The EUME Summer Academy 2014 has ended on Friday, September 5 and everyone has left Rabat, hopefully taking feedback on their research, interesting suggestions, new ideas and fond memories of the time in Rabat with them. However, posts will keep coming in various forms (movies, articles etc.) from participants to share their impressions and their resumees of our Summer Academy.
As the participants are now part of the EUME community, we would love to hear from them about the Summer Academy and of course stay connected with them in the future.
While researching a topic, it is always helpful to get input from other scholars who will share their experiences, or view the research from a different angle because they come from a different field.
During the Summer Academy, intensive learning communities develop in which the participants mutually advance their respective research agendas through small groups conceived as “peer-coachings”. The EUME Summer Academy offers a platfrom to share one’s own research so it can expand in directions, one might not have anticipated. Discussions may have been lively but always friendly, interesting and inspiring as participants have described them.
Hannah Elansary, student in Georgetown University’s Arabic and Islamic Studies program, analyzed on Jadaliyya the role graffiti and street art played in the Egyptian uprisings and revolutions since 2011.
Read the complete text here: Revolutionary Street Art: Complicating the Discourse
An interesting topic, finds Jimena Ponce de Leon, participant of the Summer Academy as well. Her research is entitled “Youth and Street Art: Strategies Developed in a Changing City”.
During the EUME Summer Academy participants from several countries, studying and reasearching in different fields come together to discuss their current research projects.
It is already in the planning phase of the Summer Academy that the concrete research interests of the participants are integrated into the program by the Steering Group, for instance by using certain themes and texts proposed by them or in having them head individual sessions. Before the Summer Academy started in Rabat a reader with introductory texts was distributed to give everyone a basis for thematic discussions.
Najib Bounahaj, professor at the EGE Rabat, talked about performance and politics when he introduced the Panel Discussion on “Performance, Politics, Space in Youth Subcultures“, which took place on Wednesday September 3, 2014 at the EGE Rabat.
Performance is no longer an accessoiry of power in Morocco and the Arab world. Bounahaj relates that one cannot understand the history of the contemporary Arab World without considering the development of cinema, music and the arts that produce new politics. The revolution in Tunisia (and consequently in the whole Arab World) for example was started by an act of political performativity, the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in December 2010.
It seemed the Arab World was headed towards a greek tragedy, a performance with a quick end, however it is stuck in 1001 nights and currently in a liminal space.
As part of the public program of the EUME Summer Academy in Rabat, Mohammed Tozy (EGE) will deliver his lecture on “Casablanca: Une Métropole au Défi du Référentiel Ethnique” as the last public event of the Academy. It will take place today on
Wednesday September 3, 4:00pm-5:30pm at the L’Amphithéâtre at the EGE Rabat
Amir Moosavi is presenting his current work on “Reimagining a War: Negotiating Ideology and Disenchantment in Literary Narratives of the Iran-Iraq War” that looks at the literature produced by the Iran-Iraq War in Arabic and Persian prose-fiction. Moosavi compares war time literature and cultural policies of the Iraqi Ba’thist regime and the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 1980s and the ways that official government-sponsored narratives of the war used by both regimes affected cultural production at that time and in the postwar era.
Moosavi shows through close readings of literary texts also how writers in Iran and Iraq have attempted to subvert, through literature, authoritarian discourses that exploit religion and nationalism in both countries. The city and memory of the war have been and become the sites to challenge the ideologies of official literature and propaganda, turning war literature in the urban setting into a literature of mourning and trauma.
Amir Moosaviis currently completing his PhD in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. He holds an MA in Near Eastern Studies from NYU and a BA in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During the 2013-14 academic year he was visiting instructor of Arabic language and literature at Bard College and during the 2014-15 academic year he will be a fellow at the NYU Humanities Initiative.
Georges Khalil is the Academic Coordinator of the Forum Transregionale Studien Berlin and Scientific Coordinator of the research program Europe in the Middle East – the Middle East in Europe (EUME).
As a reading suggestion, we would like to pull your attention to Summer Academy participant Rachid Ouaissa‘s essay “Blocked Middle Classes as an Engine of Change in the Arab World?”, published in the book “Euro-Mediterranean Relations after the Arab Spring. Persistence in Times of Change” by editors Jakob Horst, Annette Jünemann and Delf Rothe (published by Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2013).
Ouaissa examines the uprisings of 2011 in the Middle East and North Africa and their reasons, paying special attention to a rising middle class. He comes to the conclusion that there have been episodes of riots and protests in the past, thus the riots of 2011 are not unique but happen through intervals of time and the incongruety of the Middle East’s economies with the global economy.
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).
Meriem El Haitami has presented yesterday her research project entiteled “Islamist Feminism in Morocco: (Re)defining the Political Public Space” during the Summer Academy “Conflict and Mobility in the City” in Rabat.
Project description: The gradual but marked Islamization of the public sphere in Morocco since the 1980s has redefined the spatial dynamics of public activism. Women have played an important role in this process ; their activism was conducted in ways that are spatially private but significantly public in effect. Their success in shaping a public discourse on women’s political participation has expanded the range of opportunities for women’s activism.
In 2011, female Islamist activists have particularly gained legitimacy in the context of the Arab spring which has brought the conservative Justice and Development party into power. This has contributed to a shift from liberal elite state feminism to a more legitimate religious activism and has introduced new spaces for contention, such as the emerging nuanced female political and civic expression(s), as well as the prospects for Islamist and secular women’s movements to co-operate, negotiate and strategize, in order to ensure a democratic approach to gender issues. Therefore, this project explores how female Islamist activists are positioning themselves vis-à-vis discourses of liberal democracy and universal debates of gender justice.
This project positions itself in relation for recent scholarship that suggests, that Islamist or more accurately ‘post-Islamist’ movements (Asef Bayat, 2013) are not necessarily anti-democratic. Rather, such movements may figure as important forces toward a more democratic transition. This paper also addresses the redefinition of liberal feminism and Islamist feminism in the light of the transformations that political Islam is undergoing in Morocco and how this figures as an essential part of the contentious relationship between religion and the state and the regulation of the religious public space.
Meriem El Haitami is a doctoral student at the University of Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah in Fez, Morocco. She has been a Fulbright Scholar for the year 2012-2013 at SUNY Binghamton. Her PhD research addresses the dynamics of female religious authority and activism in contemporary Morocco. She has published articles on the role of the state-sponsored women religious guides (murshidat) and scholars (‘alimat) in shaping new forms of religious leadership and activism.
Omar Al-Ghazzi is presenting currently at the EUME Summer Academy his project about the communicative practices and tactics in Arab discourses during the uprisings which use the trope of ‘the historic’ for political positioning and mobilization.
Project Description: Through the methods of discourse analysis of Arab media and textual analysis of literature on collective memory, modernity, postcolonialism, and contentious politics, my dissertation explores the political significance of conceiving and contesting different meanings of history in Arab discourses. Against the backdrop of the uprisings, I interrogate episodes of contention about history among individual and collective political actors. I examine struggles over the meanings projected on symbols of past events, which are construed as originary moments for the temporal progression of imagined collectivities, and used discursively to influence political events, mobilize collective action, and express new collective identity projects. For the Summer Academy, I would like to focus on the case-study of Syria, particularly the use of flags, as temporal and spatial markers, in the Syrian uprising and the ongoing civil war in the country.
Omar Al-Ghazzi is a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. His research interests include global communication, Arab journalism, and the intersection of politics and popular culture.
Omar holds a Master’s degree in International Communication from the American University in Washington DC and a BA in Communication Arts from the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon. Omar comes from a journalism and media analysis professional background and has previously worked for the BBC and Al-Hayat Arabic daily.