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Preview: Conference in November

Cultural Players

Documentary Research Practices

BI 32

Relations in the Ideoscape

Peggy Levitt

Newsletter 7/2018
Events and News

Save the Date: Reconstructing Neighborhoods of War
International Conference
28 November - 1 December 2018, Orient-Institut Beirut
See programme here.

Lebanese Cultural Players and Authority: Ministry of Culture or No Ministry of Culture?
Public lecture by Nadia von Maltzahn (OIB)
Tuesday, 23 October 2018, 9.30-10.30am, Orient-Institut Beirut
This lecture revolves around the relationship of Lebanese artists and cultural players to state institutions, in particular the ministry of culture. Why do cultural players in Lebanon call for the state's involvement in cultural production, while in most countries of the region they wish for less? What is it that artists and cultural players who are not content with the status quo ask for? It will be argued that artists and intellectuals look for state support of culture as long as it does not intervene in their artistic freedom, showing that this search is connected to the idea of citizenship and rights to culture. By highlighting the debates around the establishment of a ministry of culture in Lebanon in the early 1970s and 1990s, the formulation of cultural policies in Lebanon will be interrogated.
Nadia von Maltzahn is the Deputy Director of the OIB. Her research interests revolve around cultural policies and cultural diplomacy, artistic practices and the circulation of knowledge.

This lecture is part of the Arab-German Young Researchers Exchange "Cultural Policy and Cultural Mediation in Transforming Societies", organised by the University of Hildesheim and the Université Libanaise in cooperation with the OIB and the Goethe Institut. The Exchange is funded by the DAAD.

Roads to the Ruins: Documentary Research Practices of Loss and Presence
Public research seminar by Philip Widmann (filmmaker)
Thursday, 25 October 2018, 6-7.30pm, Orient-Institut Beirut

In this seminar, filmmaker Philip Widmann will report on his current research on the first talking film produced in Lebanon, In the Ruins of Baalbek (1937). The film is considered to be lost. While memories of its former existence are still alive, the loss of the film and the scarcity of primary sources documenting it leave these memories without much factual material to compare them with. Widmann will discuss how the absence of the historical object and of information can be embedded in a web of contextual lineages that have both material and immaterial presences in the here-and-now.
Philip Widmann makes films, texts and film programs. His film and video works have been shown in film festivals and art spaces internationally, including in Berlin, Rotterdam, New York, Yamagata, Sao Paolo, Marseille, Cologne, Beirut and Columbus/OH..



BI 32 (2nd ed.):  ‘Alam al-jadhal fī ‘ilm al-jadal
The book ‘Alam al-jadhal fī ‘ilm al-jadal by Sulaymān b. ῾Abd al-Qawī al-Ṭūfī gives an impressive overview about the theological and juridical knowledge in the 8th/14th century. Dispute and the technique of debating, “jadal”, which is essential for the understanding of Islamic law (uṣūl al-fiqh), is well applied by al-Ṭūfī. He reconsidered the state of the ‘ulūm al-Qur’ān of his time that would become structured and organized into eighty branches only some generations later by Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī. In the Qur’ān itself dispute (jadal) plays an important role in the relationship to religious communities in the contextual environment of the first listeners of the Qur’ān during the lifetime of the prophet Muḥammad. Apologetical and even polemical disputes on religious and theological contents form an integral part of Qur’ānic discourse in a multireligious environment that al-Ṭūfī rediscovers and redefines for his own time. By giving insight into theological and juridical knowledge of different discursive traditions, al-Ṭūfī explains the practice and technique of debating within an Arabic and Islamic framework. The book is a reprint of the 1987 edition by Wolfhart Heinrichs, who was a distinguished James Richard Jewett professor of Arabic in Harvard. Read more. 

Research Spotlight

New Research Project: Relations in the Ideoscape: Middle Eastern Students in the Eastern Bloc (1950s to 1991)
The political post-war order in the wake of the Second World War, the division of the world into the so-called Western powers led by the USA and the so-called Eastern Bloc led by the Soviet Union can also be seen as an international “order of knowledge”. The Cold War and the East-West conflict have so far been mostly examined as a political and potentially military conflict between the US and the SU. Yet, the “system competition” has always also been a “knowledge competition. The manifold and complex relations within the blocs, especially those within the Eastern Bloc, which were shaped also as relations of knowledge within its metropolises and between these and numerous countries of the so-called Third World, have so far remained largely unexplored. Above all, the Eastern Bloc is a space created by a common ideology, an “ideoscape” (Appadurai). The complex relationships which were forged through the mobility/migration of students from the Middle East and North Africa to the Eastern Bloc have often been highly persistent, far beyond the end of the Cold War. This project will focus on the knowledge mobility and knowledge relations of students from the Middle East and North Africa to the Eastern Bloc. In particular, we will focus on the humanities and social sciences (history, oriental studies, political sciences/international relations/international law, sociology, art/painting, ballet, opera). Read more.


Hans Robert Roemer Fellow: Peggy Levitt
Peggy Levitt has joined the OIB as Hans-Robert Roemer Fellow for one month. She is Chair of the sociology department and the Luella LaMer Slaner Professor in Latin American Studies at Wellesley College and Co-Director of Harvard University’s Politics and Social Change Workshop. She is also the Co-founder of the Global (De)Centre. Her most recent book, Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display, was published by the University of California Press in July 2015. Peggy has received Honorary Doctoral Degrees from the University of Helsinki (2017) and from Maastricht University (2014). She is currently a Robert Schuman Fellow at the European University Institute (2017-2019).  During her stay, Peggy will be working on her new book project, "Move Over, Mona Lisa. Move Over, Jane Eyre" about how artists and writers from Lebanon, Argentina, and South Korea gain recognition on the global art stage.

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