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Call for Papers: The Arab Council for the Social Sciences' Inaugural Conference (19-20 March, Beirut)

[Arab Council for the Social Sciences logo. Image from theacss.org] [Arab Council for the Social Sciences logo. Image from theacss.org]

The Arab Council for the Social Sciences' Inaugural Conference
19-20 March 2013
Beirut, Lebanon

The Arab Council for the Social Sciences is pleased to announce its inaugural conference, titled Arab Transformations: Interrogating the Social Sciences, to be held in Beirut, Lebanon on 19-20 March 2013. The conference will showcase papers and panels from on-going projects of the ACSS including “The New Paradigms Factory,” “Inequality, Mobility and Development” and “Producing the Public in the Arab Region.” In addition, a number of panels will feature papers selected through an open call addressing the two themes described below. The deadline for submission is 11 February 2013. Papers will be selected based on two criteria:

  • The extent to which they engage seriously with the aim of the conference to challenge and/or nuance prevailing concepts and theories in the social sciences generally, and those pertaining to the Arab region particularly.
  • The empirical depth of the paper and the focus on innovative cases and locations, especially in relation to current social forces and mobilization in the Arab region.

The conference is open to papers from all social science and allied disciplines. Researchers from the Arab region, whether currently resident in or outside the region, are particularly encouraged to apply. Applicants must hold at least a MA degree and be actively engaged in social science research. Papers may examine contemporary or historical phenomena and comparative, cross-regional and global perspectives are encouraged.

Paper proposals should fall into one of the following two rubrics:

Theme 1: New/Old Social Movements

The transformations witnessed by the Arab region since 2011 raise questions concerning the nature of the social movements that are transforming the region in a context of sharply increasing social inequalities and the retreat of the state from its traditional economic and social functions. Many parties were caught by surprise at the rapidity of the changes that reached the top echelons of regimes as well as by the holistic nature of the social movements that combine social, economic and normative demands. The social sciences need to interrogate the relationships between older and emergent social movements, especially in terms of their understandings and strategies of: the dynamics of social change; political legitimacy of both regimes and oppositional movements; and the forms and practices of political representation. Also important to analyze are the wider and global contexts of these movements in terms of networks, funding and power relations.

Papers of relevance to this theme would examine cases related to:

  • The relationship between older and new social movements in particular countries and locations including discourses concerning the ‘organizational inadequacy’ of new movements and the call for them to renew their linkages to parties, unions and associations in order to become ‘more effective’;
  • The study of social movements in terms of their structure and aims (e.g. labor unions, women’s movements, student movements)  evaluating the importance of social homogeneity and organization in the effectiveness of these movements;
  • A re-reading of the sociology of the rural and the urban and the role of rural/urban linkages in social movements, whether old or new;
  • The study of protest movements, old and new, especially those reflecting local demands. How do new discourses of ‘broader freedoms’ and ‘increased ability to express demands’ affect such movements?;
  • The study of the phenomena of violence including symbolic violence, which can either erase or recognize the ‘other’, and physical violence, whether practiced by state forces or opposition movements.

Theme 2: New/Old Political Orders

The uprisings in the Arab region, and the scramble to give meaning to them, have created both new geopolitical realities and new debates regarding the direction of the emerging regional political order(s). Following the apparent collapse of the old political order that had relied on Western-backed authoritarian states, non-state and transnational actors and networks--ranging from protestors and emergent social movements in cities like Cairo, Manama and Sana’a, to Hizbullah and other members of the ‘Resistance Axis’, to the Islamist and Salafist movements across the region, to regional security organizations such as the Gulf Cooperation Council—have become increasingly influential players.

Papers of relevance to this theme would examine cases related to:

  • Contradictory political pulls between centralizing and de-centralizing and/or fragmenting forces and logics within different countries of the region, as for example in Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.
  • Inter-state repercussions of events and violence within particular countries, both within the region and cross regionally (e.g. spillovers from Syria into Lebanon and Turkey; or from Libya into Mali)
  • The roles of older and newer regional powers such as Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran in shaping new orders along lines favorable to their own perceived interests and those of their international patrons.
  • The global context of these geopolitical shifts, from the ailing neoliberal political economy, to the retreating US empire and neocolonial European aspirations, to the international organizations such as the United Nations, working in tandem with (or in contradiction to) the various state and non-state actors in the region.
  • The production of contested visions for, and meanings to, an emerging Arab political order(s), including new understanding of the state and of state-society relations.

Application Instructions and Conference Information:

To submit a paper proposal, please provide a completed cover sheet and an abstract of 1 page (or approximately 400 words). These documents should be emailed to admin@theacss.org by the submission deadline of 11 February 2013 in either .doc, .docx, or .pdf format. Proposals may be submitted in Arabic, English or French and should be in the language of the planned paper and presentation.

Please note that applicants can submit a co-authored paper proposal. However, if selected for inclusion in the conference, the ACSS can only guarantee financial support for the primary author. The ACSS will decide if it is possible to provide support for a second author on a case-by-case basis after the selection decisions have been announced.

Selection decisions will be made by February 20, 2013.

Selected participants are strongly encouraged to bring  completed papers for circulation at the conference. All conference abstracts will be posted on the ACSS website and made publicly available, and paper presenters may be asked to revise their abstracts for posting. In addition, after the conference the ACSS will invite a number of papers for inclusion in one or more publications, which may include translation of the paper into different languages.

The ACSS Conference Committee will organize the selected papers in thematic panels.  Conference presentations should be 15 minutes per paper and may be presented in Arabic, English or French. Simultaneous translation from English and French into Arabic will be provided but only if authors are able to provide the text in advance. The conference site will be A/V equipped. Additional details on the composition of individual panels will be available after selection decisions are announced in late-February.

Paper presenters will be covered fully for economy-class travel and accommodation costs. The ACSS will provide up to three-four nights’ accommodations, based on flight availability and travel itineraries.

If not selected to present a paper at the conference, please note that applicants are encouraged to register to attend the conference, which will be open to the public. Click here for the online registration form. All general registrants will receive a confirmation email once their registration form has been processed, and will receive additional details on the conference, including a final conference agenda, by March 8, 2013.Please note that financial travel support will not be provided, but the ACSS will provide lunch to those that have registered in advance.

Download the application cover sheet here.

If you wish to register to attend the conference, please complete and submit the General Pre-Registration Form by March 1, 2013.

Questions? Please contact: admin@theacss.org

If you prefer, email your comments to info@jadaliyya.com.

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