Call for papers: Whither the Nation? National identity in the twentieth-century and contemporary Middle East and South Asia

The Orient Institut  and the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies at the American University of Beirut will be convening a two and half day conference in Beirut (September 27-29) on twentieth-century and contemporary political thought and its dealings with the question of national identity. The aim of the conference will be to discuss recent research on the different political and social ideologies that emerged in the Middle East and South Asia during the following historical times: late nineteenth and early twentieth century; inter-war period; post second-world war with a specific focus on the 1970s-1990s; and the post-cold war period leading to contemporary times. The purpose of this sampling is to allow for a historicization of ideas that is based on the central principle of recognizing the historical specificity and material reality of any theory. The conference seeks to bring together research on identity formation within specific historical moments, both synchronically and diachronically. It thus places importance on the transformations of identitarian politics acrosstime and within the specific temporal intervals mentioned above. Most importantly, the conference seeks to explore the enduring links between nationalism and modernity as a specific political economic project.

Organiser: Orient-Institut Beirut and Center for Arab and Middle Eastern
Studies, AUB
Date: September 27-29, 2013
Location: Beirut
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 25 May, 2013

The abstracts must address at least one of the following questions:

–          How does nationalism operate in relation to sectarianism, liberalism, and human rights?
–          How does the nation impose on the individual and collectivity?
–          How is the contrast between the Islamic Umma and national community formulated?
–          What are the spatio-temporal boundaries of nationalist ideologies (pertaining to citizenship, class, notions of belonging, individual autonomy, affectual spaces, justice and the law)?
–          How does the study of non-European nationalisms contest or challenge salient theories of nationalism especially in relation to the links between secularism and nationalism as well as post-colonial theory?
–          Are there any emancipatory potentials for national-popular movements in the post-Cold War era?

The participants will be required to submit a full draft of their presentation paper by August 30th, 2013 for the purpose of a more focused and productive discussion. The aim is to publish the conference proceedings in an edited volume.

The deadline for abstract and title submission is May 25, 2013. Abstracts (300 words) along with a short biographical statement should be sent to Dr. Nadia Bou Ali at


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