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News and Events



Newsletter 3/2021
News and Events

Simultaneously with the arrival of spring, we are relieved and happy to announce to you that the Orient-Institut Beirut is largely rebuilt after the painful damages and destructions it suffered in considerable parts of its beautifully ornamented and old premises from the devastating explosion of August 4, 2020. Recently, we were even able to welcome – in compliance with the appropriate health and safety measures – a first group of local scientists who lost their livelihood due to the economic crisis and whom we support in the framework of our Research Relief Fellowship Program. Despite the fact that the new year 2021 has started much like the old year ended, we are looking forward to doing our bit to keep the academic landscape lively and challenging.

Previous events

“Diffracting the Mediterranean ”
Thursday 28, Friday 29 January, 2021
Workshop by Monika Halkort

Better late than never: due to the pandemic, this workshop took place with almost one year delay. The virtual workshop interrogated how contemporary architectures of circulation – special economic zones, roads, communication networks and data satellites – articulate to the historically situated ecologies and infrastructural relations, tracing their variously materializing, onto-epistemic effects. Modern colonial histories of the Mediterranean give vivid testimony how the introduction of new technologies, i.e. radio, telegraphy, undersea cables, meteorological instruments and grand geo-engineering designs radically changed the course and direction of flows in the interest of colonial capital and power, ushering in a period of scientificisation and weaponisation of knowledge and environments that brought the metabolic life cycle of the region and sea ever more firmly under control.

"Environmental History of the Ottoman Empire"

Thursday, 10 December, 2020
Workshop by Fatih Ermis

Environmental history in general and especially within Ottoman studies is an emerging and dynamic field, which attracts an increasing number of young researchers. The history of the Ottoman Empire on the one hand promises rich and hitherto mostly undiscovered sources concerning environmental history, and on the other hand, the vast geography of the empire offers a great diversity in regard to environmental issues. Being situated in Beirut, this workshop especially aimed to include this geographical diversity. It was open to all researchers who showed interest in the Ottoman environmental history and to all subfields of the Ottoman studies, especially historians, geographers, theologians, natural scientists, sociologists, political scientists, botanists and zoologists.

"The (Un-)Literal World: How the Construction of Metaphor Theory in Islam Created a New "Common Sense" (al-ʿuqalāʾiyyah) and Perpetually Reshaped the Muslim Weltanschauung"
Thursday, 5 November, 2020
Public Research Seminar by Abdallah Soufan

The seminar started with investigating the hidden assumptions that were held by early medieval Muslim theoreticians as they were constructing a theory of metaphor. Abdallah Soufan argued that these hidden assumptions were rarely put into question as they reflected what was perceived to be a matter of consensus among reasonable people (al-ʿuqalāʾ) despite time and place. Nevertheless, it was demonstrated that once we delve into earlier Arabic modes of thinking, these assumptions start to collapse. This singles out that the first two or three centuries of Islam witnessed the emergence of a new “common sense” different from the one held at the beginning of this process. The speaker showed how understanding this process could illuminate many other transformations that took place in early Islam, not only in poetics, but also in theology, law, politics, and ethics.

"Women, Banks, and Politics" and "Beirut`s Public Spaces" – Two public events of the Research Group The Lebanese Intifada of October 17: Perspectives from Within
Thursday, 15 October, 2020 / Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Lebanese Intifada of October 17: Perspectives from Within is a research project in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung under the leadership of OIB director Birgit Schäbler and Armin Hasemann, head of FES. It documents and analyses the mass protests of autumn 2019 and will publish a book about its findings later this year. In interior workshops and two consecutive public events, the research group shared insights into the projects of its participants and discussed its work with the audience. Among others, the workshop Women, Banks, and Politics: Making Sense of the Intifada discussed topics like the participation of women in the Movement, banking, corrupt and trust in the Lebanese currency, the contribution of artists to the protests, as well as constitutional and systemic issues. Beirut`s Public Spaces, the second public event, was conceived as a public research seminar and dealt with the history of public space and its multifaceted (re)appropriation by protesters in discussions and art platforms.


Mariam S. El Ali. Akhbār Khadīja bt. Khuwaylid in the Islamic sources: Frames of Narration, Memory, and History. Beirut: Beiruter Texte und Studien 139, 2020.
Akhbār Khadīja bt. Khuwaylid in the Islamic sources: Frames of Narration, Memory, and History is an extensive philological study of the reports (akhbār) featuring Khadīja bt. Khuwaylid (d. 3 B. H. /619 A. D.) in the Arabic Islamic sources of various genres. Following a narratological literal approach, this book treats the collected reports as narrative units recurrently narrativized, conveyed, and employed in different plots, across Sīra, biographical dictionaries, canonical Ḥadīth collections, Tafsīr compilations, and Adab literature. It reveals how the images, shadows, and roles of Khadīja were formed in the course of transmitting those reports and adapting them to the variant structures of early sources. It also shows how Khadīja was idealized as later compilers penned her reports, and appended them with commentary and elucidations, mirroring their cultural perceptions and intellectual inclinations.
Arianna D'Ottone, Konrad Hirschler, Ronny Vollandt (eds.). The Damascus Fragments: Towards a History of the Qubbat al-khazna Corpus of Manuscripts and Documents. Beirut: Beiruter Texte und Studien 140, 2020.
This is the first volume aimed at placing the enormous set of fragments from the Qubbat al-khazna on the map of Middle Eastern history as a corpus. As much as its famous sibling, the Geniza of Cairo, the Qubba was ‘discovered’ in the 19th century, but its over 200,000 fragments have remained on the margins of scholar-ship so far. An international and interdisciplinary team of scholars has now come together to sketch the fascinating history of this collection and to map the extraordinarily varied multilingual, multireligious and mul-tiscriptural written artefacts it contains. This book is essential reading for those interested in manuscript studies as well as in philology and Middle Eastern history.
Hanane Hajj Ali and Nadia von Maltzahn (eds.). Insights into Cultural Policies in Lebanon. Beirut: Orient-Institut Studies 6, 2021.
The publication Insights into Cultural Policies in Lebanon aims to create awareness about cultural policies and invite debate on the subject. Cultural policy research is a new field in Lebanon, and access to data is limited. This volume gives initial insights and encourages further research on the frameworks guiding the cultural sector in Lebanon. It has been funded by Culture Resource within the context of their support to national working groups on cultural policies in the Arab region. It presents three main themes, namely legal frameworks for culture, public financing of culture, and heritage policies.

Read the Arabic version

Read the English/French version

Zaki Abd al-Majid Zaki, An-Naẓariyya an-Naqdiyya li Madrasa Frankfurt, ed. by Hajjaj Abu Jabr, Beirut: Orient-Institut Beirut and Dar al-Farabi, 2020

The critical theory developed by the pioneers of the Frankfurt School dates back to 1923 when the Institute for Social Research was founded in Frankfurt after the First World War. Members of the school were interested in theorizing the new forms of monopolistic state capitalism, the cultural industry, the authoritarian personality, and the oppressive patterns of social control, within the framework of social criticism that aims at radical and comprehensive change. This book is an engaged attempt to understand the relevance of the critical theory of the Frankfurt School to a better understanding of Egyptian society.


New research associate

Pierre France
Pierre wrote his thesis about the phenomenon of continuous state activity in Lebanon during the civil war (1975-1990). His publications on the matter can be found in Confluences Mediterrannée, Revue Internationale de Politique Comparée, Ethnologie Française (2021), Critique Internationale (2021), etc. Aside of his thesis he also worked on several projects related to the contemporary evolutions of civil service in France. He co-authored with Prof. Antoine Vauchez The Neoliberal Republic. Corporate Lawyers, Statecraft, and the Making of Public-Private France (Cornell UP, 2021, first published in French in 2017).
Research relief fellows
As an emergency response to the economic crisis, the Corona shutdown and most recently the catastrophic blast in the Beirut Harbor Area, the OIB started with the Research Relief Fellowship Program an initiative to support affected scholars based in Lebanon.

Rita Barotta: doctoral fellow from December 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021 with the project “The construction of male homosexuality in Lebanese cinema”

Zeina Fathallah: postdoctoral fellow from December 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021 with the project “Women’s decisions, experiences and access to safe abortion care: Accounts from women in Lebanon”

Louise Gallorini: doctoral fellow from October 15, 2020 to April 15, 2021 with the project “The study of the representation and functions of angels as narrative figures, their evolution, with and beyond their theological function”

Ziad Kiblawi: doctoral fellow from October 15, 2020 to April 15, 2021 with the project “Thought of theoretician Mahdi Amil, particularly his philosophical concepts (colonial mode of production, contradiction, ‘takhalluf’), mode of politics, and his reading of French structuralism and historical epistemology”  

Jamal Aridi: doctoral fellow from October 15, 2020 to April 15, 2021 with the project “When to write or not to write makes no difference, then writing changes; it is the writing of the disaster. (Maurice Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster)”

Postdoctoral fellows

Enrico Boccaccini, from October 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 with the project “Female reflections in mirrors: The discourse on women in advice literature for rulers”

Sarah Tafakori, from November 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 with the project “Security as everyday affect: The mediation of militarized bodies on Iranian social media”

Sam Wilder, from February 15 to December 15, 2021 with the project “Modes of knowledge and performance in pre-modern Arabic verse”  

Doctoral fellows

Chloe Kattar, from September 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021 with the project “Intellectual conservatism in Wartime Lebanon (1975-1982)”

Hratch Yervant Kestenian, from January 1 to August 31, 2021 with the project “The making of a social disease: Tuberculosis and the medicalization of Late Ottoman Society (1827-1922)”

Alfred el-Khoury, from October 15, 2020 to June 15, 2021 with the project “The war-metaphor in Old Arabic Poetry”

Anna Reumert, from October 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021 with the project “The etiquette of migration: Genealogies of Sudanese labor in Lebanon”

If you have missed previous editions of our newsletter, you can find them here.
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