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Faculty Roundtable | MENA Cultures & Global Aesthetics

Global Modernism in the Middle East and North Africa: Afterlives and Aftermaths

Tuesday 6 November 2018
Register via lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden

Please be warmly invited to join the celebratory occasion of the opening of the new LUCIS research programme "MENA Cultures and Global Aesthetics." Focusing on the wider MENA region and its global interlocutors, this new programme seeks to investigate the ways in which local and transnational aesthetics articulate ideologies and power relations in the Middle East and North Africa. Events are structured around a biannual theme and this roundtable discussion aims at introducing our first research theme "Modernisms: Afterlives and Aftermaths."


"Bechara Khouri receives the Lebanese flag from Le Nouvel Homme as Charles de Gaulles watches (1946)," from: Last Days of the Man of Tomorrow (Fadi Baki, 2017)

Modernism is understood here as the aesthetic formation and cultural repertoire with which the profound social transformations captured by the term (high) modernity have been accommodated. In the context of rapid industrialization and massive urbanization between the end of the nineteenth century and the late 1970s, men and women in the Middle East and North Africa fashioned their lives and articulated their worldview so as to accommodate a social reality in transformation, leading to aesthetic innovations from painting to urban planning and from the novel to debates in cultural salons. This research theme seeks to explore the ways in which this modernist heritage lives on in the MENA region today; the ways in which they serve as an inspiration for contemporary works, the ways in which they are nostalgically recollected or subjected to critique, and the ways in which the traumatic rupture of more violent modernist projects are worked through. During the roundtable discussion on 6 November, four of the global aesthetics core members will present a number of key questions and concerns pertaining to the first research theme "Modernisms: Afterlives and Aftermaths" in relation to their own research practice, from transnational modernist aesthetics in India and North-Africa to urban redevelopment in Morocco, and from contemporary visual culture of young activists to nostalgia for modernity in Lebanese cinema.


Judith Naeff is a University Lecturer and tutor Cultures of the Middle East at the BA International Studies, the Hague. She defended her PhD about imaginaries of the city of Beirut in arts, literature and culture (1990-2015) at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA). Her current research interests concern contemporary Arab memory cultures of leftism.

Mark Westmoreland coordinates the Visual Ethnography specialisation at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of Leiden University. He previously served as editor of Visual Anthropology Review and now spearheads the Writing with Light curatorial collective for ethnographic photoessays. 

Sanjukta Sunderason is a historian of the nineteenth and twentieth-century aesthetics in South Asia. She is interested, in particular, in forms and rhetoric of the ‘political’ in visual art from the region. At Leiden University, she teaches and supervises on issues broadly resonating with questions of cultural production, cultural politics, activism, cultural and critical theory, with a focus on South Asia and the Global South.

Cristiana Strava's research to date has been broadly concerned with the nexus between the postcolonial state, changing social geographies and the re-territorialization of regulatory regimes in urban North Africa and the Middle East. She is currently developing a new project looking at financialization and the accelerating phenomenon of ‘mega-projects’ in North Africa.


If you would like to attend this roundtable, please register via lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

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