Northwestern Events Calendar


MENA Graduate Student Colloquium

When: Monday, May 6, 2019
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM CT

Where: Kresge Hall, Room 1-515 (The Forum), 1880 Campus Drive , Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Graduate Students

Contact: Danny Postel  

Group: Middle East and North African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Presentations by MENA doctoral students

Open only to Northwestern graduate students and faculty


Özge Karagöz (Department of Art History)

Turkish Post-Revolutionary Figuration in the Soviet Union: A Critical Encounter

This talk concerns the distinctive function of realism and affirmative depictions of revolutionary ideals in the Soviet-Turkish intercultural space of the Exhibition of Turkish Painting Today, which opened in 1935 in Moscow. Instead of functioning as an expression of individuality or as a challenge to artistic or political establishment, as per the model of western European modernism, state-promoted Soviet and Turkish post-revolutionary figuration aspired to communicate aspects of the revolutionary projects of their respective societies through legible and affirmative images. Deploying rarely-used documents from both Turkish and Soviet state archives, I analyze the Soviet reception of Turkish post-revolutionary figuration in this exhibition to trace transnational discourses produced during and because of the global circulation of this art, which, I contend, exceeded the ones that it generated in its national context. This exhibition demonstrates that Turkish post-revolutionary figuration functioned in an affirmative mode to its Soviet audiences, but only to the extent that Turkish and Soviet post-revolutionary projects in art and politics converged. When they differed, however, the exhibition opened up a space for negotiation of divergent conceptions of what characterizes the post-revolutionary in art and beyond.

Nicholas Bascuñan-Wiley (Department of Sociology) 

Sumud and Food: Remembering Palestine through Cuisine in Chile

For Palestinians in diaspora, memory establishes and validates national consciousness and embodies the ongoing struggles for Palestinian legitimacy on a global scale. Within this community, cuisine and the methods of its production are an essential medium of cultural retention and knowledge. This paper examines the role of food in the experience of Palestinian collective memory in the Chilean diaspora through sensory ethnography of restaurants and home cooking in addition to interviews with Palestinian chefs, storeowners, and local residents living in the Chilean towns of La Calera and Quillota. Based on this research, I suggest that the continued reproduction of Palestinian cuisine in Chile constitutes a form of diasporic sumud (steadfastness) – a quotidian resistance to symbolic erasure and connection to Palestinian identity.


Kyle B. Craig (Department of Anthropology)

Coloring the City: The Affective and Temporal Resonances of Public Art in Amman, Jordan

Artistic media such as street art are becoming increasingly popular in the Jordanian capital city of Amman, where a cohort of primarily young artists between the ages of 17-30 are attempting to beautify the city while establishing a grassroots arts scene through public aesthetics. The dynamics of this scene often run counter to common scholarly and media discussions of Middle East street art, which link it to rebellion and political movements such as the 2011 Arab uprisings. Street artists in Amman primarily paint with permission from state and municipal authorities, and actively avoid producing any visual or textual material that could be perceived as socially or politically controversial. Within Amman’s public art scene, “politics” emerge not as overt activism or defiance, but rather within a framework of facilitating shared spaces of youth leisure and adding color to what is often described by artists and other residents as Amman’s “boring,” monochromatic urban landscape. This paper examines how artists’ goals and practices are co-constitutive of their affective and temporal experiences of urban spaces in Amman. I then question how such experiences intersect with pressing political and economic issues in the city such as high youth unemployment and neoliberal spatial transformation. Such a mode of inquiry, I argue, requires pivoting from a visual-centric approach to studying art objects towards a broader sensorial framework that informs ideas about art’s capacity to transform lived experiences in sites of acute anxiety and uncertainty.


Marzouq Alnusf (Department of Philosophy)

Behind the “Seen”: A Reading of Al-Saji’s Account of Racializing Vision and Hesitation

Modern Arabic philosophy has not yet received wide attention outside the MENA region. This paper is an attempt at remedying the situation by engaging with a contemporary Arab philosopher. I offer a reading of the work of Iraqi-Canadian philosopher Alia Al-Saji that focuses on the experience of racialization in a Western social context, including the racialization of persons of Arab descent. Al-Saji develops a phenomenological account of racializing vision and hesitation that I argue is coherent and promising. I raise, however, three worries about the account, having to do with (1) the relation between racialization and prejudice, (2) the role of hesitation, and (3) the moral basis for countering racialization. Although I do not provide a complete reworking of Al-Saji’s account in response to my worries, I point to ways in which her account could be improved. My argument is of more general interest, too, because the worries and suggested improvements to Al-Saji’s account can be applied to other accounts in the literature, which makes this paper relevant beyond one philosopher’s work. I hope that the paper provides an example of engaging with contemporary Arabic philosophy in a way that brings it to a wider audience.

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