Schedule Fall 2016

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Moderator: Rory Miller, GU-Q

Egypt’s Foreign Policy: Can Old Strategies Address New Challenges?
Rawia Tawfik
Cairo University

Egypt is facing ever-growing foreign policy challenges. Instability following Arab uprisings have raised new security threats and invited Cairo to intervene militarily in Libya and Yemen. In the Nile basin, the Renaissance Dam has caused tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt, before the two countries move towards some sort of coordination on the project. The current regime’s record in human rights has shadowed its relations with the US and Europe. How did Egypt respond to these challenges? Has the current regime been able to develop new strategies to address them or reproduced policies of the past? Has it formed new alliances to increase its policy effectiveness or augmented its dependence on other powers?

Dr. Rawia Tawfik is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Politics from the University of Oxford and Master of Science in Politics from Cairo University. She wrote her doctoral thesis on the impact of state-society relations on the regional role of regional power focusing on the cases of Egypt and South Africa. Her post-doctoral research focuses on hydropolitical relations in the Nile basin. She was a visiting research fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg, Africa Institute of South Africa in Pretoria, and the German Development Institute in Bonn.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Moderator: Harry Verhoeven, GU-Q

Senegalese Women Entrepreneurs in Transnational Trade: Global Mobility and the Negotiation of Economic agency
Marieme Lo
University of Toronto


Female entrepreneurship is at the core of unabated theoretical and seductive policy narratives. Its discursive, symbolic, and material meanings and outcomes animate competing claims in various sites of scholarly contention, public discourse, and institutional practice. Situated in these debates, this talk centers on a reflexive, anti-essentialist recounting, and deconstructive gaze on female entrepreneurship in a peripheral location to bring to the fore the negotiation of subjectivities and economic agency among Senegalese women entrepreneurs. Based on multi-sited ethnographic research and narratives of Senegalese women entrepreneurs traveling back and forth from Senegal to Paris, New York, and Bangkok, this lecture will trace the varying scales of their entrepreneurial practices, their  entanglement  in  new geographies and circuits of trade, the promise of transnational entrepreneurship, all intersecting dynamics that extend current theorizing and offer a contextual epistemology on status and change in female entrepreneurship and  women’s economic agency.

Marieme Lo (MSc, PhD, Cornell University), is Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator the Women & Gender Studies Institute (WGSI0 and African Studies at the University of Toronto. She taught at the State University of New York and held a visiting fellow at the University of Oxford. The scope of her research and publications includes the political economy of gender and development, informal economies, livelihoods, female entrepreneurship, cross-border trade and transnational entrepreneurship, with emphasis on cultural economies and agricultural commodities, in the context of changing ecologies in the Sahel, migration  and diasporic networks, the spatial and translocal reconfigurations of the informal economy, social and economic risks and uncertainties, and macro structures such as neoliberalism and globalization. In and outside academia, Professor Lo has been collaborating with grassroots women’s organizations and civil society networks such as The West Africa Civil Society (WACSI) as well as international organizations such as UNDP, UNIFEM (UN-Women) and WFP as resource person, consultant, and researcher.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Moderator: Rory Miller, GU-Q

Foreign Policy and the 2016 US Presidential Vote: Does the Middle East Matter?
Robert Singh
University of London

US presidential elections since the end of the Cold War have rarely featured international affairs as a major issue shaping voting behavior and electoral choices. Only in 2004 was foreign policy an influential consideration in the decisions of American voters. But foreign policy is likely to be a major factor in the upcoming November 2016 vote. Drawing on my newly published book After Obama:  Renewing American Leadership, Restoring Global Order (Cambridge University Press, 2016) I will  examine how divisions within and between the two major parties on international affairs in general, and  the Middle East in particular, have shaped the unexpected direction of the Republican and Democratic  Party primaries and caucuses, with voters in both parties divided over more or less interventionist approaches to issues from Syria and the rise of ISIS to Yemen, Libya, and the Iranian nuclear deal. The Obama administration's policies towards the Middle East have proven controversial and polarizing within the US and significant differences about whether to maintain or reverse Obama's approach offer American voters a choice rather than an echo on future US grand strategy towards the region. The policy consequences of which candidate is elected the 45th president are likely to be wide-ranging and potentially momentous.

Robert Singh is Professor of Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London. He was educated at Oxford University, from where he gained his BA (Hons) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and his DPhil in Politics. He has taught at the universities of Dublin (Trinity College), Edinburgh and Sussex. He has written extensively about domestic American politics and his research focuses on the politics of US foreign policy. Among his publications are Governing America (Oxford University Press, 2003), The Bush Doctrine and the War on Terrorism (Routledge, 2006), After Bush (Cambridge University Press, 2008) and Barack Obama's Post-American Foreign Policy (Bloomsbury, 2012). His most recent publication is After Obama: Renewing American Leadership, Restoring Global Order (Cambridge University Press, 2016).


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Moderator: Anatol Lieven, GU-Q

How Did Communism End and What Was It?
Georgi Derluguian
New York University Abu Dhabi

Twenty five years ago communism surprisingly ended in both Soviet bloc countries and, many would say, also in China, at least de facto. How could this become possible? What were the communist regimes of the twentieth century? Why did they end simultaneously, yet with very different results?

Georgi Derluguian studies macrohistory and world-systems along with practicing expeditionary fieldwork. Among his books Bourdieu's Secret Admirer in the Caucasus (2005), the Way This World Works (2012, in Russian), and, co-written with Immanuel Wallerstein, Randall Collins, Michael Mann, and Craig Calhoun, Does Capitalism Have a Future? (2013, translated in 17 languages) Since 2011 Prof. Derluguian teaches sociology at New York University Abu Dhabi and lives in Yerevan, Armenia.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Moderator: Firat Oruc, GU-Q

From the American Fall to the Arab Spring: Transcultural Identity in a Changing World
Eid Mohamed
Doha Institute for Graduate Studies

September 11th attacks and the Arab Spring have had an affect not only on every American and Arab, but on people other than Americans and Arabs. From the American Fall to the Arab Spring will show the impact and implications of 9/11, the war on terror, the Arab Spring on Arab and (Arab) American culture and literature, and will reveal the widespread belief among novelists, dramatists, and poets -- as well as the public at large -- that in the post-9/11 world Americans are all somehow living "after the fall," and Arabs are all somehow living “before the spring.”

Eid Mohamed is Assistant Professor of Transnational Literary and Cultural Studies at the Comparative Literature Program at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. Before joining the DI, Dr. Mohamed has been an adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph, an academic consultant and a lecturer of Arab Studies at Renison College as well as a research fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Dr. Mohamed served also as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the State University of New York in Binghamton and as a Joint Fellow at Brookings Doha Center and Qatar University.Dr. Mohamed's teaching and research are chiefly cross-cultural and interdisciplinary, dealing with society vs. culture, and text vs. visuality. Dr. Mohamed has authored and co-edited many books including: Arab Occidentalism: Images of America in the Middle East, I.B. Tauris (2015), Who Defines Me: Negotiating Identity in Language and Literature, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing (2014), Education and the Arab Spring: Shifting Towards Democracy, Netherlands: Sense Publishers (2015), Tahrir Square and Beyond: Critical Perspectives On Politics, Law and Security, Indiana University Press (2015), and From the American Fall to the Arab Spring: Transcultural Identity in a Changing World (manuscript in process).


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Moderator: Sonia Alonso, GU-Q

Why did Communism end in Europe and mutate in Asia?
Archie Brown
Oxford University

Archie Brown is Emeritus Professor of Politics at Oxford University and an Emeritus Fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford. He is the author (or editor/co-author) of eighteen books, of which the most recent is The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age (2014; Vintage paperback, 2015). It is currently being translated into Arabic (in Qatar) and into Polish. His book, The Rise and Fall of Communism (2009; Vintage paperback, 2010) won the W.J.M. Mackenzie Prize of the Political Studies Association of the UK for best politics book of the year. It has been translated in nine different countries. One of Professor Brown’s earlier books, The Gorbachev Factor (Oxford University Press, 1996) was also the winner of the Mackenzie Prize. Archie Brown was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1991 and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003. In 2005 he was appointed CMG (Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, and in 2010 the Political Studies Association of the UK gave him their Diamond Jubilee Award for Lifetime Achievement in Political Studies. More recently, he was in 2015 one of two people honored by the US association of specialists on the Soviet, East European and post-Communist world, ASEEES, with their Distinguished Contributions to Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Award.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Moderator: Amanda Garrett, GU-Q

Islam, the Republic and the Left, Before and After 2015 Paris Attacks
Antoine Jardin
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

This talk will explore the complicated relationship between the French political Left and France's minority Muslim population as it has evolved before and after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Traditionally the main constituency of the political Left, France's Muslim minority now face a changing political climate that has exacerbated the already-challenging attempt of the political elite to integrate and accommodate Islam in France. Dr. Jardin will explain how this has happened and what the prospects for the relationship between Islam and France are now. 

Dr. Jardin received his PhD. from Sciences Po in Paris with a dissertation on voting and protest in European cities. Jardin has co-authored a number of groundbreaking studies on integration and terrorism in France, including "Terreur dans l'Hexagone" (Terror in the Hexagone) with Gilles Kepel, and "Banlieue de la République" (Suburbs of the Republic). He has extensive experience researching Islam in France and Europe, urban rioting and and the problems of socio-spatial segregation, and minority political participation. Jardin is currently a Research Engineer at CNRS, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, France.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Moderator: Uday Chandra, GU-Q

Why India Votes
Mukulika Banerjee
London School of Economics

Indian elections throw up a genuine puzzle in the story of democracy – why do so many people who have every reason to be severely disenchanted with the government and political establishment, vote in such large numbers at elections? And why do the numbers continue to rise with every new election? Why do more people vote in local elections than national ones? These trends run counter to those witnessed in more established democracies – as does the fact that those who are at the receiving end of society's pernicious inequality make for the most enthusiastic voters. By examining detailed ethnographic and survey data from the national elections in 2009 and Panchayat and Assembly elections held between 2012 –2015, this paper will offer some explanations. These will examine transactional factors, election expenditure, greater assertion of interests over identity politics as well the importance of the experience of democratic transcendence in the polling booth.

Dr Mukulika Banerjee is Associate Professor in Social Anthropology and Director of the South Asia Centre at the London School of Economics (LSE). Interweaving the political into social anthropology to understand human behavior has been a core component of Mukulika’s long-standing academic engagement with South Asia. Her doctoral research at Oxford, conducted in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, studied the non-violent Pakhtun movement in the 1930s-40s, and the articulation of identity politics alongside assertive political practices against imperial rule. The Pathan Unarmed: Opposition and Memory in the Northwest Frontier (James Currey, 2001) is the first ethnographic history of the transformative potential of the ethic of non-violent political action on the rank-and-file of the ‘Khudai Khidmatgars’ (Servants of God), who emerged from amongst the notoriously violent Pakhtun-Pathans in modern-day Pakistan. A second book, coauthored with Daniel Miller (Professor of Material Culture, UCL), focused on that quintessential South Asian women’s clothing, The Sari (Berg, 2003) to understand how a simple piece of wrap-around cloth has survived the challenges of dramatic social change and the vicissitudes of more practical options to emerge as the most vaunted sartorial choice of millions of women across the region, especially in India. Her most recent book Why India Votes? (Routledge 2014), the
outcome of a major ESRC Grant, breaks several new grounds both conceptually and  methodologically: it examines the reasons why despite varying odds, India’s voter graph continues to rise, making India the largest electoral democracy in the world.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Moderator: Patrick Laude, GU-Q

Muhammad Al-Niffari and Sufi Thought
Salman Bashier
Independent Researcher

Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Jabbar al-Niffari was known in modern scholarship for the first time when Arthur Arberry published his al-Mawaqif in 1934. We know almost nothing about his life except that he died probably in Egypt sometime between 950 and 970. We find no mention of Niffari by any Islamic thinker or Sufi biographer prior to Muhyyidin Ibn al-Arabi the greatest Sufi thinker. The examination of Ibn al-Arabi’s thought shows the huge impact that Niffari had on its formation, especially his notion of the barzakh. This renders the total absence of the mention of Niffari as a historical intellectual figure from the Islamic intellectual tradition prior to Ibn al-Arabi worthy of consideration.
Niffari lived in the tenth century the century of Ikhwan al-Safa who worked supposedly secretly and al-Tawhidi who towards the end of his life was determined to burn his own writings out of frustration and alienation. Early in the century Hallaj was executed and for some time Sufis avoided mentioning him in their works. The impression is made that the absence of the mention of Niffari from the intellectual Islamic tradition may be explained in the light of such considerations of secrecy and oppression. However while figures such as Hallaj seem to have regained proper recognition in the tradition this does not seem to be so in Niffari’s case. Some modern scholar expressed himself by saying that that is because Niffari is and remains a very unique case as his thought resembles no other Sufi thought prior or posterior to him. I want to show however that when we examine deeper layers of Sufi thought and reveal what may be considered its core foundation we realize not only that Niffari had drawn the principles of his thought from other Sufis but also that these principles may be crystallized into a structure underlying the major Sufi thought from its beginning up to its full maturation in Ibn al-Arabi. In my opinion this throws doubt on such theories that depict a radical development of Sufi thought from a primitive ascetic phase to a phase that is characterized as philosophical Sufism.

Dr Salman Bashier is an independent researcher who obtained his doctorate from the University of Utah. He is the author of Ibn al-Arabi's Barzakh: The Concept of the Limit and the Relationship between God and the World and The Story of Islamic Philosophy: Ibn Tufayl, Ibn al-Arabi and Others on the Limit between Naturalism and Traditionalism. He was formerly a Polonsky Fellow and, as a philosopher, he is an authority on Islamic mysticism. He speaks Arabic, Hebrew, German, English and Ancient Greek.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Moderator: Abdul Rahman Chamseddine, GU-Q

The Maqāmāt of al-Hamadhānī: Manuscripts, Collection, and Early History
Bilal Orfali
American University of Beirut

The Maqāmāt of Badīʿ al-Zamān al-Hamadhānī has been the subject of a large number of articles and monographs in the field of Arabic literature.  From the standpoint of literary history, the Maqāmāt of Hamadhānī is, without question, one of the most important works of Middle Eastern literature.  In spite of the recognized importance of Hamadhānī’s Maqāmāt, basic questions about the circumstances of the text’s authorship, collection, and transmission remain to be answered.  This paper demonstrates that there is still much important philological work to be done on the Maqāmāt by examining 40 witnesses to the text of Hamadhānī.

Bilal Orfali is Associate Professor of Arabic Studies at the American University of Beirut and previously held the M.S. Sofia Chair in Arabic Studies at the Ohio State University. He specializes in Arabic literature, Sufism, and Qurʾānic Studies. His publications include: The Anthologist’s Art (Brill, 2016), The Book of Noble Character (Brill, 2015), The Comfort of the Mystics (Brill, 2013), Sufism, Black and White (Brill, 2012), In the Shadow of Arabic (Brill, 2011). He is co-editor of Brill's series Texts and Studies on the Qurʾān, co-editor of Brill's Encyclopedia of Islamic Mysticism, and serves on the board of several journals, book series, and academic projects across North American, Europe, and the Middle East. He has a BS in Mathematics, a BA and MA in Arabic language and literature from the American University of Beirut, and an MPhil and PhD in Arabic Studies from Yale University.