Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Funded Workshop on Representations of Change: Time, Space, and Power in Qualitative Research on The Mena Region and Europe

February 22 – 24, 2018 
Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS) 
Philipps-Universit├Ąt, Marburg, Germany

Since the start of the 21st century seemingly unpredictable change, in all its different guises, has fueled the preoccupations of academic and non-academic publics. The financial crisis, the ‘Arab Spring’, protest movements in southern Europe, the rise of Daesh and right-wing populism, as well as the environmental crisis all make it very difficult to rely on Francis Fukuyama’s theory of “end of history”, which now seems to merely reflect the euphoria of liberal elites following the collapse of the Soviet Union (1992). Such examples of historical assessments should teach us to be cautious of blind spots when we write about our times. The ‘turning points’, ‘crises’, ’revolutions’ and ‘transformations’ being announced and debated on a regular basis only represent the most visible elements of the conceptual and theoretical apparatus that economists, political and social scientists, as well as scholars from the humanities, deploy to grasp a wide array of social, political, economic processes of the past 20 years. 

The grand narratives they refer to in order to decide which elements are relevant for understanding change are often out of touch with empirical inquiry. Furthermore, theories describing modernization, individualization, secularization and democratization, for instance, offer broad schemes of interpretation and generalization, but the coherence and strength of their philosophical underpinning only gives a limited account of the intricacies of observable situations. For example, nowadays, many consider the events in Egypt and Syria, heralded as revolutions and moments of fundamental change by many scholars in 2011, as yet another example of the region’s supposed resistance to change. The situation seems to have reversed to the familiar scenarios of autocratic regime or war. Likewise, many recent processes in Europe, most spectacularly the Brexit, appear to observers to be a return to national paradigms that were thought obsolete. Endorsing such assessments is not neutral. They have their own impact on the social and political environment. Statements on change or lack thereof are always performative. They have effect on the confi gurations even when they pretend to merely describe them. They have deep implications on the way regions are being represented, which in turn can impact political and economic relations. In a previous workshop (Snapshots of Change: Assessing Social Transformations through Qualitative Research) that took place at the University of Zurich in 2015, we focused on the methodological tools researchers can develop to study change. 

This new workshop, entitled Representations of Change: Time, Space, and Power in Qualitative Research on the Mena Region and Europe and to be held in 2018 at the Philipps-University Marburg, intends to refl ect more closely on the webs of power affecting both the researcher and ‚the researched‘ when they intend to represent change. We invite papers that address any of the following three major aspects:

 1. METAPHORS AND GRAND NARRATIVES OF CHANGE What terms and metaphors do we use to represent change? What does, for example, a concept like ‘social acceleration‘ (H. Rosa), ‘overheating’ (Th. Hylland Eriksen), or a popular metaphor like ‘Arab Spring’ imply? What role do ’turning points’ play in delimiting the scope of our research, and how do we conceive such turning points? What narrative strategies  do we use in writing about change and which concepts of temporality do they imply?

Who is legitimized and granted the authority to explain, define, describe or narrate change, as well as identify potentials of, or necessities for, change? More specifically, how do the power structures of academia influence the way we write about change? Which range of autonomy can Academia claim toward other sources of discourse on change? Who has the power to name social and political change? And what is the role of social science in the current regime of historicity in defi ning the relation and coherence of past-present-future (F. Hartog)?

This section addresses what appears as a blind spot in much of social research: How do the researchers’ social situations, their political and other belongings, influence their choice of subject, representations of change, methodology and sampling strategies? How do the representations of time and space that ‘research participants’ use when they speak about change differ from those of the researchers? Which common language can they rely on when they refer to the past, present and future in assessing change, and where may misunderstandings arise? 

The presentations should be supported by concrete examples. 

An abstract (150-200 words), a CV and a list of publications should be sent to the organizers before the 4th of September, 2017. 

The workshop language is English. 

Costs for travel and accommodation will be covered for the participants. 

This workshop is a jointly organized by the Research Network “Re-Configurations” (funded by the BMBF), the Leibniz-Research Group “Figures of Thought | Turning Points” (both CNMS, Philipps-University Marburg) and SQUARE / University of Zurich.

University of Marburg (main conveners):
 Dr. Felix Lang:
 Dr. Christoph Schwarz: University of Zurich:
 Dr. Yasmine Berriane: 
Dr. Aymon Kreil:

Interdisciplinary Conference on Sexual and Gendered Violence 2- 3 December 2017,Vienna, Austria

Statistics provided by international health and human rights organizations, such as the WHO, UN Women or Unicef show a grim reality when it comes to sexual and gendered violence: 

Sexual and gendered violence is a matter that affects individuals, communities and societies alike. Present in its many various forms in all cultures and walks of life, it ruins lives, destroys families, breaks trust and encumbers economies. 

Our first interdisciplinary Sexual and Gendered Violence conference seeks to create a lasting network of professionals in all fields related to this topic, to isolate, discuss and explore the main issues, pressing matters and recent developments in this field of activity, to identify areas to be subsequently explored in further depth and to generate collaborative action that will lead to real, lasting change in the way sexual and gendered violence is perceived and approached in institutional settings and that will bring a useful contribution to the curbing of this phenomenon on a local and global scale. We welcome any relevant and insightful kind of contribution, from classic presentations to proposals for workshops, topics for debates, panels or round tables, brainstorming sessions for creating policy materials or research instruments, sharing of event-appropriate professional or personal experience, all the way to meaningful forms of artistic expression (film, poetry, photography exhibitions etc.)

Some of our suggested main issues to be approached include (but are not limited to):

Exploring the notion of Sexual and Gendered Violence and its varied forms (sexual abuse, sexual harassment, domestic and intimate partner violence, sex trafficking, child marriages, rape as a weapon of war, hate crimes against the LGBT population etc) – definitions, numbers, challenging existing assumptions, introducing new hypotheses, historical or anthropological approaches, local and global specifics etc.

Consequences and implications of Sexual and Gendered Violence – ranging from an individual level to a social, economic, cultural view.

Understanding and assisting survivors of sexual and gendered violence – survivor categories, narratives and profiles, case studies, innovative therapeutic approaches, institutional good practices, institutional dysfunctionality in assisting survivors.

Perpetrators – profiles, case studies, motivations, risk factors, innovative solutions for identifying and deterring them, punishment versus education/reformation etc.

Policy – existing and necessary policy programs, impact studies, local and global policy trends and their respective effectiveness, policy analysis and outcomes, unmet needs etc.

Legal Concerns – existing legal frames and their effectiveness, necessary laws, unjust laws, sentences for sexual and gendered violence, constructing and trying sexual and gendered violence cases etc. 

Prevention – existing and necessary measures of prevention on a local and global scale, effectiveness of existing prevention mechanisms, best practices, the role of education in prevention etc. 

Media, Technology, and Sexual Violence: (new)media role in the normalization or prevention of sexual and gendered violence, new forms of sexual and gendered violence via new media and technology, survivors and media exposure, media coverage of the phenomenon, media propaganda upholding state violence etc.

Professing in the field of sexual and gendered violence - issues, hardships, frustrations, communication needs, big and small victories and bright, hopeful moments of professionals working with sexual and gendered violence, with survivors, with perpetrators, in policy, prevention, health and healing etc. 

Our main goal is to facilitate dialogue and spark innovative collaborations and discussions at an international level, in a dynamic and interactive setting. Thus, we welcome participants from all relevant disciplines, professions and vocations (mental and physical health professionals, educators, therapists, researchers, activists, counselors, social workers, policy makers, journalists, lawyers, politicians, volunteers, business owners, military personnel, correction institutions personnel, human resources specialists, historians, sociologists, psychologists, economists, anthropologists, social media experts, artists and many more) 

What to Send
The aim of this interdisciplinary conference and collaborative networking event is to bring together academics, professionals, practitioners, NGO's, voluntary sector workers and many more in the context of a variety of formats: papers, seminars, workshops, panels, q&a’s, performances etc.

300 word reviews of your proposed contribution (paper abstracts, proposals for workshops, collaborative works or round tables, overviews of artistic projects or any other relevant forms of participation you are interested in) should be submitted by Friday 4th August 2017.

All submissions will be minimally double reviewed, under anonymous (blind) conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Advisory Team and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been triple and quadruple reviewed.
You will be notified of the panel's decision by Friday 11th August 2017.
If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of your contribution should be submitted by Friday 17th November 2017.

Proposals may be in Word, PDF, RTF or Notepad formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in the programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: Sexual and Gendered Violence 


Where to Send
Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to the Organising Chair and the Project Administrator:
Kristine Seitz:

For further details and information please visit: