colonial Arab project that by the mid-1960s the Middle East was the home to the largest existentialist scene outside of Europe. In this talk I will explore the many ways in which Arab existentialism functioned as a philosophical and political movement that sought to decolonize the Arab world and usher in an ontological revolution. An essential part of this tradition was the two-way relationship of Arab intellectuals with Sartre and the question of his betrayal of the Arab cause due to disagreements on Palestine.


  • Feb 2018: "Does the Maghreb actually exist?"

    Abendvortrag mit Lesung von Fouad Laroui

    Am 15. Februar 2018 spricht als Auftaktveranstaltung der Konferenz „Re-Centering a Region: the Maghreb in Motion“ der marokkanische Schriftsteller Fouad Laroui zum Thema „Does the Maghreb actually exist?“. Im Anschluss daran folgen Lesungen aus seinem Werk Les Tribulations du dernier Sijilmassi, 2014 auf Französisch und auf Deutsch. Der Abend und das anschließende Gespräch mit Fouad Laroui wird moderiert von Prof. Dr. Friederike Pannewick, der Leiterin des Fachgebiets Arabistik am Centrum für Nah- und Mittelost-Studien (CNMS). 

    Weitere Informationen finden Sie auf der Website der Konferenz

    Kontaktpersonen: Julius Dihstelhoff und Charlotte Pardey.

  • Juni 2017: "Die Nahda als Tragödie. Modernes arabisches Geschichtsverständnis vor (und nach) 2011"

    Jens Hanssen, University of Toronto

    Das moderne arabische Geschichtsverständnis wird von ‚drei Ns‘ beherrscht – Nahda, Nakba, Naksa – , die sowohl die Zeitstufen des 20.Jahrhunderts, als auch die Struktur des Epochengefühls definieren. Demnach folgte dem Zeitalter des kulturellen Aufblühens seit dem frühen 19. Jahrhundert die ‚Katastrophe‘ des arabischen Verlusts von Palästina 1948; und dem er­neuten Optimismus der erfolgreichen nationalen Befreiungsbewegungen der 1950er Jahre die militärische Niederlage von 1967, die dann wiederum in der Islamisierung des Nahen Ostens, insbesondere im Iran und in Ägypten, mündete. Mein Vortrag beabsichtigt, diese hegemoniale Erzählstruktur kritisch und ‚denkfigurativ‘ zu beleuchten. Mein Hauptaugenmerk gilt den Romantisierungen der Nahda vor 1948 und nach 2011, sowie den ‚Tragödisierungen‘ des arabischen Freiheitskampfs vor und nach 1967. Dabei setzt sich mein Vortrag mit den Thesen zum Aufkeimen des postkolonialen Tragödienbegriffs auseinander, insbesondere derer in David Scotts „Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment“ (2004). Um die Streitfragen kultureller Selbstkritik seitens arabischer Intellektueller zu erfassen, konzentriere ich mich auf die arabische Nietzscherezeption, die sich – und das ist meine Hypothese – seit 1908 von den vitalistischen und mythopoetischen Ausrufungen in der späten Nahda bis hin zu den sehr unterschiedlichen dekonstruktiven Methodiken Sadik al-‘Azms und Edward Saids in auf­schluss­reicher Weise gewandelt haben.

    Der Vortrag ist Teil der Aktivitäten der Forschungsgruppe „Denkfiguren | Wendepunkte. Kulturelle Praktiken und sozialer Wandel in der arabischen Welt“ (DFG, Leibniz) in Kooperation mit dem Seminar für Neuere und Neueste Geschichte der Philipps-Universität Marburg.

  • März 2017 "Sports and Modernity in Colonial Algeria: Physical Culture and Self‐Reform in Autobiographies of the Muslim Middle Class"

    Jakob Krais, Gerda Henkel Stiftung, ZMO, Berlin

    Modern sports became ever more popular during the later period of French colonial Algeria (i. e. from World War I until the outbreak of the war of independence in 1954), as can be seen by the founding of soccer clubs and scouting troops, the building of gyms and swimming pools all over the colony or the rise to prominence of Algerian athletes and cyclists. At the same time, indigenous society, in particular, witnessed important transformations with the emergence of a Muslim middle class.

    In the political field, this was linked to the establishment of various movements and parties – from Islamic reformists and liberal assimilationists to Communists and radical nationalists. In the cultural field, the social change was visible in the development of an indigenous press and literature, as well as in the expanding private education sector. Through the study of autobiographical accounts by members of the new Muslim middle class, I investigate the formation of a modern subjectivity during this period. Modernity here is understood not in a normative theoretical sense, but rather as the concrete experience and performance of being modern. Modern sports, I argue, were instrumental in shaping this new kind of subjectivity: almost all major political figures of the time were in one way or another involved with sports, while many intellectuals drew on sports in their writings, also as metaphors. The autobiographies I am going to present attest to the centrality of self-reform through physical culture for the formation of a modern middle class habitus.

  • Feb 2017 "Wastelands in Contemporary Syrian Cultural Production"

    Anne-Marie McManus, Washington University in St Louis

    As Syria approaches its sixth year of conflict, world audiences have become inured to the images of devastation and ruin that continue to pour out of this wartorn country.

    The lecture departs from the traditional framing of this issue as "compassion fatigue," drawing instead on recent anthropological debates over what historian Ann Laura Stoler dubs ruination: the state of living on amid ruin, as well as the human and non-human processes that create and maintain it. Drawing on literature, the visual arts, and film, this talk argues that Syrian cultural actors are critically engaged in a search to represent the endurance of life in war's wasteland -- on terms that neither reduce Syria to a barren wasteland robbed of life, nor a theater for cheerful human interest stories. As such, Syrian cultural production today has implications not only for tracing the genealogy of creativity that emerged in the 2011 uprising, but also for challenging the suppositions of core debates in the contemporary humanities.

  • Jan 2017 Film "From my Syrian Room" (2014)

    Film screening and panel discussion with the filmmaker, painter, and caricaturist Hazem al-Hamwi

    "From my Syrian Room" is a documentary film by Hazem al-Hamwi (1980) produced in 2014. Internal fears and the agonies of suppression are the main themes of the film in which al-Hamwi debarks on an autobiographical journey from his childhood to the beginning of the Syrian uprising. The film sheds light on the Syrian uprising in 2011 by documenting testimonies of friends, relatives, and activists before and during the protests in 2011.

    Al-Hamwi is a filmmaker, painter, and caricaturist who has received several international awards for his work. Hazem al-Hamwi holds two diplomas in Art from Damascus University and the Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts.

  • Dez 2015 "'Spectators to their own History' Sonallah Ibrahim and Mohamad Malas, Moscow 1973"

    Margaret Litvin, Boston University

    The year is 1973. Two students, Egyptian novelist Sonallah Ibrahim and Syrian filmmaker Mohammad Malas, share a dorm room in icy Moscow. Together they read, debate, drink, meet women, observe Soviet racism and homophobia, and write the script for Malas’ graduation film. Starting from the literary traces of their fateful cohabitation, this talk explores a now largely forgotten flow of twentieth-century culture: the tide of Arab intellectuals who received scholarships to study in the USSR or its satellites. Their experiences remind us of a very recent past when the intellectual world was configured differently, when Russia played a significant role (as it now seeks to do again) in channeling the aspirations of Arab peoples. Yet they also show the extent to which artists’ influences are self-sought and self-processed. Against the “friendship of nations” ideology and sometimes shockingly violent realities of Soviet life, Arab intellectuals found time to think and a global – not just Russian – array of literary models to think about. Most important of all, perhaps, they found each other.

  • Wintersemester 2011/12 Vortragsreihe "Neue Oppositionsformen im Nahen Osten und Nordafrika"

    Diese Vortragsreihe beruht auf der Beobachtung, dass bei den aktuellen Aufständen und dadurch ausgelösten gesellschaftlichen und politischen Transformationen im Nahen Osten und Nordafrika Anhänger der organisierten Massenideologien wie des Nationalismus oder Islamismus nicht unbedingt eine treibende Kraft darstellen. Dagegen steht nun eine Vielzahl an individuellen Akteuren und Forderungen nach Menschenwürde, Freiheit und sozialer Gerechtigkeit im Mittelpunkt.Diese sich zunehmend individualisierenden Oppositionsformen sind kein neues Phänomen des „Arabischen Frühlings“. Bereits seit einigen Jahren lassen sich im politischen, sozialen und kulturellen Bereich dissidente Dynamiken konstatieren, die in hohem Maße individuell, spontan und subversiv agieren und hierdurch vorherrschende Auffassungen und Narrative herausfordern. Diese Oppositionsformen distanzieren sich – in Abkehr von den gescheiterten Massenideologien des vergangenen Jahrhunderts – verstärkt von kollektivistischen und universalistischen Argumentationen.

    So erarbeiten sich Frauen wie Männer im Alltagsleben neue Räume, um sich Gehör zu verschaffen. Hierbei wird zunehmend das Internet genutzt, um Ideen zu kommunizieren und Netzwerke aufzubauen. Die Jugendbewegung des 6. April etwa, welche bei den ägyptischen Massenprotesten stark vertreten war, organisierte sich spontan und in flexiblen Strukturen über Facebook. Im Bereich der Kunst und Literatur lässt sich eine Tendenz zur Selbstkritik feststellen: Künstler bzw. Schriftsteller begreifen sich nicht mehr als eine das Kollektiv belehrende Instanz, sondern behaupten sich als Individuum, welches sich nicht an ganze Klassen oder Gruppierungen, sondern an andere Individuen wendet.

    Im Rahmen dieser Vorlesungsreihe soll das Spektrum dieser „neuen“ individualisierten Widerstands- und Artikulationsformen aufgezeigt werden. Inwiefern wohnen ihnen Momente politischer, sozialer und künstlerischer Subversion inne? Waren sie Wegbereiter für den „Arabischen Frühling“?

    17.11.2011 Dr. Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab (Beirut/Berlin)
    On the Question: 'Where are the Intellectuals in the Current Arab Uprisings?’

    24.11.2011 Prof. Dr. Kai Hafez (Erfurt)
    Eine neue Welle der Demokratisierung – Politische Umbrüche in der arabischen Welt: Bewegungen – Parteien – Medien

    08.12.2011 Prof. Dr. Asef Bayat (Urbana-Champaign, IL)
    The Arab Street as Political Sphere

    12.01.2012 Prof. Dr. Cilja Harders (Berlin)

    Ambivalenzen der Revolution – Geschlechterregime und politischer Wandel in Ägypten

    26.01. 2012 Dr. Tony Langlois (Limerick)

    Music and Cultural Politics on the Algerian/Moroccan Border