Call for Papers - Discursive Challenges: Power, State Legitimacy and Counter-narratives in the Arab World

The Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Durham University, warmly welcomes abstracts to present at its annual conference. Focused on the theme ‘Discursive Challenges: Power, State Legitimacy and Counter-narratives in the Arab World’, the conference will take place this year between the 9th and 11th of June 2020 in Durham in the UK, and is organised in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s ‘Open World Research Initiative’.

The aim of this year’s conference is to enquire into the contested political legitimacy of ruling governments in the Middle East and North Africa, with a particular focus on the experiences of the region following the uprisings and revolutions of 2011. The conference organisers are also interested in the tenacity displayed by a number of these regimes despite the challenges to their power which have emerged from myriad armed groups, many of which have drawn upon religious imagery. Have newly-emerged actors altered the nature and narrative of the concept of legitimacy? How can we explore the dynamics of power in the region through analyses of discourse? Why has radical change in the Middle East and North Africa often proved elusive?

We invite the submission of abstracts and titles, of no more than 200 words and exploring topics of relevance to the theme of the conference, by Friday the 17th of January 2020. Abstracts should be accompanied by a brief 100-word biography of the author of the paper. Please note that we will be able to offer support for reasonable travel and accommodation costs to facilitate speakers’ attendance. Lastly, it is anticipated that the proceedings of the conference will form a strong collection of papers for publication.

All enquiries and abstracts should be sent to the Conference Assistants: Sarah Clowry ( and Laura Cretney ( We look forward to welcoming you to Durham in June.


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