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Political Economy of Higher Education

THSS Cairo

Pleasure and Intoxication

The Avant-Garde and Its Networks

DYNTRAN Workshop


Rethinking Education

Copts and the Security State

Newsletter 10/2016
Events and News

Ala Al-Hamarneh: The Political Economy of Higher Education in the United Arab Emirates and Beyond in the GCC States 
Public research seminar
TODAY, 3 November 2016, 6-8pm, Orient-Institut Beirut
The higher education landscape of the United Arab Emirates reveals a special case study in the region within the contexts of diversity of academic providers and programmes, internationalization networks and the federal structure of the state itself. The main goals of higher education strategies associate political leverage with capacity building, the export strategy with meeting demographic changes, the economic diversification with global branding, and the security concerns with academic internationalization. The issues surrounding the accreditation of higher education institutions and academic programmes reflect some of the power relations within the federation, especially the dispute between the federal commission of accreditation in Abu Dhabi and the authorities in Dubai. In this seminar, strategies of higher education and models of internationalization and privatization will be presented.

Ala Al-Hamarneh holds a PhD in economic and social geography and is Assistant Professor for Human Geography and senior researcher at the Centre for Research on the Arab World at the Institute of Geography at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

THSS Cairo: Pluralism and the Principles of Religious Ethics
Lecture in Cairo in Cooperation with Al-Azhar University
Sunday, 6 November 2016
Positioning contemporary theology in the framework of intellectual currents and social transformations constitutes a common ground for our series of lectures and debates. If we understand pluralism as the principal acknowledgement of factual plurality in social, cultural and religious matters, the challenge implied concerns, at least, our concepts of truth, human rights and social practices. In this second encounter of our series "Theologies, Humanities and Social Sciences", Abdullah Al-Naggar (Al-Azhar University) and Friedrich Wilhelm Graf (LMU München) discuss the inherent creative and critical potential of their theologies. For more information, please contact our Cairo Office.

Danilo Marino: Pleasure and Intoxication as a Literary Topic. Eating Hashish in Mamluk Literature
Public research seminar
Thursday, 10 November 2016, 6-8pm, Orient-Institut Beirut
Although cannabis was used for centuries in medical treatments, it is only from the 13th century that the first literary texts inspired by hashish consumption were recorded in Arabic sources. Probably this is the case because hashish started to be used as a recreational substance from the late Abbasid period. In this presentation, the appearance of the herb in the Arab society of the Mamluk sultanate (648-922/1250-1517) will briefly be presented before focusing on a variety of jocular anecdotes focused on pleasures surrounding hashish intoxication. Finally, a number of poetic compositions describing the herb and its effects within the frame of Arabic literary conventions will be analysed. The aim is also to understand if hashish literature and especially poetry can be considered as a new genre. The main source will be the Rāḥat al-arwāḥ fī l-ḥashīsh wa-l-rāḥ (The delight of the souls in hashish and wine), an anthology compiled in the second half of the 15th century by Taqī al-Dīn Abū l-Tuqā' al-Badrī (847-894/1443-1489). 

Danilo Marino received a PhD in Letterature Comparate and Langues, littératures et sociétés du monde from the Università degli studi di Napoli "L'Orientale" and the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO) of Paris. Based in Cairo, he is currently working on the complete edition of al-Badrī's Rāḥat al-arwāḥ fī l-ḥashīsh wa-l-rāḥ.

The Avant-Garde and Its Networks: Surrealism in Paris, North Africa and the Middle East from the 1930s
International workshop in cooperation with Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte, Paris
14-15 November 2016, Orient-Institut Beirut
Research into Surrealism in the Middle East and North Africa is still in its infancy, despite an increased interest in the subject in recent years, especially in Egypt's Art and Freedom group. It is generally assumed that the artistic and cultural exchanges took place mainly between the "center" in Paris and the respective "peripheries", and less so between the peripheries themselves. The workshop seeks to shed light on Surrealism as a political, social, literary and artistic phenomenon that migrated beyond Europe and was translated into different contexts. It focuses on international networks and translation processes between Paris, Beirut, Cairo, and other cities from North Africa to Iran. The question of how the circulation and reception of artistic and literary ideas and practices have affected the concepts of Surrealism and modernity is another point the workshop seeks to address. (See full programme)

DYNTRAN Cairo Workshop: Modes and Frameworks of Transmission
The Franco-German research project DYNTRAN (Dynamics of Transition: Families, Authority and Knowledge in the Early Modern Middle East, 15th - 17th Centuries), of which OIB's Deputy Director Astrid Meier and Research Associate Torsten Wollina are members, is holding its next workshop in Cairo from 20 to 22 November 2016. The workshop will focus on the modes and frameworks of transmission.

OIB at MESA 2016

The OIB is participating at this year's MESA conference in Boston, MA with a range of panels and presentations:

Panel: Youth, Education and Democracy in the Middle East
Friday, 18 November 2016, 8am
OIB Research Associate Daniele Cantini co-organised this panel focusing on the formation of youth subjectivities and the challenges of development and democratisation in and through educational institutions in the Middle East. He is participating in this panel with a paper entitled "Youth in (higher) educational spaces - researching university students in Jordan, ethnographically".

Panel: The Art Salon in the Middle East: Migration of Institutional Patronage and its Challenges
Friday, 18 November 2016, 10am
OIB Research Associates Monique Bellan and Nadia von Maltzahn have organised a panel on the Art Salon in the Middle East. It explores the role of the art salon, examining to what extent it had an impact on the formation of public taste and debates on art in the Middle East, as well as looking at knowledge transfer and cultural interactions between Europe and the Middle East. Within the panel, which is sponsored by the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran & Turkey (AMCA), Monique Bellan will speak about "The Egyptian Avant-Garde Defying the Salon", while Nadia von Maltzahn will present a paper entitled "Guiding the Artist and the Public? The Salon d'Automne at Beirut's Sursock Museum".

Panel: Contested Politics: Libya, Morocco, Syria, Iraq
Friday, 18 November 2016, 5.45pm
OIB Postdoctoral Fellow Fouad Marei is participating in this panel with a paper investigating mechanisms and practices of governing populations in contexts of protracted violent conflict and limited state authority, entitled "Governing in the Meanwhile? Understanding Justice and Governance in the Syrian Insurgency".

Panel: Literature and/or History? Analyzing Literary Elements and Narrative Strategies in Arab Historical Writing
Saturday, 19 November 2016, 2pm
OIB Doctoral Fellow Pamela Klasova organised a panel on Arabic historical sources, aiming to problematize the strict division between literature and history, and striving for innovative approaches to literary elements and strategies in Arabic historical writing. She is participating in the panel with a paper on "Dramatizing narrative through eloquent speech: The khutab of al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf in history and adab works". Pamela Klasova is also chairing a panel on the Development of Bayān through the Centuries on Saturday at 10am.


Daniele Cantini (Ed.): Rethinking Private Higher Education
Brill Studies in Critical Social Sciences, October 2016
This new edited volume by OIB Research Associate Daniele Cantini takes the university as a core institution in modern nation states. It offers fresh insights into the actual meaning of "private" in different higher education contexts, contributing to a deeper understanding of the actual effects of global policies in local contexts through ethnographies. This book explores how private universities were established, and analyses their context and history, and changing business models and operations. The strengths of this book are its ethnographic detail, which shows the complexity and fast changing forms of private higher education, and its reluctance to jump to simplified labelling of public and private.

Laure Guirguis: Copts and the Security State: Violence, Coercion, and Sectarianism in Contemporary Egypt
Stanford Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic Societies and Cultures, November 2016
OIB Postdoctoral Fellow Laure Guirguis has just published her new book with Stanford University Press. Copts and the Security State combines political, anthropological, and social history to analyse the practices of the Egyptian state and the political acts of the Egyptian Coptic minority. Laure Guirguis considers how the state, through its subjugation of Coptic citizens, reproduces a political order based on religious identity and difference. The leadership of the Coptic Church, in turn, has taken more political stances, thus foreclosing opportunities for secularization or common ground. In each instance, the underlying logics of authoritarianism and sectarianism articulate a fear of the Other, and, as Guirguis argues, are ultimately put to use to justify the expanding Egyptian security state. (See more)

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