Session 5
Session 6
Session 7
Session 8
Session 9
Session 10
Session 11
Session 12

On Monday, 4 March 2024, the fourth Arab Graduate Students Conference at the Arab Center in Doha, concluded. This year, 67 researchers in the fields of social sciences and humanities at Western universities participated in the conference. Researchers presented their papers based on their doctoral theses, and the participants received comments from academics specialized in various fields of their research. The interventions, which were held in parallel, were divided into the topics: politics and international relations; security and migration/refugee studies; literature and cultural studies; gender and citizenship studies; health, development, and urban studies; history, philosophy, and law; education, media, linguistics, and translation studies.

Day Two

Within politics and international relations, Nasir Almasri presented his paper “How Exclusion Shapes Moderation and Radicalization in the Middle East,” analysing the consequences of political inclusion and exclusion on opposition group moderation and radicalization. Taking the case of post-2003 Iraq’s intra-Shia political rivalry, Zeidon Alkinani investigated the consequences of consociational democracies on in-group relations and how minimal efforts to acknowledge them can lead to a failed democratic process and further damage domestic political relations. Lastly, Mubarak Al-Jeri discussed his paper titled “Exploring the Dynamics of Social Movements in Kuwait: Nature, Objectives, and Impact,” arguing that the political and social influence of social components (tribes and families) has increased due to the characteristics of the Kuwaiti welfare regime and the absence of political reform that would enable the establishment of political parties.

On security and migration/refugee studies, Bayan Arouri began by presenting her paper titled “(Un)Accessible Knowledge Production: Insights on Decolonizing Development and Refugee Studies,” seeking to problematize the regulation and ownership of access to camps as knowledge space. Next, Abdulla Majeed examined how ordinary Iraqi exiles awaiting resettlement in Jordan come to articulate the future by remapping a regionalized and historically specific logic of maseer, or destiny. Fadi Hasan’s paper “Between Loss and Building a New Home: Women Refugees in Germany” explored the concept, significance, and meaning(s) of “home” for MENA women with refugee backgrounds who are residing in Germany. Finally, Moez Hayat’s paper “Hybrid Pathways to Security and Autonomy: A Comparison of the GCC and ASEAN” argues that the GCC and ASEAN maintain regional security not through armaments or internal trade but an elite political consensus to maintain internal security by deescalating disputes from rising to the point of conflict.

The literature and cultural studies workshop started with Emna Bedhiafi’s paper “Images from the East: Circulation, Print Culture, and British Women Travellers' Explorations of Iraq and Persia,” exploring the potential of British women travellers’ narratives to renegotiate established forms of knowledge about the Middle East. Ahmad Abu Ahmad discussed his paper titled “The Politics of Linguistic and (Inter) Cultural Contact Zones in Palestinian Literature and Film”, which investigated questions of narration, (mis)translation, and linguistic infiltration and displacement vis-à-vis the politics of language and the realities of settler-colonialism in Palestine.

Under the topic of gender and citizenship, Leena Adel explored socio-cultural barriers facing Middle Eastern and North African women as they engage in political processes, particularly in the backdrop of the counterrevolution response to the Arab revolts. Maro Youssef focused on the behaviour of women elites during the Arab Spring and the political transition that followed in Tunisia. Dalia Elsayed’s paper “Canadian Education Institutions and the Construction of Blackness; Black Women Navigating Educational Spaces” examined the racial climate on university campuses in the period following the Black Lives Matter global movement in 2020. Lastly, Abdulla Al-Kalisy’s paper titled “Studying Iraq: Tishreen's New Lenses to Conceptualizing Citizenship” highlighted the need to understand Iraqi citizenship as a concept no longer operating in a dualistic relationship with the state through the pathway paved by Tishreen.

The health, development, and urban studies workshop began with Soheila El Ghazir’s paper “Care Beyond Borders: Medical Trajectories and Therapeutic Itineraries in the Interwar Levant,” which explored medical care pathways in the interwar Levant, with a focus on how British and French mandatory authorities harnessed the mobility of medical practitioners and patients to serve their own interests. Maureen Abi-Ghanem presented her paper titled “Shelter: On the Socio-Spatial Protection and Exclusion of Displaced Syrians in Beirut,” questioning how displaced Syrians have been navigating informal city systems to find shelter, secure tenure and achieve livelihoods. Cynthia Gharios addressed how and why structural forces led by the British authorities drove changes in the agrarian landscape of the Trucial State.

On the history, philosophy, and law topics, Mahmoud Masud discussed his paper “The Blurred Line between Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion: A Case Study of the Desecration of the Holy Qur’an” r seeks to determine whether the domestic regulation in Sweden and Denmark offers sufficient protection to religions and their sensibilities to demonstrate that desecrating the Qur'an is contrary to international, mainly European, human rights law and ideals. Tariq Alsabahi’s paper “Legitimacy of Gulf Monarchies in a Human Rights Context” assessed the performance of Oman’s and Qatar’s National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) to understand the origins and changes in institutional development to the practice of these organizations to claim legitimacy. Lastly, Doaa Baumi explored Qurʾanic terminology for “the religious other,” focusing on a pivotal term, ahl al-Kitāb (the People of the scripture).

The last workshop on education, media, linguistics, and translation studies featured a presentation by Zakaria Fahmi on “Cultural Representation in Arabic through Foreign Language Textbook: An Exploratory Mixed Study of Content and Languaculture,” which analyzed the cultural representations in textbooks series, such as Al-Kitaab and Arabiyyat, and sought to explore the (sometimes) competing interests underlying curricular contents.

Day Three

The third day of the conference began with three parallel sessions. The first session in the politics and international relations workshop saw Daoud Ghoul present his research paper, “Silwan, Literature of Palestinian Existence”, which examines the existing literature on the history of Silwan, focusing on the uninterrupted and continued existence of Palestinians there to challenge the dominant narrative of the “City of David”. The next speaker, Motasem Abuzaid, presented “Between the Square and the Quarter: The Urban Logic of Violence in the Syrian Revolution”, seeking to understand how people mobilize and sustain mobilization in highly inauspicious contexts, like authoritarian polities that regularly exercise violence against non-violent challengers. Muhammad Amasha, in the third session, presented “Moral Dilemmas and Conflict of Interests: How do Intellectuals Take Political Stances in Politically Volatile Times?” In the paper, he studies the political stances of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, toward the Arab uprisings, in order to uncover which values and interests are impactful and under what conditions by examining intellectuals' politics in politically volatile times. Badr Karkbi was the final speaker in the Politics and International Relations track, presenting “Political Islam, Christian Democracy, and Secularism: Comparing Tunisia and Italy”, which reconsiders the interaction of religion and politics through political parties.

In the literature and cultural studies workshop, Sara Bolghiran presented “Muslim Futures in Europe: Imagining the Unimaginable? An Exercise in Contemporary Muslim Utopian Thinking”, which demonstrates how Muslim imaginaries flourish and thrive in between dichotomous conceptions of being. Nael Chami’s paper “Unpacking the Symbolism and Cultural Significance of Figure Representation in Early Islamic Art”, traces the origins of Aniconism, analysing structures like Anjar and Qusayr Amra and scrutinizes the portrayal of Umayyad caliphs in art, investigating the link between the decline of the Umayyad dynasty and their self-aggrandizement. Tamara Maatouk followed with her paper “Preaching Socialism: The Revolutionary Intellectual in Nasser’s Egypt”, which juxtaposes films with official documents concerning cultural and film affairs, popular and specialized periodicals, conference proceedings, memoirs, interviews, contemporaneous essays, the press, and other cultural products to explore the cinematic image of the revolutionary intellectual under Nasser.

In the History, Philosophy, and Law workshop, Asmaa Elgamal presented “Landing Security: Risk, Endogeneity, and the Archives of Colonialized Planning in Morocco”, investigating the historical and contemporary relationships between security, development, and planning through the lens of collective land tenure in Morocco. Samir Belkfif followed with his paper “Philosophy and Universal Hospitality”, shedding light on the essential relationship between philosophy, as a field to search for truth, and man, as a universal value. Sara Hussein followed with her paper, “Revolutionary Cairo and its Contours: Between Pan-Africanism and Afro-Asian Solidarity 1954-1970”, seeking to recover histories of pan-Africanist, anti-colonial, and Afro-Asian activity from Cairo during the Nasser period. The final speaker, Amal Awad, presented “Al-Rāzī's Critique of Avicenna's Indivisibility Argument”, which argues that al-Rāzī's critique of the indivisibility argument not only shows al-Rāzī's departure from Avicenna with respect to the nature and the agency of the soul, but also reveals deeper metaphysical and epistemological differences between them.

In the security and migration/refugee studies workshop, the first speaker, Iman Ali presented “Armed in the Name of Peace: An Ethnographic Capture of Everyday Militant Peacekeeping in South Lebanon”. Her research seeks to understand what UNIFIL’s presence in Lebanon can tell us about the extension of Israeli occupation and how locals engage, contest, and negotiate UNIFIL's presence through infrastructure and development. The next speaker, Nour Al Wattar, presented “Unveiling the Suffering: Human Rights Violations Against Women in Refugee Camps”, addressing the issue of gender-based violence against women in refugee camps, examining the implementation of human rights within these settings and the susceptibility of women to rights violations. Finally, Doaa Hammoudeh presented “Citizenship, Surveillance, and Control: Young Palestinians Navigating Transitions on the Margins of Jerusalem”, investigating the intersections between citizenship, surveillance, and control, focusing on the experiences of young Jerusalemite Palestinians displaced by the Separation wall.

The only paper in the health, development, and Urban Studies track, “Mental Health Experiences among Canadian Oral Healthcare Providers and Students: An Exploratory Study” was presented by Tala Maragha. Her findings seek to inform policies and support strategies to empower women and People of Colour in dentistry. There was also only one session in the Gender and Citizenship Studies track on the last day of the conference. Zeinab Farokhi presented “Gendered and Sexual Abjectification of Muslim Masculinities by Hindu Nationalists on Social Media”, scrutinizing the weaponization of X (formerly known as Twitter) by Right-Wing Extremist Groups and the abjectification of Muslim masculinities within Hindu and White supremacist political ideologies.

Within the education, media, linguistics, and translation studies workshop, Abderrahim Mamad presented “English as Foreign Language Students' Preferences and Reported Instructor Practices of the Teaching of Writing in Moroccan Public Universities”, exploring students' preferences and reported instructor practices in teaching writing. Orubba Almansouri’s paper “Moving Forward: Re-envisioning Education for Multilingual Multicultural Immigrant Youth”, examines the schooling experience of English language learners who graduated from Global High, a New York City public high school that has one of the highest graduation rates for immigrant language learners in the country, in a context of low nationwide graduation rates.