CFP: Shifting Borders: America and the Middle East/North Africa : An Interdisciplinary Conference (11-14 January 2012, Beirut, Lebanon)

4 April 2011

Shifting Borders: America and the Middle East/North Africa : An Interdisciplinary Conference
11-14 January 2012
Beirut, Lebanon

Call For Proposals

We are living in a moment of global change that requires new academic questions. For example, the so-called “Arab Spring” invites more complex understandings of East/West binaries, more nuanced analyses of the Arab and Islamic worlds, and more sophisticated readings of religious, ethnic, and national identities. Moreover, in the United States, fierce battles over the social contract enacted during the New Deal, intense struggles over immigration and ethnic studies, and organized protest movements to resist neoliberal labor and social relations
focus attention on new social subjects and new geographic imaginaries.

Within a context of profound political, environmental, and social transformations in America and the Middle East/North Africa (MENA), this international conference invites scholarly papers on the theme, “shifting borders.” With this provocative title we aim to think of shifting borders in two primary ways. First, we want to conceive of scholarship that “shifts” the borders of scholarly and disciplinary ways of thinking; and second, we want to
think about the ways that borders of all kinds are malleable, socially constructed, and historically contingent. “Shifting borders” addresses scholarly and political interventions articulated by Edward Said, Gloria Anzaldua, Walter Mignolo and others.

The subjects of the conference, America and the MENA, are themselves shifting imaginaries. America is in the MENA and the MENA is in America. Moreover, social movements and battles animating America and the MENA are taking place globally; therefore, it may be necessary to shift the borders of America and the MENA with analyses that integrate the “Americas” or the Islamic “worlds” which would include Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Scholars working in American Studies and Middle Eastern Studies, with a variety of theories and methods, can contribute to this conference. Topics we hope to cover are:

*Comparative and/or relational studies of uprisings and social movements in the MENA and America;

*Histories/studies of Islam in America;

*Studies of Arab America; Studies of American influence (political, diplomatic, cultural) in the MENA, and vice-versa;

*Readings of America and the MENA that take place outside of these imagined geographies;

*Discussion of “internal borders” and “border thinking” within the MENA and America;

*Questions of colonialism and decolonization in America and the MENA;

*Comparative projects that link the two geographic regions politically, culturally, or environmentally;

*Scholarship that problematizes academic and disciplinary borders; Intersectional analysis of identities and belonging between and within America and the MENA;

*Imperial geographies and cartographies

Potential participants should consult the submission guidelines. Please send abstracts of proposed papers (300 words or less), along with the submission form and a short CV, via electronic mail by June 1, 2011. Abstracts should directly engage the conference theme.

In addition to individual paper and pre-organized session proposals, we invite the submission of proposals that follow non-traditional formats such as workshops or performances (see instructions for pre-organized session proposals in both traditional and non-traditional formats). We will notify authors of accepted papers by July 15, 2011. CASAR will partially subsidize all presenters who are not Lebanese residents for air travel, lodging, and some other local expenses. Approximately one month after the conference, presenters will have the opportunity to submit their papers for inclusion in a proceedings volume that will be internally refereed.

The Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR) at American University of Beirut was launched in 2003 with a major gift from Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud. It is an independent academic center that seeks to promote better understanding between the people of United States and those of the Arab world through teaching, research and outreach efforts

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