Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting
November 15–18, 2018 -- San Antonio, TX
Organizers: Najib Hourani (Michigan State University) and Laurie King (Georgetown University )
Arab cities today are undergoing rapid transformations with the rise and intensification of capitalist globalization. While the securitized cityscape of Dubai has become emblematic of contemporary trends, cities as diverse as Amman, Beirut, Damascus, Cairo, Rabat, and Tunis also scramble for position in what urban elites believe to be an emerging hierarchy of global cities. Accordingly, and often at the urging of international institutions such as the World Bank and United Nations, Arab cities and the lives of their inhabitants are transformed through the privatization of government services, the liberalization of property regimes, the implementation of large-scale redevelopment projects, and the production of tourism-driven heritage preservation zones, all in the name of attracting increasingly fickle flows of capital. So, too, do Arab peoples reap what marketization sows: increased poverty, population displacement, authoritarian control, and political economies dominated by local, regional and global finance, insurance, and real estate interests. In the most extreme instances, Arab cities are experiencing either the birth of stand-alone urban mega-projects on the one hand, or the onset of globalized civil war and urbicide, on the other. Despite the intensity of these dynamics, the Arab cities remain, to paraphrase Robinson (2002), off of Urban Studies and interdisciplinary maps. This panel seeks papers that do not simply apply existing frameworks to the understanding of Arab cities, but also utilize the lessons Arab cities present, to transform existing theorizations.
More than ever, fine-grained, holistic and historically grounded approaches are needed to make sense of the challenges that city-dwellers face in the Arab world. Through concrete case studies and ethnographies, authors are asked to attend to the discourses, structures, institutions, technologies, and strategies introduced, the problems they were meant to address, and the politico-economic forces that benefited from, resisted, or were produced by them.
We are particularly interested in papers that focus on the following issues:
-War’s impact on cities in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Libya.
-The political economy of urban reconstruction and heritage preservation in post-war cities.
-Contested spaces, identities, and meanings in the city.
-Political economies of structural adjustment and privatization: Who “owns” the city?
-Youth culture, gender, fashion and subaltern movements in Arab cities.
-Climate change and Arab Cities: Ecology, economy, and sustainability; public health.
-Applied research: how can qualitative scholarship on Arab cities inform just approaches to a growing refugee crisis?
-America’s Arab City: Dearborn.
-Migration and Diaspora communities: Arab spaces and city-making in Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Frankfurt.
-We are also interested in papers on Palestinian cities, Jerusalem first and foremost, but also Nazareth, Jaffa, Haifa, as well as the urban experiences of Palestinian refugee communities in cities such as Beirut and Damascus.
Deadline for proposals: 13 February 2018