From the Editors
Contesting Narratives, Locating Power (Lund Conference)
Police States, Security Economies, and Sexualized Governmentalities: How the Egyptian Revolution Teaches Political Sociology, Global Political Economy, Gender Studies, and Geopolitics
Questions 1-2: What is your view of the recent protest/revolutionary movements in the region in the past 3 months? What are the implications of these movements for the (study of the) region, for your discipline, for your research topic(s)/agenda(s)?
The protests and revolutions in the Middle East in the past four months have shattered teaching, research and geopolitical paradigms. These new political expressions and rebel formations can only be understood by taking account variables that the culturally-oriented theories and pedagogies that dominated Middle East studies have neglected. We are now turning to teach and research new class formations, new youth sociabilities, new labor and rural organizations, new kinds of communication communities, and new claimants to geopolitical hegemony (displacing the former colonizers and the neocolonial US). In addition, police, military and security institutions and social worlds, and the transformation of local, national and regional governance institutions, will need to be taught and researched, supplanting the 9/11-era focus on religious mobilization and mosque-centered subjects and politics.
Questions 3-4: 3. What opportunities do you see today in terms of setting a pedagogic agenda that goes beyond old paradigms? Or that goes beyond assessing dominant paradigms? (and is any of this necessary in the first place?) Even if you’re not teaching the Middle East, how did the emergence of these movements influence what you are (or will be) teaching? Could the study of the revolutionary movements in the Middle East constitute a critical contribution to the disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences?
Not only the objects of analysis, but also the means of mobilization can inspire revolutions in teaching. For example, I now train students directly in blogging and citizen journalism, as they produce and publish their research papers. And I set up conversations and dialogues live online with activists in the region. Although I do not replace my habit of giving huge amounts of reading material (including primary documents) to undergrads and well as grads, I do include live dialogue with practitioners in the region as part of class, and are achieving very positive results.
Question 5: Finally, in light of the recent developments, are there new questions, subjects, historic periods, and themes that are important to examine in the study of the region, and might they be replacing other subjects of inquiry?
Although I have been interested in cross-regional comparisons for some time, I think now is a good time to integrate comparative teaching of the Middle East, seeing the region in the light of Latin America, Eastern Europe, East Asia, and Africa. The notion that the exceptional intersection of war, Islam and oil made the Mideast impossible to compare with other regions was always suspect, but now seems truly crippling.
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