Call for Papers

Mapping the Mediterranean: Space, Memory, and the Long Road to Modernity”
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
October 11-12th 2013

The Mediterranean served as a site of transit, exchange, and interaction for well over two millennia, demonstrating tendencies towards both unification and dispersion. With the onset of modernity, however, linguistic, ethnic, and national boundaries solidified across the region. Language, history, memory, and space itself were literally reshaped by the tools of archaeology, architecture, tourism, mass print, national education, and transportation. Continue reading

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Without memory, how can we know who we are? This is the question that drives Dr Saad Eskander, LSE-trained historian and, since 2003, Director of the Iraqi National Library and Archives.Saad talks passionately of the imperative to locate, preserve and digitise as much as possible of Iraq’s documentation so that history will not just remember the oppressors but also the oppressed.

But Saad does not just talk: for the past decade he has also been putting those words into action in many different ways. The books lining his elegant office were once owned by the Iraqi royal family and then passed into the hands of Saddam Hussein. The glamour of their bindings reminds me a little of King George’s Library at the British Library. But conspicuous amongst them are a much tattier pile of books lying on their sides, in clear need of rebinding and conservation. These are an important national collection too but had been long neglected because they are written in Hebrew, not Arabic. It’s Saad’s mission to safeguard all of Iraq’s written heritage, whatever its origins.


by Rachid Boutayeb for QANTARA.DE  on MAY 27, 2011

The idea of the human being as an individual personality bears the deep stamp of the Christian religion and European culture. For Muslims, this way of thinking is not a matter of course. Moroccan philosopher interpreted the concept of the person from the perspective of Islamic sources, generating a dialogue between the Muslim image of man and that of Western anthropologies. An interview with Markus Kneer, expert on Lahbabi’s philosophy.

You recently published an annotated translation of Lahbabi’s work “Le personnalisme musulman” (in English: “The Muslim Personalism”) and other writings, in German. As a Christian theologian who is also interested in the inter-religious dialogue, you have been studying Lahbabi’s work for several years now. Why Lahbabi? And how is his thinking pertinent for us today?

Markus Kneer: When I came upon the writings of Mohamed Aziz Lahbabi (1923–1993) a good thirteen years ago, I was searching for a Muslim approach that juxtaposed the Islamic image of man with modern Western anthropologies. It seemed to me that localising what is to a great extent a Christian and Occidental concept of the individual within a Muslim context harboured the potential for a dialogue on the Christian and Islamic images of man – potential that should by all means be tapped. Lahbabi’s “Muslim personalism” consists of just such an articulation of the human individual from Islamic sources. His points of reference in European philosophy are the personalism of Emmanuel Mounier (1905–1950) and Jean Lacroix (1900–1986) as well as the life philosophy of Henri Bergson (1859–1941).


Mohamed Aziz Lahbabi (1923–1993) was one of the first chairs of General Philosophy at Muhammad V University in Rabat/Morocco. He was president of the Moroccan Philosophy Society. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1987 based on his literary writings.

Markus Kneer (born 1972) studied Catholic Theology, Philosophy and Islamic Studies and is Commissioner for the Christian-Muslim Dialogue in the Archbishopric of Paderborn.

PHOTO CREDIT: Qarawiyin Mosque by Khonsali,

Call for Papers

Whither the Nation? National Identity in Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Middle East and South Asia
Orient- Institut Beirut and Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies, American University of Beirut
September 27-29, 2013

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 25 May, 2013

The Orient Institute  and the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies at the American University of Beirut will be convening a two and half day conference in Beirut (September 27-29) on twentieth-century and contemporary political thought and its dealings with the question of national identity. The aim of the conference will be to discuss recent research on the different political and social ideologies that emerged in the Middle East and South Asia during the following historical times: late nineteenth and early twentieth century; inter-war period; post second-world war with a specific focus on the 1970s-1990s; and the post-cold war period leading to contemporary times. Continue reading

Call for Papers

Critical methods beyond Eurocentrism
SOAS, University of London
June 14, 2013  

A conference organised by the Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial studies (CCLPS), SOAS.

Studies of Asian, African and Middle Eastern cultures and literatures in the West have been predominantly framed by Eurocentric approaches that set the agenda for what to be studied and which methodologies to use. This conference challenges the dominant approaches that tend to homogenize those diverse literatures and cultures and gloss over the multi-dimensionality of their contexts of production and consumption.  It seeks to go beyond the limitations or limits of Western theories, and proposes new methods that are closer to the multiple complexities of Asian, African and Middle Eastern milieus. Continue reading