Schedule Spring 2020


Wednesday, January 15, 2020
: 5-6 pm 
Location: EPS 

Qaṭrāyīth: a Gulf Colloquial in Early Islamic Eastern Arabia 

Speaker: Mario Kozah, Professor and Director of the Islamic Studies Program, Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies, American University of Beirut 
Moderator: Abdul Rahman Chamseddine, Georgetown University in Qatar 

A number of East-Syriac commentaries on the Peshitta Old Testament dating from the 8th and 9th centuries refer to an East-Arabian vernacular referred to as Qaṭrāyīth (“Qatari”) used in Beth Qaṭraye (“region of the Qataris” in north-eastern Arabia). They also cite Syriac authors originating from this region, such as Rabban Gabriel Qaṭraya and Aḥūb Qaṭraya. This talk will present evidence of some newly discovered Qaṭrāyīth vocabulary from two commentaries, the East-Syriac Anonymous Commentary (9th c.) and the older Diyarbakır Commentary (8th c.), to argue that Qaṭrāyīth is a Gulf vernacular heavily saturated with Arabic vocabulary (as well as some Pahlavi), but that it also apparently maintains both Arabic and Syriac grammatical structures. As such, it constitutes the oldest documented vernacular from the seventh century Arabian Peninsula revealing a language in rapid transformation. 

Mario Kozah (B.A. Hons., M.A., PhD - University of Cambridge) teaches Islamic Studies, Arabic and Syriac language and literature in the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies (CAMES), at the American University of Beirut. His publications include a trilogy: The Syriac Writers of Qatar in the Seventh Century; An Anthology of Syriac Writers from Qatar in the Seventh Century; and Dadisho Qatraya’s Compendious Commentary on the Paradise of the Egyptian Fathers in Garshuni. His current QNRF project is entitled A Preliminary Syriac, Aramaic and Arabic Lexical and Toponymical Survey of Beth Qaṭraye. He is also the author of a monograph on the Muslim polymath Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī: The Birth of Indology as an Islamic Science.Al-Bīrūnī’s Treatise on Yoga Psychology and his forthcoming publication with the Library of Arabic Literature is entitled The Arabic Yoga-Sūtras: Al-Bīrūnī’s Book of Patañjali the Indian.

Monday, February 3, 2020
12:50 – 1:50 pm  
Location: 1A12 

Cultural Time and Everyday Life in a Small Moroccan Village 

Speaker: Tarek Sabry, University of Westminster
Moderator: TBA 

Can we give cultural time an ontic, anthropological interpretation? Using empirical evidence from ethnographic research conducted in Morocco Tarik Sabry explores how experiential ‘cultural time’ ceaselessly traverses layers of complex, temporalized spaces that are at once, local, transnational and global. The ‘traversing of temporalized spaces’ unveils a perpetual performance of selfhood, oscillating between an ‘unlived’ spatio-temporality, enacted through local, national and trans-local televisual media texts, which, in turn, enters into dialogue with the villagers’ ‘lived’ experiences, folklore, memory and tradition, to form a trans-temporal imagination. The ethnographic evidence demonstrates how ‘cultural time’ generates meanings through a ‘mnemonic negotiation’ across a multi-temporal ordering, oscillating between Sufi Islam, cultural salafism, local cultures and modernity. 

Tarik Sabry is Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster. He is also the Director of the Arab Media Centre and Coordinator of the Global Media Research Network. He is the author and editor of several books including Arab Cultural Studies: Mapping the Field (2012); and Arab Subcultures: Reflections on Theory and Practice (2016); Children and Screen Media in Changing Arab Contexts: An Ethnographic Perspective (2019) and Culture, Time and Publics in the Arab World (2019). He is also co-founder and co-editor of the Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020 
12:50 – 1:50 pm 
Location: 1D64  

Anticommunist Supplements: Christianity and Politics in South Korea 

Speaker: Angie Heo, Assistant Professor of the Anthropology and Sociology of Religion, University of Chicago 
Moderators: Uday Chandra and Sohaira Siddiqui, Georgetown University in Qatar 

Since the 1980s and 1990s at least, Evangelical Christianity's fabled explosion in South Korea has stoked curiosity in the various factors that precipitate mass conversion and moral conservatism worldwide. In this lecture, Heo addresses one key element of Protestantism's resolute grip in South Korea: anticommunism and the perpetual state of war across the divided Koreas. From development to democratization, "anticommunism" has accrued multiple meanings and effects that have served Christianity's hegemonic place in Korean society and politics. Beyond questions specific to Korea, this talk also considers critical approaches to postcolonial mission history and Cold War capitalism for scholars of Christianity in the non-West. 

Angie Heo is an anthropologist of religion, media, and economy. She is broadly interested in minority politics, critical mission history, postcolonial nationalism, and global religious movements. Her fieldwork so far has focused on two traditions, Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelical Protestantism, and her research has explored two geographic regions, the Middle East and East Asia. Heo's first book The Political Lives of Saints: Christian-Muslim Mediation in Egypt (University of California Press 2018) offers a form-sensitive account of Coptic Orthodoxy and Christian-Muslim relations from before the Arab uprisings to their post-revolutionary aftermath. Drawing on traditions of martyrdom, pilgrimage, and icon veneration, it analyzes embodied practices of imagination to grasp the vexed interplay of nationalism and sectarianism in Egypt. Heo's second book (in progress) turns to various sites of religious freedom, transnational capitalism, and Cold War Empire in the Korean peninsula.

Sunday, March 1, 2020 
5 - 6 pm 
Location: 1A16  

Thinking about Tankers: Labour Port-Making and Capitalism 

Speaker: Laleh Khalili, Professor of International Politics, School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London 
Moderator: Karine Walther, Georgetown University in Qatar 

Recent research on containerisation and logistics has shown the transformations these new modalities of disciplining trade have wrought not only in the circulation of goods but also the processes of production, since the 1950s when containers were invented. However, many of the practices we now associate with containerisation go back at least two decades before the 1950s, to the legal, engineering, and financial innovations around petroleum tankers. By focusing on the tanker terminals of the Arabian Peninsula since the 1930 and the subsequent burgeoning trade between the Peninsula and the rest of the world, Khalili will illuminate the radical transformations the tanker trade has anticipated. These include early automated workplaces; terminals isolated from public scrutiny; and disciplining of workers aboard tankers. Further the shift in ownership structures and financing of tanker trades over the last one-hundred years either foreshadows or dramatically illuminates the transformations in financial capital itself. Finally much of lex petrolea, the legal and arbitral corpus that sets the parameter of extraction and circulation of oil, itself provides the ground on which late capitalist legal property regimes are founded. 

Laleh Khalili is a Professor of International Politics at the School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London, and the author of Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine (Cambridge 2007) and Time in the Shadows (Stanford 2013). Her new book Sinews of War and Trade – about the politics of maritime transportation in the Arabian Peninsula – will be published by Verso in spring 2020.