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This is the newsletter of the Orient-Institut Beirut. To find out more about what we do, visit our website at www.orient-institut.org.

IN THIS ISSUE

Award for Muhammad Helmy


The Unmanly Man


Minorities Conference


Arab Fast Food


Food Fabrication

Newsletter 10/2014
Events and News

Award for Dr Muhammad Helmy

Image courtesy of NourRefai
During this year's German Science Day, organized by the German Science Center in Cairo on 15 November 2014, OIB researcher Dr Muhammad Helmy received the DWZ Award for Outstanding Support of Egyptian-German Cooperation in Science and Research. The award was granted especially for his engagement in the OIB project 
Chancery and Diplomatics exemplified by the correspondence of al-Qadi al-Fadil. As head of Saladin's chancery, al-Qadi al-Fadil (1135-1200) designed and carried out diplomatic correspondence, engaged in the organization of state finances and politics, and entertained an extensive literary communication with the most conspicuous intellectuals of his time. The project aims at making this key source - exemplary for the alliance of politics and literary refinement - accessible via printed edition and online documentation. Project leader Dr Muhammad Helmy received the award during a ceremony in the presence of other laureates and invited guests. In his acceptance speech, he highlighted the outstanding contribution of the other project team members, Muhammad al-Masarani and Abdel Karim Anas. The German Science Day attracted more than 900 visitors. OIB Deputy Director Astrid Meier and Research Associate Hans-Peter Pökel presented insights into our work, talking about "Food fabrication: food issues in Middle Eastern history" and "Learning and the transmission of knowledge in early 'Abbasid times".

The Unmanly Man: Figurations of the Eunuch in the Works of al-Jahiz
Public research seminar by OIB Research Associate Dr Hans-Peter Pökel
Tuesday, 25 November 2014, 6-8pm, Orient-Institut Beirut
The works of the polyhistor al-Jahiz (d.255/869) contain probably the earliest description of eunuchs in classical Arabic literature. Al-Jahiz shows a deep interest in eunuchs as a third gender category in his works, focusing mainly on the transformation of the "male" body in the context of Hellenistic discourses. He also pays attention to the influential position eunuchs gained in 'Abbasid court society. By analyzing figurations of the eunuch in the context of Late Antiquity, OIB Research Associate Hans-Peter Pökel aims to deliver a contribution to Men's Studies in the field of classical Islam and classical Arabic literature of the ninth century. This presentation is based on his PhD thesis, which he completed at the University of Jena and that was subsequently published by Ergon.

Where is the Middle East Heading? Ethno-religious minorities between persecution and self-determination
International Conference IN BERLIN, GERMANY
30 November - 2 December 2014, European Academy Berlin
Together with the Lepsiushaus Potsdam, the Moses Mendelssohn Centre at Potsdam University and the European Academy Berlin, we are organizing an international conference on the situation of Middle Eastern minorities after the "Arab Spring" entitled Where is the Middle East heading? Ethno-religious minorities between persecution and self-determination. During the last four years, complex and dramatic transformations have taken place in the Middle East. Until now, it remains difficult to assess their impact on the people, societies and governments in the region. This conference will explore and compare the conditions, political dynamics, survival strategies and international networks of different ethno-religious minorities in the framework of the historical development spanning the end of the Ottoman Empire, the Mandate period and the era of Arab nationalism up to the present. Read more about this timely event and download the full programme. It will be live-streamed on our blog starting 30 November at 6pm, so no excuse to miss it!

The Taste of Gentrification: Arab fast food in Berlin
Public research seminar by Dr Miriam Stock
Tuesday, 2 December 2014, 6-8pm, Orient-Institut Beirut
During the last two decades, Arab snack stores selling falafel, shawarma and halloumi flourished in gentrifying districts in Berlin. This, however, was far from accidental. Miriam Stock shows how migrant entrepreneurs from Lebanon, Palestine and beyond creatively promoted Berlin-style tastes in food and décor while invoking their cultural authenticity. By linking ethnic food to urban gentrification in a dense observation, she unfolds the mechanisms of everyday distinction in restructuring late capitalist cities, as will become clear during her presentation of her book on the topic.

Mark Your Calendars
  
Our next forum bringing together academics, artists, activists and others is fast approaching, this time revolving around food. From 15 to 17 January 2015, participants will critically examine current eating habits, cooking and dining cultures, food trends as well as the relation of food and arts, through open discussions, film screenings, academic presentations, a photo exhibition and excursions in and around Beirut. This event, co-organised with the Goethe-Institut Lebanon, is even more timely considering the recent debates about food safety in Lebanon. Read more about Food Fabrication here and keep an eye on our website for further details.

 
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