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IUAES 2013: Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds. 5-10 August 2013.

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Evolving humanity, emerging worlds

Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013


The Middle East: is it facing its spring or fall? (IUAES Commission on Middle East Anthropology)

Location Roscoe 1.001
Date and Start Time 06 Aug, 2013 at 14:00


Soheila Shahshahani (Shahid Beheshti University) email
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Short Abstract

We would like to study topics which discuss this period of evolving humanity in the Middle East, which remains in a state of flux, as globalisation and its impact on class, gender, ethnicity and different generations, lead to the emergence of new social and cultural patterns.

Long Abstract

The Middle East has become topical in the last decade, as the capitalist world is facing great challenges, and has become the focus of wars, conflicts, upheavals, new hopes, new financial and cultural capital, new medical studies, new artistic spaces and even new vocabularies. Anthropologists of the area and those living in the area are showing reticence in face of these challenges. In this panel we would like to study any topic within the domain of anthropology which discusses this period of evolving humanity in one region, which remains in a state of flux, as globalisation and its profound impact on class, gender, ethnicity and different generations, lead to the emergence of new social and cultural patterns. We are particularly interested in topics which address the changing patterns of behaviour among the younger generation: How is the youth facing these future challenges? Where and how do they locate themselves in the age of globalization?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Generating Ultras: Exploring the Egyptian revolutionary process through the prism of 'generation', 'youth' and football fandom.

Author: Carl Rommel (University of Helsinki)  email
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Short Abstract

Taking Egyptian football as an example, this paper explores contesting ideas about what football and fans ought to represent in post-revolutionary Egypt. It also argues that these contestations reflect a generational divide that for many young Egyptians is at the core of the revolutionary process.

Long Abstract

In the wake of the 2011 uprising in Egypt, 'generation', 'youth' and ways of being 'modern' have turned into key arenas for discursive contestation. Often, the current political developments are, by young people, framed as a generational conflict, between hopelessly dated, bureaucratic older men who have controlled political, ideological and economic resources for decades, and educated, business-minded shabab (youth), much more in touch with the demands and predicaments of the 21st century.

This paper explores how this struggle is played out in narratives and practices among different groups of Egyptian football supporters. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Cairo, this exploration primarily focuses on how members of the Ultras supporter groups of Egypt's two biggest football clubs Ahly and Zamalek position themselves politically and generationally through practices, discourses and emotionalities. Being almost exclusively in their teens and early twenties, Cairo's Ultras explicitly take a stance against older types of football fandom, which they describe as 'passive', 'unsophisticated' or 'manipulated' by the corrupt, state-sponsored business complex that football was part of under Mubarak. Being an Ultra is in contrast a way of being young, progressive and revolutionary, yet nonetheless nationalist and religious. These narratives of the Ultras do however not pass uncontested, as they face a fierce battle with commentators in the football media and non-Ultras fans alike. What football was, is and ought to be in the new Egypt is hence up for grabs, and tropes about generation, modernity and youth are mobilised by actors from all sides in this struggle.

Ethnicity, Language and Religion in the New Middle East: Political Meaning and Realities

Author: Babak Rezvani (University of Amsterdam)  email
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Short Abstract

The Cultural diversity of the Middle East has been neglected for long. However, the Arab spring’s consequences, notably the emerging conflicts, have shown that the ethno-religious, and in general cultural diversity of the Middle East is not an issue that can be dispensed with.

Long Abstract

Middle Eastern studies have traditionally been preoccupied with history more than anything else. Both orientalist and the non- or anti-orientalist studies were primarily preoccupied with history, either narration of history or using historical data, in order to prove certain (hypo-)theses. Although, the usage of history—in either way—is inevitable, the Middle East can be studied in the same way as any other region: its current issues can be studied conceptually and theoretically using (historical or other types of) data. The popular images of the Middle East describes the region as an Arab, Muslim region. Although the better-informed scholars know it better, this image has persisted over decades, if not centuries, and has had impact on the (Western) policy making about that region. As exceptions to the rule were often mentioned Turkey (non-Arab), and Iran (non-Arab and Shiite). Even mentioning such exceptions are short-sighted. Both Iran and Turkey have bon-Arab as well as Arab population, and in both countries Shiites as well as Sunnis live. In other words; the cultural diversity of the Middle East has been largely neglected for decades and centuries. The Arab spring's consequences, notably the emerging (ethnic sectarian) conflicts, have shown that the ethno-religious, and in general cultural diversity of the Middle East is not an issue that can be dispensed with. As the news, and the local sources—notably the discussion forums used by the youth—testify cultural diversity and its effect on political and social behavior is paramount and deserves professional (academic) attention.

Ritual and Symbolism in Presidential Elections of 2013 in Iran

Author: Soheila Shahshahani (Shahid Beheshti University)  email
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Short Abstract

In this paper I shall try to find the rituals and symbols which were important for the elections of 2013 in Iran. Rituals and symbols are strongly lived but are under studied in the country, where actually public discourse is scant and communication takes place informally through rituals and symbols.

Long Abstract

Events of 2009 in Iran made it evident how symbolism is important for an event like elections in Iran. It became logical to concentrate on the topic as we were approaching another election period. A content analysis is made of publications available about the elections so that we can see how political, ritual and symbolic studies can become topical in anthropology of the Middle East.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


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