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In June 2015, the BRISMES Annual Conference – the largest annual gathering in Europe of academic specialists on the Middle East – was held at the London School of Economics. Download the full conference programme here.
Over 300 representatives from universities in the UK, USA, Europe, Asia and the MENA region met for three days in LSE’s New Academic Building to explore the conference theme of ‘liberation’. The 51 panels of this multidisciplinary event included those focussing on the region’s history, literature, religions and music, as well as those that grappled with its politics: from the future of western Kurdistan and the changing visions of citizenship across the region to the civil war in Syria, the state breakdown in Libya, and the military crack-down in Egypt.
Each day of the event was further enhanced by a plenary session. Professor Peter Sluglett, director of the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore, opened the conference with a fascinating talk on ‘Liberation: Tahrir and what we’re still waiting for’, while author Shereen El Feki, author of ‘Sex and the Citadel’, provoked a stimulating debate at the end of the second day with her moderated Q and A: ‘Liberation in the Bedroom? The Shifting Sexual Landscape of the Arab Region’. The conference ended on a practical note, with the final plenary bringing together representatives of organisations working on the Middle East to discuss how academics and activists can better work together to influence policy.
Delegates were able to browse and buy the newest titles in Middle Eastern Studies in the publishers’ exhibition, and many continued their discussions during the conference dinner at Maroush Lebanese Restaurant and the drinks reception back at LSE, where they were also serenaded by the oud.
The MEC and BRISMES would like to thank the conference sponsors and partners – I. B. Tauris, LSE Kuwait Programme, the Fares Center and the European Association for Middle Eastern Studies (EURAMES) – for their support in making this event such a success.