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Call for Papers: EMPIRE: In Theory and In Middle East History, American University in Cairo, December 1, 2023

December 1

From the organizers:

For most of recorded history, empires and imperial regimes have existed in one form or another and have shaped the lives of peoples of the Middle East. And yet the concept of Empire is o;en assumed to be clearly defined, almost eternal, even though empire took different shapes across history, including the history of the Middle East. Furthermore, current theories of empire tend to be Eurocentric and to focus on contemporary power structures in the post-colonial and post- modern period, with less reference to historical empires.

This coming session of AUC’s Annual History Seminar aims to look more carefully at empire as a theoreIcal concept and its changing definiIons, and how it shaped and was shaped by interacIons with peoples. How do these concepts apply to medieval, early modern of modern empires? How do they apply to world empires that ruled the Middle East?

We invite abstracts of around 300 words in either English and Arabic for presentaIons that would revolve around the theories and concepts of Empire as they relate to different empires with parIcular interest in studies, comparaIve or otherwise, that relate to Middle East history.

The themes that the seminar aims to tackle include:

–  What is Empire? Are there features that are common to all empires? Is Empire as a concept or category of analysis useful to studying the history of the Middle East? How can we classify empires? What forms of Empire can historians disInguish in the history of the Middle East? To what extent were tributary, commercial or colonial empires different in their relaIons with their subject populaIons?

–  Empire and Power: Where does imperial power lie; in the center, in capital ciIes, or is it more diffuse? Power within empires and the use of violence. How do empires control resources? Do power and agency lie squarely with certain elites?

–  Empire and Time: How did empires change and transform over Ime? What influenced such changes? What role did technologies, including military technologies, play in such transformaIon? How do empires maintain longevity?

–  Empire and Religion: Did empires impose religions? How did they make poliIcal use of Religion?

–  Empire and Culture: Can we speak of imperial culture? How far did empires impose cultural change and to what extent were they themselves shaped by culture?

–  Why Empire? What were the objecIves behind the formaIon of empires, and the historical circumstances that allowed and shaped their development?

–  Can Empires be compared? To what use? Many theories and studies of empire tend to be Euro-centric. Can they sIll shed light on historical experiences of empires based in the Middle East?

–  Empire and PopulaIon/Demography: One criterion o;en used in defining empires is that they contain diverse populaIons of various backgrounds and ethniciIes that are o;en controlled by a dominant group. Does this offer an angle into studying Middle East empires?

The sessions of the seminar are scheduled for Friday 8 and Saturday 9 March, 2024 at Oriental Hall, Tahrir Square Campus of the American University in Cairo. ParIcipants should plan to speak for around 20 minutes in either English or Arabic. Abstracts of around 300 words, in either language, are expected by 1 December, 2023. Graduate students and PhD candidates are encouraged to apply. ParIcipants will be informed by late December 2023. Please send abstracts to aric@aucegypt.edu with carbon copies to the organizers.

Inquiries can be directed to either of the organizers: Dr Nelly Hanna nhanna@aucegypt.edu
Dr Amina Elbendary abendary@aucegypt.edu

Department of Arab and Islamic Civiliza7ons
The American University in Cairo
AUC Avenue, New Cairo
P.O. Box 74
Cairo 11835, Egypt
Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Hall, Room 2167 tel 20.2.2615.1783/1786
fax 2615.7565