International conference "Re-Centering a Region: the Maghreb in Motion"
15-17 February 2018, Center For Near And Middle Eastern Studies, Marburg. With François Burgat, Eric Gobe, Richard Jacquemond et Catherine Miller. The conference is the result of a cooperation between the subject area Politics of Near and Middle East at the CNMS, the DFG-funded project "Figures of Thought - Turning Points. Cultural Practices and Social Change in the Arab World" of the subject area Arabic Literature and Culture at the CNMS and the Institut de recherches et d’études sur les mondes arabes musulmans (IREMAM).
The so-called "Arab Spring" injected considerable dynamism into the Arab world, triggering a wave of transformational processes. It is no coincidence that the impulse for these transformations came from Tunisia, a country in the Maghreb. Being "in Motion", this notion characterizes the cultural region of the Maghreb since long before 2010/2011, with revolutionary tendencies and anticolonial insurgencies having shaped North Africa since the colonization of Algeria in the 19th century. Multiple entanglements, transfers, and mobilities are exemplary not only of the region’s internal structure, but also of its relationships with Europe, Africa and the Arab world. The result of these entanglements is a dialectic between periphery and center, between the reception and production of ideas, between change and continuity. It forms the basis for our epistemological interest in the Maghreb and for the conference’s conceptualization. A thorough scientific engagement with the Maghreb in the Islamic and Arabic Studies departments at German universities has mostly failed to happen, indeed, these departments often go by the telling name "Near East Studies". German social sciences have also only touched on the Maghreb marginally and usually in the form of selective and isolated individual studies. The planned conference therefore aims to bring together existing research on the Maghreb and to initiate in German academia a more thoroughgoing scholarly engagement with the region that combines the fields of political science as well as literary and cultural studies. Internationality as well as interdisciplinarity are central here. By closely collaborating with scholarly institutions and researchers from the Maghreb, other European countries, North America and beyond, new research perspectives will be discussed in an international and interdisciplinary fashion.