“Visuality and the Creation of Liminal Spaces of Participation: Ethnographic Approaches to the Middle East and North Africa”
Virtual Program (July/August 2021)
Nine fellows from countries across the Arab MENA region were selected to participate in the 2021 workshop. The workshop was led by Amal Abdrabo (Alexandria University, Egypt), Osman Balkan (Swarthmore College, USA), Arig Eweida (Alexandria University, Egypt), and Jillian Schwedler (Hunter College, USA) across a 6-week virtual program from July 15 to August 28. Building on Asef Bayat’s concept of the “social non-movement,” workshop attendees examined the everyday “politics of presence” as practiced by ordinary people within public spheres across the MENA region after the Arab Uprisings.
This workshop explored how power is produced and reproduced within society, how citizens engage in political expression even in repressive contexts, and how these practices use public spaces as sites of meaning-making. During the sessions, the co-leaders and fellows addressed the methodological challenges of doing this type of analysis, focusing on forms of interpretative research such as ethnography, participant-observation, interviews, and critical discourse and semiotic analysis. Participants were also introduced to the field of visuality studies and developed their own individual research projects.
The workshop was conducted virtually as a series of discussion sessions held in two blocks. The first three days of the program focused on theoretical and methodological discussion guided by a set of readings (see program schedule and reading list) and hosted guest speaker experts in social anthropology. Across these sessions, fellows were encouraged to reflect on how the theories and methodologies discussed might connect to their own research projects.
The second block of the workshop focused on research presentations and professional development; fellows submitted a revised research proposal which incorporates some of the theoretical and methodological themes of the workshop (Liminality and Visuality). The group read these submissions in advance and during the final two days of the workshop co-leaders and fellows offered detailed feedback during a dedicated discussion of each fellows’ work.
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- Amal Abdrabo, Alexandria University, Egypt
- Arig Eweida, German University in Cairo, Egypt
- Osman Balkan, Swarthmore College, USA
- Jillian Schwedler, City University of New York’s Hunter College, USA
- Motasem Abuzaid, Georgetown University, USA
- Amina Karoui, University of Manouba, Tunisia
- Elsayed Mahmoud Elshamy, University of Manchester, UK
- Parichehr Kazemi, University of Oregon, USA
- Mona Khneisser, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
- Taghreed Magdy Nour, Cairo University, Egypt
- Sophie Rose Schor, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA
- Nabil Ferdaoussi, University of Capetown
- Laila Hassan Galal, York University, USA