Conference Talk: Towards the production of meaning – Visualising, Enacting and Writing Histories in Times of Political Upheaval

In her paper “Towards the production of meaning – Visualising, Enacting and Writing Histories in times of political upheaval”, Alia Mossallam dealt with the issue of how moments of political upheaval often stir the dust on questions of political struggles of the past. Her talk raised the question if these movements are truly unprecedented, and what invisible legacies could they be pulling through. She referred to some of the main questions (ethical and theoretical) faced by historians of popular struggle today, and how these questions have been tackled by Public History Projects of historians of Egypt, South Africa and the Atlantic – bringing forth various theses on the philosophy of historical research and writing in moments of struggle.

The talk took place on November 20 and 21st 2018, at the Annual Conference “Knowledge and Society in Times of Upheaval” of the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Stiftung – Deutsche Geisteswissenschaftliche Institute im Ausland. It was jointly convened by Andreas Eckert (HU Berlin/Forum Transregionale Studien), Simone Lässig (GHI Washington) and Franz Waldenberger (DIJ Tokyo) and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

Alia Mossallam holds a PhD in Political Science. Her dissertation explores a popular history of Nasserist Egypt through stories told and songs sung by people behind the 1952 revolution. She has taught at the American University in Cairo (AUC), the Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS), and holds the series of workshops ‘Reclaiming Revolutionary Histories’ with students, activists and artists in governorates all over Egypt, an experiment in history-telling. From 2017 to 2019 Mossallam is a EUME-FU Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien with a fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

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