If You’re in Cairo: ‘Aesthetics & Politics (Counter-narratives, New Publics, and the Role of Dissent in the Arab World)’

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If you attend any of the sessions, please do consider guest-blogging or writing it up for a journal or newspaper & letting me know. If you have any questions about either of those possibilities, please email me at mlynxqualey – at – gmail – dot – com. Thank you very much.

Also, to torture me further, Dr. Mehrez sent along more details:

‘Aesthetics and Politics: Counter-Narratives, New Publics, and the Role of Dissent in the Arab World’ is the theme of the International Summer Academy….

The Summer Academy is designed to support scholarly networks and contribute to closer ties among research activities in and outside Europe and the Middle East. Academics and Artists are encouraged to explore aesthetic forms in the broadest sense—not in only literature, but also in new media, music, film, performance, fashion and street art.

The uprisings in the Arab world have challenged traditional paradigms for understanding culture and politics in the region and have opened up new sets of questions in both spheres. ‘Revolution,’ as both concept and practice, has at once enabled innovative modes of critique, imaginings of new utopias, re-signified subjectivities, as well as communal solidarities. What are some of the new terms, frames of understanding, and transformations that have begun to crystallize through the political and cultural changes in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings? In what ways do the uprisings across the Arab world reformulate the relationship between politics and culture in and outside the region? How could the role of dissent and counter-narratives in the political process be understood? And how should the place of literature and the arts in this new context be conceived?

Part of analyzing the relationship of aesthetics and politics means rethinking the role of culture and intellectuals in a revolutionary context. Does the term ‘intellectual’ apply to the new actors, movements, and organizations involved in the Arab uprisings? How are intellectuals, artists, institutional actors and the broader public beginning to rethink the idea of culture as a public good in light of the complex tensions between the effects of globalization and the marketplace on the one hand, and established practices of ‘managed’ national culture on the other? How are we to define public culture in this context, and how can we begin to map out a revolutionary genealogy of cultural practice relevant to the changing landscapes of the 21st century?

For a period of 2 weeks 34 doctoral, post-doctoral, and advanced researchers from different academic disciplines, from Europe, the Arab World and the United States will discuss the relationship of Aesthetics and Politics in relation to the ongoing transformations in the Arab World on the basis of their own research projects, among each other and with academics, artists, writers and intellectuals from Egypt.

The public program of the Summer Academy will is scheduled to begin on Monday, September 27 and will end on Wednesday, September 26. It includes working sessions of the participants and public lectures panel discussions detailed in this brochure and involves academics, graduate students, artists, intellectuals, and writers.

The Summer Academy is chaired by a group of scholars that include Randa Aboubakr (Cairo University), Michael Allan (University of Oregon), Ayman El-Desouky (SOAS London), Elias Khoury (NYU/Beirut), Samia Mehrez (American University in Cairo), Rachid Ouaissa (Philipps-Universität Marburg), Friederike Pannewick (Philipps-Universitaet Marburg), Samah Selim (Rutgers University).

All those who, like me, are not in Cairo right now, feel free to bang your head against the wall or chew your tongue at this point.

Public events:

Keynote Address (in Arabic)
Elias Khoury, (writer)
العربية الثورات زمن في فكرية و خلاقيةأ مدونة نحو
Towards an Intellectual-Ethical Code in the Time of the Arab Revolutions
Welcome and Introduction:
Georges Khalil (Forum Transregionale Studien, EUME, Berlin)
Samia Mehrez (Center for Translation Studies, AUC)
Venue: Oriental Hall, AUC Tahrir Campus

Tuesday, September 18, 2 pm-3:30 pm
The Role of Intellectuals in the Arab Revolutions: Panel Discussion (in English)
Introduction: Elias Khoury (writer)
Venue: Oriental Hall, AUC Tahrir Campus

Tuesday, September 18, 7 pm
Lecture (in English)
Huda Lutfi, (visual artist and cultural historian)
The Artist and the Historical Moment: A Testimony
Introduction: Samia Mehrez (Center of Translation Studies, AUC)
Venue : Oriental Hall, AUC Tahrir Campus

Wednesday, September 19, 7 pm
Literature, Revolution and Politics: Panel Discussion (in Arabic)
الأدب و الثورة و السياسة
Ezzedine Choukri Fishere (writer and academic)
Mona Prince (writer, academic, and activist)
Mohammad Rabie (writer)
Ahmed Sultan (journalist and activist)
Welcome: Randa Aboubakr (Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Cairo University)
Introduction: Elias Khoury (writer)
Discussant: Samia Mehrez (AUC)
Venue: Cairo University, Faculty of Arts, Conference Room (First Floor-History Building)

Sunday, September 23, 7 pm
Cultural Policies: Panel Discussion ( Arabic)
الثقافية السياسات في رؤى و الثورة
Sayed Mahmoud (journalist and cultural critic)
Visions of Cultural Policies/ الثقافية السياساتفي رؤى
Karima Mansour (dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director for the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center)
Challenges and Obstacles / والمعوقات التحديات
Fayrouz Karawya (performer and cultural anthropologist)
The Cultural Policies Initiative: Context and Significance / والأهميةالسياقمبادرة السياسات الثقافية:
Yasser Allam (academic, cultural critic and drama writer)
Summary of the Cultural Policies Initiative / الثقافية السياسات مبادرة ملخص
Tamer El Said, (documentary filmmaker and activist)
Implementation: Aspirations and Risks / رالمخاط: الآمال و ةالمبادر تفعيل آليات
Chair and Moderation: Sayed Mahmoud
Venue: Cairo University, Faculty of Arts, Conference Room (First Floor-History Building)

Monday, September 24, 7 pm
Archiving the Revolution: Panel Discussion (Arabic and English)
Khaled Fahmy (Professor of History, AUC)
Mosireen Collective
AUC Student Pilot Project: Wiki Biographical Dictionary of the Revolution
Chair: Khaled Fahmy
Moderator: Emad Abou Ghazi (historian, former minister of culture)
Welcome: Samia Mehrez (AUC)
Venue: Oriental Hall, AUC Tahrir Campus

Tuesday, September 25, 2 pm-3:30 pm
Popular Culture and Revolution: Panel Discussion (in Arabic and English)
الثورة والثقافة الدارجة
Introduction: Randa Aboubakr (Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Cairo University)
Venue: Oriental Hall, AUC Tahrir Campus

Tuesday, September 25, 7 pm
Lecture (English)
Michael Allan (University of Oregon)
Old Media/New Futures: Fanonian Reflections on the Arab Uprisings
Introduction: Ayman El-Desouky (SOAS, London)
Venue: Oriental Hall, AUC Tahrir Campus

Wednesday, September 26, 7 pm
Documentary Film
Premiere of “Nafass Tawil” (A Deep, Long Breath) by Tahani Rached
Welcome and Introduction: Lisa Anderson (President, AUC), Friederike Pannewick (Professor of Arabic Studies, Phillips University Marburg / EUME, Berlin) and Samia Mehrez (AUC)
Presentation: Tahani Rached (documentary filmmaker)
Discussion: Film Cast and Crew
Venue: Ewart Hall, AUC Tahrir Campus

I certainly hope organizers will be filming and putting these on YouTube.

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