by Felix Lang
The Summer School’s first panel discussion (Friday, August 29) was dedicated to the relations between arts and society. Six members of the research network “Figures of Thought | Turning Points. Cultural Practices and Social Change in the Arab World“, funded by the DFG and headed by Prof. Friederike Pannewick from the Centre for Near and Middle East Studies in Marburg commented on Charles Tripp’s article “The Art of Resistance in the Middle East” as a starting point for the panel discussion and a way of presenting the work of the research group.
With their background in different disciplines – political science, Arabic Literature Studies, Anthropology, Sociology and Cultural Studies – the speakers offered a variety of perspectives on the questions raised by Tripp’s article. While Ines Braune and Felix Lang stressed the idea of power relations as inherent to processes of cultural production, Rachid Ouaissa asked how artistic products could be used in political analysis. Christoph Schwarz sketched an approach foregrounding the interactional aspects of the relation between artwork, art and audience while Jamal Bahmad showed how the Moroccan Kings’ portraits have been used subversively in Moroccan cinema. The ensuing discussion centred around problem of definitions of ‘art’, the ways artistic production could be delimited from activism and the autonomy of the artist and artistic discourse.
Felix Lang 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”. 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).