Skip to main content

Inaugural Conference: Theorizing Transformations in the Middle East and North Africa


The Program in Middle East and North African Studies, in partnership with the Moulay Hicham Foundation, held its inaugural conference, “Theorizing Transformations in the Middle East and North Africa,” from October 21-24, 2015. During conference proceedings, national and international scholars discussed scholarship of the modern Middle East, critiquing and expanding upon existing models in addition to proposing new approaches for understanding the rich and complex region through a wide variety of lenses and methodologies.

To view our conference poster, please click here.


Introduction and Session 1: Borders, Areas, Regions
3:30-6:00 pm
Harris Hall #108, 1881 Sheridan Road

Brian Edwards and Jessica Winegar: Opening Remarks

Sean Yom, Temple University: “Authoritarianism after the Arab Spring”

Jonathan Wyrtzen, Yale University: “Reimagining Political Space: Empire, Jihads, and the Interwar Making of the Modern Middle East and North Africa”

Paul Silverstein, Reed College: “A Global Maghreb: Crossroads, Borderlands, and Frontiers in the Rethinking of Area Studies”

Reception to follow


Session 2:  States, Territories, Citizens
10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Guild Lounge, Scott Hall, 601 University Place

Kevin Martin, Indiana University: “A State without Citizens: The Tragedy of Syrian History”

Mezna Qato, University of Cambridge: “Lessons in Exile: Palestinian Refugees, Territoriality, and Settler-Colonial Reverberations “

Michelle Campos, University of Florida: “‘Unmixing' the Holy City: Historicizing Urban Sectarianism in Jerusalem Digitally and Textually”

Session 3: Media, Politics
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Guild Lounge, Scott Hall, 601 University Place

Ibtissam Bouachrine, Smith College: “Women, Islam, Film, and Privilege”

Roxane Farmanfarmaian, University of Cambridge: “Youth and Social Media Use in Political Transition in Tunisia and Turkey”

Session 4: Neoliberalism, Political Action
3:00-4:30 pm
Location:  Guild Lounge, Scott Hall, 601 University Place

Sarah Tobin, Brown University: “Neoliberal Piety: From Islamic Economics to Economized Islam”

Zakia Salime, Rutgers University: “The Uprisings and Their Margins: Legible, Illegible Bodies”

5:30 pm
Location: Guild Lounge, Scott Hall, 601 University Place

Plenary: Asef Bayat, University of Illinois: “Revolutions of Neoliberal Times”


Session 5: Sovereignties
9:30 am- 12:00 noon
McCormick Tribune Forum, 1870 Campus Drive

Andrea Stanton, University of Denver: “Rethinking Sovereignty through a Levantine Lens”

Alice Wilson, Durham University: “Remaking Sovereignty in the Sahara: People, Territory and State Power in the Western Sahara Conflict”

Plenary: Marwan Kraidy, University of Pennsylvania: “Burning Man and Laughing Cow: Theorizing the Arab Uprisings Through the Body”

Session 6: Margins and the Marginalized
1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
McCormick Tribune Forum, 1870 Campus Drive

Darryl Li, Yale University: “Mercenaries and Morality: Notes on Migrant Military Labor in the Trucial States”

Miriam Lowi, College of New Jersey: “Identity, Community and the Foreigner in Gulf Oil Monarchies"

Plenary: Judith Tucker, Georgetown University: “Pirates and Power: Transformations on the Middle East Margins”

Closing Session:
4:00  – 5:30 pm
McCormick Tribune Forum, 1870 Campus Drive


Daniel Linzer, Northwestern Provost

Henry Bienen, Northwestern President Emeritus

Plenary: Moulay Hicham Ben Abdallah, Oxford University: “Gone with the Wind? Four Years After the Arab Spring”

Reception to Follow


Methodologies Workshop
10:00 am-12:00 pm
University Hall 201 (Hagstrum Room), 1897 Sheridan Road

With the participation of Marwan Kraidy (University of Pennsylvania) and Paul Silverstein (Reed College)

Back to top