[P4939] Representations of Struggle and Horizons of Freedom

Created by Maryam Griffin
Tuesday, 11/21/17 1:00pm


What are the imaginaries of freedom in the contemporary Middle East? How are they pursued? What interpretive tools equip us to study the interrelated content and form of these freedom dreams?

This panel brings together four separate case studies from the contemporary Middle East in an effort to reexamine the principles and methods informing social movement theory and research. Topics considered include Palestinian literature, art, and mobility; memory in the Iraqi diaspora; and the revolutionary uprising in 1979 Iran. Drawing on these varied archives, panelists ask: What is the fraught relationship between a history of political struggle and the expressive form of its narrative? How are imagination workers uniquely suited to see the decolonial potential of quotidian practices? What happens to a resistance movement's political imagination if history is treated as an archive of crushed or repressed dreams? Is there an alternative to rendering revolutionary social movements in terms of either local cultural constructs or universal categories of behavior? These questions are posed together as a scholarly challenge to reconsider the relationships between the forms and representations of liberation struggles and the horizons of political possibility they prefigure.

In juxtaposing distinct contexts, the panel gestures toward links between diverse demands for freedom as they emerge in repressive circumstances. Each panelist consults the human archives of decolonial projects--projects that have been broken or compromised but not entirely obliterated. They look to understudied terrain in traditional social movements literature, such as memories, rumors, popular belief, art, and everyday life, to uncover visions of alternative political futures contained therein. And they employ a mix of ethnography, oral history, textual analysis, theoretical exegesis, and archival methods, suggesting that a wider variety of scholarly tools can and should be used to unearth decolonial imaginaries of freedom. In the process, the panel provides a preliminary sketch of relevant strategies of resistance and modes of inquiry regarding the prospects for social change in today's Middle East.


Lit; Pol Science; Socio



Arash Davari

(Whitman College)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Maryam Griffin

(University of Washington, Bothell)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Golnar Nikpour

(University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Discussant;

Yousef Baker

(California State University, Long Beach)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Amanda Batarseh

(University of California, Davis)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;