External event: Workshop on Arabic manuscripts in Cairo

From 11 to 13 December 2017, the French Archaeological Institute in Cairo (IFAO) is hosting a workshop on Arabic manuscripts. The workshop has been initiated by Élise Franssen (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow, Università Ca’ Foscari) and is being co-organized by Mathieu Eychenne, currently visiting postdoctoral fellow at the OIB. Research Associate Torsten Wollina is participating in this workshop.

The event will be accompanied by a public lecture by Konrad Hirschler (Freie Universität Berlin and BTS Advisory Board Member) entitled “In the Margins and between the Lines: Towards a Social History of Medieval Arabic Manuscripts” (11 December, 6pm).

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

Article: Mafish Ta‘lim: Why Egypt Ranked Last on Education

By Hania Sobhy

In its 2013-2014 Global Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum ranked Egypt as the worst country in the world in term of the quality of primary education. The measure is not perfect and relies significantly on the subjective assessments of respondents especially in the business community. In that sense, however, it captures rather vividly Egyptian sentiments about the state of public education in the country. Schools show us something fundamental about the functioning of state institutions catering to the majority of the population as they developed throughout the Mubarak era. They show us state institutions becoming thoroughly privatized and characterized by both growing disengagement and heightened repression. Continue reading

Divercities blog

divercities poster

The divercities blog was created by the Orient-Institut Beirut and the Goethe Institut Lebanon to accompany our jointly organised event divercities: contested space and urban identities in beirut, cairo and tehran, taking place in various locations across Beirut from 12 to 14 December 2013 . The aim of this conference was to gain insights into experiences of urban governance as it is perceived and practiced by different social agents in view of the ambivalence of public space in diverse societies. It revolved around power dynamics over contested spaces, negotiations between state agents, corporations/private-interest groups and populations over the quality and use of urban spaces, delineations of public and private, and norms and practices of open air spaces of gathering. While initially created as a platform for the December 2013 conference, it is envisaged to remain a tool for exchange and debate on contested spaces in diverse cities with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa. Transregional comparatives beyond the region are also encouraged.

Browse the blog to see the photo reportage, read the full programme or watch some of the presentations online.

Article: The “Arab Spring”: A challenge to the Christian minorities of the Middle East

In the March 2013 edition of the “Armenian-German Correspondence” (Armenisch-Deutsche Korrespondenz, ADK) OIB research associate Thomas Scheffler published a brief analysis of the current uprisings in the Arab world and their impact on the region’s Christian minorities. For Oriental Christians, the simplistic choice between “democracy” and “dictatorship” often conceals a tragic double-bind dilemma:  Democratization threatens to increase the political power of Islamist movements; continuing loyalty to the region’s old regimes threatens to alienate Christians not only from large segments of the Muslim majority population, but also from Western ideals of ‘democratic progress’. In addition, the chaos accompanying the violent overthrow of an old order usually exposes small and scattered minorities to greater security risks than larger and more compact population groups. Until now, Western support for the region’s ‘democratization’ has done little to set these fears at rest:  In view of the fate of Armenian Christians in the 20th century and the dramatic decimation of Iraqi Christians after the US intervention of 2003, belief in a ‘natural’ convergence between the interests of ‘the West’ and Oriental Christianity is on the wane. The paper summarizes a range of minority strategies to deal with this dilemma: apart from ‘exit’ strategies like remaining silent or preparing for emigration, they include cautious loyalty to the powers that be in order to gain time for their internal reform, building alliances with other minorities, and searching for local partners that could help shaping democratization in ways that are compatible with the interests of minorities (e.g. separation of religion and politics, cultural autonomy, political decentralization, and human rights policies).

To download the PDF, click here.