Calls for Participation

Submitting a Call for Participation

MESA provides this opportunity for session organizers to find others to join them in preorganizing a session through an open call for participation. The session organizer and session participants must then submit their proposals in myMESA following the directions to MESA’s Call for Papers for the 58th MESA annual meeting, which will be held virtually from November 11-16, 2024.

To post an open call for other participants to join your session, fill out the form below.

The form at the bottom of the page is NOT where to submit individual paper proposals, panels, and/or roundtables. Instead, all proposals are submitted via myMESA, our membership and submission system. Please find the directions for doing that here, in the full Call for Papers

The MESA 2024 Call for Papers closes at 11:59AM Eastern Standard Time (4:59 PM UTC) on Thursday, February 15, 2024. We recommend that you submit your call for participation well in advance of this deadline so that all participants can organize and submit via myMESA prior to the deadline.

We welcome any questions about the submission process to [email protected].

Responding to an Open Call for Participation

MESA offers these listings as a service to members seeking to collaborate with other members. Read the list of calls and the desciptions below, then contact the organizer of the session directly to indicate your interest. 

Member Calls for Participation

The Ginān Tradition Beyond the Liturgical: Reading the Gināns Seriously as Philosophical Theology (Feb 7)
Francophone Palestinian Literature (Feb 5)
Reimagining Turkic/Turkish Language Education in the Decline of the Humanities (Feb 11) 
Infrastructure, History, and Society (Feb 5) 
The Institution of Waqf: New Perspectives (Feb 2)
Imagining Palestinian Children (Feb 10)
Reclaiming Identity and Indigeneity: Forms of Resistance and Memory in (post)genocidal Contexts (Feb 8)
Wordmaking/Worldmaking Languages, Movements, Materialisms - Situating Queer and Trans Feminisms in the Middle East (Feb 7) 
Early Modern Persian Majmū‘a(s): Historical, Philological, and Art-Historical Processes of Realisation (Feb 6)
Muslim Pilgrimage, Borderlands, and Barriers Since the 1600s (Feb 10)
Tamazgha Futures (Feb 9)
Innovative Pedagogies in MESA (Feb 9)
Crossed Identities in the Pre-Modern Islamicate (Feb 10)
Approaching Compendia in Modern Arab(ic) Intellectual History (Feb 14)
Forms of Solidarity: Leftist Literature, Internationalism, and the Arab World (Feb 12) 

This session seeks to adopt an intertextual and intratextual interrogation of the ginān tradition, seeking to situate the multivocality and pluriformity of its theology, narratives, and thematic topoi within the intersectionality of Islamicate and Subcontinent discourse. While the gināns, a Subcontinent Ismāʿīlī Shīʿī tradition, have often been engaged as devotional and liturgical theopoetic discourse, more work is needed in rigorously negotiating the philosophical and theological nature of the gināns. Recently some very encouraging work has been done by Ali Asani and others, seeking to engage these theosophical and scriptural categories in which the gināns are to likewise be situate. This session seeks contributions that rigorously reinterrogate the ways the gināns can be read as a serious and coherent scriptural, philosophical, and theological tradition. We especially invite readings of the gināns that situate their vernacular Ismāʿīlī (or Satpanthī) background with their multiple potential conversation partners; especially studies that engage the intersection of the gināns with the nirguṇī Sant tradition, Vaiṣṇavite and Śaivite vernacular traditions, and the broader Shīʿī Ismāʿīlī Arabo-Persianate Neoplatonic philosophical theology. Contact Stephen Cúrto at [email protected]Deadline: Feb 07, 2023

​​​​​​Francophone Palestinian Literature

While the topic of Palestine in Francophone studies has received some scholarly attention, this session focuses on literature/films/songs authored by Palestinian Francophone writers/artists. I welcome papers analyzing perspectives and representations about the past, current, and future of Palestine and Palestinian identity in works by well- and lesser-known Palestinians originally written in French or including French (such as Raymonda Hawa-Tawil, Olivia Elias, Elias Sanbar, Ibrahim Souss, Layla Nabulsi, Karim Kattan, singer Saint Levant). Please send 300-400 word abstract and brief vitae to Carine Bourget ([email protected]). Deadline: Feb 5, 2024

Reimagining Turkic/Turkish Language Education in the Decline of the Humanities

In light of the recent language enrollment data published by MLA at the end of 2023, this roundtable will seek to collaboratively envision new or revised pedagogical approaches to strengthen Turkish and Turkic language course/programs. Complementing the MLA Language Enrollment Database 1958-2021, the AATT surveys show that the Turkish & Turkic language enrollments have been in decline, albeit unsteadily, since their peak in 2011. In the press release, the executive director of MLA, Paula M. Krebs underlined “robust institutional and financial support” among pedagogical reconsiderations in the outstanding success of Korean. In the absence of such institutional support, however, instructors are left with inventing curricular solutions at best (in case their programs haven’t already ceased to exist.) Considering such institutional constraints, we invite participants to think through best and/or “failed” practices for Turkic and Turkish language program retention and improvement including but not limited to 
• Proficiency based teaching and learning and new methodological approaches
• Culture courses in English (including the diaspora) 
• Articulation between summer intensive and AY programs 
• Interinstitutional collaborations beyond course-share 
• Study abroad programs and federal or private grants 
• Student engagement via community involvement projects 
• STEM (dis)connection
Contact Nalan Ebil-Erkan at [email protected]Deadline: Feb 11, 2024

Infrastructure, History, and Society

Infrastructures constitute the silent veins and vessels of society, meaninglessly integrating yet often overlooked, as they provide the foundational support for our lives—homes, water supply, lighting, transportation, and methods of communication. They sculpt our societal landscapes, drawing us into their embrace, heralding their potential. Thus, infrastructures stand as both material and social. They craft, embody, and orchestrate constellations of elements, dictating their endurance, fluidity, visibility, among other traits. Simultaneously, they mold unique social interactions, spanning the spectrum from financial practices to material creation, from institutional governance to the myriad ways we intertwine with our desires, identities, and senses of belonging. The line between infrastructure’s tangible form and its societal impact is a dynamic dance—fluid and relational, rather than definitive or fixed. This panel delves into the historical relationship between humans (and their institutions) and infrastructure of various sorts. It navigates the historical landscapes of Middle Eastern and North African societies through the prism of infrastructure—a realm of innovation, construction, restoration, sustenance, wear and tear, demolition, subversion, and resistance, all shaped by the hands that build and the lives that interact with them.
Contact: Xiaoyue Li at [email protected]. Deadline: February 5, 2024

The Institution of Waqf: New Perspectives

Participants in this panel explore an array of topics related to the establishment of waqfs in eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Ottoman domain. We are looking for contributions which explore new approaches to the waqf institution, family waqf, beneficiary rights of religious endowment. Other topics relevant to religious endowments are also welcomed. If you are interested in participating in this panel, please contact Reda Z. Rafei ([email protected]) or Madonna Aoun Ghazal ([email protected]). Deadline: February 2, 2024

Imagining Palestinian Children

This panel focuses on Palestinian children in literary and visual cultures. Interest is in papers that consider the Palestinian child in literature, film, art, and media produced by Palestinians, Israelis, and others. How are Palestinian children imagined in the context of the Nakba, military occupation, the Intifadas, and the ongoing war on Gaza? How is Palestinian childhood constructed by a hostile or a sympathetic adult gaze? Whether seen as innocent victims, icons of resistance, or potential threats (“little snakes” in the words of one Israeli politician), Palestinian children have a central place in nationalist, Zionist, and human rights discourses, among others that this panel seeks to highlight. Papers could focus on individual works or offer broad overviews. The panel is open to considering works produced about and for children. Send 300-400 word abstract.  Inquiries and abstracts to Amal Amireh ([email protected]). Deadline: February 10, 2024

Reclaiming Identity and Indigeneity: Forms of Resistance and Memory in (post)genocidal Contexts

Indigenous communities across the globe have developed various ways to resist mass and systematic violence, genocidal regimes and apartheid, cultural erasure, trauma, and oblivion. These ways include, among others, folk dance, choreographies, and performances; revitalized ancient rituals; cultural objects signifying indigeneity; cultural clothing against colonial ideologies of modernity; and habitual and daily activities. These acts or materials often serve to reclaim group identity, resist genocidal violence whether it is physical or cultural, and heal the trauma of historical atrocities. With a focus on majority and minority communities in the Middle East as well as their diasporas, this panel seeks to address the non-violent forms of both resistance to ongoing conflicts and of memory practices adapted as responses to the lingering impacts of colonial, genocidal, and other forms of mass violence. The panel is particularly interested in papers that focus on cultural, artistic, material, spatial, and performative manifestations of people’s collective memory with regard to conflictual or post-conflictual situations. It also invites papers dealing with the narrative and discursive forms of responding to violence or its intergenerational trauma. 
The session welcomes papers dealing with topics that include, but are not limited to:
- Non-violent resistance movements 
- Material culture in reclaiming identity and resisting cultural appropriation
- Literature, art, and performance in commemoration 
- Spatial, bodily, and/or material forms of cultural memory 
- Affective quality of resistance and memory practices 
Please send an abstract (300-400 words) to Enaya Othman ([email protected]). Deadline: February 8, 2024

Wordmaking/Worldmaking Languages, Movements, Materialisms - Situating Queer and Trans Feminisms in the Middle East

The advent of gender inclusive terminology carries Eurocentric, and specifically English language genealogy, most evidently in the circulation of the singular neutral ‘they/them’. Recently, romance languages have also responded to calls for gender-neutral addresses and therefore to the needs of trans and nonbinary people. Beyond a mere translation of these concerns, and their resolutions , what might the rearticulation of the material realities of gender diversity in Middle Eastern and North African languages and societies open up? We pose this question, given that culture and language are material formations that help make the world as we know it and affect the terms through which we inhabit it.
This roundtable invites participants to respond to questions related to gender diversity in Middle Eastern and North African languages and societies, both historically and in contemporary queer and trans social movements. Departing from diffusionist perspectives on the circulation of LGBTQ+ terminology from the West to East and from the Global North to Global South, we seek to meaningfully and respectfully address (gender) queer and trans people in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian, Amazigh, and other local languages. This roundtable insists that new terms involve critical returns. Attending to questions of gender diversity within and without language, that is gender as it is being expressed in a linguistic and embodied sense, enlivens a terrain of political struggle that implicates histories of queer and feminist movements in the MENA. We maintain that working through the challenges of gender diversity in Middle Eastern and North African languages can decode binary modes of understanding the past and the present as well as language and materiality, and contributes to the building of more just societies. 
Please send brief abstracts for roundtable discussion. We especially welcome submissions from language instructors. Organizers: Beshouy Botros & Evren Savcı ([email protected]). Deadline: February 7, 2024

Early Modern Persian Majmū‘a(s): Historical, Philological, and Art-Historical Processes of Realisation

The archives of Persian manuscripts held in libraries across the world include an extensive number of late medieval/early modern book compilations, often catalogued under the comprehensive, yet not exhaustive, title of majmū‘a. These collections, mainly dating to the 13th to the 18th centuries, comprise a wide range of genres and themes and materialise them in manners which have rarely been studied. These themes and genres include chancellery inshā, personal epistles, royal decrees, occult texts, paintings, diagrams, poetry, non-chancellery prose, tales, treatises on art, medical texts, cooking recipes, dream interpretations and much more. This panel focuses on collections known by several taxonomic terminologies, including jung, safīne, bayāż, shahr-āshūb, muraqqa‘, and much more and investigates these works in terms of their historical, philological, and art-historical aspects in an interdisciplinary manner.
The panel is particularly concerned with identifying and discussing potential methodologies through which this corpus may be approached, analysed, and studied. How and why were these texts/images collected, curated, and assembled in such compilations? What was the potential agency and role of the compiler [jāmi‘] in substantiating a majmū‘a? And, to what extent did the virtual and actual properties of the compilations connote forms of intellectual-artistic subjectivity? In other words what do these mechanisms of book production reveal about the psychology, religio-polity, and culture within Iranian and broader Persianate societies? And through what collective memory and creative networks do these diverse, seemingly unrelated, and at times fragmentary book materials intersect? Through focusing on such topics, the panel aims to trigger further scholarly discussion concerning Persian book compilations and to move such discourse beyond its normative frameworks. 
Proposal abstracts between 250 and 400 words (accompanied with a short CV including the title/status and institutional affiliation) must be submitted to the panel convenors at: [email protected] and [email protected]Deadline: February 6, 2024

 Muslim Pilgrimage, Borderlands, and Barriers Since the 1600s

This panel will focus on the intersections of pilgrimage – such as borderlands and pilgrims – with gender, religious rituals, public health, politics, and culture. It will analyze the interconnectivity of pilgrimage with geographical and geopolitical elements and public health infrastructure. Investigating the connections between the ritual of pilgrimage and major socio-political and economic dynamics would also enable us to incorporate gender analyses to address the plight of women’s pilgrims and showcase the influence of the pilgrimage across borders in engendering traumatic encounters for women on the borderlands. In addition, taking multifaceted perspectives would help us discuss how these sacred places could also offer some relief from common concerns and provide not only mental and physical restoration but also recreational facilities, jobs, and leadership opportunities. 
If you are willing to participate, please send a 300-400 word proposal and a brief bio to the panel organizer Sarah Eskandari [email protected]. Deadline: February 10, 2024

Tamazgha Futures

A toponym in many Amazigh languages to describe ancestral lands across what is commonly called North Africa, Tamazgha imagines the interconnected territories that extend from the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean to the Siwa in south Egypt and names an indigenous imaginary and wide geography of knowledge. As such, Tamazgha takes us beyond national borders and projects and invites us to think of the future in multiple ways. Linked to the newly formed Tamazgha Studies Journal, this panel explores the concept of indigenous futures as they emerge from Tamazgha.
Possible topics include:
Tamazgha philosophies of time and future 
Tamazgha science fiction
Uses of Tamazgha thought, technologies and practice in future-based projects (ex. ecological work related to climate change)
New Tamazgha practices for the future (political, creative, historiographical, scientific etc).
Gender and imagination of the future.
If you are interested in participating, please send a 200-word abstract and a short bio to Katarzyna Pieprzak ([email protected]). Deadline: February 9, 2024.

Innovative Pedagogies in MES​​​​​​A

This session seeks to bring together various disciplines and pedagogies to showcase how faculty are integrating and troubleshooting innovative pedagogies. Some possible topics can be, but are not limited to, COIL (collaborative online international learning) projects, other virtual exchanges, or simulations like Reacting To The Past, or specific pedagogies including the use of unessays or ungrading techniques. 
Contributions can focus on a creative pedagogy on specific topics or apply more broadly to help create and consider frameworks that make Middle East Studies courses from all disciplines more engaging or that push the boundaries of pedagogy in the field. 
We seek representation from all disciplines and an engagement with the challenging realities that we all find ourselves as Middle East specialists. Contact: Victoria Hightower ([email protected]). Deadline: February 9, 2024. 

Crossed Identities in the Pre-Modern Islamicate

Recent years have seen the prominence of race, gender, and religion as analytical categories by which to study pre-modern Islamicate identities. But studies of meaningful intersections between those and other lesser examined identities are now also undermining traditional disciplinary boundaries that have imposed divisions in land, language, time period, and even genre. Fanny Bessard, for instance has demonstrated the impact merchants as a collective had on religio-legal developments, while Matthew Gordon and Kathryn Hain’s edited volume on concubinage examines the cultural, economic, and religious agency of unfree and enslaved women across Islamic history. Kristina Richardson has drawn attention to the complex relationship of language and culture for the Roma, or the Banu Sasan and Ghuraba’, and Kevin van Bladel is investigating the creativity of mutually influencing literary forms in Arabic and new ethnolects. 
Thinking with such research on porous and ambiguous boundaries, we invite papers that explore the multiplicity and contingency of pre-modern Islamicate identities, most particularly those that consider challenges to established categories or juxtapose different, possibly competing, kinds of identity. Comparative and interdisciplinary approaches are welcome, including those that make use of literary, visual, and material culture, as are papers that address lesser discussed categories of identification like professional commitments and affiliations to land. Please email Ameena Yovan ([email protected]) and Jeson Ng ([email protected]) with a title, an abstract of no more than 300 words, and a short bio. Deadline: Feb 10, 2024.

Approaching Compendia in Modern Arab(ic) Intellectual History

Anglophone scholarship on Modern Arab(ic) Intellectual History has traditionally taken the mid-nineteenth century as its starting point, the journalist-cum-philosopher as its preferred unit of analysis, and the literary journal as its most-studied genre. This panel aims to explore other genres of intellectual production, particularly compendia like dictionaries, chronicles, and the use, re-assembling, and printing of medieval and early modern sources. Since this type of intellectual work is deeply rooted in Islamic, Mamluk, Coptic, or Ottoman Turkish sources, styles, and genealogies, this modern corpora of texts is sometimes misunderstood as the domain of premodern specialists or scholars of religion. However, the appearance of these texts was very much a modern phenomenon, and should be better incorporated into our understanding of the Modern Middle East and its intellectual trends, literary styles, and cultural formations. New light can be shed on topics such as nationalism, pan-Arabism, and Islamic Reform when we can trace their thematic continuities with pre-eighteenth century discourses, especially when these earlier ideas are situated within the context of the "Ottoman Early Modern”. Challenging the periodization and cultural boundaries of Arab(ic) intellectual texts can be a productive exercise, helping us to reflect on notions like “postclassical” and dichotomies such as mutaqaddimūn/mutakhkhirūn, and interrogate the work they’re doing in terms of temporally defining Arabic intellectual history. Contact: Michael Battalia, [email protected]Deadline: Feb 14, 2024.

Forms of Solidarity: Leftist Literature, Internationalism, and the Arab World
The enterprise of area studies continues to be circumscribed by the geopolitics of the Cold War. The historiography of the Arab world is littered with what Monica Popescu has characterized elsewhere as the conceptual shrapnel of Cold War artillery. In this context, leftist intellectuals from the region who forged transnational bonds among the Non-aligned and Communist blocs have been dismissed as agents of mere “front” organizations. In the realm of culture, Jed Esty and Colleen Lye have argued that the polarity generated between modernism and socialist realism by the Cold War has similarly led to a skewed valuation of postcolonial literature, one which exclusively attends to the influence of Western narrative modes. In the case of postcolonial Arabic literature, the committed authors who advocated for politically-conscious literature have been caricatured as “Stalinists” and proponents of Soviet-style socialist realism. Uncritically reproducing the binaristic vocabularies of the Cold War, our discipline has failed to account for the emergence of political and poetic internationalisms which surpassed the imperial designs of the US and the USSR. This panel seeks to dislodge these ideologically-inflected epistemologies from the cultural history of the postcolonial Middle East by excavating the understudied international circuits of leftist activism that flourished as a factor of what Jini Kim Watson has termed the Cold War-decolonizing matrix. Foregrounding the infrastructures and agents of cultural exchange that bridged the Second and Third World, this panel argues that the struggle for decolonization in the shadow of the Cold War fostered new genres of anti-capitalist, anticolonial, South-South solidarity, which could not be easily folded into any nationalist or imperial agenda. Presenting case studies that embody and give expression to this leftist internationalist ethos, this panel tells an alternative history of the cultural Cold War, of the Third World project, and of postcoloniality more broadly. Contact: M.J. Ernst at [email protected]. Deadline: Feb 12, 2024. 

Politics of Religion and Gender in the Middle East
There is a rise in authoritarian politics and misogynist discourses and policies in the Middle East. In the extreme case of the Taliban's institutionalization of "gender apartheid" in Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic's violent attempts to suppress women demanding their most basic rights, and the governing party's attacks on LGBTQI+ and women's hard-won rights in Turkey, patriarchy seems to have found a new life in the 21st century. While the contexts are different, what we observe seems to be a swing of the pendulum following some gains made in terms of equality and freedom for women in particular. Moreover, there seems to be an organic connection between authoritarianism, patriarchy and religion in these and other countries.
This round table invites participants to reflect on this state of affairs, and respond to the following questions: What forces have shaped / are shaping the resurgence of authoritarianism and patriarchy? How can we best conceptualize the relationship between politics, religion and gender in different countries/contexts? Is the politics of gender a "distraction" from the real issues of politics and economics in these varied contexts or does it offer us a clear window through which to see the very substance of authoritarian politics in the 21st century? How is patriarchy being reconstituted through authoritarian politics? What contemporary forms of resistance are emerging against these trends? What strategies do women's and LGBTQI+ movements in the region employ to resist and reverse some of these trends? This is a call for a round table. However, for future collaboration and planning, please send a 300-400 word narrative with your proposed contribution to [email protected]. Please also indicate what stage you are with your research/contribution and whether you have a draft paper. Thank you. Deadline: Feb 13, 2024. 

The social, political and economic roles of women and men have created themselves through different progression in each region within the historical process. Accordingly, the process and conditions of women to be entitled to men differed in the Western and Eastern axis. In this context, women in the Middle Eastern region and North Africa have been living in a different reality from those in the West on the issue of entitlement in political and social structures for centuries. After 2010, with the Arab Spring, the roles of women in the system of the Middle East and North Africa also experienced a major change. However, the main problem here is the establishment of the place of women with preliminary acceptance not only in the region’s own dynamics, but also in identifying identity and other distinction. After this situation, it creates certain differences in reading women’s rights and gains in the region. Within the scope of this study, the place of women at the point of gender and otherness will be examined and its reflections in the Middle East, especially after the Arab Spring, will be examined on the axis of women rights and position.
Muslim Arab women touted for years as passive, submissive and fatalistic by the westerners. However, thanks to the Arab awakening against the oppressive regimes in the Middle East and Nord African countries this perception has quite changed. During the Arab Spring women were an integral partner in the struggle, demanding political changes and democracy to achieve democracy, justice, and political rights. They have become the most important actress of the political struggle but what impact did the Arab Spring has on women’s rights? What are the policies of the new Islamic administrations on the women’s rights?
Contact: Meradi Ikrem Wafa [email protected]
Deadline: February 13, 2024

Since the early seventieth century, infrastructural improvements in pilgrimage routes have led to a substantial increase in the number of hajj pilgrims fulfilling their religious obligations in Mecca. This increase intensified during the late nineteenth century following the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the development of railway routes in the Caucasus as well as between Alexandria and Port Said Egypt, thus expanding opportunities for pilgrims from Iran, Central Asia and Europe, to perform their religious pilgrimage to Mecca and the holy Shi’a shrine cities of Iraq, notably Najaf and Karbala. The availability of the pilgrimage ritual to celebrants accelerated and intensified yet was also a source of socio-political and economic challenges and changes. This panel will delve into the importance of examining the geographical, geopolitical, and gender dynamics of pilgrims through the perspective of religious mobility and rituals. It aims to illuminate the management of prevalent challenges and assess the impact of intellectuals in enhancing infrastructures, all within the context of acquiring a new religious-political identity.
Contact: Sarah Eskandari [email protected]
Deadline: February 14, 2024


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