Calls for Participation

If you are planning to organize a panel or roundtable for MESA’s 2020 meeting in Washington, DC, please fill out the form below to post a call for papers for your session. You can post calls as far in advance of the meeting as you care to. Please note that the submission timeframe is January 13 through February 18 when the myMESA system will be ready to accept proposals. 

Questions about the submission process are always welcome. Please email Kat Teghizadeh at

Calls for Participation 2020 

  1. Organizer: Alia Gana (
    Proposed Session Title: Political and socio-institutional change in North Africa in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising: competition of models and diversity of national trajectories
    Session Description: Almost ten years after the popular uprisings that shook a large part of the Arab world in 2011, the geopolitical picture of North Africa (from Morocco to Egypt) shows very different configurations. The wave of protests and in some cases the collapse of authoritarian rules have produced various outcomes and conducted to different political configurations : « negotiated » political change in Morocco, failed attempt to contain social unrest in Algeria, « National dialogue » and success of electoral processes in Tunisia, authoritarian restoration in Egypt and civil war in Libya. These varied situations have close links with the mobilizations of actors drawing on unequal resources and differentiated logics of action. Based on an approach of ongoing political and socio-institutional change in North Africa as part of a process of dissemination and confrontation of various political and societal models, and as resulting from their appropriation and reinterpretation by social actors, this panel aims at exploring the complex processes, which contribute to the diversity of the trajectories followed by the region in the aftermath of the “Arab revolts”. We propose to explore these processes through two main thematic entrees: (i) the restructuring of the political space after the Arab revolts, as this is expressed in the emergence, the reactivation or the exacerbation of various types of conflicts(ideological conflicts, conflicts between political elites, social conflicts, conflicts of interests, conflicts of memories, etc.), as well as in changing forms of political regulation (search for compromise, institutional arrangements and innovations, institutionalization of pluralism or the use of force), (ii) actors’ strategies and logics of actions, in particular how various categories of actors (institutions, associations, individuals) negotiate new positions in the political and social space opened up by the collapse or the calling into question of authoritarian regime. We are seeking papers that deal with the following issues: the reconfiguration of the political and forms of political regulation, including party systems and elections, state reforms and governance, social mobilizations and collective action, the transformation of social pacts and of models of social redistribution and more generally changes in development models and public policies. The key outcome of the panel will be the publication of an edited volume or a special issue of a scientific journal. Those interested in presenting a paper are expected to submit a 300-400 word abstract and a 3-4 line bio.
    Deadline: February 18

  2. Organizer: David Larsen (
    Proposed Session Title: Metapoetics in Pre-modern Arabic Poetry
    Session Description: The writings of Abbasid-era literary scholars like al-Āmidī, Qudāma b. Jaʿfar, and ʿAbd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī are rightly prized for their critiques of poetry and its tropes. We modern scholars of classical Arabic poetry are guided by their prescriptions, descriptions, and categorizations, and prefer them to Western categories in our approach. As such, it is worth reflecting that these come not from poetry’s makers, but (with the exception of some poet-critics, e.g., Ibn al-Muʿtazz) its well-informed receivers—and that alternative perspectives may be gained from the verse pronunciations of poets themselves. These take different forms and belong under multiple headings. One is the traditional poetic theme of waṣf al-shiʿr (description of poetry) which is largely a matter of fakhr: when poets boast of their art, to what other crafts and professions do they compare it, and how do these change from period to period? Then there is metapoetry, a rubric with no equivalent in the critical toolbox of Abbasid scholars. It was coined by René Wellek by way of addressing modern poets’ efforts to locate themselves vis-à-vis past
    tradition, and to redefine their role in an age when “the poet can no longer be a seer, a magician, a popular philosopher and moralist or even a popular entertainer without self-consciousness” (Discriminations, 273). Devised in response to the mid-century Anglo-American avant-garde, metapoetics has proven a useful term in critical assessments of modern Arabic poets. It has also been applied retroactively to muḥdath poets of the Abbasid period, for whom the traditional functions of the poet were in similar need of redefinition. A continued exploration of metapoetics, mise en abyme, and other self-reflecting modes of pre-modern Arabic poetry is the aim of this panel.
    Deadline: February 18

  3. Organizer: Ester Sigillò (
    Proposed Session Title: Rethinking ‘contentious politics’ in the Middle East and North Africa: Analysis of social networks beyond protests
    Session Description: The so-called “Arab Spring” opened new windows of debate for all scholars interested in processes of collective action and socio-political change. Indeed, the literature on contentious politics in the Middle East has grown since 2011. Through recent academic work we know a lot about mobilization processes, but we still know far less about the structure of collective action at times of "low mobilization". This panel discusses the value of exploring collective action beyond the revolutionary movements started in 2011 and reignited in 2019 in many countries of North Africa and the Middle East. The opportunity to observe and understand certain processes of normal life, such as patterns of networking and vectors’ of legitimation, would have been more limited if these
    studies had taken place during periods of intense mobilization. During periods of time after revolutions or periods of instability, certain power relations involving state and society are traceable only through an analysis of daily socio-political processes. This panel aims at bridging different theories, disciplines and methodological approaches to collective action by analyzing the formation and evolution of social networks in different countries. We invite papers that, regardless of the disciplinary focus, propose theoretical or methodological innovations with the potential to be used in the analysis of collective action in the MENA region. Particularly welcome are contributions incorporating new data sources and analytical tools to analyze social networks.
    Deadline: February 18

  4. Organizer: Fatina Abreek-Zubiedat (
    Proposed Session Title: Architecture and Urban Space Under Settler Colonialism in the Coastal Cities of Palestine
    Session Description: From the 19th century and up until today, the coastal cities of Palestine have a key role in the evolvement of multicultural modern Palestinian society. These cities, which were part of an open region and developed at the crossroads of cultures, peoples, infrastructures, ideas and resources, developed due to socio-political and economic processes and struggles within a colonial context of both British rule and Zionist settlement.  The Nakba – the Palestinian catastrophe – in 1948, symbolizes a historical point of transition from British colonialism to an Israeli settler colonial regime, and marks the profound transformation of Palestinian urban society. Palestinian cities, such as Akka (Acre), Haifa, Yaffa (Jaffa) and Gaza, were subjugated to the settler colonial logic of the creation of one society at the expense of another. Destruction, segregation, control and domination became fundamental in these cities’ development for many years to come. However, through the everyday lived experience of Palestinians, these cities also continue to be sites of urban resistance, creation and production. Their urban materiality inevitably becomes contested sites, that allow to circumvent the relations of power and control. 
    The proposed panel consists of in-depth interdisciplinary analysis of historical processes of transformation in three major coast cities – Haifa, Jaffa and Gaza. It aims to explore the contested past and present of these cities and scrutinize the modes of production of these urban spaces through the complex relations of settler colonialism, neoliberal urban development, and everyday resistance.
    Deadline: February 18

  5. Organizer: Driss Maghraoui (
    Proposed Session Title: Collective Action, Citizenship and State-Society Relations in the MENA Region
    Session Description: This panel investigates the nature and different dynamics of collective action in different contexts in the MENA region by connecting it with the question of citizenship. We analyze the processes and practices of different social actors and connect them to state strategies, political culture and different institutional arrangements that frame state society relationships. Given that protest can be conceived as a form of political action for achieving different forms of rights and citizenship in the modern “nation-state”, it is important to investigate the ways in which collective action is intricately linked to the quest for citizenship. While two papers in this panel are on specific cases of social protests and their relationship with citizenship, the other two papers look at them from a comparative perspective. Through an interdisciplinary approach, this panel also seeks to explore various protest movements by looking at the internal dynamics of specific cases as well as the regional forces that might be at work in those contexts. It seeks to emphasize the current political and economic forces that are at stake and situate them in relation to the long term potential outcomes. Like the revolutionary movements in other parts of the world, the protests in the MENA region have been characterized by an important involvement of the youth, women and of professionals, and by clear political goals targeting deeply entrenched regimes and claiming citizenship. The panel will attempt to deal with some of the following questions: What are the social and political forces behind social movements? How do states react to them? What are the regional dynamics? How are the youth involved in these movements? To what extent is collective action part of a new quest for citizenship? What is the role of political parties and labor unions? To what extent are protests guided by new forms of subaltern politics? Given that the modern “nation-state” has historically mandated a masculine citizen, what are the gender dimensions of these protests?
    Deadline: February 18

  6. Organizer: Stephen Gasteyer (
    Proposed Session Title: Resistance to Land Grabs in the Middle East
    Session Description: With this panel, I seek papers that explore modes of resistance to land grabs in the Middle East. While most of the Land grabs literature focuses on takings for agricultural production and mineral extraction in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the Middle East is not immune to processes whereby powerful entities entities to extract land for their own purposes. This could include land grabs by Israel or Israeli affiliated actors to take Palestinian land for colonial settlement, but could also include processes of expropriation elsewhere int the Middle East. This panel explores the modes of resistance to those takings. How have local actors organized and acted to forestall or ward off actions by the state or others to grab land and water?
    Deadline: February 18

  7. Organizer: Domenico Ingenito (
    Proposed Session Title: Persian poetry as a performative space
    Session Description: Over the past three decades, the study of medieval and early modern Persian poetry has shifted from the formulation of descriptive models to the development of paradigms that focus on literary texts as performative experiences and inter-actions between the language and the world. These new approaches have emerged from a series of productive intellectual exchanges between Persianists and specialists from fields such as Arabic literature, Indology, New Historicism, cognitive sciences, and socio-linguistics. Although the current trends in the study of Persian literature do not actively present themselves as different lines of research that belong to a shared discourse, their critical postures showcase similarities that deserve to be proactively taken into account. This panel offers a preliminary conversation on the study of Persian poetry from a plurality of theoretical and philological approaches that recognize “performativity”—in the broadest sense of the term—as a common ground for the study of the connections between literary texts and the “extra-textual” world in its historical context. From the viewpoint of poetry as a space of performativity, the meaning of a given text does not stem from its intrinsic linguistic horizon, but from the historicized interactions between poems, communities of readers, and socio-anthropological connections among verbal (literary, as well as non-literary), visual, and architectural texts. Some of the papers will apply this perspective to the exploration of the explicit occasions of performativity, during which specific poems were actually recited as tools for aesthetic and spiritual practices, ethical enactments, or as dynamic functions of political agendas. These conversations will meditate on lyric poetry as a genre that ought to be approached from the perspective of its effects on and uses among the audiences in which they would be circulated and performed.  Other contributions will frame performativity from the point of view of the capability of poetic texts (lyric forms as well as didactic, philosophical, or encomiastic genres) to embody cultural narratives, such as “systematic thought,” ideal representations of the socio-political world, or the re-appropriation of amatory and erotic imagery for pedagogical and religious ends.
    Deadline: February 18

  8. Organizer: Hassan Arif (
    Proposed Session Title: Quranic Hermenuetics
    Session Description: Quran is the epicenter of Islamic discourse. Whether it is the “fashioning of Muslim subjectivity” or the “formation of Sharīʿa”, Quran is instrumental in linking the historical with the metaphysical, the ethical with the spiritual, and the discursive with the non-discursive. The aesthetic of the Quran simultaneously creates discourse, by providing continuity to the tradition, and defies it, by forming new paradigms of meaning. In this panel, we will examine strategies of Quranic hermeneutics using three interconnected approaches: a) at the lexical level using corpus linguistics and morphological analysis to compare and contrast Quranic discourse for Meccan and Medinan surahs. b) at the conceptual level by comparing and contrasting three key Quranic terms (amr, jaʿl, khalq) that relates God to His creatures. c) at the level of narrative order/structure (nazm) by providing a set of interpretations for surah al-Taḥrīm, as an interpretative attempt to develop a framework for Quranic hermeneutics, which coalesces discontinuities and continuities, principles and ambiguities, and more importantly relates the temporal with the eternal.
    Deadline: February 18

  9. Organizer: Rima Majed (
    Proposed Session Title: Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times: Lebanon’s October Revolution between “Dream” and “Reality”
    Session Description: This roundtable explores the role of ordinary people in creating the revolutionary moment of October 17th, and their everyday lived experiences in such extraordinary times. It focuses on the immense transformations that the spontaneous mass mobilizations of October 2019 brought at the social and personal level. While most studies dealing with social movements and uprisings in the Arab region have given center stage to macro-level political transformations, few have looked at the role of ordinary individuals and their everyday experiences in such transformative and historic times. Building onBermeo's (2003) andBayat's (2013a) works on the role of ordinary people in politics and in times of upheaval, this panel discussion is two-fold: (1) it focuses on studying the role of individuals in creating the extraordinary moment of October 17th, and (2) it explores the everyday lived experiences of “dream” and “reality” of ordinary individuals during the first few days of the revolution. By focusing on Lebanon’s October revolution as part of the ‘second wave’ of the Arab Uprisings, and by giving special attention to the role and experiences of ordinary people, this panel will instigate an interesting debate on the ‘making of’ and the intense experiences of revolutionary moments if Lebanon, the Arab region and beyond.
    Deadline: February 18

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