Public Programs And Events

Matters of Debate:  Mapping Research on the Middle East - New School Student Conference

Matters of Debate: Mapping Research on the Middle East - New School Student Conference

80 Fifth Avenue
General Public 

The New School hosts a one-day conference on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), organized by New School graduate students Michelle Weitzel and FaDi Shayya, and sponsored by New School faculty Benoit Challand, Evren Uzer, and Aaron Jakes.


Materiality, whether archeological, architectural, sensory, social, economic, or aesthetic, constitutes an integral dimension of political and cultural life, representing at once the present moment and a portal to an earlier time.  In places that have undergone rapid transformation and disruption, the residue of quotidian things must often be made to stand in for alternate forms of evidence or discourse.  The opportunities opened by rethinking the boundaries between subject and object, body and space, presentation and politics through a prism of materiality advance our belief that sustained critical scholarship is necessary in order to make sense of the rapidly changing political landscape of the greater Middle East. This inaugural interdisciplinary conference aims to encourage dialogue and debate on a wide range of topics affecting the region, interrogating the ways in which the "material Middle East" resonates across disciplines and diverse methodological approaches, as well examining the limits of this mode of "knowing" a region.


This day-long gathering is comprised of morning sessions open to the general public between 9am-1pm, and then will be followed by a closed afternoon workshop.

The conference aims to accomplish two related goals. The morning sessions offer an opportunity to introduce the newly-formed Middle East and North Africa network at the New School, both individually and collectively. A series of short research presentations by the members of the network will provide the basis for open discussion of common themes, research areas, and problematics.

The closed afternoon session will employ the corpus of keywords and themes that that emerge from the morning presentations as material for an instructional workshop with members of Graph Commons in order to map the MENA network. This visualization exercise will in turn provide the basis for discussion of future programming and research collaboration in the coming years.


For more information, contact Michelle Weitzel at


Sponsored by the New School for Social Research.

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