The ICI Berlin is inviting applications to participate in a Symposium titled “Middle of Where, East of What? New Geographies of Conflict” to take place on July 14, 2016.
The symposium will gather 8-10 participants for a series of short presentations and a public discussion. Participants will be invited to give 5-10 minute talks relating their work to the questions of the symposium and actively participate in a roundtable discussion that includes the public.
If you are interested in participating please send a brief description of your research and how it relates to the Symposium topic, or a description of your intervention (5-10 minute presentations) in addition to a short bio by May 31, 2016 to:
The ICI cannot cover or organise for travel or accommodation, however, participants will be allocated an honorarium.
About the Symposium
Middle of Where, East of What?
New Geographies of Conflict
Organised by Saima Akhtar and Walid Houri
July 14, 2016
The Middle East is a region that has been defined in relation to the so-called West throughout its history. Western involvement in the region has had considerable impact in both carving national boundaries historically and shaping new geopolitical realities on the ground today. Taking the years between WW2 and the present, this symposium examines this history through the current political moment, and seeks to understand how new geographies have been created through transregional movements, upheavals, migrations, and conflict.
Moreover, we hope to discuss the strategic importance that the Middle East has held as a zone of “otherness” or an “elsewhere” where conflicts are always thought to be happening. While the region has served as a proxy for international interests, the complexities of the greater Middle East aren’t just generated from the outside; it is a vast, and relatively undefined, collection of countries that are undergoing rapid change on the ground, from social movements related to labour, religion, waste, and the right to the city, to struggles with economic disparity, civil war, and unstable governing structures. By sketching a relatively loose geography, we tie together the actions of “there” with those of “here” by discussing the various transnational pull and push factors that spur movement and conflict. The geographies of the “West” and “East” are implicated in each other and become visible in cities and peripheries of significance today: from Gafsa, Tunisia to Doha, Qatar and Deir ez Zor, Syria to Istanbul, Turkey, these places constitute an urban network that has been affected by socio-economic and political movements in a globalizing world - and their transformations are instrumental to tracing the changing geography of the Middle East and its relation to the broader region.
The symposium follows a keynote by architectural historian Nasser Rabbat, who explores questions about modernity and tradition in Arab cities. Using this as a starting point, our event includes a roundtable discussion and talks by practitioners and scholars in history and Middle Eastern studies, and explores the transformations of urban spaces resulting from changing patterns of movement, conflicts, and shifting borders.