Cities of the Arab World Conference

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On February 14-15, 2019, the MSU’s Department of Anthropology, co-hosted an international and interdisciplinary conference entitled Cities of the Arab World: Theory, Investigation, Critique. In partnership with MSU’s Global Urban Studies Program (GUSP) and Muslim Studies Program (MSP), and the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies (CMENAS) at the University of Michigan, the event brought together scholars from the United States, Europe, and the Middle East to explore urban life in the geographic Arab world, and the political, economic, and cultural presence of Arab communities in cities around the globe.

Six panels were formed for the two-day conference, on topics ranging from urban mega-projects and questions of sustainability, to the political economy of post-conflict reconstruction. The program included two very well received keynotes by Dr. Harvey Molotch (Professor Emeritus of Social and Cultural Analysis and Sociology, New York University), and Dr. Mona Fawaz (Faculty of Engineering and Design, American University of Beirut), and a screening of El-Said’s In the Last Days of the City (2016), in conjunction with the MSU Library Film Series, organized by Anthropology and Area Studies Librarian Deborah Margolis.

The conference was designed with multiple goals in mind. Among the most important was to explore not only cities of the geographical Arab world, but to ask questions of its global extensions to urban communities around the world. The second goal was to expand and deepen engagement between Urban Studies and scholars of the Arab World.

“The major theoretical debates in Urban Studies continue to be rooted in the US and European experiences. Theorizations from the South, including the Arab world, are very exciting and intellectually productive, yet they remain outside of the mainstream,” Hourani said. Given the large Arab and Arab-American communities in Michigan, it is only natural that our public universities would help to overcome this challenge.

“We were very pleased with the collaboration with CMENAS, and the large turnout for the event demonstrates that there is a strong constituency for the global orientation of research that GUSP, MSP and Anthropology produce, both within the university and across the state.”

The Conference Program can be found here:

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