Arab Cities Conference 2019

Call for Papers 

Cities of the Arab World: Theory, Investigation, Critique

February 14-16, 2019

Global Urban Studies Program, Michigan State University

Contemporary Arab cities are dynamic entities within and through which larger national, regional and global political-economic, technological and cultural forces interact. Global discourses of urban development and redevelopment, for example, contribute to traumatic dislocations in predictable ways, but also open new pathways to power and new dynamics of place- and community-making as local forces turn such discourses to their own purposes. Social conflict and war, too, have their own political economies and logics of creation and destruction, as politicians and profiteers speculate, and rebels and refugees improvise and innovate survival strategies and new forms of self-government. Reconstruction further reorganizes urban space and economic opportunity, as it gives rise to new and innovative approaches to urban planning, architecture and heritage preservation. Burgeoning creative scenes introduce new aesthetics and make possible new identities and forms of resistance. At the same time, they commodify culture and anchor emergent art markets with increasingly global connections.  Just as Kurds, Copts, Armenians and Chaldeans have contributed to the creative flux of Arab cities, contemporary migrants from the Arab world have created hybrid cultural and political formations and new linguistic landscapes as migrants adapt to and alter metropolitan spaces around the world.

This conference seeks papers that explore the complexities and contradictions of Arab cities and Arab urban communities around the world. Organizers seek theoretically driven, holistic and historically grounded individual and comparative studies that explore both significant challenges and the creative resilience in meeting those challenges in Arab cities and communities. Through concrete case studies, comparisons and ethnographies, participating scholars are asked to attend to the discourses, power structures, institutions, technologies, and strategies shaping Arab cities and communities, as well as the political-economic and socio-cultural forces that drive, benefit from, resist, or are produced by them.

We are particularly interested in papers that focus on the following issues:

  • The impact of war, occupation and/or reconstruction on Arab cities.
  • Political economies of urban development and redevelopment in Arab cities. Who “owns” the city and with what political, economic or cultural effect?
  • Minority communities and their contributions to, or marginalization within Arab cities.
  • Youth culture, gender, or fashion in Arab cities.
  • Climate change and environmental challenges and Arab Cities, including, but not limited to: supply of potable water and sanitation; waste management; transportation; energy consumption; air pollution; and uncontrolled urban growth.
  • Linguistic landscapes and hybridities in the Arab world and Arab communities around the world.
  • Arab migration and diaspora communities: Identity -, city- and community- making outside the Middle East.
  • Representation of Arab cities and urban life in literature and film.
  • The city or the urban in Arab political thought and subaltern movements.

We intend to publish conference papers in special issues (or special sections) of peer-reviewed journals and a peer-reviewed edited volume. We ask that participants supply draft papers for circulation by February 2, 2019 for circulation amongst panel participants as a first step in the peer review process.

Transport, accommodation, and meals during the conference will be subsidized by the organizers.

Please submit abstracts for papers (max 300 words) and a CV to Dr. Najib Hourani at houranin@msu.edu with the subject line “Arab Cities 2019 Abstract.”

The deadline for abstract submission is October 5, 2018.

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