Call for Papers for the Conference Conflict and living heritage in the Middle East: Researching the Politics of Cultural Heritage and Identities in Times of War and Displacement
10-11 May 2016, Sulaimani, Kurdistan, Iraq
Cultural heritage and identities, on the one hand, and armed conflicts and forced displacement, on the other, are central to events unfolding in several countries of the Middle East. Scholars are invited to consider how these issues inter-relate during an academic conference to be held on 10 and 11 May 2016 in Sulaimani (Kurdistan Autonomous Region of Iraq). The event is organised jointly by the French Institute in the Near East (Ifpo) – a public institution of scholarly research in the field of humanities and social sciences with a presence in several countries of the Middle East –, and the Social Sciences Department of the American University of Iraq – a not-for-profit liberal arts institution of higher education located in Sulaimani. As a follow-up to the conference, Ifpo together with local academic partners will organise two research workshops in autumn 2016 in Iraq. Woking languages for these events are French, English, Arabic and Kurdish. The conference and workshops aim to start a conversation between local and international scholars in view of refining theoretical, conceptual and methodological tools and approaches for analysing conflict and living heritage in the region, and to foster collaboration between scholars and academic institutions. The project is supported by the French Embassy in Baghdad and the Institut français in Paris.
Cultural heritage is central to the wars currently being waged in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. The international media and organisations, together with governments and heritage professionals – including academics – have focused their attention mostly on damages to archaeological property or sites and artefacts with a highly emblematic global value, at times framed as `universal.` The local meaning of such heritage is generally disregarded, and so are other aspects of affected populations` living heritage understood here as that which gives them a sense of collective identities. Yet local knowledge and know-hows, popular arts, crafts and traditions, religious beliefs and rituals, language and oral expressions, together with religious and vernacular architecture are all forms of heritage that suffer in the on-going wars. In many instances, this living heritage is deliberately targeted by parties striving to perform cultural cleansing. What then happens to living heritage and collective identities in areas affected by war and under new political authorities? What about the heritage and identities of the millions who have been displaced as a result of the recent conflicts in the region? More generally, what can an examination and conceptualisation of the practices and discourses of local actors reveal about the nexus between cultural heritage, identities, armed conflicts and population displacement in the Middle East yesterday and today? The proposed topic calls for considering on-going and recent situations together with more ancient ones such as – but not limited to – the Armenian, Kurdish, Palestinian, or Lebanese cases. It also begs for a comparative perspective between these case and others beyond the region.
The French Institute in the Near East (Ifpo) and the American University of Iraq propose to address these questions during a multidisciplinary academic conference to be held on 10 and 11 May 2016 in Sulaimani, Kurdistan Autonomous Region of Iraq.
The following themes will form the core of the discussions:
Theme 1: Heritage and Conflict
In conflict situations, cultural heritage tends to become a contested area where relations of domination and violence are expressed, and where competing groups strive to assert legitimacy. This is manifested, inter alia, through unequal control over space (within urban areas, or on emblematic sites and monuments), and the often brutal removal of cultural attributes or markers attached to collective identities (regional, ethnic, religious, gendered, etc.). One central issue is how civilian populations, on the one hand, and political and military actors, on the other, engage with various forms of living heritage during and immediately after conflict. Discourses, representations, and practices have to be considered to understand the role of heritage as a vehicle for violence between groups, or conversely as a medium to de-escalate conflict and reach comprise.
Theme 2: Heritage and Displacement
More often than not, people displaced by conflict experience (usually in gendered ways) violence, a break up of social ties, and a radical separation from their places of origin. Such situations can also brutally severe people`s bonds with their tangible and intangible heritage, particularly when such heritage is targeted by warring parties. The interrelation between heritage and displacement opens up questions as regards the loss of identity reference points, the transformation and redefinition of heritage in exile, and the role heritage plays in the (re)construction of collective memory and cultural identity among refugees. Such issues have to be examined in different contexts and time-frames: in transient or liminal places (such as refugee camps, border or transit areas), or states (such as that of refugeeness), and when exile endures near or far from the homeland. An important question to be addressed is how experiences of exile become incorporated into new heritage discourses that serve as bases for collective memories and identities.
A selection of papers presented at the conference will be submitted for publication to peer-reviewed social science journals.
The conference will be followed by two research workshops organised in autumn 2016 in Iraq as partnerships between Ifpo and local academic institutions. The three-day closed workshops will each bring together about fifteen participants, a least twelve of them Iraqi. Participants will present and discuss their on-going or planned research or writing projects (these can include research papers, articles, or conference presentations). Group discussions will aim at refining theoretical and methodological approaches (including methods of data gathering), identifying possible synergies between scholars and institutions, and developing research and teaching partnerships around relevant themes. Each workshop will end with a public event open in priority to other scholars, the media and civil society organisations.
Submissions for papers to be presented at the conference have to be sent exclusively to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline for receiving submissions is 31 March 2016.
Submissions can be received in French, English, Arabic or Kurdish.
They must be submitted as one single PDF file (other formats will not be considered).
They must include:
An abstract of the proposed paper not exceeding 500 words (one page, single spaced) and comprising of: a title, a clear research question, the disciplinary approach used, the main elements of the proposed demonstration, details of the documentary corpus and/or methodology used, and indications of the main theoretical and empirical references.
The prospective presenter’s short bio (maximum 500 words over one single page) including: his/her main research projects and publications relevant to the conference, details of institutional affiliation, and contacts (email, phone, Skype name, postal address).
The organising committee will select about thirty submissions on the basis of their academic qualities. Special attention will be given to submissions focusing on Iraqi case-studies past and present.
Dr Elizabeth Campbell, Assistant Professor, American Univerity of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS).
Dr Géraldine Chatelard, Associate Researcher, Ifpo, Amman.
Dr Boris James, Research Fellow and Site Manager, Ifpo, Erbil.
Dr Hassan Nadhem, Co-Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair for the Development of Interreligious Dialogue Studies in the Islamic World, University of Kufa, Najaf.
The organising committee will get back to prospective presenters with an answer no later than 10 April 2016.
The organisers will cover selected presenters’ transportation to Sulaimani together with meals, accommodation and local transportation in Sulaimani for the duration of the conference. No other expense will be covered, and no per diem or other financial compensation will be provided in cash or otherwise.
Attachements in various languages