Report: Panel discussion on Arts of Resistance

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.

Panel Discussion "Art and Resistance"; Jamal Bahmad, Felix Lang, Ines Braune, Rachid Ouaissa, Christoph Schwarz, Friederike Pannewick
Panel Discussion “Arts of Resistance”; Jamal Bahmad, Felix Lang, Ines Braune, Rachid Ouaissa, Christoph Schwarz, Friederike Pannewick (all Philipps University of Marburg)
Photo: Georges Khalil
under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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).

 

Islamist Feminism in Morocco

by Meriem El Haitami

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.

Meriem El Haitami presenting her research project in Rabat.  Photo: Georges Khalil under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Meriem El Haitami presenting her research project in Rabat.
Photo: Georges Khalil
under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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.


The Mnemonic Battles of the Arab Uprisings: The Case of the War over Flags in Syria

by Omar Al-Ghazzi

Omar Al-Ghazzig presenting his project. Photo Photo: Georges Khalil under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Omar Al-Ghazzi presenting his project.
Photo: Georges Khalil
under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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.

TIP: From Carbon Democracy to the Right to the City: On the Struggle Against Neoliberalism

Koenraad Bogaert referes in an article from March 2014  to Henri Lefebvre’s concept of “the right to the city”. In his contribution he asks how we translate the revolutionary project of the right to the city into concrete action on the ground.

Read the complete text on Jadaliyya: http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/16878/from-carbon-democracy-to-the-right-to-the-city_on-

Koenraad Boegart is currently participating in the EUME Summer Academy “Conflict and Mobility in the City” and chaired a panel discussion about “From Carbon Democracy to the Right to the City”.

He is a post-doctoral researcher at the Middle East and North Africa Research Group (MENARG) at Ghent University (Belgium). He is doing research on urban neoliberalism in Morocco and tries to link the political and economic changes of the last thirty years in a country such as Morocco with social protest.

Koenraad Boegart’s project:

Urban Politics in Morocco: A Political Economy of Uneven Development

What happened to Revolutionary Youth in Egypt since 25th of January 2011?

A Comparative Study on Egyptian Youth Groups by Dina El-Sharnouby

Dina El-Sharnouby presenting her project during the EUME Summer Academy in Rabat Photo: Georges Khalil
Dina El-Sharnouby presenting her project during the EUME Summer Academy in Rabat
Photo: Georges Khalil
under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

A revolution is more than an overturn of the existing legal and political system. With the Egyptian revolution important taboos and ways of thinking have been challenged and are in the process of being redefined. It is not the revolution that creates new ideas or ways of being per say but rather surfacing ideas and ways of communication while allowing for new spaces of interaction.

The Egyptian revolution in that respect has surfaced an existing youth culture that is affected by and is affecting youth politics. While an active youth political participation started before the revolution it was still dominated by the few and remained largely unchallenged. With the revolution youth became visible to Egypt’s process of transformation who have been celebrated as the “makers of the Egyptian revolution” by the public.

Continue reading What happened to Revolutionary Youth in Egypt since 25th of January 2011?

Oraib Toukan: “We, the Intellectuals – Re-routing Institutional Critique”

Toukan raises questions of intellectualism and the role of the arts and media in his essay: “how does it (intellectualism) get performed and embodied by the institution of art, and what visual traces does it leave behind through images that get institutionalized as signatures of protest? And when hegemonic structures and the intellectual opposition become part of the same camp in anti-colonial movements, what implications does the critique of institutions then take?”

Producing Publics in the Suez Zone: City, Agency and Spaces of Struggle

by Mohamed Elshahed

Mohamed Elshahed discussion his project at the Summer Academy
Mohamed Elshahed discussing his project at the EUME Summer
Academy, Aug. 26.
Photo: Georges Khalil under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

How has the presence of one of the world’s most contested and vital waterways in the backyard of three of Egypt’s cities influenced the productions of those cities’ publics and spaces? The three Suez Zone cities offer unique and extreme examples of spaces of struggle to investigate how urban publics resist urban futures determined by militarized states and global/Gulf capital. The Suez Canal is a vital strategic asset to Egypt and the country’s main source for constant flow of hard currency. The canal’s significance to global trade and economy has made it a particularly thorny asset to Egypt as it was of interest to global powers in the nineteenth century and a fundamental cornerstone in Britain’s colonization of Egypt. It was also at the center of a series of military battles between Egyptian, French, British and Israeli forces in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Today, the canal is a highly militarized waterway managed by the opaque Suez Canal Authority supervised by the military. The history of the canal and its relation to global economy directly impacts three cities, two of which were founded with the building of the Canal in the 1850s. Port Said in the north, Ismailia in the middle and Suez in the southern end of the canal are vital strategic points where the Suez Canal Authority maintains its offices and facilities. The history and the shape of those cities, particularly Port Said and Ismailia, have been directly linked to the colonial struggle to control the canal, the subsequent nationalization of the facility and the wars that followed as well as the political and economic policies of post-Camp David Egypt and subsequent neoliberal global economy. This project focuses on Suez Canal cities and the social movements within them to trace spatial practices, visual culture and public embodiments as ways to counter globalization, violence and political marginalization.

Continue reading Producing Publics in the Suez Zone: City, Agency and Spaces of Struggle

“Re-framing Orientalism: The Afterlife of Cinema in Colonial Algeria” by Michael Allen (University of Oregon)

Today, as a part of the Public Program  of the EUME Summer Academy “Conflict and Mobility in the City” in Rabat, Michael Allen (University of Oregon) is giving a lecture on “Re-Framing Orientalism: The Afterlife of Cinema in Colonial Algeria”, drawing together “reflections on Orientalism, frames, space and the North African history of early cinema”, as Allen himself has put it.

The lecture takes place at:
4:00-5:30 pm in the L’Amphithéâtre at the Ecole de Gouvernance et d’Economie, Rabat

Allen is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Oregon. He was EUME Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien from 2011-2012.

Today the EUME Summer Academy starts in Rabat

flughafen
Airport Rabat
Photo: Georges Khalil
under CC BY NC SA 4.0

Aujourd’hui l’école d’été “Conflict and Mobility in the City: Urban Space, Youth and Social Transformation” commence à l’Ecole de Gouvernance et d’Economie de Rabat (EGE). Merci de vous renseigner sur notre programme public sous le point “schedule”. Le programme commencera demain, 26 Aout.

Today the EUME Summer Academy “Conflict and Mobility in the City: Urban Space, Youth and Social Transformation” starts at the Ecole de Gouvernance et d’Economie de Rabat (EGE). Please check our schedule for the public program which will start tomorrow, August 26.

Judith Butler’s Istanbul Lecture: ‘Freedom of Assembly, or Who are the People?’

by Michael Allan

What is the right to assembly? Is it a right conferred by a government to its people? Or is it a right independent of any and every government? Can the people defy a government that confers its right to assembly? And can a government attack the people for exercising the right to assembly that it is meant to protect? Judith Butler explores these fundamental political-philosophical questions in her lecture delivered this past September in Istanbul. Her remarks are set against the backdrop of the protests in Gezi Park and link together Hannah Arendt, Tahrir Square and Occupy Wall Street as sites crucial for thinking contemporary political formations. As we endeavor to explore the meaning of publics, space and protest, in our Summer Academy, Butler’s remarks furnish a framework and vocabulary for thinking about collectivities, dissent and political transformation.

 

Omar Al-Ghazzi

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. His dissertation examines Arab discourses on memory and history and their relation to collective action and political identity formations. His work has appeared in Popular Communication, International Journal of Communication, and Media, Culture and Society. A former Fulbright fellow, 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.

Omar Al Gahazzi’s project:

The Mnemonic Battles of the Arab Uprisings: The Case of the War over Flags in Syria

My project explores the communicative practices and tactics in Arab discourses during the uprisings which use the trope of ‘the historic’ for political positioning and mobilization. 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.

 

 

Michael Allan

is an Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Comparative Literature at the University of Oregon. His research focuses on colonialism, secularization and the formation of modern reading practices in Africa and the Middle East, primarily in French, Arabic, and English. In both his research and teaching, he bridges textual analysis with social theory and draws from methods in anthropology, film and visual culture, religion, and postcolonial studies. He holds his Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked under the direction of Judith Butler and Karl Britto.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, he was a EUME-Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin. He has also been a member of the Society of Fellows at Columbia University (2008-9) and a Townsend Fellow at Humanities Center at the University of California, Berkeley (2006-7). For two summers he worked as the site director for an intensive Arabic program in Tangier, Morocco (2011-2012), and prior to pursuing his doctorate, he served as a Presidential Intern at the American University in Cairo, where he was affiliated with the Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies (2000-1).

His current book project, Site Reading: Colonial Egypt and the Making of a Literary World, offers a colonial history of literature at the intersection of the French, British and Ottoman empires, nineteenth-century moral education, and reforms in Qur’anic instruction. The book examines how modern literary disciplines reshape textual practices, transform connotations of adab, and delineate the literate from the illiterate. His second book explores the travels of camera operators for the Lumière Brothers film company across Africa and the Middle East at the end of the nineteenth century. The various chapters connect innovations in film form with the sites at which these films were shot: the pyramids in Egypt, the Jaffa Gate in Palestine, and colonial Algiers.

 

He recently served as the guest editor of a special issue of Comparative Literature, “Reading Secularism: Aesthetics, Literature, Religion,” and has published articles on a range of topics: religion and sexuality in The Yacoubian Building, the problem of address in world literature (awarded the A. Owen Aldridge Prize by the American Comparative Literature Association), language in the writings of Frantz Fanon, and contemporary Lebanese video art.