This symposium is occasioned by the recent discovery of the only-known Judeo-Persian copy of the apocryphal Book of Tobit, one of the most uplifting stories of the Old Testament which has inspired explosions in the arts. Commissioned in 1600 in the City of Lār, the interdisciplinary and global crossroads of the manuscript provides an important case study of global early modernity within a research agenda that includes global art history, Judeo-Persian, and Judeo-Arabic studies, diplomatic and commercial relations, biblical studies, and natural philosophy of language. A two-day symposium brings prominent scholars into a conversation about the significance of the global iterations and variations of the remarkable story and iconography of the Book of Tobit. On the occasion of this symposium, the manuscript will travel back to the region and will be exhibited at Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Hosted by NYU Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with Bibliothèque Nationale de France and Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Prof. Alia Yunis and Prof. Dale Hudson will discuss the confluences of trade routes and media formats that have shaped Gulf media beyond mall cineplexes, based on the special double issue of Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, “Film and Visual Media in the Gulf,” which they co-edited and which has just been released. Topics include tribal use of social media, the golden age of Kuwait television, videos produced by working-class and second-generation expatriates in UAE, transmission of banned Bombay films via Oman TV into Pakistan, the first early official photography in Kuwait by a Palestinian photographer, the explosion of original Malayalam media for the Gulf and Arabic-dubbed Hindi media, and the role of digital platforms as sites of debate.
Alia Yunis, Visiting Associate Professor of Film and Heritage Studies
Dale Hudson, Associate Teaching Professor of Film and New Media and Curator of Film and New Media
Laure Assaf, Assistant Professor of Arab Crossroads Studies and Anthropology
The rescue and release of Christian and Muslim captives was a flourishing, if risky, business. Dr. Miller’s talk introduces the main actors involved in captive redemption and discusses two specific case studies in the late fourteenth century. Using as a starting point the handshake or legal contract - a moment of collaboration and conflict between these groups and individuals - she asks the following questions: What can explain the alternating trust and distrust that can be traced between Christian and Muslim agents? What sort of creative mechanisms of exchange was employed by negotiators accustomed to different legal customs and judicial practices? How did Muslim and Christian middlemen read and anticipate the behavior of their counterparts and adjust their strategies accordingly?
Rooted in racism and the long-term effects of colonialism, the societal ill has encouraged lighter-skin preference with an impact on multiple areas including access to various resources, opportunities for social mobility, representation in media, and popular beauty standards. This discussion tackles the issue of colorism and its varied manifestations in communities across the globe. It also focuses on the colonial history of colorism and its continued socio-cultural impact in regions such as the Americas, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa.
This event is hosted in collaboration with the Humanities Research Fellowship for the Study of the Arab World. It is co-sponsored by the NYUAD African Studies minor, the NYUAD Social Science division, and the NYUAD Caribbean Students Association.
OpenGulf (opengulf.github.io) is a transdisciplinary, multi-institutional research group for a community of scholars working on digital historical projects related to the Gulf region. This presentation will introduce three research projects underway working with large source bases about the Gulf from different time periods: handwritten material from the British colonial residency in Bushire held in the India Office Records, the large historical reference work known as Lorimer's Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Central Arabia and Oman and Abu Dhabi phone directories (1970-2005).
Nora Barakat, Assistant Professor of History, Stanford University
Suphan Kirmizialtin, Visiting Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern History
David Joseph Wrisley, Associate Professor of Digital Humanities
Nathalie Peutz, Associate Professor of Arab Crossroads
In 1972, filmmakers and critics from across the Arab world met in Damascus at the first young filmmakers film festival where they coined the term al-sinima al-badilah (alternative cinema) and attempted to define what that cinema might be. “Alternative cinema” was just one term that filmmakers, critics, and activists used during the 1970s and 1980s to describe a new type of filmmaking they hoped to create, one that saw itself as a serious art form and force for political and social good, rather than a form of entertainment motivated by profit. In this talk Nadia Yaqub will summarize the debates surrounding this initiative as a first step in tracing the transnational film history of this period.
Arabic-Islamic written tradition is filled with narratives of pre-Islamic characters and events. These narratives are often preserved through the oral tradition prior to being retold and renarrated by Muslim writers. This talk will present a number of early narratives involving figures identified as “khunthā” [intersex]. A number of those narratives retell a counter-intuitive resolution to an inheritance dispute by a legendary judge from ancient Arabia. These narratives have found afterlives in literary and religious discourses many generations after the judge and disputants. What do the retold narratives tell us about the authors who documented them? And what do the contexts of these retellings by different writers indicate about the purposes and questions these narratives were addressing?
In this talk, Duke University Press Editor Elizabeth Ault will explore the process of turning your dissertation into a book, from defense to publication. The talk will emphasize finding the right press and editor, thinking about audiences, sharpening your argument, and developing your voice as a writer and thinker.
In collaboration with the division of Arts & Humanities
Why is it that a significant number of Arabic epics (siyar sha‘biyya) first attested in the 12th century contain protagonists who are raced as Black and assigned unique origin stories unlike their heroic peers? What can attention to this genre of literature teach us about the role of race in narrative and social-historical modes of Muslim belonging? This talk will introduce Rachel Schine's research examining representations of Black heroes in medieval Arab-Islamic popular epics that existed between oral and written traditions and across vast regional and temporal contexts. By comparing the aspirational histories featured in epics with related works of adab, geographies, legal texts, and medical texts, she illustrates the particular racial logic of this popular literary form and situates its role in the premodern Arabic corpus as a whole.
Family Business Histories project
Alfredo De Massis, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, IMD and Lancaster University
Farida El-Agamy, Tharawat Family Business Forum
Martin Klimke, NYUAD
Family businesses can be burdened or empowered by their history. This talk explored the significance and values of examining family capitalism from a historical perspective in conjunction with the upcoming special issue of the Family Business Review journal (FBR).
Family Business Histories project
Slim Othmani, Former Chairman, NCA-Rouiba
Farida El-Agamy, Tharawat Family Business Forum
Martin Klimke, NYUAD
Our publications consist of a series of case studies which explore the historical evolution of selected leading family businesses in the MENASA region. In this webinar, we presented the third case study in the series, conducted with NCA-Rouiba (1966 – 2019).
Does the Qur’an discuss the Israelite exile and their return? Does it engage with Jewish liturgy? Why would it? While these thoughts might seem absurd at first, please join us for this talk to discover how Q. 2:259–260 alludes to Jewish traditions that share a common theme: the Israelite exile in the Diaspora and their return. Several points of intertextuality are identified suggesting that this passage is engaging with Jewish liturgy, especially the daily recitation of the Shemaʿ and the ʿAmidah. This Qur’anic passage is in the same chapter that discusses the direction of prayer, and hence, full awareness not only of the direction, but also the content of the daily Jewish prayers may not be far-fetched at all.
'False Gods, Human Weaknesses: Christian and Muslim Analyses'
Taneli Kukkonen, NYU Abu Dhabi
Siiri Toiviainen Rø, University of Helsinki
Chris Ocker, Australian Catholic University
This is the fifth of a series of online seminars that explores the historical, cultural, and geographical boundaries and contact points between the peoples of Europe, the Middle East, and other parts of the world, from the beginning of Islam to the near present. The series highlights recent and ongoing research in the interactions, habits, and concepts that facilitated ‘recognition’ of religion(s) and how these changed over time.
In collaboration with the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at Australian Catholic University, the ERC-project European Qur'an: Islamic Scripture in European Culture and Religion at the University of Copenhagen (EuQu), NYUAD Institute
The Office of Inclusion and Equity is proud to host Sara Minkara and Fatma AlJassim for a conversation on developing a more inclusive society and transforming social and cultural stigmas against disability globally. This discussion will explore what it means to be “authentically inclusive” and how this can be fostered on individual, institutional, and global levels. The discussion will be followed by an interactive session, "Discovery in the Dark," which is designed to facilitate deep self-reflection on the ways we perceive ourselves and others and how much of that is based on visual cues and assumptions. This session will help create awareness of how perceptions create external realities and will build on that to identify concrete ways to bring more inclusive practices into workplaces, communities, schools, and beyond.
How can an archaeological excavation led by German diplomat Baron Max von Oppenheim in Tell Halaf, northeast Syria, at the turn of the twentieth century reshape present geopolitical debates? Do fragmented family heirlooms have the agency to decolonize dominant archaeological narratives? This roundtable brings together artists, curators and scholars to explore current discussions of cultural (re)appropriation, heritage and freedom of movement in this critical historical moment.
Katia Arfara, Assistant Professor of Theater & Performance Studies, NYU Abu Dhabi
In conversation with
Ryan Inouye, Senior Curator, Sharjah Art Foundation
Uzma Z. Rizvi, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Urban Studies, Pratt Institute
Rayyane Tabet, Artist
"Pluralism in Interreligious Debate: A Case from Eighth-Century Baghdad"
— John Zaleski, Humanities Research Fellow
“The Limits of Reasoned Speech: On Abū Ḥayyān al-Tawḥīdī’s Narrations of Intellectual Debates”
— Maurice Pomerantz, Program Head of ACS; Associate Professor of Literature, NYUAD
“Passion and Dispassion in Debate: A Portrayal from the 12th Century”
— Ayman Shihadeh, Senior Humanities Research Fellow
"A Theological History in 160 Debates: The Didactic Disputes of Abū ʿAlī al-Sakūnī (d. 717/1317)"
— Caitlyn Olson, Humanities Research Fellow
Taneli Kukkonen, Professor of Philosophy
'Exchanges Across Religious Lines: Material Interests and Representations'
Francesca Trivellato, Institute for Advanced Study
Leor Halevi, Vanderbilt University
Ethan Shagan, UC Berkeley
This is the fourth of a series of online seminars that explores the historical, cultural, and geographical boundaries and contact points between the peoples of Europe, the Middle East, and other parts of the world, from the beginning of Islam to the near present. The series highlights recent and ongoing research in the interactions, habits, and concepts that facilitated ‘recognition’ of religion(s) and how these changed over time.
In collaboration with the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at Australian Catholic University, the ERC-project European Qur'an: Islamic Scripture in European Culture and Religion at the University of Copenhagen (EuQu), NYUAD Institute
Family Business Histories project
Andrea Schneider-Braunberger, CEO, Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte (GUG)
Faride El-Agamy, Tharawat Family Business Forum
Martin Klimke, NYUAD
The Family Business Histories project was delighted to welcome Dr. Andrea Schneider-Braunberger for their webinar. Andrea shared her research on German family firms responding to crisis and what today’s leaders can learn from yesterday’s entrepreneurs.
International Women’s Day is a global celebration of all the extraordinary achievements of women and the crucial role they play in their communities and beyond. This past year we have witnessed female leaders overcome adversity and being praised for their effective handling of the Covid-19 pandemic; Kamala Harris broke a glass ceiling as the first female, Black, and South Asian American Vice President; women footballers in Brazil and Sierra Leone received equal pay; and many more achievements.
Please join former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in conversation with Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann, for a discussion on the importance of having women in leadership positions to catalyze social change, women seeking to push boundaries and challenge the status quo, and President Sirleaf’s achievements in rebuilding a war-torn nation and advancing sustainable development in Liberia.
“Fluid Materialisms: Preliminary Reflections on Public Monuments in the Post-oil Era”
— Katia Arfara, Assistant Professor of Theater, Performance Studies
“From the pandemic agoraphobic center to the idio(ts)syncrasy of the periphery: a new form of oriental imaginary”
— George Katodrytis, Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture, American University of Sharjah
“City Center / Nomadic Monads”
— Sandra Peters, Assistant Arts Professor of Arts Practice
Laure Assaf, Assistant Professor of Arab Crossroads Studies and Anthropology
This Blackness Without Borders event will discuss the intersection of the Black experience as it pertains to the Middle East and North Africa and the Muslim world. Experts and scholars in Middle Eastern, African, and Diaspora studies, our panelists will explore the nuanced and complex Black experiences in Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, and the Gulf. Dr. Gomez, Dr. Troutt Powell, Dr. El Hamel, and Dr. Abusharaf will delve into the colonial history of the Middle East and North Africa and trace its impact on the development of how the Black experience is framed and understood today.
This event is brought to you by the Office of the Vice Chancellor, the Office of Inclusion and Equity at NYUAD, the Center for the Study of Africa and the African Diaspora (CSAAD) at NYU New York, and the NYUAD Institute.
'Apostates and Impostors in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean'
Tamar Herzig, Tel Aviv University
Hussein Fancy, University of Michigan
Charles Stang, Harvard University
This is the third of a series of online seminars that explores the historical, cultural, and geographical boundaries and contact points between the peoples of Europe, the Middle East, and other parts of the world, from the beginning of Islam to the near present. The series highlights recent and ongoing research in the interactions, habits, and concepts that facilitated ‘recognition’ of religion(s) and how these changed over time.
In collaboration with the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at Australian Catholic University, the ERC-project European Qur'an: Islamic Scripture in European Culture and Religion at the University of Copenhagen (EuQu), NYUAD Institute
Principal among the aromatics associated with the southern Arabian Peninsula are the twin gum-resins cut from the trees belonging to the genera Boswellia and Commiphora otherwise known as frankincense and myrrh. Because these resins and their exchange became the reference point for Arabia in the Mediterranean world, it has been almost impossible to investigate Arabian trade and customs without presuming that this trade was composed of frankincense and myrrh, the most remembered ancient fragrances in Western culture.
This presentation analyzes the "aromatics of all kinds" that were in circulation in pre-Islamic/early Islamic Arabia. It links the scientific study of scents to the traditionally shaped cuboid incense burner, an artifact-type for incense-burning in antiquity that remains an iconic touchstone for understanding Arabia's perfume heritage today.
Family Business Histories project
Abdullah Almajdouie, Vice-Chairman, Almajdouie Group
Farida El-Agamy, Tharawat Family Business Forum
Martin Klimke, NYUAD
Family Business Histories publications consist of a series of case studies which explore the historical evolution of selected leading family businesses in the MENASA region. In this webinar, we presented the second case study in the series, conducted with Almajdouie Group.
The Office of the Vice Chancellor and the Office of Inclusion and Equity, present the Race, Diversity and the Learning Community series Blackness Without Borders. This speaker series will bring international scholars, writers and practitioners that focus on the multiple dimensions of the Black experience globally. Please join Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Chair of Princeton’s Department of African American Studies in conversation with Awam Amkpa, NYUAD Interim Dean of Arts and Humanities as they discuss the multiple dimensions of the Black experience in the US and beyond. The inaugural Blackness Without Borders series will be introduced by Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann and followed by opening remarks from Fatiah Touray, Esq., Senior Director of the Office of Inclusion and Equity at NYUAD.
Despite the emergence of three generations of successful journalists in the Emirates since the mid-1960s, views on the role of women journalists and on the media landscape continue to evolve. This talk will analyze the newsroom norms that challenge them, uncover the current reality of news production in the UAE, the state’s role in empowering women, and the impact of distinctive socio-cultural components on their representation in the media and on their role in society.
Mahnaz Yousefzadeh presents the only known Judeo-Persian Old Testament book of Tobit acquired by Giambattista Vecchietti during his second journey to Persia and India (1600-1608). The diplomat-scholar’s interest in Tobit is situated within an early-modern post-Trentine Florentine encounter with the Persianate world. By re-naming the manuscript 'Tobi and Persian Jewry,' Vecchietti posits an original hermeneutic built on a poetics of uncoerced exile not rooted in the Septuagint or the Vulgate. Vecchietti’s Persianate reading offers a new history of biblical exile and art that prefigures Vico’s humanism and further offers an explanation for the popularity of Tobias iconography in the Mughal courts of Akbar and Jahangir.
In collaboration with Arab Crossroads Studies
According to the historically dominant school of Islamic theology in Morocco, all Muslims must have a basic understanding of creedal doctrine to be of sound standing in the afterlife. What, then, to do with the reality that much of the populace in pre-modern Morocco seemed to lack such an understanding? This presentation examines the ways that Moroccan scholars of the 16th and 17th centuries jockeyed for the authority to answer this question, with some of them promoting the active monitoring, teaching, and disciplining of creedal knowledge among people in their broader communities. The disputes and activities of these scholars not only shed light on their own anxieties but also offer glimpses into the sorts of beliefs held by people beyond their elite circles.
'Forms of Religious Recognition in Early Modern Iberia and the Ottoman Empire'
Mercedes García-Arenal, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid
Tijana Krstić, Central European University, Vienna
Jan Loop, University of Copenhagen
This is the second of a series of online seminars that explores the historical, cultural, and geographical boundaries and contact points between the peoples of Europe, the Middle East, and other parts of the world, from the beginning of Islam to the near present. The series highlights recent and ongoing research in the interactions, habits, and concepts that facilitated ‘recognition’ of religion(s) and how these changed over time.
This talk explores the contours of civilian life in post-Gaddafi Libya through a focus on militia-built sonic environments and encounters. Research on Libyan politics in the period since the 2011 revolution has been largely policy-oriented, advancing the language of state failure and chaos in efforts to impel particular action by global and regional powers. Leila's current research project intervenes by centering the politics of daily life in post-2011 Libya and highlighting the ways that power relations have manifested through grounded, embodied interactions. In particular, militias have used sound practices – from loudspeaker announcements to music concerts and from discourses about accent to conversations at checkpoints – to substantiate political authority during the years after 2011. These sound practices, in turn, have formed dispersed sites of political contestation between civilians and members of armed groups.
In this presentation, Kate Wahl will discuss the overall publishing process from an editor’s perspective. She will also share tips on pitfalls to avoid during the process, qualities of a good book proposal, and more. At Stanford University Press, Wahl is Editor-in-Chief and Publishing Director. She acquires books in Middle East Studies and anthropology, edits the series 'Stanford Studies in Comparative Race and Ethnicity,' and develops general interest books for the press’s trade imprint, Redwood Press.
In collaboration with the division of Arts & Humanities
Iraq was the first postcolonial state recognized as legally sovereign by the League of Nations amid the twentieth-century wave of decolonization movements. It also emerged as an early laboratory of development projects designed by Iraqi intellectuals, British colonial officials, American modernization theorists, and postwar international agencies. Familiar Futures considers how such projects--from the country's creation under British mandate rule in 1920 through the 1958 revolution to the first Ba'th coup in 1963--reshaped Iraqi everyday habits, desires, and familial relations. Future-oriented discourses about the importance of sexual difference to Iraq's modernization worked paradoxically, deferring demands for political change in the present and reproducing existing capitalist relations. Ultimately, the book shows how certain goods--most obviously, democratic ideals--were repeatedly sacrificed in the name of the nation's economic development in an ever-receding future.
In collaboration with Arab Crossroads Studies
Between 1831 and 1914, cholera spread from India to Mecca and the Hijaz on at least forty separate occasions. This talk traces the development of Ottoman and international quarantine and public health controls in the Hijaz, Red Sea, and Persian Gulf between 1865 and World War I. Low argues that pandemic cholera and the inter-imperial public health and travel regulations that its reign of terror spawned were foundational to the creation of the modern system of mass pilgrimage that we know today. In light of our current global crisis with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its role in Saudi Arabia’s difficult decision to dramatically restrict hajj and umrah travel this year, the relevance of Mecca’s pandemic past raises urgent new questions for understanding the present and future of pilgrimage management and even wider questions of mass mobility, travel restrictions, and border management.
'Situating World Religions in Modern Islam'
Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, NYU
Esmat Elhalaby, University of California, Davis
Taneli Kukkonen, NYUAD
This is the first of a series of online seminars that explores the historical, cultural, and geographical boundaries and contact points between the peoples of Europe, the Middle East, and other parts of the world, from the beginning of Islam to the near present. The series highlights recent and ongoing research in the interactions, habits, and concepts that facilitated ‘recognition’ of religion(s) and how these changed over time.
The NYUAD Institute
Formed sixty years ago, OPEC was the first international organization of the Global South. In the 1970s it was perceived as acting as an economic "spearhead" for developing countries and played a role that went far beyond the realm of oil politics. Today the cooperation among petrostates is complicated by political divisions, the rise of shale oil, the strength of the climate change agenda, and oil exporters' plans to diversify their economies.
Giuliano Garavini, Associate Professor of International History, Roma Tre University in Rome; Author of "The Rise and Fall of OPEC in the 20th Century" (Oxford University Press, 2019)
In conversation with
H.E. Majid Al-Moneef, Former OPEC Governor; Chairman of the International Advisory Committee of King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC)
Bassam Fattouh, Director of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies
Robin Mills, CEO of Qamar Energy
Academic Year 2019-2020
Australian Catholic University, Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program Seminar
Reindert Falkenburg Professor of Early Modern Art and Culture at NYUAD. Response by Dr Lisa Beaven, La Trobe University. Moderated by Professor Susan Broomhall, incoming Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, ACU.
During the last decade Emirati women due to their ever-increasing educational achievements – sustained by a state politics of modernization – have ventured into a great variety of occupations.
As corollary, the term “women leadership” has become fashionable in public and governmental discourses highlighting Emirati women’s success stories. In such accounts, Emirati women leaders are usually portrayed as living in a perfect world in which they not only pursue their exemplary careers, but also excel as ideal mothers and wives living up to traditional Emirati gender values accentuating female modesty, seclusion, and submissiveness.
In this presentation, I shall measure such accounts and their ideological underpinnings against the experiences of 30 Emirati women leaders from the cultural sector with whom I conducted extensive interviews about their career pathways, family background, their achievements, and the various challenges and obstacles they are facing due to their status – both at the work space and at home. My presentation examines how Emirati women leaders are navigating between state feminist discourses and the still prevalent conservative gender role expectations and precepts in the UAE, and how they cope with the “profits and losses” experienced along these pathways.
This talk focuses on the architectural production of rural cultivators in southern Iraq who were forced into debt bondage and dispossessed from their lands leading them to migrate to Baghdad between 1920 and 1965. This migration took place during a period when Iraq was gradually shifting from an agricultural to an oil-based economy.
This mass migration resulted in the large-scale constructing of sarifa and kukh (reed and mud) neighborhoods on occupied state and private lands. These neighborhoods became the sites from which large-scale challenges to the economic and territorial authority of the Iraqi state were consolidates, as migrants participated in strikes and protest movements that would eventually result in the 1958 revolution.
This period was also marked by a macroeconomic devaluation of migrant labor and their architectural production in national income accounts, which further supported the case for the destruction of migrant settlements in the 1950s and 1960s. However, the erasure of reed and mud settlements across Baghdad only further dispossessed tens of thousands of migrants, who were relocated to yet another territory of dispossession, i.e. Sadr City.
This talk thus argues that the Iraqi state whose model of economic growth was premised on an iterative process of dispossession was not able to “solve” the alleged problem of the migrant slum, but only assign the problem to a new territory or population.
Following an earlier, ‘classical’ phase in which philosophy and systematic theology in the Islamic world developed largely independently of each other, the two traditions began to interact intensively from the twelfth century. This interaction was marked around the turn of the century by the influential refutation of philosophy penned by the theologian al-Ghazali (d. 1111), and culminated by the end of the century in the definitive form of philosophical theology developed by Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1210), which continued to flourish into the early modern period. Recent work by the speaker has shed light on the gradual transformation of theology between these two key thinkers. In this paper, he will present findings from his current project on the beginnings of this philosophical turn in theology, focusing in particular on engagement with philosophy in the later works of the theologian al-Juwayni (d. 1085) and the early career of his student al-Ghazali.
Since the late 1950’s, a wealth of archaeological research has shed light on the Bronze Age (third millennium BC) prehistory of southeastern Arabia. Much of the work on the region’s prehistory—known as Magan in Mesopotamian cuneiform texts—has focused on external connections to its better understood neighbors in Mesopotamia, Iran, and the Indus Valley. This talk takes an alternative, local perspective on the archaeology of southeastern Arabia by exploring spatial and material connections across ancient settlements around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bat, in northern Oman.
This talk examines the encounter between early Islamic and Christian traditions of ascetic piety. Focusing on the writings of the Christian monk Isaac of Nineveh (fl. late 7th century), the talk will trace the movement of ideas about asceticism from the Gulf region into Iraq. Along the way, we will see the emergence of a common idiom of ascetic piety – a set of phrases, stories, and ideals shared by Muslims and Christians in the early Islamic world and contested by members of both communities. An examination of this shared idiom challenges scholarly views about the historical relation of Christian and Islamic piety, revealing how Muslim and Christian authors responded to and transformed each other’s understandings of the body, devotion, and asceticism.
This talk focuses on the Chouf-born poet, lawyer and translator Wadi’ al-Bustani (1888-1954) as he moves from Beirut, to Cairo, Hudaydah, Bombay, Transvaal, and finally Haifa. The first to translate Tagore into Arabic after a visit to Santiniketan in 1916, Bustani spent his life annotating and translating into Arabic the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and Kalidasa’s Shakuntala. Alongside his self-professed and self-funded philological project, Bustani was one of the most important poets and lawyers in British Mandate Palestine, inspiring protest with his verse and litigating against land sales. By focusing on the interplay between Bustani’s political commitments in Palestine and his scholarly project, this talk uncovers a new history of global philological encounters and an enabling colonial frame, long hidden in the many narrations of Orientalism’s travel and Palestine’s colonization.
Academic Year 2018-2019
The Great Nafūd desert and its capital Ḥāʾil in northern Arabia are fertile ground for oral poetry and narratives of the Bedouin and oasis-dwellers. Ḥāʾil, was the seat of the Ibn Rashīd dynasty: the dominant power in the second half of the 19th century. Their court resembles pre-Islamic tribal Arab courts; and the poetry is quite similar to Arab desert poetry of the period 500-800. This emirate is well known from the work of scholars and travelers: Charles Doughty, Gertrude Bell, Alois Musil, Wallin, Burckhardt, Lady Ann Blunt and others. But even today Arab oral sources are not readily accessible for scholars. Without this wealth of information, the picture is far from complete.
The work of the three poets chosen for my research is in the anecdotal style of the huge 10th century Book of Songs. Generally, a poem is connected to a story. These abound with information on tribal customs and law, and on political, social and economic conditions. It is always entertaining, full of jest, poetic dueling, and daring amorous adventures. Even the porcupine makes an unexpected appearance.
Further north, in Sakaka, I finished years of preparatory work with Hiṣṣa Hilāl: winner of Abu Dhabi’s Million’s Poet competition in 2013; author of a book on divorce as a theme in poetry; and the subject of the acclaimed documentary The Poetess. She was a guest in two episodes of my tv series on Bedouin poetry: one of them a poetess who describes driving trucks through the Empty Quarter in the 1950’s. The translation of about 120 poems will include poems by Ḥiṣṣa: today’s Bedouin poetess.
Starting from the last decades of the 13th century something changes abruptly in Western Europe. A new iconography was born, showing for the first time in Western arts, a hallucinating, supernatural, fantastic element: the representation of animated corpses.
This iconography circulated in such a strong and widespread way that it suggests a true epochal change in our ways of perceiving death. A remarkable fact and underestimated so far: these representations of the encounter between the living and the dead also featured, almost systematically, the image of a bird of prey. Why did the artists decide to add this figurative element, like a footnote, to a composition that was, beside this, very sober?
This talk will present some of the questions addressed by the presence of the falcon in the bountiful macabre iconography and investigate its role in the visual definition of a sensitive perception of the beauty of life.
Academic Year 2017-2018
The eating place is one of the most frequented sites of cross-cultural interactions. When immigrants move to a new place, they often either look for familiar food or open a restaurant to make a living. People from the host society also experience the initial taste of a different culture at eateries. By narrating the ups and downs of these business establishments, such as Chinese restaurants in Cairo, this workshop seeks to conceptualize restaurants as a site for historical and contemporary diaspora formation. It will also discuss the hybridity and emergence of new cuisines created by different diasporas communities.
Whereas food history is flourishing, history of restaurants is rather limited. Despite their seemingly small scale, restaurants are places through which people, ideas, and tastes encounter and interact with each other. They are often the nodal points where intellectual, commercial, religious and personal networks are established and consolidated. They are also the stage for community image “branding” and memory making. Some restaurants last longer and spread farther (via franchising chains), while others are short-lived. Participants of the workshop provide case studies of restaurants where connections and confluences were established and strengthened and/or, in the case of a communication breakdown, barriers and boundaries were demarcated and reinforced.
Recent years have witnessed a growing interest in the role of Islamic princely courts as centers of political and social life in the postformative period. Yet, the importance of Islamic courts as centers of the production and transmission of scholarly knowledge is thus far only very incompletely understood. The workshop addresses for the first time the role of courts in the production and transmission of scholarly knowledge during the Islamic postformative period (c. 1050–1800 CE) by approaching the topic from a transregional and diachronic perspective. Bringing together experts on various areas and eras of Islamic history, it paves the way for first comparative conclusions about the role of courts in the educational and scholarly history of the postformative Islamic world and thus lays the ground for a more holistic interpretation of this important aspect of Islamic social and intellectual history. At the same time, the workshop helps to fill a glaring gap in our understanding of Islamic courts, thus marking a significant step ahead within the nascent field of Islamic court studies.
While the academic literature in tafsīr studies and the field of gender in the Qurʾan have flourished, there is little overlap between these distinct fields. With a few exceptions,  modern scholarship in the field of gender in the Qurʾan tends to analyze verses on gender in isolation from the formal genre of Qurʾanic exegesis. This workshop seeks to bring in conversation the distinct fields of tafsīr studies and gender studies by exploring the limitations, opportunities and challenges of such an approach. On one hand, the analysis of gender as a category in the classical genre of tafsīr excludes many contemporary forms of exegesis that do not conform to the genre’s methodological boundaries. One the other hand, a lack of engagement with the genre of tafsīr runs the risk of ignoring significant hermeneutic differences between exegetes, important intellectual developments in the history of the genre and the ways in which certain exegetical approaches signal a rupture or continuity in the field. Rather than throw out the baby with the bathwater, this workshop seeks to explore the possibilities that emerge by situating the genre of tafsīr in the center of a scholarly analysis of gender in the Qurʾan. By exploring the malleable boundaries of the tafsīr tradition and its characteristic of textual polysemy, one gains a clearer understanding of the construction of interpretive authority in the Islamic tradition. What bearing would such an inquiry have, if any, on shaping the theoretical premises of feminist exegeses of the Qurʾan or the project of gender egalitarianism in the Qurʾan?
 Some of these notable exceptions are Barbara Stowasser’s Women in the Qurʾan, Traditions and Interpretations (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994); Karen Bauer’s Gender Hierarchy in the Qurʾan: Medieval Interpretations, Modern Responses (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Ayesha Chaudhry, Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) and Aisha Geissinger, Gender and Muslim Constructions of Exegetical Authority: A Rereading of the Classical Genre of Qurʾan Commentary (Leiden: Brill, 2015).
The Workshop “Ways of Seeing: Image Practices and Falconry“ will mainly address common intersections between culture and nature, such as Seeing/Not Seeing, Perspective (for instance Drones), Simulations (Material/Symbol), questions on Political Iconography, materials such as feathers, as well as the Migration of Objects and Images. Falconry is a living heritage, which is a deeply cultural practice at the same time.
Why do treatises in the Early modern Period consider seeing as a form of hunting? How is this metaphor as well as flying itself manifested in images? And what is the relation to this since birds and especially falcons have a very sharp vision as well as space orientation? What are the common points between image practices and the iconic power of Falconry?
In addition to these theoretical, historical and present-day considerations, artists working on Falconry will have a dialog with a professional Arab falconer and a Bedouin poet, adding a further central point to the workshop namely the connection between theory and practice.
For a long period of time, Emirati women were mainly associated with the concealed space of the domestic household and considered as the guardians and transmitters of Emirati tradition and religious values. During the last years, however, Emirati women figure more prominently on the public stage due to a “state feminism” which aims at the empowerment of women, particularly in the domain of education, political representation and economic performance. In this context, the term women leadership looms largely in public and governmental discourses highlighting the success that Emirati women have achieved by venturing into a great variety of occupations, ranging from business women and ministers, to fighter pilots and offshore engineers.
Beyond this discourse on women leadership, however, Emirati women’s everyday lives — its diversities, creativities, and confines — are rarely discussed in public. Moreover, research on Emirati women is still rather scarce. The few existing monographs center exclusively on topics relating to education, women’s segregation, and the emergence of the major women’s organizations and unions. Up to the present, however, basic information on Emirati women’s lives, their socio-economic milieus, their intra- and extra family networks, their aspirations and restrictions, is still lacking. Likewise, data on the socio-economic roles of women in the pre-oil period and on changing gender roles from the past to the present have yet to be assembled and discussed in more detail.
This workshop aims at bringing together scholars who are working on different aspects relating to Emirati womanhood, ranging from historical (self-)representations (in heritage, oral history, and museums), women’s political leadership, past and contemporary economic livelihoods, family and marriage laws, women’s health, to the various artistic fields in which Emirati women have come to express themselves, such as in theatre, literature, and the visual arts. The workshop will also address the various ways in which the established discourses and iconographies on gender and womanhood are contested and reinterpreted and how Emirati women’s voices and their agency can be further enhanced.
While there is great merit in studying the technical intellectual disciplines of the Islamic sciences in atomistic fashion and in isolation from one another, much is lost in this kind of an approach. For one thing, the nomenclature of each discipline, such as a legal theory or rational theology, is distinct and discipline-specific. By exclusively focusing on the particulars of each discipline, we are prone to lose sight of the significant overlap between these specialized fields on the one hand, and their shared concerns and relatively common goals on the other.
What is common to every intellectual perspective in Islamic thought, be it logic, mysticism, philosophy, theology, or legal theory, is their representatives’ insistence on the efficacy of language and rationality as the basis for their inquiry. Some mystical writers, for example, attempted to argue against the limits of language and our normal thought structures in attaining knowledge of ultimate realities. But they did this on logical grounds. The philosophers, on the other hand, built entire intellectual edifices off of their reliance on the unmediated intellect’s ability to know. And, while many scholars of rational theology argued for the need to interpret scripture metaphorically when scripture seemed to contradict reason, some legal theorists insisted that the literal reading of scripture itself was the avenue by which a plurality of intentions on the part of the divine author could be ascertained. This workshop will, therefore, highlight the various interdisciplinary avenues through which rationality and language have interacted with one another in Islamic thought.
Museums in Arabia is an established international interdisciplinary conference series that operates as an international collaborative network for exploring the theory and practice of museums and heritage in the Arabian Peninsula. Established in 2011 the conference series has developed successful events at different host institutions, including the British Museum in 2012 as a special session at the Arabian Seminar and at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, in partnership with UCL Qatar in 2014. The conference provides a platform for local, regional and international scholars and practitioners to come together to discuss and exchange ideas around museum and heritage practices in the Gulf.
The 2017 iteration of the Museums in Arabia series aims to engage more specifically with how artistic and aesthetic practices and productions (in the broadest sense) are employed within museums, galleries, heritage events, and urban planning in the Arabian Peninsula. The 2017 iteration is hosted by the Bahrain National Museum, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain and generously supported by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities.
The conference addresses three key themes: representation and identity, artistic practice, and space and place.
The Representation and identity theme connects with questions of: how artistic expression is defined in the Gulf? What ‘forms’ of artistic expression are produced (in the past and the present) and by whom? How are different identities represented and reproduced through artistic practice in the cultural sector in the region and how these relate to the museums and heritage landscape in general? And, who has the power to represent and re-produce identity through artistic expression?
The Artistic Practice theme explores: how artistic practices are employed within museums in the region? How these practices relate to the production of museum aesthetics both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the museum? How artistic practice is used in the production of new museums, architecture, and in the heritage field and who is involved in creating those expressions? Where is art produced and by whom? And, how artistic practice is used to represent local, regional and international identity?
The Space and Place theme examines: how artistic practices are employed in the production of space and place? How is cultural production implicated in the development of new buildings, districts and cities? And, how are heritage buildings re-created and re-used as spaces of artistic and creative enterprise in contemporary Gulf societies?
By exploring the relationship(s) between artistic practices and productions in museums, galleries and heritage institutions this conference seeks to broaden the conversation around the significance of this area for societal and economical changes, trans-(nationalism), subjectivities, etc. and to identify future avenues for related research. Additionally, Museums in Arabia provides a unique opportunity to foster multidisciplinary dialogue (between scholars, practitioners, and interested persons) around the theory and practice of museum, gallery and heritage activities in the region.
Academic Year 2016-2017
Departing from the debates over world literature that have guided comparative literary studies for over a decade, this two-day workshop explores the alternative poetic geographies that traverse the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf. Participants will share original research on circuits of exchange and translation that cut transversally from Rabat to Baghdad, Beirut to Algiers, Tehran to Cairo, and beyond to Latin America and South Asia. As Europe recedes into the background as a site of literary circulation and theoretical production, we will investigate how a multilingual, transregional approach centered on the Middle East places new and productive pressures on established paradigms in postcolonial theory and world literature.
Crude oil was possibly the most crucial natural resource for the development of the industrial society in the 20th century and allowed for the global expansion of consumerism. It significantly contributed to the rise of a new era that is now starting been called the Anthropocene.
This conference explores the cooperation among the world largest oil exporters, their relations to non-OPEC countries, to international oil companies, and to key consuming countries. It will try to shed light on the role that OPEC has played in the international history of the 20th century, as well as on the challenges the organization is facing with the rise of the climate change debate and the pressures to move toward a less carbon-dependent economy.
OPEC being the most sophisticated and successful international organization of raw materials producers from the Global South, its success and failures can also speak in general to the prospect of international cooperation on raw materials and natural resources and contribute to a better understanding of the key issues at stake both for producers and consumers.
Organized in partnership with the University of Oslo, contributions from: Ca' Foscari University of Venice, University of Padua.
Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiya
Born in Qatar in 1952, H.E. Al-Attiyah has more than 40 years of experience in the energy industry and has served in a variety of senior leadership positions within the government of Qatar.
In 1992, H.E. Al-Attiyah was appointed Minister of Energy & Industry and Chairman and Managing Director of Qatar Petroleum, before being entrusted with the additional responsibility of Second Deputy Prime Minister in 2003. He was elected as Chairman of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in 2006; then H.E. was elevated to Deputy Prime Minister, and in 2011 was appointed Chief of the Amiri Diwan. Afterword, H.E. held the presidency of the Administrative Control and transparency Authority in the State of Qatar, and then he took over the presidency of the 18th Session of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, known as the (COP18/CMP18) hosted by the Qatari in 2012. H.E. also participated in many important International and Regional Conferences.
During his illustrious career H.E received many accolades and awards. On 20 December 2011 H.E. was honored by H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar at the time with the Necklace of Independence, and also awarded him the degree of the Prime Minister. H.E. received the Grand Cordon in Orange Nassau conferred by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Kingdom of Netherlands, and the Order of the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun from the Emperor of Japan. H.E received a badge of honor (Médaille d'honneur) from the President of the French Republic — the rank of a senior officer in 2014, and the Order of the Lebanese national rice as an officer in the year 2000, and the Lebanese Order of Merit of the first class in 2005, and the Order of the Faculty Graduates Engineering from the American University of Beirut in 2006.
H.E. was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Texas A&M in May 2011, and an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Torvergata, Italy on February 11, 2016.
Majid Al Moneef
Dr. Majid Al Moneef is the Secretary General, a member of the Supreme Economic Council of Saudi Arabia, and served from 2003-2013 as Saudi Arabia’s Governor to OPEC and from 1992-2003 as its representative to the organization’s Economic Commission Board. He was a member of the Economic and Energy Committee of the Majlis Ash Shura (Consultative Assembly), the Chairman of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Energy Team, president of the Saudi Economic Association, vice dean and professor of economics at King Saud University, and advisor to the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources. Dr. Al Moneef is a member of Saudi Aramco’s Board of Directors, the International Advisory Group of King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), the Oxford Energy Policy Club. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Cairo based Economic Research Forum, the editorial Board of the Saudi Economic Journal, and the advisory Board of OPEC Energy Review.
Omar Al Shehabi
Omar Al Shehabi is the Director of the Gulf Centre for Development Policies and Assistant Professor in Economics at the Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) in Kuwait. He completed his DPhil in Economics at Pembroke College Oxford, where his thesis focused on neo-classical modelling of macroeconomic labour dynamics. He has previously worked at the IMF, the World Bank, and McKinsey. His research focuses on the political economy and modern history of the Gulf Arab States. His latest work in English is a co-edited volume with Abduladi Khalaf and Adam Hanieh entitled Transit States: Labour, Migration and Citizenship in the Gulf.
Paul Appleby leads the analysis of long term energy market developments for BP. His career at BP spans 32 years, and includes a variety of roles in BP’s gas and alternative energy businesses.
He received his theoretical training in economics at Cambridge University (MA and MPhil); and served a practical apprenticeship as a Fellow of the Overseas Development Institute, posted to Malawi. He is an associate lecturer in energy economics at the University of Surrey, and Chair of the British Institute of Energy Economics.
Touraj Atabaki is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the International Institute of Social History and Emeritus Professor of Social History of the Middle East and Central Asia at Leiden University. He studied first theoretical physics and then history.
Touraj Atabaki has written extensively on Iranian history. His publications include: Oil and Beyond Expanding British Imperial Aspirations, Emerging Oil Capitalism, and the Challenge of Social Questions in the First World War co-author Kaveh Ehsani, in Helmut Bley and Anorthe Kremers (eds), The World During the First World War (Essen: Klartext Verlag, 2014); “Far from Home, But at Home: Indian Migrant Workers in the Iranian Oil Industry,” Studies in History, 31(1), 2015; Editing the issue of “Writing the Social History of Labor in the Iranian Oil Industry,” for the International Labor and Working-Class History, 84 (Fall), 2013. And: “From ‘Amaleh (Labor) to Kargar (Worker): Recruitment, Work Discipline and Making of the Working Class in the Persian/Iranian Oil Industry,” International Labor and Working-Class History, 84 (Fall), 2013. Touraj Atabaki has been the coordinator of a research project on the hundred years social history of labour in the Iranian oil industry, funded by the Netherlands for Scientific Research.
Author of Or Noir, la grande histoire du pétrole, La Découverte, Paris, 2015, winner of the 2016 Special Prize of the French Association des économistes de l’énergie, translated and published in China in 2017 and in the USA in 2018. Guest blogger at Le Monde since 2010. Director of The Shift Project, the French carbon transition think tank.
Maohong Bao, Professor of environmental history and Asia-Pacific studies, History Department and Center for World Environmental History, Peking University. His main publications include: Forest and Development: Deforestation in the Philippines (in Chinese, 2008), China’s Environmental Governance and Environmental Cooperation in East Asia (in Japanese, 2009), The Origins of Environmental History and Its Development (in Chinese, 2012). He is now working on thematic studies about economic development and environmental governance in Post WW II.
Duccio Basosi teaches History of International Relations at the Ca' Foscari University in Venice. He has coordinated the FIRB 2010 research program "The Engines of Growth: For a Global History of the Conflict between Renewable, Fossil and Fissile Energies, 1972-1992", authored the monograph Finanza e petrolio. Gli Stati Uniti, l'oro nero e l'economia politica internazionale (Venice, 2012) and co-edited (with Giuliano Garavini and Massimiliano Trentin) the volume Counter-shock. The Oil Counter-Revolution of the 1980s (London, 2017). He now coordinates the Venice unit of the PRIN 2015 research program "The Making of the Washington Consensus: Credits, Debts and Power, 1979-1991".
Elisabetta Bini is Assistant Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Naples Federico II. Her publications include: Working for Oil: Comparative Social Histories of Labor in Petroleum (ed. with Touraj Atabaki and Kaveh Ehsani) (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming); "A Challenge to Cold War Oil Politics? ENI’s Relations with the Soviet Union, 1958-1969,” in Jeronim Perovic, ed., Cold War Energy: A Transnational History of Soviet Oil and Gas (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017); Oil Shock: the 1973 Crisis and its Economic Legacy; (ed. with Giuliano Garavini and Federico Romero) (London: I.B. Tauris, 2016); La potente benzina italiana. Guerra fredda e consumi di massa tra Italia, Stati Uniti e Terzo mondo (1945-1973) (Rome: Carocci, 2013).
Juan Carlos Boué
Juan Carlos Boué was born in Mexico City and was educated at El Colegio de México. Upon graduating from university in 1990, he started working at the international trading arm of Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the Mexican national state oil company. Ever since, his professional activities have been focused primarily on the political economy, industrial economics, and international governance structure of petroleum, alternating between academia and the oil industry proper.
From 2005 to 2009, he was special advisor to the Venezuelan Minister of Energy and Petroleum, the president of the Venezuelan state oil company (Petróleos de Venezuela, PDVSA) and the Venezuelan Vice-Minister for Hydrocarbons. In 2010, Boué returned to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies as a research associate.
Boué has written widely on the industrial economics of the oil and gas exploration and production, and petroleum refining industries, as well as on auction design for oil and gas bidding rounds and the taxation and political economy of oil in general. Among his recent monographs: La internacionalización de PDVSA. Una costosa ilusión. Caracas, Ediciones del Ministerio de Energía y Minas de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela (Fondo Editorial Darío Ramírez), 2004. (The Internationalisation of PDVSA. A Costly Illusion).
Yves Bouvier is Assistant Professor of Contemporary History at the Paris-Sorbonne University, and a member of the research unit Sirice (UMR 8138) since September 2013. He is holder of an agrégation in history and a PhD from the Paris-Sorbonne University dealing with the relationship between big business and the State in France in the XXth Century. He works on the history of energy and on the role of the European Commission in the field of the renewable energy sources. Last book: Yves Bouvier, Léonard Laborie (ed.), L'Europe en transitions. Energie, mobilité, communications, XVIIIe-XXIe siècles, Paris, Nouveau monde éditions, 2016.
Dag Harald Claes
Dag Harald Claes is professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Oslo. He is also adjunct professor at Molde University College. He holds a doctoral degree in Political Science from the University of Oslo.
He specializes in international energy relations, in particular studies of oil-producer cooperation, the energy relations between Norway and the EU, the role of oil in Middle East conflicts, and Arctic oil and gas. At present he is Head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo.
His publications include: The Politics of Oil-Producer Cooperation. Westview Press 2001. Governing the Global Economy - Politics, Institutions and Economic Development. Routledge 2011 (edited with Carl Henrik Knutsen). “Arctic Petroleum Resources in a Regional and Global Perspective,” in Rolf Tamnes & Kristine Offerdal (ed.), Geopolitics and Security in the Arctic. Regional Dynamics in a Global World. Routledge 2014, with Arild Moe. “Cooperation and Conflict in Oil and Gas Markets,” Andreas Glodthau (ed.), The Handbook of Global Energy Policy. Wiley-Blackwell 2014. “The interdependence of European–Russian energy relations” in Energy Policy (59)2013, with Øistein Harsem.
Jeff Colgan is Richard Holbrooke Associate Professor of Political Science at the Watson Institute of International Studies of Brown University. He completed his PhD in politics and public policy at Princeton University, a Master’s at the University of California-Berkeley, and a Bachelor’s in nuclear engineering at McMaster University. His recent books include Petro-Aggression: When Oil Causes War (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
Nelida Fuccaro teaches the Modern History of the Middle East at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her research focuses on the social and cultural history of oil, urban history, violence, and frontier societies. She is the author of The Other Kurds: Yazidis in Colonial Iraq (London: IB Tauris, 1999), Histories of City and State in the Persian Gulf: Manama since 1800 Cambridge University Press, 2009, paperback 2011), the guest editor of the thematic contribution ‘Histories of Oil and Urban Modernity in the Middle East’ in Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (2013), and the editor of Violence and the City in the Modern Middle East (Stanford University Press, 2016).
Hans Otto Frøland
Hans Otto Frøland (DrPhilos 1993) is professor of European contemporary history at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NUST), Trondheim. Having constantly worked from the perspective of political economy he has published on the history of corporatism, the history of European integration, the history of the aluminum industry, and the history of World War II. His current research focus on concerted European efforts to handle its raw materials import predicament dependence from the perspective of political risk. This research is part of a wider research project based at NUST, The Fate of Nations: Natural Resources and Historical Development, for which he serves as leader.
John Heilbrunn is Associate Professor of International Studies at the Colorado School of Mines. He is also a Research Fellow (chercheur associé) at the Laboratory, Les Afriques dans le Monde (LAM), SciencesPo-Bordeaux. His research is on oil exporting countries in Africa, the middle classes in emerging economies, and the political economy of development. Professor Heilbrunn has written numerous articles and papers on strategies to fight corruption; the new middle classes in emerging markets, and the political economy of the extractive industries in African development. He is the author of Oil, Democracy, and Development in Africa (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014). In addition to his research, Professor Heilbrunn has served as a consultant to the World Bank, the United States government, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the British Department for International Development (DfID), the Agence français de développement (AFD), and governments in Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa.
Mats Ingulstad holds a permanent research position at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Oslo. He wrote his PhD at the European University Institute on strategic raw materials and US foreign policy, and leads a research project on the EU and natural resources. Other ongoing research includes the transnational history of wartime labor and Norwegian research policy in the oil and industry sectors.
Sophia is Global Distinguished Professor, Environmental Studies and Public Policy at NYU and NYUAD. She holds a BA from Yale University; an MA from Columbia University, and a PhD from the UOP in Greece. Sophia Kalantzakos spent ten years as a policy maker, an elected Member of Parliament and Member of the Greek Government until the end of 2009. In 2010, she entered Academia as Global Distinguished Professor in Environmental Studies and Public Policy at NYU. Her interdisciplinary research has drawn upon international affairs (her area of study) and climate change as the threat that is reshaping power politics across the globe. Her research focuses on resource competition, the challenges of a new energy mix and the potential of an EU-China partnership for the Anthropocene. She is focusing her attention on EU-GCC relations. She most recently co-edited a book entitled Energy and Environmental Transformations in a Globalizing World: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue.
Jonathan Kuiken is an Assistant Professor of History at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. His research examines the nature of the public-private partnership between the British Government and its two domestically-based oil companies, British Petroleum and Shell in the post-World War II period. His manuscript, entitled Empires of Energy: Britain, British Petroleum, Shell and the remaking of the international oil industry, 1956-1983 is currently under review. He received his PhD from Boston College in 2013.
Einar Lie is a Professor of Economic History at the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History. He served as a Vice Dean at the Faculty of Humanities from 2010 to 2014 (on sabbatical fall 2013), and Board Chairman of The Norwegian University Center in St. Petersburg and of the interfaculty research area Kultrans.
Lie (b. 1965) holds a Master degree in Economics and a PhD in Economic History (1996). He has published widely on economic planning and policy making in the Nordic countries. Over the last two decades, Lie has been engaged in a number of business history projects, as a researcher and academic advisor. Main research interests have been the development of state-business relations especially in banking, manufacturing industry and the oil sector. Currently, he is commissioned on a part-time basis as a project manager for the history of the Central Bank of Norway 1816-2016. Lie is also a regular op-ed columnist in the Norwegian daily Aftenposten.
Petroleum engineer, founding member of the Algerian national oil company Sonatrach, Vice president of the company. Technical adviser of the General Secretary of OAPEC. General Manager of the Arab Petroleum Services Company (APSC). Petroleum Consultant
Author of many publications including: On l’a appelé le pétrole rouge Editions Marinoor, Alger, Septembre 1993; Histoire secrète du pétrole algérien, Editions La Découverte, Paris, Septembre 2010 - Rédition Septembre 2012.
Ustina Markus is Professor at the United International College, Zhuhai, China. She holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and was formerly Chair of Political Science at the University of Kurdistan-Hawler, Iraq, and an Associate Professor at the Kazakh Institute for Management, Economics and Strategic Research (KIMEP) in Almaty, Kazakhstan. She is the author of Oil and Gas: The Business and Politics of Energy, (Palgrave 2014), and “International Oil and Gas Pricing Regimes,” in eds. Van de Graaf, Thijs, et. al., The Palgrave Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy, (Palgrave MacMillan 2016).
Toby Matthiesen is a Senior Research Fellow in the International Relations of the Middle East at the Middle East Centre, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. He was previously a Research Fellow at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and gained his doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He is the author of Sectarian Gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab Spring That Wasn't (Stanford University Press, 2013), and The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent and Sectarianism (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Matthiesen has published widely in various academic journals and in the mainstream media and has appeared on major TV and radio networks. His research focuses on the Sunni-Shia divide and the legacies of the Cold War in the Middle East.
Victor McFarland is an Assistant Professor of history at the University of Missouri. He received his doctorate in history from Yale University and has served as a Miller Center Fellow at the University of Virginia and a Dickey Center Fellow at Dartmouth College. Dr. McFarland studies the history of the energy industry, US–Middle East relations, and the United States in the late 20th century. His book project focuses on the oil crisis of the 1970s.
Robin, CEO of Qamar Energy (Dubai), is an expert on Middle East energy strategy and economics, described by Foreign Policy as “one of the energy world’s great minds.” He is the author of two books, The Myth of the Oil Crisis and Capturing Carbon, columnist on energy and environmental issues at The National, and comments widely on energy issues in the media, including the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, Atlantic, CNN, BBC, Bloomberg, and others. He worked for a decade for Shell, concentrating on new business development in the Middle East, followed by six years with Dubai Holding and the Emirates National Oil Company.
He is Non-Resident Fellow for Energy at the Brookings Doha Center, holds a first-class degree in Geology from the University of Cambridge, and speaks five languages including Arabic and Farsi.
Marta Musso is a Max Weber Fellow in the Department of History and Civilisation at the European University Institute. She holds a PhD in international economic history at the University of Cambridge, with a thesis titled “Towards a European energy network: the oil industry in the Aftermath of the Algerian War”. She writes about energy policies, business history, European international relations.
Greg Muttitt is Senior Adviser at Oil Change International, a research and advocacy group that seeks to accelerate the global transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Greg has worked on oil, energy, and climate change since 1997. From 2003 to 2012, he was a leading analyst on the future of post-war Iraq’s oil, and is author of Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq (pub. Random House, 2011). Since 2014 he has studied and written on scenarios for the future of energy. He is author of Oil Change International’s groundbreaking 2016 report The Sky’s Limit: Why the Paris Goals Require a Managed Decline of the Fossil Fuel Industry. He has written several articles on OPEC’s role in the age of climate change.
Dr. Carole Nakhle is the Director and founder of Crystol Energy (UK). An Energy Economist, she specialises in international petroleum contractual arrangements and fiscal regimes; upstream oil and gas regulations; petroleum revenue management and governance; energy policy, security and investment; and global oil and gas market developments. With expertise spanning the private sector, government, and academia, Dr. Nakhle has worked with oil and gas companies (NOCs and IOCs), governments and policy makers, international organisations, academic institutions, and specialized think tanks.
Viacheslav Nekrasov is Assistant Professor and Senior Researcher at Surgut State Pedagogical University, Russia.
He recently published: Oil and gas complex of USSR (the second of 1950s – the first part of 1960s): economic and institutional issues of development, Khanty-Mansiisk, 2012. (in Russian); and "Decision-Making in the Soviet Energy Sector in post-Stalinist Times: The Failure of Khrushchev’s Economic Modernization Strategy // Cold War Energy. A Transnational History of Soviet Oil and Gas", in P. Jeronim (Ed.). L., 2017.
A recent research project concerns the “Socialist World System” and the Global Economy in the mid-1950s to mid-1970s: the Evolution of Theories and Practices of Soviet Economic and Technological Leadership. Collaboration with Institute of World History, Russia.
Ugo Nwokeji is Associate Professor in the Department of African American Studies at the University of California Berkeley. His work deals with the cultural history and political economy of Africa since 1500, with particular focus on international commerce in the Bight of Biafra. His publications include The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Development of the Oil and Gas Industry (Baker Institute for Public Policy, 2007) and The Slave Trade and Culture in the Bight of Biafra (CUP, 2010). The latter won the 2011 Herskovits Book Prize.
Claudia Piña Navarro
Claudia Piña Navarro (Juarez, Mexico, 1985). Currently a PhD graduate student in History at El Colegio de México, her dissertation focuses on Mexico’s oil diplomacy between 1970-1982. She has worked as a Public Relations consultant in projects for Petróleos Mexicanos Gas y Petroquímica Básica (2013), and as a crew member of United Nations Humanitarian Air Service in the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (2011-2012).
Francesco Petrini is Senior Lecturer in History of International Relations at the University of Padova. Among his latest publications: Oil: Too Important to be Left to the Oilmen? Britain and the First Oil Crisis, 1970-3, in J. Fisher, R. Smith, E. Pedaliu (eds), The Foreign Office, Commerce and British Foreign Policy in the Twentieth Century, Palgrave, 2017; Imperi del profitto. Multinazionali petrolifere e governi nel XX secolo (Empires of profit. Oil Multinationals and Governments in the XXth Century), FrancoAngeli, 2015.
Helder Queiroz Pinto Junior
Dr. Helder Queiroz Pinto Junior is an economist and has a PhD in Energy Economics at Université de Grenoble, France (1989-1993). Since 1994, he has been a Professor and a Research Economist with the Energy Economics Group, Institute of Economics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He was a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Oxford (January-October 2001) and Visiting Professor at Université de Paris Dauphine (October 2015). Between June 2011 and June 2015, he served as Director of ANP (National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels)
Federico Romero is Professor of History of Post-War European Cooperation and Integration at the European University Institute. A specialist on 20th Century international and transnational history he has recently co-edited, with E. Bini and G. Garavini, Oil Shock. The 1973 Crisis and Its Economic Legacy (London 2016) and with E. Mourlon-Druol, International Summitry and Global Governance: The Rise of the G-7 and the European Council (London 2014).
Peter Rutland is the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor of Global Issues and Democratic Thought at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He has a BA from Oxford and a PhD from the University of York. He has been a visiting professor in St. Petersburg, Manchester and Tokyo. He is associate editor of Russian Review and editor-in-chief of Nationalities Papers. View his research.
Dr. Ramzi Salman, a graduate of Birmingham University, started his professional life in 1962 teaching at Baghdad University then moved to the Iraq National Oil Company as head of petroleum engineering. In 1972, established SOMO, and remained its Coe until moving to Vienna in 1991 as OPEC's Deputy Secretary General. In 1997 he took up the post of senior advisor to Qatar's Minister of Energy, retiring in 2013.
Professor Paul Stevens is a Distinguished Fellow at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London. He was educated as an economist and as a specialist on the Middle East at Cambridge and SOAS. He is also Professor Emeritus at the University of Dundee and a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Energy Economics (Japan). He was also a Visiting Professor at University College London (Australia). In March 2009, he was presented with the OPEC Award for outstanding work on oil economics.
Stefan Tetzlaff is an economic and social historian of modern South Asia and its connection with the world. He has worked so far on exchanges between South Asia and the Gulf since the late 19th century and on the politics of road transport in early 20th century India. Stefan studied history, political science, and comparative literature in Berlin and New Delhi, and completed a PhD in Mediaeval and Modern History at the University of Göttingen. Postdoctoral fellowships from the Centre for South Asian Studies in Paris and the German Historical Institute in London have enabled him to commence work on the transnational history of automotive manufacture between India and Europe during the early cold war period.
Dr. Henning Türk is a specialist in 20th century international history at the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam, Germany. He works on a project funded by the German Research Foundation about “The International Organization of National Energy Policy: Great Britain and Western Germany in the International Energy Agency (IEA), 1974–1993.”
Dr. Anna Viden joined the Middle East Center (University of Pennsylvania) as Program Coordinator in January 2017. She has held positions as Lecturer at the International Relations Program at the University of Pennsylvania and as Assistant Professor in International Studies at Charles University in Prague. Dr. Viden received her PhD in history at Sciences Po, Paris. Her research deals with US foreign policy in the Middle East with a specific focus on US-Saudi relations.
Ellen R. Wald
Ellan earned an AB magna cum laude in history from Princeton University with specialties in Near Eastern studies and creative writing. As a graduate student at Boston University, she studied the American and Middle-Eastern energy industries with both an economist and a foreign relations specialist. She has conducted significant research on geopolitics and energy markets at the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming, the National Archives, the British Petroleum Archives, and the British National Archives. Her dissertation was entitled, “The United States, Great Britain and the Middle-Eastern Oil Industry, 1945-1960.”
The Karaite Sahl b. al-Faḍl al-Tustarī (d. early 12th c. CE) is best known for his writings in Mu'tazilite theology, scriptural exegesis, and law. Recent research by Gregor Schwarb and Sabine Schmidtke in the Firkovitch Collection of the National Library of Russia indicates that he also authored (among other things) a short work on state administration, Mukhtaṣar fī ṣināʿat al-kitāba. This work is extant in a single manuscript (Firk. arab. 124), largely intact and probably written in his own hand. The purpose of this 1.5-day workshop at NYU Abu Dhabi is to bring together experts on the author and on medieval Islamic administration in order to assess the contents and importance of the work. While we will begin by reviewing what is known about author and work, the bulk of the time will be spent reading and discussing the manuscript, which has the potential to augment our knowledge of medieval Islamic administrative and scribal practices and the ways that non-Muslims participated in them.
Lahcen Daaif is Assistant Researcher at Université Lyon 2/CIHAM (Histoire, archéologie, littératures des mondes chrétiens, et musulmans médiévaux — UMR 5648) and Research Fellow at the Centre Nationale de la recherche scientifique, Institut de recherche et d'histoire des textes (Paris). His interests and numerous publications relate primarily to the fields of Islamic history and thought and premodern Arabic literature.
Yossef Rapoport is Reader in Islamic History in the School of History, Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of, among many other studies, Marriage, Money and Divorce in Medieval Islamic Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), and is preparing a forthcoming edition and translation of a famous work on the taxation of the Fayyūm by ʿUthmān ibn Ibrāhīm al-Nābulsī (d. 1262).
Gregor Schwarb currently acts as research associate at SOAS, University of London, and editor-in-chief of Index Islamicus. Previously he held the positions of Senior Research Associate at the Research Unit ‘Intellectual History of the Islamicate World’ (FU Berlin) and of Academic Director of the Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations in Cambridge. He has published numerous studies on the cross-connections between Islamic, Christian, and Jewish religious thought.
Mathieu Tillier is Professor of Medieval Islamic History at the Université Paris IV-Sorbonne. He is the author of, among many other recent studies, Les cadis d’Iraq et l’État abbasside (132/750-334/945) (Damascus: Institut Français du Proche-Orient, 2009), and translator of Al-Kindî, Histoire des cadis égyptiens (Akhbâr qudât Misr) (Cairo: Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale, 2012).
Naïm Vanthieghem is a Visiting Researcher in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University, and Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He is the author of numerous recent publications in the fields of Greek and Arabic papyrology, including 'Violences et extorsions contre des moines dans la région d'Assiout. Réédition de P. Ryl. Arab. II 11', Journal of Coptic Studies 18 (2016), 185-96.
This workshop is designed to provide a global and comparative context for the challenges and opportunities facing the liberal arts in the Arab world today by examining global trends, notably the growing influence of neo-liberal economic ideas and the increasing focus on security and risk management, in higher education in general and liberal education in particular around the world.
This uniquely American style of education — what has been called intellectual “cross-training” that makes even specialized graduates fit to face the increasingly varied and unexpected rigors of the contemporary world — has long been perceived as a source of American power and influence. Not surprisingly, then, post-Cold War globalization saw the expansion of US-style and US-sponsored universities and university programs across the globe, from branch campuses to newly-established institutions modelled on US liberal arts colleges, to English-sections in national university faculties.
This growth also brought many of the contemporary US debates about the purposes, funding, and assessment of higher education with it. With the rise of neo-liberal ideas, the prevailing rationale for a university education shifted from preparation for public roles of citizenship and social responsibility to training for the private labor market. Simultaneously we have witnessed growing conviction that advanced education and scholarly research may even be dangerous, not only to partisan agendas but social stability and national security. Security and risk management are becoming increasingly important aspects of the research enterprise, particularly in light of the powerful and accelerating flow of people, ideas, money, goods and services, pollutants and diseases, drugs, and weapons around the world. In this context, the liberal arts, particularly the social sciences and humanities, have come under increasingly skeptical scrutiny across the world.
This workshop asks that, as educators and researchers committed to promoting the liberal arts, social sciences and humanities, we address these challenges with candor, wisdom, and hope.
Al Bloom, Vice Chancellor, NYUAD
Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, Associate Professor of Political Science at UAE University
Ahmad Dallal, Provost of the American University of Beirut
Bryan Waterman, Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Development, NYUAD
Cyrus Patell, Professor Of English, NYUAD
Eric Hershberg, Director of the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies and Professor of Government at American University (Washington)
Herve Cres, Dean of Social Sciences, NYUAD
Keiko Sakurai, Waseda University, International Liberal Studies, Japan
Kenneth Prewitt, Carnegie Professor and Director, Future of Scholarly Knowledge Columbia University, New York
Mariet Westermann, Executive Vice President for Programs and Research, Mellon Foundation (New York)
Marion Wrenn, Senior Lecturer, Director of the Writing Program, NYUAD
Martin Klimke, Associate Dean for Humanities, Associate Professor of History, NYUAD
Pauline Yu, President of the American Council of Learned Societies (Washington)
Reindert Falkenburg, Vice Provost for Intellectual and Cultural Outreach, NYUAD
Richard Black, Pro-Director (Research and Enterprise) atSOAS University of London
Robert Young- Dean of Arts and Humanities, NYUAD
Saleem Badat, Program Director, International Higher Education and Strategic Projects, Mellon Foundation (New York)
Saskia Sassen, Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology, Columbia University (New York)
Seteney Shami, Director of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (Beirut)
Shamoon Zamir, Associate Professor of Literature and Visual Studies, NYUAD
Academic Year 2015-2016
Examining historical connections, comparison, and contrasts between the Gulf, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean, The Global Gulf Workshop focuses on how this dynamic region impacted World History.
Rather than studying the Gulf in isolation, this workshop brings together scholars of the Gulf with scholars of two, other highly global seas that have seen much theoretical and historiographic attention in recent years: the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.
This workshop is groundbreaking, as it provides a truly rare opportunity in academe. While studies of oceans and seas such as the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean are inherently interdisciplinary — bringing together scholars of geography, history, literature, linguistics, and religion — to think about the sea and the shore in both its whole and its many parts, rarely do scholars dedicated to one particular sea have an opportunity to compare their work with others. Also, rarely has there been an opportunity to forge a new historiography and theoretical framework for a relatively understudied body of water — the Gulf.
This workshop is the first time scholars of these global seas (Mediterranean, Gulf, and Indian Ocean) have been brought together in one place to think anew about their own approaches to themes of connectivity, cosmopolitanism, and commerce.
The first theme of the conference is focused on connections. Invited scholars present and discuss examples of specific, material connections between the Mediterranean, the Gulf, and the Indian Ocean as a World-System. Provoking scholarly discussion of how the Mediterranean, the Gulf, and the Indian Ocean were connected over times, this theme helps set the stage for comparing and contrasting the Mediterranean, Gulf, and the Indian Ocean.
The second theme, comparative diversities, brings together scholars of religious, linguistic, and cultural diversities, minority-majority relationships, and contacts in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and the Gulf, to discuss ways of thinking about these relationships in broad or comparative ways. Scholars of Muslim minorities in Christian Europe, for instance, will be asked to compare and discuss their research with scholars of Christian minorities in the Gulf or in the Indian Ocean system. Similar presentations and discussions will be facilitated between scholars of linguistic and cultural diversities.
The final theme, on cross-cultural trade, will similarly provoke discussions of how commerce and the impacts of that commerce in the political and cultural histories of the Gulf both mirror and differ from the Mediterranean and the Indian ocean in specific ways.
From F. Braudel to K. N. Chaudhuri, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean have been the focus of extensive inquiry, inquiry that has harnessed a wide range of disciplines and scholars. The Gulf, while gaining some recent attention, has yet to see nearly the same amount of attention, despite being, in many ways, at the geographical heart and chronological origins of world history, “the missing link” between both the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean world. Since Pre-Islamic times, the Gulf influenced not only inhabitants settled in places such as Beth Katreya (Pre-Islamic Qatar), Abu Dhabi, Bushehr, and Bandar-e-Abbas (Bandar in Persian means any protective cove or harbor), Manama (Bahrain), Muscat (Oman), and Dubai on the shore but also was essential to port cities such as al-Ubulla and Basra, and even the hinterlands beyond the coasts. Indeed, contact was regularly maintained between what geographers term “hinterland and foreland.” Bedouin of oases such as al-Ain, Buraimi, and Liwa were many miles from the sea but still connected to the water through commerce, lineage, and an annual transhumance of women from the humid coasts to inland oases, while men were at sea. Gulf networks reached not only along the Arabian Sea but also through the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers to the heart of the Middle East. As numerous discoveries of ancient Chinese ceramics exemplify, the Gulf has been a transit zone for trade and cultural exchange across the Indian Ocean to India, South East Asia, and beyond for millennia. Just as the Mediterranean was a so-called “Corrupting Sea,” a body of water that had a tremendous impact on Western and North African history far beyond the littoral, the Gulf was similarly influential to the history of the Middle East and Asia as a whole. Although it is a shallow sea with a narrow and vulnerable mouth at the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf was a source of fear and opportunity, a bold projection into the heart of Mesopotamia. Far from being an entirely new phenomenon, the “modern” Gulf, constructed on trade, commerce, and traditions of consensus, is only one of many historical manifestations of a dynamic, blended, and changing region.
By connecting, comparing, and contrasting the Gulf with the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, this workshop develops innovative methods and approaches to the Gulf as a region of diverse cultures, histories, and identities.
This workshop is a needed contribution to scholarship on the humanities and histories of the Gulf. It promises to have a significant impact on a burgeoning field. Despite its economic, historical and cultural importance, the Gulf remains under-represented in scholarship. While there is surprisingly little economic study of the area’s past, there is even less study of the history and cultural traditions of the region. Even as the recent nature of current scholarly interest poses some challenges, it is also a new opportunity: there are many potential openings for new studies of the Gulf that will be of great interest to Gulf Institute participants. Sources of information for entire emirates, cultures, and local regions remain neglected by scholarship, awaiting more serious study. Some secondary work does exist that only briefly acknowledges the variety of cultures and societies that profound economic change has recently impacted. Too often the Gulf has been viewed as a region virtually “without history,” a region defined almost exclusively by an enormous injection of capital over the past few decades.
While acknowledging the economic and social importance of oil, this institute will focus particularly on new scholarship on the region, scholarship that takes a humanistic approach that looks beyond simply studying “black gold” as the sole explanation for the shape of change in the Gulf. This new approach does not deny the impact of oil. Rather, it sees current economic changes in the Gulf in their social, political, and cultural contexts. Many of the standard histories of the Gulf read as if changes of any importance began with the discovery of oil, ignoring the rich cultural and historical background of the profound economic changes that the Gulf is experiencing.
Far from only following the oil pipeline, this institute will provide a setting for understanding and engaging the cultures, histories, and traditions existing just underneath, or even within, the appearance of hypermodernity and soaring skyscrapers. In this way, the institute endeavors to examine the Gulf in the longue durée, both beneath and beyond standard histories and common media projections.
This interdisciplinary workshop focused on memories of the not-so-long-ago presence of Jews in the Arab/Muslim world, i.e., the massive demographic and cultural presence of those invariably called Sephardim or Arab-Jews and the vacuum left in the wake of their departure in the post-1948 era.
Today it is common to hear claims, in everyday conversation and in the media, suggesting that Jews and Muslims have been perennial enemies, eternally locked in intractable conflict. However, the myriad memories of inter-communal conviviality suggest that this idea of an implacable enmity is a relatively recent invention.
This workshop brings together scholars researching Jewish-Muslim relations, shedding light on complex cultures of belonging usually buried under the grand nostrums of present-day political discourse. The workshop sets out to examine the ways in which the intertwined Muslim and Jewish past has become a source of nostalgia for a cosmopolitan Arab world that has disappeared but which has also come to embody dreams for a more peaceful future.
The topic of Muslim and Jewish shared quotidian existence has in recent years become visible as the subject of public conversation. This interest in a shared past suggests that a once taboo subject has come to form part of an exploration of a religiously and ethnically multifaceted cultural syncretism. Transcending Orientalist narratives of the Muslim versus the Jew, this workshop addressed fresh understandings of Jewish and Muslim cultural memory.
The aim of this workshop, May 2-3, 2016, at NYUAD was to discuss among experts technical issues that arise when dealing with oral traditions and written texts in the poetic idiom or vernacular of spoken language on the Arabian peninsula.
The linguistic, literary, historical, geographical, and cultural aspects of these traditions and texts cannot be studied in separation from the classical Arabic heritage. Throughout history these have been intertwined and in constant interactive flux. But whereas the domain of classical Arabic is firmly based on a long-established body of codes and rules, its non-classical counterpart has until recently been treated as a poor cousin. The vernacular traditions are by definition diverse, even within the scope of a single area like the Arabian peninsula. Ipso facto techniques that are being developed for translating these traditions into text must be tailored to meet the needs of this diversity in expression.
The workshop devoted sessions to the following aspects: a) rendering oral traditions and texts written in Arabic script, including MS, in transliteration that brings out its linguistic features in the proper way; b) techniques for the translation of Nabaṭi and other Arabian vernacular texts, especially poetry, also seen from the classical corpus; c) special requirements and issues for the establishment of dictionaries of Arabian non-classical texts; d) prosody of Nabaṭi and other non-classical poetry also in relation to classical Arabic prosody. Parallels between vernacular and classical will be explored throughout the sessions of the workshop. Many of these technical issues are analysed in detail in relevant chapters of Dr. Saad Sowayan’s Nabaṭi Poetry: Popular Taste and the Authority of the Text (in Arabic, الشعر النبطي, ذائقة الشعب وسلطة النص).
Sultan al-Amimi is a critic, poet and author, and researcher who is the director of the United Arab Emirates Academy of Poetry. One of the Academy’s activities of world-wide renown is the organization of the competitions of The Million’s Poet (in the Nabaṭi mode) and The Prince of Poets (in classical Arabic). He is also member of the competition’s jury. He has published the collections of poetry of Salim al-Jamri, Rashid al-Khudr, al-Majidi ibn Zahir and many other Emirati poets in addition to his own poetry, stories, essays and other literary writings.
Ghassan al-Hasan was born in Jordan and obtained his doctoral degree at Ayn Shams University. His doctoral thesis Nabaṭi Poetry in the Gulf Region and the Arabian Peninsula was republished in an enlarged two volume edition. From 1977 to 2005 he worked in the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Information and Culture. As from 2006 he is counsellor for the Abu Dhabi Organization for Culture and Heritage, including the Million Poet’s competition where is a jury member, and the Prince of Poets competition.
Claude Audebert is an Emeritus professor in Classical Arabic literature and language at the department of Middle Eastern studies at the Aix-Marseille University. She has published extensively on classical Arabic literature and language. Her special interest is in classical Arabic poetry and oral poetry in Oman and Yemen. Presently she works with a team on a contextual Arabic-French Dictionary of verbs (Cairene Egyptian).
Mohammed Bakhouch is professor in classical Arabic literature and director of the department of Middle Eastern studies at the Aix-Marseille University. He has published extensively on classical Arabic literature and has a special interest in the flytings of Jarir and al-Akhtal. He has also done research on oral poetry in Oman. His latest scholarly work is Poetics of Eulogy, panegyrics in the poetry of al-Akhtal (2015, in French).
Clive Holes was Khalid bin 'Abdallah Al Sa'ud Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World at the University of Oxford from 1997 until his retirement in 2014, and before that (1987-1996) taught Arabic, Arabic Linguistics, and Arabic Popular Literature at the University of Cambridge. His books include Poetry and Politics in Contemporary Bedouin Society, Ithaca Press, 2009; The Nabati Poetry of the UAE, 2011. He has edited a collection of eleven essays under the title Arabic Historical Dialectology: Linguistic and Sociolinguistic Approaches, (Oxford University Press, 2017). He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2002.
Saad Abdullah Sowayan is professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in anthropology and social sciences. He published a library of authoritative studies on the subject ever since his dissertation Nabaṭi Poetry: The Oral Poetry of Arabia, published by University of California Press in 1985. In 2014 he was awarded the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for his The Saga of Human Evolution.
Katrien Vanpee is Director of the Arabic Language Program at the University of Minnesota. She lived and worked for three years in Qatar. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on the role of nabati poetry in Qatari and Emirati projects of nation-building and the construction of national history.
William Tamplin is a second-year PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Harvard University. He has published articles on the political poetry of Bedouin poet Muhammad Fanatil al-Hajaya. His interests include apocalyptic literature, the literature of the Andalus, and translingual writers. He was a 2013-14 Fulbright scholar to Jordan and taught English the year before in Alexandria, Egypt.
Fatima Ali Fadhel az-Zawa has been active in cultural and educational fieldwork in Yemen since 1983, including women’s rights and campaign against early marriage, with the support of local oral tradition and heritage as well as theatre and dance productions. She recorded oral heritage for TV and radio, including on children’s games and songs of the Yemeni folk heritage; old marriage traditions, women’s songs, poetry and stories; and animal stories in popular culture. In 2013 she published the collected poetry of the poetess Khadija al-Habashi from Hadramawt who lived more than a century ago.
Reindert Falkenburg is Professor of Early Modern Art and Culture, and serves as Vice Provost of Intellectual and Cultural Outreach, at the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute. Earlier he was chair of the Art History Department at Leiden University, The Netherlands; Professor of Western Art and Religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California; Deputy Director of the Netherlands Institute for Art History; and Research Fellow of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. His scholarly interest regard in particular early Netherlandish painting and late-medieval carved altarpieces. His books include Joachim Patinir: Landscape as an Image of the Pilgrimage of Life (Amsterdam / Philadelphia 1988); The Fruit of Devotion: Mysticism and the Imagery of Love in Flemish Paintings of the Virgin and Child, 1450-1550 (Amsterdam / Philadelphia 1994); The Land of Unlikeness. Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (Zwolle 2011), French edition: Bosch: Le Jardin des délices, Paris 2015.
Michael Cooperson is professor of Arabic at UCLA and currently a fellow of the Library of Arabic Literature at NYU Abu Dhabi. His research interests include early Abbasid cultural history, Maltese language and literature, and time travel as a narrative device. His most recent publication is the LAL edition and translation of Ibn al-Jawzi's Virtues of Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
Philip F. Kennedy, the founding Faculty Director of the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute, is associate professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and Comparative Literature at New York University, and affiliate faculty member of NYU Abu Dhabi. As author or editor, Kennedy has published many writings on Arabic literature, including The Wine Song in Classical Arabic Poetry: Abu Nuwas and the Literary Tradition (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997); Abu Nuwas: A Genius of Poetry (Oxford: Oneworld 2005 — in the series Makers of the Muslim World); On Fiction and Adab in Medieval Arabic Literature; (Harrassowitz Verlag 2004 — in the series Studies in Arabic Language and Literature); and Islamic Reflections, Arabic Musings; (co-editor with Robert Hoyland, Oxford: Oxbow for the E.J.W. Gibb Memorial Trust Series 2004). As a student, he studied in Oxford, Cairo, Madrid, Aix-en-Provence, and the United Arab Emirates.
Muhamed Osman Al Khalil is associate professor of Arabic and the director of the Arabic Studies program at New York University in Abu Dhabi. Dr. Al Khalil received a BA in English literature from the University of Damascus (1993), an MA in applied linguistics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (1998), and a PhD in Modern Arabic Literature from the University of Arizona (2005). He has received a Fulbright scholarship and taught at universities in the United States, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Al Khalil’s research interests include Arabic language computing, Arabic corpora, biography, language policy, and the interplay of the literary and political in modern Arabic literature. His articles appear in Arabic media. He is currently producing an anthology of Arabic fictional works on the United States, a sample of which have appeared in Arabic and English in the spring issue of NYUAD’s Electra Street Journal. Dr. Al Khalil is also leading several research projects on digitizing Arabic and creating corpus-based learning resources for the language, notably the Database of K12 Arabic Reading Textbooks (DKART).
Marcel Kurpershoek is senior humanities research fellow at NYUAD. He specializes in the cultural heritage of the Arabian peninsula, particularly (oral) poetry and traditions from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Currently he is preparing two volumes of editions and translations of the poetry of Hmēdān al-Shwē’ir and ‘Abdallah ibn Sbayyil for the Library of Arabic Literature (2017). Among his publications in his current field are Oral Traditions & Narratives from Central Arabia (5 vols. 1994-2005, Brill Publishers). The account of his fieldwork Arabia of the Bedouins (Saqi books 2001) was translated into Arabic as al-Badawi al-Akhir (The Last Bedouin). At the end of 2015 he retired from the Netherlands Foreign Service after numerous postings including as Dutch ambassor to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Poland, and special envoy for Syria.
Nizar Habash is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). He is the director of the Computational Approaches to Modeling Language (CAMeL) Lab at NYUAD. He received his PhD in 2003 from the Computer Science Department, University of Maryland College Park. He later joined Columbia University's Center for Computational Learning Systems where he co-founded in 2005 the Columbia Arabic Dialect Modeling group (CADIM). His research includes work on machine translation, morphological analysis, generation and disambiguation, syntactic analysis, and computational modeling of Arabic and its dialects. Professor Habash has over 100 publications including a book titled Introduction to Arabic Natural Language Processing. His website is www.nizarhabash.com
Nasser Isleem served as a professor of teaching Arabic as a foreign language at UNC Chapel Hill, Duke University, Meredith College. At NYUAD since 2012 he inaugurated Emirati dialect and culture course. Isleem pioneered in studies on songs, proverbs, and other cultural expressions and components in teaching Arabic language. Some publications: "Popular Proverbs with DVD: An Entrance to Palestinian Culture," ALUCEN Learning, 2008, "Perspectives: Arabic Language and Culture through Film," ALUCEN Learning, 2009; "Colloquial Palestinian Arabic with DVD," ALUCEN Learning, 2010, "Kalima wa nagham, A Textbook for Teaching Arabic, Volume 1, UT Press, 2014 (volume 2 forthcoming July 2016)", "Ramsah, an introduction to Emirati dialect and culture" by Kuttab Publishing, 2015 and "Hakini Arabi, Colloquial Palestinian/Jordanian Arabic textbook", 2015. Isleem is working on two projects that involve teaching Arabic through integration of Emirati Films and Popular Emirati proverbs, see also www.arabiyyaat.com.
Nathalie Peutz is completing a book manuscript on heritage engineering and conservation-based development in Socotra. She received her PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Princeton University. Her research, based on fieldwork conducted in Somaliland and in Yemen, focuses on questions of migration and mobilities, conservation and development, and identity and heritage in the Arab and Western Indian Ocean worlds. Her publications include articles and a co-edited volume on deportation, The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement (winner of the 2011 Bronze Award from the Association for Borderlands Studies), and several articles on the recent transformation of Yemen's Socotra Archipelago into a World Heritage site.
Justin Stearns taught at Middlebury College in the Religion Department from 2005 to 2010 before coming to NYU Abu Dhabi. His research interests focus on the intersection of law, science, and theology in the pre-modern Muslim Middle East. Stearn’s first book is titled Infectious Ideas: Contagion in Pre-Modern Islamic and Christian Thought in the Western Mediterranean (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011) and he has published articles in Islamic Law and Society, Medieval Encounters, Al-Qantara, and History Compass. He is working on a book on the social status of the natural sciences in early modern Morocco entitled Revealed Science: The Natural Sciences in Islam in the Age of al-Hasan al-Yusi (d. 1691) as well as on an edition and translation of al-Yusi’s Muhadarat for the Library of Arabic Literature.
Recent studies in economics have started to provide empirical evidence that national leaders have an effect on the economic growth of their countries (Jones/Olken 2005: 3; Jones 2009: 6). Nonetheless, studies that systematically focus on the impact of political leadership performance on the economic development in both democratic and autocratic contexts are still rather rare.
This workshop aims to address this gap in academic scholarship by analyzing how, to what extent, and why different patterns of political leadership performance impact a country’s economic growth in relation to its political institutional design (democracy vs. autocracy). By focusing on three important regions with different economic histories and trajectories, namely the Gulf, Western Europe, and Southeast Asia, the workshop compares the performance of political leaders both in democratic and autocratic institutional contexts. It aims at explaining the strategies that heads of government and state apply across the various regions with regard to political communication, cultures of public representation, as well as their multifold relations with their respective national economies, both past and present.
Dr. Alex Baturo (Dublin City University)
Alex Baturo received his PhD in political Science from Trinity College Dublin (2007). His research interests focus on comparative democratization, political leadership, political rhetoric, methodology, as well as post-Soviet and Russian Politics. Specifically, they include various aspects of comparative democratization, particularly presidentialism and personalism across the world and institutions in non-democracies; regime deinstitutionalisation and measurements; the effects of political leaders' background and traits on political and economic outcomes; the influence of institutions and the economy on leaders' behaviour and careers; leader-follower relationships; computerised analyses of political rhetoric, e.g., rhetoric and elite management; as well as latent variable models, i.e., for the estimations of unobserved political influence or analyses of debates in the United Nations General Assembly. Baturo is the author of Democracy, Dictatorship, and Term Limits (University of Michigan Press, 2014).
Professor Claudia Derichs (Philipps University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany)
Claudia Derichs holds the chair for Comparative Politics and International Development Studies at Philipps University of Marburg since March 2010. Previously, Derichs was professor of Political Science at University of Hildesheim and Assistant professor at the University Duisburg-Essen. She studied Japanese and Arabic studies alongside Social Sciences at the Universities of Bonn, Tokyo, and Cairo, and holds a translator diploma for Japanese and Arabic. PhD at the Free University Berlin, Derichs conducted her Habilitation at the University of Duisburg-Essen in 2004. Her research focuses on the politics of the Near and Middle East, East and South East Asia, as well as political Islam, Gender Studies and Japanese politics. Among her recent publications are Constitutional Rights in Multiethnic States — The Case of Malaysia (In: Ehlers, Dirk/Henning Glaser/Kittisak Prokati (eds.); Constitutionalism and Good Governance: Eastern and Western Perspectives. Baden-Baden: Nomos 2014, pp. 255-279); Women’s Movements and Countermovements. The Quest for Gender Equality in Southeast Asia and the Middle East” (ed., Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014); and Dynasties and Female Political Leaders in Asia. Gender, Power and Pedigree (eds., Berlin: LIT, 2013).
Professor Yi Feng (Claremont Graduate University, Los Angeles, USA)
Yi Feng is the Luther Lee Jr. Memorial Chair in Government at Claremont Graduate University where he served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (2006-2011) and Dean of School of Politics and Economics (2003-2006). He obtained his MA and PhD in Political Science, preceding an MS in Public Policy Analysis, all at The University of Rochester, New York. His areas of concentration are international political economy, public policy analysis, and quantitative methodology. His professional service includes the General Program Chair, organizing the International Studies Association Annual Conference (Hawaii, 2004-05) and Editor of International Interactions, a premier journal in international studies (2001-2005). Yi Feng’s research focuses on political and economic development. He has published extensively on topics such as economic growth, investment, human capital, international trade, demographic transition, and political regime transitions in various economics and political science peer-reviewed journals. His book, Democracy, Governance and Economic Performance: Theory and Evidence (MIT, 2003, 2005) has been cited as “notable for its broad scope, its thorough grounding in empirical evidence and for the insights it offers into complex social processes. This is interdisciplinary research at its best” (Eirik G. Furubotn 2003). His current research interests include global power shifts, globalization, and regional political, economic, and business development.
Professor Michael Herb (Georgia State University, Atlanta, USA)
Michael Herb’s research interests focus on issues related to the Arab monarchies of the Gulf. He has written on the political consequences of oil wealth, on the relationship between taxation and democracy, and on how monarchism shapes the process of democratization. He maintains the Kuwait Politics Database, the most comprehensive and authoritative source of information on Kuwaiti elections. He is the author of The Wages of Oil: Parliaments and Economic Development in Kuwait and the UAE (Cornell University Press, 2014) and All in the Family: Absolutism, Revolution, and Democracy in the Middle Eastern Monarchies (State University of New York Press, 1999). Herb is Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University and holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of California.
Professor Femke van Esch (Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands)
Femke van Esch works as an assistant professor of European Integration at the Utrecht School of Governance (USG). She holds an expertise in European economic and monetary policy-making, EU leadership, and the method of comparative cognitive mapping (CCM). In her PhD thesis she studied the role of leaders' beliefs in the establishment of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which was characterised by EU-scholar Desmond Dinan as 'superior in every respect.' Since obtaining her PhD, Van Esch has studied the European response to the current Euro-crisis focusing in particular on the role of leaders' beliefs and national culture. Among other things, she is work-package leader and part of the management board of the Transcrisis Project that is funded by the EU Horizon2020 scheme. The project, which is carried out in an international consortium, focuses on the topic of enhancing the EU's transboundary crisis management capacities. Strategies for multi-level leadership. Over the years, Van Esch has taught numerous courses in European governance, international relations, political science, and qualitative research and has won the USG Best Young Teacher’s Award twice. In addition to her academic work, Femke is a member of the Commission European Integration of the Advisory Council of International Affairs, which advises the Dutch Ministers of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs, and the Minister of Defense.
Yousef Casewit, a Humanities Research Fellow at NYUAD, organized a two-day workshop (March 1-2, 2016) on the interpretive approaches to the divine names in medieval Islamic theology, philosophy, and mysticism. The workshop, entitled “The Divine Names in Medieval Islamic Thought,” was attended by scholars from NYUAD, Kalam Research and Media, Tabah Foundation, the American University of Sharjah, and Zayed University. In addition to lectures by guest speakers, the workshop featured intensive group readings and discussions of select passages from the Arabic philosophical treatise on the divine names by the North African Sufi poet and philosopher, ‘Afif al-Din al-Tilimsani (d. 1291 AD).
The first day of the workshop centered on approaches to the divine names in the Islamic theological tradition (kalam). Following introductory remarks by Yousef Casewit on Tilimsani's life and works, Martin Nguyen, Associate Professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut, delivered the opening talk entitled Abu l-Qasim al-Qushayri’s (d. 1072 AD) Engagement with the Divine Names. Nguyen presented one of the earliest known and highly influential Sufi and theological treatments of the names.
This talk was followed by a lecture on late Ash‘arite philosophical-theological thought by Frank Griffel, Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University. His talk, entitled God as Necessary Being: On the Ashʿarite Reception of Avicenna, shed light on Avicenna’s proof for God as the “Being who cannot not Be,” and the evolution and reception of his pivotal argument in the theological writings of Ghazali (d. 1111) and Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1209).
On the second day of the workshop, the participants turned to Sufi-Philosophical approaches to the divine names during the 13th-14th centuries, AD.
The first lecture was delivered by Oludamini Ogunnaike, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University. Ogunnaike shared his analysis of a recently published commentary by Tilimsani on the Fusus al-hikam. The Fusus is a widely received summary of philosophical Sufism written by the great Andalusian mystic Ibn ‘Arabi (d. 1240) which received over one-hundred commentaries over the centuries. Tilimsani’s commentary has escaped the attention of modern scholarship and is the first of commentary on the Fusus.
The second lecture was presented by Faris Casewit, a Doctoral Candidate at Harvard University. Casewit presented some of his findings on ‘Ali al-Harrali (d. 1240), a fascinating and little-known North African Sufi philosopher who sought to intellectually reform Muslim scholars of his day and who authored a treatise on the divine names which is available in manuscript. Caner Dagli, Associate Professor at The College of the Holy Cross (MA), delivered the final talk of the workshop. Caner’s talk centered on the doctrines of Dawud al-Qaysari (d. 1350), one of the greatest exponents and systematizers of Ibn ‘Arabi’s teachings during the Mamluk era.
Through this mini-conference, we will explore new methodologies and theoretical frameworks to understand transregional movements of people and material culture across the Indian Ocean World (IOW) and beyond. As a “process geography,” the IOW has been continuously created by centuries-long cultural exchanges. Our focus is on the means by which process geographies intersect across the ocean, which plays a central role in the histories of both port cities and their hinterlands.
Today, many cities and towns in the IOW littoral are global cities, and their cultural practices divulge clues about how people migrated, adapted, and assimilated. These are cultural “contact zones” (Pratt 1992; Clifford 1997) where different actors and institutions engage in sources of power and knowledge production.
We shall discuss how cross-cultural exchanges are preserved and remembered, updated and reinvented in the IOW through material culture, architecture, performances, rituals, arts, and contemporary place-making practices.
The mini-conference is convened by Neelima Jeychandran, NYUAD Humanities Research Fellow for fall 2015, and moderated by Lauren Minsky, Assistant Professor of History at NYUAD.
Lifestyles under Construction: Religious and Spatial Self-Styling in Bangalore’s Urban Periphery
My presentation seeks to understand the ethnographic and analytical registers of contemporary urban space in India. Grounded spatially in my long-term research in Bangalore, India’s “Silicon Valley” of nearly nine million people, it discusses what I call the “sacrality of urban sprawl,” i.e., the fact that cities and their expanding boundaries (whether suburban, exurban, or peri-urban) are important arenas for the recruitment of devotees, the construction of habitats to house the religious, new spiritual maps, and ideas of selfhood. An exploration of the strata and groups who inhabit these spaces is not the main focus of this paper. It is clear, however, that most could be seen as constituting the “new middle class” that represents and lays claim to the benefits of liberalization.
I try to show that in addition to consumption patterns and lifestyles, new norms of religious and somatic selfhood are crucial to the production of their identity. Further, while much attention in recent years has been paid to ideologies and displays of religious nationalisms, fundamentalisms, and violence in urban areas, I draw attention in this paper instead to other maps, sensibilities, and architectures of religiosity.
Smriti Srinivas is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis and Director of the Middle East/South Asia Studies Program there. She is also co-director of the Mellon Research Initiative in "Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds." Her research over the last two decades has focused on the relationship between cities, religion, cultural memory, and the body. Her books include In the Presence of Sai Baba: Body City and Memory in a Global Religious Movement (Brill and Orient BlackSwan, 2008), Landscapes of Urban Memory: The Sacred and the Civic in India’s High Tech City (University of Minnesota Press, 2001/Orient BlackSwan, 2004), and The Mouths of People, Voice of God: Buddhists and Muslims in a Frontier Community of Ladakh (Oxford University Press, 1998). She has received numerous grants for her work from institutions such as the Mellon foundation, the Rockefeller foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of California Humanities Network, the American Academy of Religion, the Atlanta History Center, India Foundation for the Arts, the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, and Humanistic Institute for Co-operation with Developing Societies.
West Africa and the Indian Ocean Worlds: Some Past and Future Connections from Ghana
De-Valera Nana Yaw Mpere Botchway
In my talk, I bring to the discussion some interesting historical and contemporary cases of West African connections to the Indian Ocean World. Mine is a reminder about an understudied aspect of the ever expanding historical and contemporary African diaspora.
Most studies about Africa and its diaspora in the Indian Ocean world have privileged investigations about the Northern, Central, Southern and Eastern Africa links to the Indian Ocean worlds. I do not have much information about other West African country’s but I use Ghana, where I come from, as an entry to provide few illustrations about some of the interesting historical and contemporary connections that Ghana has with parts of the Indian Ocean worlds.
I highlight some of the national initiatives such as the creation of certain toponyms, establishment of a museum, and local arrangements of diplomatic ties with diaspora communities, to memorialize these nexuses which emerged from slavery, colonial military engagements, and diplomatic arrangements, religious expansionism of some oriental religious constructs into Ghana in the 20th century, and a 21st century effort of the royal house and chief of an indigenous chiefdom in Ghana to maintain a stronger cultural nexus with that chiefdom’s direct relatives in an Indian Ocean community (the Seychelles). These few illustrative cases from Ghana should propel us to strongly insert and reengage the West African connections to the Indian Ocean in our scholarly concerns, interests, dialogues, and investigations.
De-Valera Nana Yaw Mpere Botchway is a Senior Lecturer in the departments of History and African Studies in the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. He has a interdisciplinary research and teaching interests and they include looking at the history of West Africa, African indigenous knowledge systems, regionalism and integration in Africa, Black religious and cultural nationalism(s), and Africans in dispersion. He was a Fellow at the African Studies Centre in the University of Cambridge from 2006- 2007. He also served as a Visiting Scholar and Global Academic Partner in the University of South Florida in 2010, and was an Exchange Faculty in the Grand Valley State University, Michigan in 2012. He was the recipient of the American Council of Learned Society (ACLS) African Humanities Programme Fellowship award for 2013-14 and spent a year in residence at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa. He is a member of the editorial boards of two journals — Drumspeak and Asemka in the Faculty of Arts, University of Cape Coast, Ghana. He is in charge of book reviews for Abibisem, a journal of African Culture and Civilisation, based in the Department of History, University of Cape Coast. He has two books and some scholarly papers in different journals and books.
Swahili Arts Unmoored
This presentation draws on collaborative research underway for an exhibition on the visual arts of the Swahili coast and their reach across the western Indian Ocean world. Enriched by centuries of interconnection and circuits of exchange between Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, and Africa, Indian Ocean social formations have long flourished between the borders of continents, empires, and nation states. Viewed as ports of entry into these worlds between borders, Swahili objects resist easy category, transcend origins, confound sequence, and embody at once both social allegiances and disruptions.
Taking cues from the artworks themselves, this presentation explores the extent to which transoceanic spaces and the Swahili coast in particular can be used as critical tools for de-centering imperial, cartographic, and museological frameworks that have long kept “Asia” and “Africa” apart — and in place.
Allyson Purpura is Senior Curator and Curator of the Arts of Africa at Krannert Art Museum (KAM) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Purpura received her PhD in cultural anthropology from the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research on the social construction of Islamic expertise in Zanzibar led to her current interest in the broader connections between knowledge and power, particularly as they play out in the representational practices of museums. Before coming to KAM, Purpura taught cultural anthropology and critical museology at Haverford College, George Washington University, and the University of Michigan, and was research associate and guest curator at a number of museums, including the National Museum of African Art. She has published on a range of topics including the politics of Islamic charisma in Zanzibar, script and image in African art, “undisciplined” knowledge, ephemeral art, and on the critical “work" of art on display. Select exhibition projects include William Kentridge: Ambivalent Affinities; Allan deSouza: The Farthest Point; Moshekwa Langa: Mogalakwena; Nkata: An Installation by Nnenna Okore, and Encounters, an award-winning reinstallation of KAM’s African art collection. She is working on a collaborative exhibition and book project with art historian Prita Meier.
Graffiti and street art have surfaced on city streets around the world and paved their way into commercial galleries since the 1980s. More recently, the streetbound art forms have entered an entirely new arena: the museum. During this past decade, museums have carved out a space to feature the artistic forms of graffiti and street art in their exhibition halls. This displacement brought about a whole new set of questions and challenges revolving around issues of authenticity, legitimacy, representation, curatorial oversight, exhibition techniques and collection practices.
Focusing on three museum shows as an entry point, City as Canvas (2014) at the Museum of the City of New York, Art in the Street (2011) at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, and Street Art (2008) at the Tate Modern in London, this workshop discusses this brand new engagement between two constituents that previously operated on opposite ends of the art world.
Peter Bengtsen is an art historian and sociologist currently working at the Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences at Lund University, Sweden. He has been writing about street art since 2006, and in 2014 published his first book entitled The Street Art World (Almendros de Granada Press). Since, his ongoing research on street art and related topics has resulted in several published and forthcoming articles and book chapters. From November 2015, Peter’s main focus is on writing a new book on street art and ecocriticism.
Lois Stavsky is an educator, curator, and writer with a particular passion for global street art. Among the many books she has contributed to are: Stickers: Stuck-Up Piece of Crap: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art, Rizzoli, 2010; C215: Community Service, Criteres, 2011 and Graffiti: 365, Abrams Books, 2011. Lois is the content provider for the highly-acclaimed App, StreetArtNYC, and the founder and editor of the popular blog, StreetArtNYC.
Nick Riggle (PhD, NYU) is an Assistant Professor at the University of San Diego. His research explores how issues in moral psychology and ethics echo and interact with issues in aesthetics and the arts. He also has an interest in the history of philosophy (especially Kant), and likes to keep a philosophical eye on contemporary ethical and artistic culture. Riggle's work has been published by The Philosophical Quarterly, The British Journal of Aesthetics, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, and McSweeney’s. He has lectured on street art nationally and internationally, and his writing on street art has appeared in The Journal of Aesthetics, Art Criticism, and Hyperallergic.
Dr. Lachlan MacDowall is an artist, curator, and researcher based at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He is head of the University’s Centre for Cultural Partnerships, a specialist research and graduate teaching program in community-based and social-engaged art in all media. Over the last decade, Dr. MacDowall has published widely on the history and aesthetics of graffiti and street art. His most recent research investigates street art tourism (with Professor Alison Young), graffiti and cultural heritage (with Sam Merrill), and the relationship between graffiti, street art, and the social media platform Instagram, the subject of a forthcoming book. He also teaches an undergraduate subject on street art in collaboration with academics in London and New York.
Academic Year 2014-2015
Observers commonly gloss the visions of intimate relations projected by modern Islamist movements as conservative or archaic. However, studies have shown how many versions of this vision of intimacy emerged in close dialogue with nationalist movements and colonial forms of governmentality.
Ethnographic work has begun to shed light on how discourses of women’s rights are mediated through processes of reception in everyday life. How, then, may we approach the dialogue that emerges between Islamist discourses and intimate relations that make up everyday life in the contemporary world?
This conference explores that dialogue in order to reframe our understanding of both Islamist movements and intimate relations in the societies where those movements gain traction. Here we seek to shift analytic perspective away from the spectacles of violence and security toward everyday forms of labor and leisure such as household economics, relations with neighbors or jinn, and the bearing and rearing of children by families. How do such labors enfold or encounter fragments of Islamist discourse? How, in turn, do Islamist discourses and forms of political action bear the imprint of their reception in those intimate spaces?
The conference privileges fine-grained analyses that emerge from the rough and tumble of ordinary life in order to ask whether everyday life itself may generate questions that would otherwise be elided by analyses that privilege state and market priorities for understanding the diffusion of these movements.
Rose Wellman is a postdoctoral researcher at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Princeton University who specializes in Iran and the Middle East. Between 2007 and 2010, she conducted 15 months of ethnographic research in the Islamic Republic of Iran, including 10 months in a small town outside of Shiraz. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Virginia in May 2014 and her BA in Anthropology from Mount Holyoke College in 2005. Rose Wellman's book project, Family, Shi'ism, and the Making of Post-Revolutionary Iran, examines how rural Iranian families with ties the Islamic Revolution and Iran-Iraq war (here Basijis) endeavor to create and preserve ethical kin, town, and national relations through the mobilization of vital kinship substances such as blood and food.
Sylvain Perdigon is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the American University of Beirut. He was born and grew up in the southern half of France, studied Greek and Latin at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, and received his PhD in Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University in 2011.
Pascal Menoret is Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at NYUAD. He completed his PhD in 2008 from the Department of History at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Pascal's research combines urban history and social anthropology. His book, Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt, (Cambridge University Press, 2014) explores the relationship between urban planning and youth unrest in the Saudi capital. His book project, entitled Graveyard of the Clerics: Religious Activism in Saudi Suburbia, is a cultural history of the Saudi Islamic movements since the mid-1960s. He has published The Saudi Enigma: A History (Zed Books, 2005) and L'Arabie, des routes de l'encens à l'ère du pétrole (Gallimard, 2010). Pascal is also interested in literary translation from Arabic into English, urban music in the Middle East and Southern Europe, and modern architecture.
Noah Salomon (Reed College, BA; University of Chicago, MA; University of Chicago, PhD) is Assistant Professor of Religion at Carleton College where he teaches courses in Islamic Studies and theory and method in the study of religion at Carleton College. He is currently working on a book that presents an ethnography of Sudan's experiment with an Islamic state from 1989 to the present, as well as a more recent project on state secularism and the construction of a Muslim minority in the new nation of South Sudan.
J. Andrew Bush has been conducting ethnographic research with Iraqi Kurds since 2002. In 2014 he completed a PhD in Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University, where his dissertation drew from three years of fieldwork in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. He joined the Research Fellowship in the Humanities at NYUAD, where he is drafting a book manuscript that combines the results of his ethnographic research with analyses of Islamic sermons, Sufi epistolary correspondence, and poetic texts. His writing has appeared in Anthropology of This Century, and the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to the Anthropology of the Middle East.
The workshop addresses a seeming paradox at the heart of many discussions about the UAE — how has the citizen population of a relatively young nation which has undergone a vast transformation in a short time developed a strong sense of national identity? The workshop explores a twofold approach to the history of the Trucial States/United Arab Emirates from the second half of the twentieth century to the present. On the one hand, we examine the well-known spatial transformation the region has experienced since the mid-1950s. In large part this has been made possible by the emergence of the oil industry and related flows of capital. But the specific forms it has taken have been heavily shaped by regional ideological struggles, local personalities and politics, and a location on the imperial periphery. On the other hand, we explore the development of an Emirati national identity and its relationships to trans- and subnational identities, and how Emiratis have narrated their country’s history. But rather than separating material from discursive histories, we examine the two as mutually constitutive through a series of case studies. These case studies include British efforts to develop modern agricultural production in the northern UAE, the beginnings of the cement industry in the late 1960s, construction of the first road from Dubai to Ras al-Khaimah, and the urbanization and then suburbanization of the Emirati citizen population. By examining the flows of goods, capital, and people, we can trace the development of a national material and imaginary space. At the same time, we aim to avoid “methodological nationalism” and place these histories of identity and infrastructure in their regional context. The workshop’s discussions are heavily informed by comparisons, contrasts, and connections between the histories of the UAE and Oman.
Matt MacLean, PhD Candidate, NYU New York, and Humanities Research Fellow, NYUAD
Matthew MacLean joined as a Humanities Research Fellow at NYUAD and is in the Joint Program in History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYUAD. His dissertation research is on the spatial transformation of the Trucial States and United Arab Emirates in the second half of the twentieth century, in particular how the development of the UAE's infrastructure made possible the emergence of Emirati national identity. He pays special attention to the emergence of the UAE state and aim to place Emirati history in its wider regional and global contexts. He was a Fulbright student in the UAE in 2006-07 at Zayed University in Dubai while completing his MA thesis at CUNY-Brooklyn College on US foreign policy in the Gulf in the 1970s, and has MA degrees in Arab Studies from Georgetown University and Teaching Social Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to entering graduate school, he taught history at the high school level in Brooklyn, NY for eight years.
Frauke Heard-Bey, author of From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates
Frauke Heard-Bey received a PhD from the Freie Universität Berlin in 1967 and followed her husband to the emerging oil-producing state of Abu Dhabi. She joined the 'Centre for Documentation and Research' in 1969. Her research into the social, economic and constitutional history and current developments of the countries of the Gulf resulted in academic publications including: From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates, 3rd ed., Dubai 2004; Die arabischen Golfstaaten im Zeichen der islamischen Revolution, Bonn, 1983; From Tribe to State. The Transformation of Political Structure in Five States of the GCC, CRiSSMA Nr. 15, Milano, 2008.
David Heard, author of From Pearls to Oil, ADCO
David Heard, CBE FEI arrived in Abu Dhabi as a petroleum engineer in August 1963. He is the author of From Pearls to Oil: How the Oil Industry Came to the United Arab Emirates.
Mandana Limbert, CUNY-Queens College
Mandana E. Limbert received her PhD in Anthropology and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan in 2002 and joined the Queens College (CUNY) faculty the same year. She became a member of the faculty of the CUNY Graduate Center in 2007. She has also been a fellow and visiting scholar at The University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, New York University’s Center for Near Eastern Studies, the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and Duke University’s Department of Cultural Anthropology. She was a member of the faculty of the History department at North Carolina State University, 2009-2010. In addition to numerous articles, Professor Limbert has co-edited Timely Assets: The Politics of Resources and their Temporalities (2008), published by the School of American Research, Advanced Seminar Series. Her book, In the Time of Oil: Piety, Memory, and Social Life in an Omani Town was published by Stanford University Press (2010). And, with support of a grants from the American Council of Learned Societies and the City University of New York, Professor Limbert has begun writing her next book, Oman, Zanzibar, and the Politics of Becoming Arab on changing notions of Arabness in Oman and Zanzibar over the course of the twentieth century.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, intellectuals around the eastern Mediterranean and points east were paying close attention to what was going on in other capitals, especially as transportation links and publication possibilities increased vastly: books and magazines circulated, and so did people. Works published in Arabic were translated into Turkish and Persian, while works produced in Europe of salience to reformist, emergent nationalist and gender-activist groups were often translated near-simultaneously into Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Greek, Armenian, Hebrew, and other languages.
This workshop — possibly initiating a larger research network — brings together scholars of translation and of the era’s political-cultural discourses to investigate how circulations of key texts and their translations facilitated and perhaps sometimes deterred conversations around key issues: women’s rights and masculinity/femininity, identity and personal autonomy, national efficacy and ‘self-help,’ etc.
We move away from a center-periphery model of cultural transmission in favor of the concept of ‘lateral cosmopolitanism,’ and from a narrowly linguistic perspective to a focus on ‘cultural translation/transmission,’ through a focus on text production and dissemination at a key moment for the crystallization of ideological outlooks and political activisms that continue to dominate in today’s Middle East.
This approach transcends traditional area studies foci, reaching across geographical, disciplinary, and linguistic boundaries, to study spaces in-between and how they were created and maintained (or not). Translation is often spoken of these days but rarely do scholars attend closely to their internal fabric. We ask not just what but how of translation — and for whom?
"From Liberation (tahrir) to Training (tarbiyat): Yusuf shtiyani's 1900 Persian translation of Qasim Amin's Tahrir al-mar'a and its late Qajar context."
Dominic Parviz Brookshaw, University of Oxford
This presentation will examine Tarbiyat-i nisvan, the 1900 Persian translation of Qasim Amin's Tahrir al-mar'a, with specific reference to the translator's purposeful omissions. Drawing on the work of Najmabadi, Kashani-Sabet, and Vejdani, Tarbiyat-i nisvan will also be contextualized through a comparative reading of slightly earlier and contemporaneous texts produced in late Qajar Iran that advocate women's education within the framework of tarbiyat ("training").
"How to speak to the Jewish women of Arabistan and Hindustan?" — Jewish-Iraqi reading culture and the women's question, 1869-1908
Orit Bashkin, University of Chicago
My paper deals with the reading practices of the Iraqi Jewish community in the 19th century. I argue that various products in the increasingly global Baghdadi-Jewish print market reflected new ideas about translation, gender, and language.
The first part of my paper explores newspapers, journals, and books which were published in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic (Arabic written in the Hebrew script), and French, and circulated between Baghdad, Palestine, India (where many Iraqi Jews settled after 1857), and Europe. I demonstrate how the ideas of Iraqi Jewish reformers about gender found their expression in these new mediums, ranging from letter correspondence to books about formidable Jewish women (such as Qissat Hannah and Qissat Esther).
The second part of my paper focuses on one text, Qanun al-Nissa, a book in Judeo-Arabic written by the great Baghdadi scholar of Jewish law and mysticism Rabbi Yosef Haim (1835-1909). Printed in Livorno (Italy) in 1905, the text included short segments in fusha (especially in saj') and long sections in the Baghdadi colloquial. The text was meant to be read by and to women in order to teach them about Jewish law, the relations between Jewish law and the modern age, and proper conduct (matters that became very important after the opening of the French Jewish Alliance School for girls in Baghdad in 1893).
I show how three interrelated processes of translation shape the text: first, translation of Hebrew Biblical and post-Biblical materials (especially tales) from Hebrew into colloquial Iraqi; second, translation from the classical register into the colloquial, and third, the interlacing of Arabo-Islamic texts, such as The Arabian Nights, into the Jewish text. I speculate on who was the audience of this text. In conclusion, I consider how the Baghdadi case-study fits into broader discussions about readership, authorship, orality, and translation practices in the Ottoman world of letters and in India and their effects on gender perceptions.
Gender, Diaspora and Colonialism: Greek women writers and translators in late nineteenth-century Egypt
Alexander Kazamias, University of Coventry
This paper examines the work of Greek women writers and translators in Egypt from the 1860s to the 1890s. It highlights the core gender themes in the poetry of Eleni Goussiou, the fiction of Maria Michanidou, the chronicles of Penelope Delta, and the translation of Eleni Argyridou and Emilia Frangia. The paper explores the different ways in which these writers sought to construct a female diasporic identity in their works during the emergence of the colonial era in Egypt. Particular attention will be paid to the tensions between a Eurocentric perspective on gender based on French and British orientalist leitmotifs and a Greek nationalist counter-narrative which sought to define female diasporic identity in the context of Egypt’s late Ottoman society.
Educating Rayya: Fénelon’s 17th-century treatise De l’éducation des filles as an Egyptian work, two centuries later (1901, 1909)
Marilyn Booth, NYUAD Institute
François Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon (1651-1715) is remembered for his opposition to the harsh treatment of Huguenots following Louis XIV’s revocation of the Edict of Nantes which had given them protection; for his novel Les aventures de Télemaque, fils d’Ulysse (1699) which was widely interpreted as a critique of monarchic absolutism (and translated into Arabic and into Turkish in the 1860s); and for his famous quarrel with his mentor Bossuet over Quietism (1696-99), specifically the doctrine of ‘pure love’ espoused by the mystic and writer Jeanne Marie Guyon de Chesnoy.
Some years before taking up these controversial issues in writing, Fénelon penned his first work, De l’éducation des filles (1687, possibly written in 1678), which also knew a long life in France and elsewhere. As a nineteenth-century French editor of the work noted, the work was prescient in its attention to child psychology, and the question of girls’ education specifically was less marked in the text than was an overall programme of childrearing and education from the cradle to puberty: more than a manual on girls’ education, it was a training programme for parents and other child-minders.
Amongs its many lives thereafter, De l’éducation appeared twice in Arabic translation within a single decade, when the issue of girls’ education was intensely debated although — some commentators said — it was no longer a new issue, at least not in public discourse. In an era of intense cultural translation in Egypt, what was the valence of this work? How did it operate as an Egyptian and Arabic text? Why was it useful?
What kinds of editing — appropriation — did its intercultural travel require or encourage? In particular, I consider how — and again, in one decade — this work shot through with the Catholic Christianity of 17th-century France becomes first a sort of Arab/ic secular work of masculine-reformist nahda rhetoric, and second, a primer for (some) Egyptian parents that attempts to model a modernist Islamic pedagogy.
Gendering Untranslatables: Reflections on the Conceptual Languages of Cultural Transfer in the 1890s
Ayman El-Desouky, SOAS
My presentation builds on my recent work on the hermeneutical activation of conceptual untranslatabilities in the languages of knowledge production, reflecting on the arguments M. Booth has put forth over how in the discourses of the 1890s 'gender' becomes "a theme and an organisational analytic" for nationalising and modernising discourses.
Offering certain issues for reflection, the paper brings the gender debates to bear on the recent work in world literature and comparative literature which are seeking to offer different approaches to the literatures of the region, also by looking at modes of circulation within and among these literatures.
The concept of territorial sovereignty, of the authority to govern a recognized swath of the physical environment, is a fundamental pillar of contemporary international relations. It was not always so. As Lauren Benton has demonstrated, sovereign authority depended on certain practices of political dominion and a defining of the physical environment through such techniques as cartography or narratives of exploration.
This workshop engages with recent historical approaches examining how nonhuman factors influenced governance and understandings of sovereignty. The workshop will also consider methods for displacing dominant narratives about sovereignty and the environment, whereby contemporary models are anachronistically projected into the past.
Academic Year 2013-2014
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was officially created in 1960 during a conference held in Baghdad. Its first members were the governments of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.
Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, the Venezuelan Minister of Oil, and Abdullah Al Tariki, the first Saudi Oil Minister, are often credited with the name of “founders of OPEC.”
The seminar is dedicated to explore the intellectual background and the political achievements of these two key figures of the history of OPEC and of their respective countries. It also aims at explaining how two countries with such diverse cultural, political, and geographical history came to recognize the need for international cooperation by the end of the 1950s.
The seminar is organized by Dr. Giuliano Garavini (University of Padua and Senior Research Fellow at NYUAD Institute) within the framework of the NYUAD Humanities Research Fellowship Program coordinated by Professor Reindert Falkenburg.
Histories of the Indian Ocean have traditionally viewed the high seas as a vector for the transmission of legal ideas during the age of European imperialism.
Recently, scholars have begun to consider how empires’ attempts to define property relations in oceanic space were worked out not only on the level of legal discourse, but through the everyday practices of those who crossed oceans and dwelled in its littorals and hinterlands.
The movement of traders, imperial officials, scholars, and slaves throughout the Indian Ocean world not only created a maritime regulatory order, but also produced plural property regimes along the coastal regions of the East African mainland. There, indigenous, European, and Islamic legal idioms competed to regulate property rights.
In East Africa as in other imperial contexts, sovereignty itself was constituted in part through the ordering of these competing claims. From the 1950s to the present, struggles to for decolonization and independence have been characterized by efforts to produce national property regimes out of the plural ones inherited from colonial states. However, postcolonial attempts to define rights to land and sea have often proved inconclusive — a fact which arguably highlights the continued influence of Indian Ocean legal cultures rather than the alleged “failures” of African states.
The workshop thus highlights convergences between the modern histories of Africa and the Indian Ocean. By focusing on regional property regimes and their contribution to the construction of sovereignties, such a framing also offers new insights into the possibilities and limits of “global” history.
The workshop’s invited guest, Jatin Dua (PhD Candidate in Anthropology, Duke University), is a scholar whose work explores the making of a regional maritime regulatory order in the contemporary Indian Ocean through the interactions between Somali pirates, states, international institutions, and networks of private security contractors.
The event is convened by Reynolds Richter (Humanities Research Fellow, NYUAD Institute and PhD Candidate in History, NYU New York) whose research explores the influence of coastal Kenya’s distinctly plural legal culture on struggles over land rights during the decades of decolonization and independence.
Kān yā mā kān... An old pearling shipmaster, often asked about the cultural heritage forged from his occupation, once told a story of how cockroaches once got into his ship's store of dates during a long voyage. Qāl: The only thing to do was to continue eating the dates.
Today, the Gulf states are replete with initiatives and institutions devoted to the recuperation, preservation, dissemination, and appreciation of cultural heritage, often interchangeably described as turāth, patrimony, taqlīd, legacy, or thaqāfah. But, as the shipmaster's story shows, 'heritage' is messy. Though it is commonly conceived as a storehouse of cultural 'goods' or a reservoir of hallowed objects for use and replication, 'heritage' is in fact made up of cockroaches amongst the dates. The parameters of cultural, religious, and historical inheritance are the complexities of human lives, and its 'goods' are the traces — material, imaginary, habitual — of their sensing, feeling, loving, suffering, striving, and failing. In few forms of Gulf Arab cultural life is the complexity, difficulty and anxiety of 'heritage' more evident than in Khalījī musical life.
This workshop examines the challenges to music-making, musical repertoires and the development of music-training programs within the context of institutionalized discourses heritage in the Gulf region. Participants from the NYUAD Research Institute, Music Program, and Arab Crossroads welcome Majid al-Harthy and Ghazi al-Mulaifi — two young scholars of Khalījī musical life who represent a new generation of Gulf Arab musical scholarship and whose work as music researchers, teachers, and practitioners explicitly grapples with the challenges posed by prevalent understandings of music, identity, and heritage in contemporary Gulf societies.