Research Project: SCRIPT // Source Companion for Research on Islamic Political Thought

As a tool for understanding how the heritage of political thought in the Middle East developed during its intellectually most productive periods, SCRIPT will offer access to a vast and varied literature, in Arabic and Persian, which flourished in the Islamic world from Andalusia to India from the 12th to the 16th centuries. Addressing local sovereign rulers or referring to local sovereign rule, this literature conceptualises legitimate rule and discusses the structure and ideal organisation of the polity. The online publication platform SCRIPT collects entries in English and Arabic (English translations are provided), exploring the historical context and conceptual significance of 65 source texts on political philosophy, political advice and administration. Continue reading

Research Project: Higher Education and Citizenship in Egypt // An anthropological critique of the crisis narrative

Emtpy classroom, October 6 University, Egypt, in 2012. ©Daniele Cantini

This project looks at the configurations of society, legitimacy, knowledge and power in Egypt, from the vantage point of the higher education sector, which Daniele Cantini has been researching since 2007. It focuses on the university as a fundamental institution in the contemporary configuration of knowledge and power – what universities are for, how they will be funded, what they will produce – in combination with the recent anthropological interest in global assemblages, in this case higher education as a ‘glocal’ technology of governance. Continue reading

At the Deutscher Orientalistentag (DOT) in September

From 18 to 22 September 2017, the 33rd Deutscher Orientalistentag (DOT) is taking place in Jena/Germany. The DOT is the largest professional meeting of Oriental Studies in Germany, and generally takes place every four years. The OIB is participating at the DOT with a range of panels. Continue reading

CfP: 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War

The editorial staff of the online encyclopedia of the First World War, “1914-1918-online”, – the result of an international collaborative project overseen by Freie Universität Berlin (Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut, Center for Digital Systems) in cooperation with the Bavarian State Library and funded by the German Research Foundation – have contacted us to spread their call for papers. They are specifically looking for authors for their Ottoman Empire/Middle East Section. Have a look at the call below. Continue reading

Cluster: Processes of Transformation in Urban and Rural Societies

A miller in Nahr Ustuwan, Lebanon © Stephen McPhillips

The projects in this research cluster share a focus on the effects of change, transformation and long-term development in both urban and rural societies of the Middle East since 1500. They aim to shed light on the constitutive fabric of urban-rural relations in the political, administrative, economic and cultural life of Middle Eastern societies. With a particular emphasis on often overlooked and marginalised groups and settings, such as the Bedouin or rural areas in general, we counter the widespread neglect of a wide range of non-urban and non-elite actors in scholarly research as well as in political analysis. Continue reading

Cluster: Power and Legitimacy

Anonymous Venetian orientalist painting. The Reception of the Ambassadors in Damascus, 1511 (Louvre Museum, public domain)

The convergence of power and the legitimacy of rule or order of the state and society is an ubiquitous phenomenon. As such, it has occupied political actors as well as authors continuously throughout history. Authority and political order also rely on discursive strategies for the generation of their legitimacy, and thus are intricately intertwined with knowledge production more generally. Continue reading

Cluster: Higher Education as the Subject and Object of Critical Discourse

Billboard in Cairo, 6th October Highway © Daniele Cantini

The importance of universities can hardly be overestimated. Their numbers have grown massively, as have the number of the people enrolled in them relative to the total population worldwide. They exert multiple functions in the production and dissemination of knowledge. Moreover, they are ascribed the role to evaluate and certify knowledge in
the form of professional and scholarly status, curricula, as a basis for policies and more.
As universities themselves have a share in the definition and proclamation of social
problems and goals, they can easily turn into contested terrain in the claim for the right
interpretation of social phenomena and the right ways to address them. Unrest on university campuses, dense security regimes and long closures in the aftermath of political change in several Arab countries testify to that, as well as the continued control over teaching and research activities. Continue reading

Cluster: Culture, Art and the Public Sphere

Monique Bellan (right) and Nadia von Maltzahn (left) in the “Salon Room” of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, November 2016

Projects in this cluster share an interest in the political character of innovation in cultural
production, of forms of articulation and of publicness. In particular, this cluster deals
with processes of transformation of existing aesthetic, political and social orders, as
well as with the reflection, and possibly the theorisation, of artistic practices. The role
of institutions in shaping identities – and be it by rejecting the institution – is central to
the analysis. Continue reading

Research at the OIB

Researchers at the OIB, 2016

How is research at the OIB organised?

The OIB conducts and supports research on (and in) the Arab region and the wider Middle East. Research addresses historical and contemporary matters, and shares the commitment to a systematic study of primary sources, regional agents, local conditions, discursive contexts and methodology. This provides a common conceptual framework for the work in and between the academic disciplines represented at the OIB, such as the history of the Middle East, Islamic studies, Arabic studies, social sciences, anthropology and cultural studies. Continue reading

Relaunch of the OIBlog

After the OIBlog Mish ma32ool (“unbelievable”) was first launched in late 2012, we are now relaunching it with a number of changes in structure, focus and content, which will be introduced in this and the following post. This serves two connected aims: to highlight current research at the OIB and to improve the accessibility of different types of information on the blog. This post will concentrate on introducing the structure, while the next post will give an overview over research activities at the OIB and how we are planning to introduce them on this blog. Continue reading

CfP: Contextualising the Art Salon in the Arab Region

Cover image of the Sursock Museum’s 8th Salon d’Automne Catalogue

Symposium in Beirut, 27-28 October 2017

Call for Papers: Abstracts due by 5 June 2017

The Orient-Institut Beirut and the Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock Museum are organizing a symposium on 27-28 October 2017 that aims to contextualize the art salon in the Arab region. The symposium, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, brings together researchers and curators, artists and critics to discuss the emergence of the art salon in the region in the colonial and post-colonial context, reflect on knowledge circulations between Europe and the Middle East, and analyse the function of the art salon in relation to collecting practices and the public. To disseminate the research findings, a publication will be prepared to be published in time for the Sursock Museum’s next Salon d’Automne in November 2018. Continue reading

CfP: The Avant-garde and its Networks: Surrealism in Paris, North Africa and the Middle East from the 1930s

Date: 14-15 November 2016
Venue: Orient-Institut Beirut
Organizers: Orient-Institut Beirut/Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte Paris

Group exhibition Cairo

Invitation card for the third exhibit of “Free Art”, Cairo 1943 (repro. in Samir Gharib, 1986)

Continue reading

CfP: Rethinking Social Movements in the Digital Age: Activism, Dissent and Rebellion in the Post-Arab Spring

International Workshop

Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB)

July 29, 2016

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Laila Shereen Sakr
Assistant Professor of Film & Media Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

The pivotal and unprecedented role that digital technology has played in instigating, as well as documenting the Arab Spring has without a doubt renewed the interest in social movements beyond the traditional realm of the “physical”. As the revolution in digital technology is slowly revolutionizing the way people communicate, debate existing norms and are exposed to other social and cultural practices and forms of governance worldwide, it is also providing new means for coordination and mobilization. In the advent of the Arab ‘Spring’ revolts throughout the region, digital technology has successfully pushed its way into politics: allowing people across borders, class, and formal venues of associations to debate, coordinate, and transform the ‘digital’ into the ‘physical’. Continue reading

CfP MESA 2016 panel: “The Art Salon in the Middle East: Migration of Institutional Patronage and its Challenges”

We invite paper proposals for participation in a panel on The Art Salon in the Middle East: Migration of Institutional Patronage and its Challenges that we are submitting to MESA for this year’s annual meeting in Boston, MA, 17-20 November 2016. Continue reading