Outreach & Pedagogy Events

Past Events

Rethinking the Empirical Reality of Statehood in the MENA Region

Date: Wednesday, 23 November

This panel examines how post-colonial states in the Middle East became a site of hybrid sovereignties, porous borders, identity politics, and liminality impacting everyday life. The legacy of European colonialism in the region is widely discussed vis-à-vis regime establishment and legal structure. However, the state operations posing a threat to ethnoreligious minorities, pursuing identity politics deepening sectarian disputes, coming short in its machinery to undertake public services, and affecting the geopolitics of the region have attracted little attention. The panel undertakes the objective to examine the margins of the state across the region to illustrate the concrete statehood (empirical) in antagonism with its abstraction (theoretical). The permanent state liminality that has marked the politics since the Arab uprisings in Tunisia; the divided state authorities and sectarian dynamics mediating a hybrid security provision at a national and local level in Lebanon; the everyday experience of the securitisation of the Kurdish identity before the ongoing civil war in Syria; and the cross-border life and activities among the Kurds in Iraq and in Iran are cases that the panel will discuss. Informed by ethnographic data collected from fieldwork in the region, the panel members draw attention to the empirical reality of statehood in the region affecting everyday life and to the role of particularity (empirical) in drawing the horizon of the politics in the contemporary MENA region.

Chair and Discussant

Dr Marianna Charountaki (University of Lincoln)

Titles of Presentations and Speakers

  • Nation-State at Its Margins: Kurds in Syria (Yunus Abakay, Doctoral Candidate, University of Exeter)
  • Mediating Security in a Sectarian State: Case Study of Lebanon (Vito Morisco, Doctoral Candidate, University of Exeter)
  • Has Cross-Border Activity Weakened the Kurdish Movement in Iran or Helped It to Survive? (Hemn Seyedi, Doctoral Candidate, University of Exeter)
  • A Decade After the Arab Uprisings: Liminality and Politics at the Margins of the Tunisian State (Ihsan Majdi, Doctoral Candidate, University of Exeter)

Contemporary Arabic Literature and Literary Translation

Date: Wednesday, 19 October 2022

This panel will discuss contemporary Arabic literature and literary translation published in the last dozen years, particularly following the onset of the ‘Arab Spring’. Distinguished international writers, translators and researchers within the Arabic literary (translation) field will discuss and reflect on recent developments as well as publishing trends and practices. The panel will situate these developments within the changing socio-cultural and political contexts of the Arab world and reflect on the extent to which these contexts and events have affected the production, distribution and reception of Arabic literature in translation. The panel will also examine some of the recently published translated Arabic literature, survey its predominant contemporary narratives and showcase their own recent award-winning novels, plays and research projects. Additionally, the speakers will share their inspirations and motivations as well as discuss the social, cultural and political contexts informing their particular work. Panel members will also discuss their writing experience, the challenges they face and the reception of their work in the Arab and Western worlds. 

Chair: Dr Hanem El-Farahaty (Associate Professor of Arabic Translation and Interpreting, University of Leeds and BRISMES Council Member)

Discussant: Dr Abdel-Wahab Khalifa (Lecturer in Translation and Interpreting, Cardiff University) 

Speakers:

BRISMES-Balfour Project Event: Peace Advocacy Fellowship Presentation and Q&A

Date: Wednesday, 7 September 2022

This event, organised by BRISMES and the Balfour Project, was an opportunity for postgraduate students and final year undergraduate students, who were interested applying for the Balfour Project Peace Advocacy Fellowship, to meet the team, learn about the fellowship, and ask questions about it!

To find out more about the content and expectations for the 2022/23 Fellowship programme, please read the Balfour Project Call for Fellows. The Fellowship is open to final year undergraduate and postgraduate students based in the UK who are committed to the Balfour Project Approach. As a fellow, you will be given the opportunity to make a tangible contribution to the work of the Balfour Project by campaigning for peace on the basis of the charity’s approach within your academic institution and more generally.

Alaa Abd El-Fattah's You Have Not Yet Been Defeated

Date: Wednesday, 22 June 2022

About the book

Alaa Abd el-Fattah is arguably the most high-profile political prisoner in Egypt, if not the Arab world, rising to international prominence during the revolution of 2011. A fiercely independent thinker who fuses politics and technology in powerful prose, an activist whose ideas represent a global generation which has only known struggle against a failing system, a public intellectual with the rare courage to offer personal, painful honesty, Alaa’s written voice came to symbolize much of what was fresh, inspiring and revolutionary about the uprisings that have defined the last decade. Collected here for the first time in English are a selection of his essays, social media posts and interviews from 2011 until the present. He has spent the majority of those years in prison, where many of these pieces were written. Together, they present not only a unique account from the frontline of a decade of global upheaval, but a catalogue of ideas about other futures those upheavals could yet reveal. From theories on technology and history to profound reflections on the meaning of prison, You Have Not Yet Been Defeated is a book about the importance of ideas, whatever their cost.

Chair and discussant

  • John Chalcraft (London School of Economics) 

 Speakers

  • Nicola Pratt (University of Warwick)
  • Sherif Azer (University of York) 

Teaching Palestine in the Present

Date: Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Who writes Palestinian history, in the present, and down to the present? How is it written and practiced, in and outside Europe, and what for? How has what the Italian revolutionary and intellectual Antonio Gramsci called the ‘war of position’ (an organizational and cultural struggle in the ‘fortresses’ of civil society) been fought from above and below in schools and universities? What are the stakes of the struggle? Who is involved? This panel addresses these questions by examining factors such as the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, transnational Palestinian solidarity, university politics, the firing of academics, publishing, education, academic freedom, pro-Israeli groups and individuals, state power, and Zionism. We will aim to open up a wide-ranging discussion of how the ‘integral politics’ of Palestinian history are playing out amid contested forms of hegemony in the present, while considering how those in Middle East Studies can best intervene.

Chair: Teodora Todorova (Teaching Fellow in Sociology, University of Warwick / Chair, BRISMES Committee on Outreach and Pedagogy)

Discussant: Yara Hawari (Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network)

Speakers

  • Nicola Pratt (Professor, International Politics of the Middle East, University of Warwick / BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom)
  • Tamara Ben-Halim (Co-Director and Founder of MAKAN)
  • Giovanni Fassina, (Programme Director, European Legal Support Centre - ELSC)
  • Martin Konečný (Director, European Middle East Project - EuMEP) 
  • John Chalcraft (Professor of Middle East History and Politics, London School of Economics / BRISMES Secretary / Director of BRISMES Campaigns). 

Critical approaches to foreign policy 

The BISA Foreign Policy Working Group hosted this joint event with BRISMES to debate Critical approaches to foreign policy. The event looks at foreign policy through different lenses. On the ontological level, it revisits foreign policy analysis through a critical discussion of how non-state actors as agents can be related to foreign policy matters. On the epistemological level, foreign policy is perceived through different approaches: A feminist perspective that links feminist critiques with current foreign policy practices. The focus lies in a critical stance on the transformative potential of feminist foreign policy. But equally, the event aims at the exploration of the interlinkages between security and reconciliation, in relation to foreign policy, as tools for sustainable peacebuilding reconciliation.

Chair: Teodora Todorova (Teaching Fellow, University of Warwick and Chair of BRISMES sub-comittee on Public Outreach and Pedagogy)

Speakers:

  • Marianna Charountaki (University of Lincol)
  • Karoline Färber (King’s College London)
  • Professor Aigul Kulnazarova (Tama University, Japan)

New Voices in Middle East Studies

The Arab Revolutions of 2010-11 reinvigorated social movement transformations across the Middle East and North Africa, giving voice to a multiplicity of silenced and marginalised constituencies. Occupations of space as a strategy to reclaim the public commons from neoliberal corporatisation and authoritarian governance has since inspired close to a decade of social movement mobilization across the world from Occupy to Black Lives Matter. Yet in the shadow of counter-revolutionary political repression, pessimism concerning the legacy of the Revolts abounds. In response to this, this roundtable seeks to bring together critical scholarly voices to reflect on the legacies of the Revolts and the opportunities and obstacles for meaningful social, political, and economic transformation in MENA.

Chair: Teodora Todorova (Teaching Fellow, University of Warwick and Chair of BRISMES sub-comittee on Public Outreach and Pedagogy) 

Speakers:

  • Yara Hawari (Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network)
  • Kamran Matin (University of Sussex)
  • Mezna Qato (University of Cambridge)

Database of Expertise

The Database of Expertise in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies provides a publicly available list of MENA experts with their research and areas of expertise.

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