Dr. Felix Lang

Felix Lang

Research Fellow, Koordinator der Forschungsgruppe "Denkfiguren | Wendepunkte"

Contact information

+49 6421 28-25078 felix.lang@staff 1 Deutschhausstraße 12
35032 Marburg
F|14 Institutsgebäude (Room: 02A12)

Organizational unit

Philipps-Universität Marburg Centrum für Nah- und Mittelost-Studien (CNMS) Arabic Studies

Main research areas

Cultural Sociology
Syria, Lebanon
Modern Arabic Literature
Trauma, Memory, Transitional Justice
Public Diplomacy
Spaces of Cultural Production
Field Theory, Actor-Network Theory

  • Inhalt ausklappen Inhalt einklappen VitaVita

    PhD, Studied Arabic and Social Anthropology at the University of St. Andrews from 2005 to 2009, before writing his M.A. dissertation on the impact the commodification of the music of the Sufi Gnaoua brotherhood has had on the soundscape of the Moroccan town of Essaouira.

    In 2014 he completed a PhD in Arabic Literature and Culture at the University of Marburg with a thesis entitled "Imperative to Remember? The Lebanese Literary Field and the Post-Civil War Novel" which has recently been published as "The Lebanese Post-Civil War Novel: Memory, Trauma, and Capital" with Palgrave Macmillan.

    He is now a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of Arabic Literature and Culture at the University of Marburg and coordinator of the "Figures of Thought | Turning Points" research group (DFG-Leibniz).

    Currently, he is working on a case study of Syrian cultural production and the transformations of intellectual and artistic space since the beginning of the Syrian revolution/the war in Syria in the context of a postdoctoral project on the role of public diplomacy organisations in the MENA cultural space(s).

  • Inhalt ausklappen Inhalt einklappen Current research projectCurrent research project

    Hearts, Minds, Funds, and Visas. The Role of Public Diplomacy Organisations in Contemporary Syrian and Tunisian Artistic Production

    Organisations such as the Goethe Institut, British Council or the Institut Français may appear as the friendly face of Western geo-political hegemony – most recently, hundreds of Syrian artists have benefitted from their support in a situation where there were few other institutions to turn to. Yet, many artists criticise a one-sided thematic focus on war, oppression and the refugee experience. Arab artists seem to be of interest mainly as ‘native informants’ on societies of the ‘Orient’ who are relegated to a niche of cultural production. Questioning the role of public diplomacy organisations (PDOs) in this respect is particularly pertinent as these organisations are important players in the field of cultural production all over the Arab world. Their funding is an important pillar of support for artists from Arab states where little support is available from the state or local organisations, and PDOs are instrumental for gaining access to the international art circuit and the European cultural fields. 

    Given the central place that cultural diplomacy currently holds in national and EU foreign policy, a critical engagement with the mechanisms of exclusion which lead to a lack of diversity among participants and artworks supported is a timely undertaking of significant social and political relevance. Existing case studies suggest that the work of PDOs is strongly biased towards artworks and artists which cater to the aesthetic and thematic preferences of European arts affine middle-classes and thereby marginalises forms of art which do not conform to this position. An in-depth, diachronic study of PDO work in different parts of the Arab world which could substantiate these findings does not exist to date. 

    Thus, this project will pursue four main research questions: (1) What kind of artworks and which artists are supported by PDOs? (2) How do the PDO staff’s habitus and the PDOs’ organisational structure limit the diversity of artworks funded and artists supported? (3) What conceptions of Art are articulated and negotiated in interactions between artists and PDOs? (4) What is the function of PDOs in the networks of cultural production in the Arab world? These questions will be pursued in two case studies, considering the role of the Goethe Institute, British Council, Institut Français and Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung for Tunisian and Syrian artists since 2000. 

    In order to integrate the intersecting levels of analysis reflected in the research questions, a novel conceptualisation of spaces of cultural production will be developed which builds on the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Actor-Network Theory. A major theoretical innovation that is relevant beyond the study of the Arab world, it will serve to show the impact of micro-sociological processes of knowledge production and artistic production on the structural features of the larger social space, and the results of the PDOs’ work.

  • Inhalt ausklappen Inhalt einklappen Conferences (concept and organisation)Conferences (concept and organisation)

    1) International Workshop: “Because of the War…” – Tracing Transformations in/of the Syrian Field of Cultural Production, Centre for Near-and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS), University of Marburg, 26-27 July 2017.

    2) Workshop: Arab Cultural Fields in Crisis, in cooperation with IREMAM (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université), Aix-en-Provence, 7-8 November 2016.

    3) Summer Academy: Reconfiguring the (Non-)Political. Performing and Narrating Change and Continuity. Tunis 28/8/2016-04/09/2016. In cooperation with the research network “Re-Configurations. History, Remembrance and Transformation Processes in the Middle East and North Africa” (Centre for Near-and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS), University of Marburg), Université de la Manouba (Tunis), l’Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb Contemporain (Tunis), EUME/Forum Transregionale Studien (Berlin).

    4) International Workshop: What's in a Year? Reflections on 1967, Centre for Near-and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS), University of Marburg, 10-11 December 2015. In cooperation with Institute of Media Studies and the department of Modern History.

    5) International Workshop: Commitment and Dissent - Transregional Perspectives, CNMS, Marburg, 23-24 January 2015.

    6) International Conference: Spectres of Justice: The Aesthetics of Dealing with Violent Pasts, University of Marburg, 28-30 May 2015. In cooperation with the research network "Re-Configurations. History, Remembrance and Transformation Processes in the Middle East & North Africa."

  • Inhalt ausklappen Inhalt einklappen PublicationsPublications

    Monograph

    (2016) The Lebanese Post-Civil War Novel: Memory, Trauma, and Capital. Palgrave Studies in Cultural Heritage and Conflict. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
    Book review by Syrine Hout

    Edited Volumes

    (forthcoming 2020) Arabistik als Kultur-und Literaturwissenschaft. Eine Einführung. Yvonne Albers, Ines Braune, Christian Junge, Felix Lang, Friederike Pannewick (eds.). Stuttgart : J.B. Metzler Verlag.

    (2019) Culture and Crisis in the Arab World: Production and Practice in Conflict. Richard Jacquemond and Felix Lang (eds.). London: I.B.Tauris.

    „The Rebel“, Middle East - Topics and Arguments (META), Vol. 6, spring 2016. Felix Lang and Malcolm Théoleyre (eds.).

    Articles and Book Chapters 

    (2021, forthcoming) “Cultural Production, European Public Diplomacy and the War in Syria: Replacing the State, Transforming the Field.” In Divided Culture. Cultural Fields and the Politicization of Culture in Civil Wars. Candice Raymond, ed. 

    (2020) "The Transformations of ‘Syrian’ Literary Field since 2011". In: Ouaissa et al. (Eds.) Reconfigurations. History, Remembrance and Transformation Processes in the Middle East and North Africa. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. 

    (2019) "Bourdieu, Latour and Rasha Abbas. The Uses of Actor-Network Theory for Studying the Field(s) of Cultural Production in the Middle East and North Africa." In: Cultural Sociology 13 (4), 428-443. 

    (2019) "Beauty, Goodness, and Bombs: The Role of Political Crisis in Structuring the MENA Field of Cultural Production." In: Culture and Crisis in the Arab World: Production and Practice in Conflict. Richard Jacquemond and Felix Lang (eds.). London: I.B.Tauris.

    (2018) “No Such Thing As Society? A Critique of Hegemonic Notions of Trauma in the Research on Cultural Production”. Middle East - Topics & Arguments, Vol. 11, Nov. 2018, S. 154-158. 

    (2017) „Nichts als Trauma? Der libanesische Nach-Bürgerkriegs-Roman aus literatursoziologischer Perspektive“. In: Social Turn? Das Soziale in der gegenwärtigen Literatur(-wissenschaft). Hg. Haimo Stiemer et al. (eds.). Weilerswist: Vellbrück. S. 137-160.

    (2015) „Redeemed from Politics: Notions of Literary Legitimacy in the Lebanese Literary Field“. In: Commitment and Beyond. Reflections on/of the Political in Arabic Literature since the 1940s. Friederike Pannewick, Georges Khalil and Yvonne Albers (eds.). Wiesbaden: Reichert. S. 303-316.

    (2014) „Ghosts in the Archive“. In: Contemporary French & Francophone Studies: Sites, Vol.18 (5). 2014. S. 487-495.

    Other Publications

    (2018) „The Lebanese Post-civil-war Novel“. In: The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 April 2018 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=19502, accessed 06 March 2019].

    (2016) Review: "The Literature of the Lebanese Diaspora: Representations of Place and Transnational Identity, written by Jumana Bayeh." Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication 9(1):127–29. 2016.

    (2013) Beitrag über die libanesische Schriftstellerin Iman Humaidan. In: Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Hg.): Kritisches Lexikon zur fremdsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur. München: Ed. Text + Kritik. 90. Nachlieferung. 2013.

    (2008) „Bambara, Bambara! Bunte Gewänder, Open Air: Wie die Kompositionen der marokkanischen Gnaoua als Weltmusik verkleidet wurden“ in Süddeutsche Zeitung, 30.10.2008

  • Inhalt ausklappen Inhalt einklappen Conference Papers (selection)Conference Papers (selection)

    1) "Re-Negotiating 'Legitimate' Art: Syrian Cultural Production in Exile and the Role of German Public Diplomacy Organisations". Conference: "Staying, Moving, Settling. 15th European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) Biennial Conference, Stockholm 14-17 August 2018. 

    2) "Bourdieu, Latour, and Rasha Abbas. A Methodological Experiment on the Transformation of Networks." Conference paper, “Because of the War…” – Tracing Transformations in/of the Syrian Field of Cultural Production, Centre for Near-and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS), University of Marburg, 26-27 July 2017.

    3) "The Lebanese Post-Civil War Novel". Workshop paper, Learning for the Syrian case? Prospects and Challenges of Different Transitional Justice Initiatives, Workshop Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Berlin, 2nd-3rd December 2016.

    4) "Beauty, Goodness, and Bombs: The Role of Political Crisis in Structuring the MENA Field of Cultural Production." Conference paper, Arab Cultural Fields in Crisis, IREMAM (CNRS/AMU), Aix-en-Provence, 7-8 November 2016.

    5) "The War in Syria and the Transformation of Networks of Literary Production." Conference paper, Literary Networks and Cultural Collaborations, Birkbeck, London, 29 October 2016.

    6) "The Author as Hero(ine) - Syrian Authors and Interpretive Schemata in the European Cultural Field(s)." Conference paper 12th EURAMAL Conference, Oslo, 30 May - 4 June 2016.

    7) "Der libanesische Bürgerkriegsroman und Literatur als soziale Praxis", conference paper, Social Turn in der Literatur(wissenschaft)?, University of Münster, 3-5 December 2014.

    8) "Traumatizing the Civil War", conference paper, Between Politics and Healing: Understanding Trauma in Conflicts and Recent Violent Transformation Processes from a Comparative Perspective, University of Cologne 20-21 November, 2014.

    9) "Ghosts in the Archive: the civil war in the works of second generation post-war novelists in Lebanon", paper presented at the conference War, Memory and Amnesia: Francophone Perspectives on Lebanon, University of Leeds 6-7 June 2013.

    10) "A twofold 'imperative to remember': The Lebanese post-war novel", paper presented at the Conference Regarding the Past: Agency, Power and Representation, Marburg, 1st-3rd November 2012.

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