[R4921] Material Politics in the Middle East

Created by Fredrik Meiton
Monday, 11/20/17 10:30am


What do we talk about when we talk about pipes? Or rail, canals, cables, or dams? In recent years, a growing number of scholars have begun exploring how the material world can be used for political effect. The distinguishing feature of such material politics is the way political power circulates and accumulates through impersonal relations within an order of physical things. Material politics is thus a phenomenon that is distinct from the overt politics of diplomats, statesmen, or activists. But despite the way it structures the flow of resources to the benefit of some individuals and groups over others, and does so in ways that are conditioned by their various physical properties, its politics tends to be sublimated into a language of pure technics. That is, material orders tend to be construed as the very opposite of politics, making material politics all the more influential for its quasi-invisibility as political power.

This roundtable seeks to open up a conversation about the theoretical and methodological implications of studying material politics in the Middle East. It brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars who have grappled with the question in a variety of contexts, from technopolitics in mandatory Palestine and Syria to Cold War land reform in Turkey, and contemporary issues of service provisioning in Beirut.





Elizabeth Williams

(University of Massachusetts Lowell)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Fredrik Meiton

(Northwestern University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Joanne Nucho

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

Begum Adalet

(New York University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;