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Tribes and Tribalism

(Re-)Assessing Society in the Middle East and How We Talk About It

Tribal life has been a reality for people in the Middle East as elsewhere in the world for millennia. The essential importance of tribal structures, juxtaposed with the manipulation of tribes by colonial and indigenous governments ("tribalism"), has made tribes the object of deep study by social scientists and historians. The goal of this conference is to re-focus on tribes and the actuality of their functions, and on the experiences of the people who adhere to them, while at the same time weighing these actualities against a critique of the tribalism paradigm.


About The Conference

This conference will address a range of subjects from disciplines including history, anthropology, literature and cultural studies, as well as political science that investigate the diversity of social, cultural, economic and political locations of tribal life, as well as evocations, and interpretations of tribalism in the Middle East in past and present. The geographical focus of the conference will be limited to Iraq, Yemen, and Jordan/Syria in order to facilitate debate and enhance comparability on the one hand, and because of the particular currency of these geographical boundaries in the contemporary Middle East. Chronologically, papers will focus on the modern period from the 19th century to the present day, while some participants might be invited to address long-term perspectives in their papers.