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International Workshop: Freedom, Justice, and Dignity in the Arab Spring

German and Egyptian Scholars to Explore Key Concepts of Change

№ 345/2013 from Nov 08, 2013

An international workshop entitled "Invitation to Discourse - Normative Concepts in Transformation in the Arab Spring and Beyond" will focus on the upheavals in the countries of the Arab Spring. The workshop will take place from November 16 to 24 at Freie Universität Berlin. Well-known experts together with German and Egyptian early-career researchers will examine what role the values freedom, justice, and dignity played in the Arab Spring. During the workshop, on November 19, there will be a public screening of the documentary "My Makhzen and Me" by the Moroccan film artist and activist Younes Belghazi. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion. Besides Belghazi, the participants will include the Egyptian activist and journalist Hadeer Elmahdawy, the political scientist Dr. Mahmoud Bassiouni (Cluster of Excellence "Normative Orders," Frankfurt/Main), and Prof. Dr. Mostafa el-Sayed (Cairo University).

The revolts in the countries of the Arab Spring were not only surprising for the public in Germany. The events were also unexpected by specialists. Today scholars, particularly in the political and social sciences and cultural studies, must often respond to the criticism that their approaches did not take into account the ability of Arab societies to change. Thus, current analyses tend to focus on the causes of the revolts, whereas less attention has been paid to the guiding principles of the conflicts in the countries themselves: freedom, justice, and dignity – political values that are also fundamental for the societies of the West.

For the workshop at Freie Universität Berlin about 40 scholars from Germany and Egypt will meet to address these issues in a bicultural and interdisciplinary setting. Their aim is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the Arab transformation processes. In addition, the organizers anticipate that the workshop will yield new impulses for methodology and theory about the Arab Spring as well as knowledge about revolutionary upheavals in general. The workshop will particularly address the issues of democracy, the media, gender, religion, art, and culture.

The workshop participants will include social and political scientists, economists, cultural studies scholars, Islamic studies scholars, and philosophers as well as art and literary studies scholars. Besides the experts, there will also be doctoral students and other advanced students who will have an opportunity to present their research projects. They were selected in an application process based on their previous academic achievements. A number of lectures will be given by well-known scholars (Senior Lectures). They include:

  • Prof. Dr. Shereen ABOUELNAGA; Department of English, Cairo University
  • Prof. Dr. Schirin AMIR-MOAZAMI; Institute of Islamic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Prof. em. Dr. Mostafa EL-SAYED; Department of Political Science, Cairo University
  • Prof. Dr. Stefan GOSEPATH; Institute of Philosophy, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Cilja HARDERS; Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Gudrun KRÄMER; Institute of Islamic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Carola RICHTER; International CommuniCation Research Division, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Anja WOLLENBERG, MA; Media in Cooperation and Transition gGmbH – MICT International, Berlin

The public film screening and panel discussion on November 19 is entitled "Visions of the Unfulfilled: How and Where Does Culture Protest Push the Arab Spring" (see below for time and place). The focus will be on the role of artistic protest in the Arab Spring. To attend this event or one of the Senior Lectures, please apply for accreditation by email (see below). The organizers look forward to your reporting and cordially invite you to attend.

Time and Place

  • Public Film Screening and Discussion: Tuesday, November 19, 7 p.m., Freie Universität Berlin, Room L 113, Silberlaube, Otto-von-Simson-Straße 30; subway station: Dahlem-Dorf or Thielplatz (U3)
  • Senior Lectures (journalists may apply to attend) and Workshop (not public): November 16 to 24, 2013, Henry Ford Building, Freie Universität Berlin, Garystraße 35, 14195 Berlin, subway: Thielplatz (U3)

Press Inquiries and Further Information

The workshop is being organized by the Institute of Islamic Studies at Freie Universität, the Department of English Literature at Cairo University, and the Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders” at Frankfurt University. It is being funded by the German Federal Foreign Office as part of the German government's transformation partnership with Egypt.