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Neoliberal Islamism and Egyptian Nationalism

The Lebanese Constitution

Restoration of 2 Saleeby paintings

BTS 105 Malek Sharif

Newsletter 6/2014
Events and News

Neoliberal Islamism and the Construction of Official Egyptian Nationalism
Public research seminar by Dr Hania Sobhy
Tuesday, 1 July 2014, 6-8pm, Orient-Institut Beirut

Like the Mubarak regime before it, the post-June 30 political order bases its legitimacy on safeguarding a nationalist and 'secular' vision of the state and 'saving' Egypt from Islamist extremism. Despite important differences, official discourses continue to selectively employ Islamist themes and to rely on Islamist forces to stabilize the country. The 'new' regime seems equally committed to a neoliberal-Islamist vision of citizenship, where the 'good citizen' is expected to adhere to correct religious teachings, lift the country into progress, assist the less fortunate and 'lead an economic life based on competition'. This presentation pieces together the key themes of official nationalism as propagated in Egypt's educated classes in nationally-unified school textbooks before 2011, and key changes therein until 2014.

The Lebanese Constitution: Legality in the Arena of Political Philosophy
Public research seminar by Wissam el-Lahham
Tuesday, 8 July, 6-8pm, Orient-Institut Beirut
The Lebanese constitution and the National Pact are often depicted as identical in nature. It even became widely accepted to reduce a political agreement such as the Taef accord or the Doha settlement into a mere legal text only to be studied by jurists. But upon further inspection one can discover fundamental discrepancies between the constitution and the pact of philosophical order. Concepts like 'legitimacy', 'sovereignty', and 'pact of coexistence' are intrinsically non-legal, and only by uncovering their political potential can we grasp the intricacies of the Lebanese political regime. Join us for political scientist Wissam el-Lahham's presentation on the Lebanese constitution.

Khalil Sarkis and Wife Louise, Née Boustani, at the OIB - The Restoration of Two Portraits by Khalil Saleeby
Two paintings by Khalil Saleeby (1870-1928), one of the pioneers of modern Lebanese painting, showing Khalil Sarkis and his wife Louise Boustani Sarkis were entrusted to the OIB by the Sarkis family. After several decades in the institute's staircase (and probably not ideal storing conditions before they came to the OIB some time ago), they needed some attention. Conservation expert Cornelia Rüth recently spent one month at the OIB to restore the two paintings and their frames. She presented her work and the restored paintings on 11 June 2014, showing the restoration process step by step. Above you can find the paintings before restoration, below after restoration in their restored frames (photos by Cornelia Rüth).



BTS 105: Imperial Norms and Local Realities by Malek Sharif
Imperial Norms and Local Realities. The Ottoman Municipal Laws and the Municipality of Beirut (1860-1908), Beiruter Texte und Studien 105 (Beirut 2014) by Malek Sharif revises and rejects the widely held assumption that the municipal institution of the Ottoman Tanzimat period was imposed on the provinces by the central authorities of the Empire. This study provides a differentiated picture of the Beirut municipality, achieved through the careful perusal of the consecutive Ottoman laws, in addition to a variety of other contemporary sources including the local press, Ottoman almanacs, memoirs, Western consular correspondence, travelogues and Ottoman archival material. Special attention is given to the formative years of a number of municipal institutions in Syria. As Sharif shows convincingly, the history of the municipality of Beirut is more nuanced than hitherto assumed.

Malek Sharif was Visiting Assistant Professor at the History and Archaeology Department and Civilisation Sequence Program at the American Univerisity of Beirut from 2008 until 2010, and lecturer at the same departments since 2010. 

Imperial Norms and Local Realities can be purchased through the Ergon-Verlag (Europe) and al-Furat (Middle East). It can also be purchased at the OIB.


Research Spotlight

Media Culture Transformation
The OIB-based BMBF-funded project Media Culture Transformation, introduced in our January 2014 newsletter, was recently featured in Weltweit vor Ort, the bi-annual magazine of the Max Weber Foundation. Entitled "Constitutional Debates in Egypt in the Mirror of the Public Sphere", the contribution highlights the role of the debates around a new constitution in the transformation processes. Read more (in German).

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