Conflict and Mobility: Urban Space, Youth and Social Transformations

by Georges Khalil

Photos: Georges Khalil (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Conflict and Mobility: Urban Space, Youth and Social Transformations“ is the theme of the International Summer Academy which the Max Weber Stiftung and the Forum Transregionale Studien conduct within the framework of the research program  “Europe in the Middle East—the Middle East in Europe” (EUME) at the École de Gouvernance et d’Économie (EGE) in Rabat from 25 August -to 5 September 2014.

The blog eume-city depicts the activities of the EUME Summer Academy „Conflict and Mobility in the City“.

The uprisings in the Arab World both challenge traditional paradigms for understanding culture and politics and raise new sets of questions. While some urban spaces such as Tahrir Square, Taksim Gezi Park, and Pearl Roundabout have acquired almost global iconic status, how might we understand that it was self-immolation in a public space and graffiti on walls in provincial towns that marked the beginnings of the Tunisian and Syrian uprisings respectively? In what ways do cultural forms inflect the political imaginary in these contested urban spaces? Is it possible to trace echoes of this political vocabulary in novels, art, poetry, songs and films of the last decades? How might we understand public space not solely as stages of protest and politics, but also of everyday life?  The city serves as a site of negotiation between cosmopolitan consumerism and local traditions, but what is its role as a site for experimental living and utopias? The city is an urban and social structure that facilitates the imagination and proliferation of citizenship and social mobility. Its gated communities, stalled avenues of mobility, the dreams and nightmares of migration are just as prevalent as alternative forms of solidarity and mechanisms of control and survival.

Our Summer Academy aims to explore these questions across time and place with attention to the differing contours and uses of urban space. We hope to draw together scholars who consider cities in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in neighbouring regions or countries (such as Spain, Greece, Turkey and Iran). We also hope to benefit from a multitude of disciplinary perspectives that shed light on the different dynamics of urbanism and protest:

Specialists in Architecture, Urban Planning and Human Geography may contribute to a clearer view of how the different forms of cities, questions of access and physical mobility impact forms of protest in these sites. How have developments in urban design influenced or facilitated forms of protest in the 21st century?

The Summer Academy is chaired by a group of scholars that includes Michael Allan (University of Oregon), Baudoin Dupret and Zakaria Rhani (both Centre Jacques Berque, Rabat), Nora Lafi (Zentrum Moderner Orient/ZMO, Berlin; member of EUME), Rachid Ouaissa and Friederike Pannewick (both from the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies/CNMS, Philipps-Universität Marburg, and  members of EUME), Martin Baumeister (Deutsches Historisches Institut Rom).

The Summer Academy is part of the strategic cooperation of the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Foundation. It is held in cooperation with the Centre Jacques Berque in Rabat, the Université Mohammed VI Polytechnique in Benguerir, the CNMS, and the research network “Re-Configurations: History, Memory and Transformation Processes” of Philipps University Marburg.

Georges Khalil is Academic Coordinator of the Forum Transregionale Studien and Scientific Coordinator of Europe in the Middle East—the Middle East in Europe (EUME).


Forum Transregionale Studien

The Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien is a research organization that promotes the internationalization of research in the humanities and social sciences. The Forum provides scope for collaboration among researchers with different regional and disciplinary perspectives and appoints researchers from all over the world as Fellows. In cooperation with universities and research institutions in Berlin and the rest of Germany, it carries out research projects that examine other regions of the world and their relationship to Germany and Europe systematically and with new questions.

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