Conf/CfP - Arab Council for the Social Sciences Third Conference, March 10-12-2017, Beirut

Publish Date: Sep 01, 2016

Deadline: Sep 06, 2016

Event Dates: from Mar 10, 2017 12:00 to Mar 12, 2017 12:00


The Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS) is a regional, independent non-profit organization headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon and working across the Arab region as well as globally. The ACSS is dedicated to strengthening social science research and knowledge production among individuals and academic/research institutions in the Arab region.
The Arab Council for the Social Sciences is pleased to announce its third conference, titled "State, Sovereignty and Social Space in the Arab Region: Emerging Historical and Theoretical Approaches" to be held in Beirut, Lebanon on March 10-12, 2017. Papers will be selected based on two criteria:
  • The extent to which they engage seriously with the aim of the conference to question prevailing concepts and theories in the social sciences generally, and those pertaining to the Arab region particularly.
  • The theoretical and empirical depth of the paper and the focus on innovative cases and locations.
The conference is open to papers from all social science and allied disciplines and to scholars anywhere in the world. Researchers from the Arab region, whether currently resident in or outside the region, are particularly encouraged to apply. Applicants must hold at least an MA degree and be actively engaged in social science research. Papers examining contemporary or historical phenomena and comparative, cross-regional and global perspectives are encouraged.

The Theme  

As political, economic and social conflicts continue to unfold throughout the Arab region, it is timely to reflect on new approaches and paradigms emerging across the disciplines of the social sciences and humanities to analyze historical and new forms of state structures, forms of governmentality and political power and their intersections with spatial, economic and socio-cultural dynamics.
The region today is witnessing changing state formations and emerging political forces that are employing new strategies for accommodating, combating and producing change. In some cases states are fragmenting or disintegrating and their roles are being taken up by new political and social actors that seek legitimacy at both local and national levels, creating various types of political sovereignty. In other cases states are retrenching and clamping down on political freedoms while in yet others, small spaces for reform and change are being opened up. All these changes are taking place in the context of local, regional and global political and economic connections and competitions that sometimes go through the State and sometimes go around the State. In addition, social formations are shaping as well as being reshaped by power struggles and expressing themselves through different types of social mobilization, through the changing use and production of space and place as well as through individual and collective strategies that produce or challenge generational and gender roles and practices.
In addition to empirical studies, the literature exploring the varied manifestations and consequences of ongoing transformations in the Arab region also needs to be critically reviewed to assess the extent to which it examines current transformations in a longer historical time frame and connects to earlier literatures on state structures, political participation, forms of resistance and local, national and transnational social relations. Comparative perspectives within the region or with other regions are also important as are attempts to position the Arab region within the global context when discussing such phenomena and trends. Here, social science knowledge production itself needs to be investigated: How are issues of state, sovereignty and social space discussed in both academic and public spheres? What theoretical paradigms and concepts are being deployed to study these phenomena? How does the work of Arab scholars compare, converge with or diverge from the work of scholars working in the global north and other parts of the global south?
The Third ACSS Conference will be organized around three major axes, as follows: 

1) Transformations of State and of Forms of Sovereignty

This theme discusses the multiple forms of state structures and sovereignty that exist across the Arab region and how such forms have changed over time. Further, it highlights the different factors that act to deepen systems of political inequality and reproduce the experience of marginalization and exclusion among different social categories and groups. A special focus is given to the interplay and intersection between the various forms of state power and social difference such as class, gender, ethnicity, age, occupation, nationality, citizenship, disability and the rural/urban divide among others. Specific issues could include:
  • New Sources of Legitimacy: What sources of legitimacy do states draw upon and how might these be contested by other forces? What impact does domestic power struggles, decentralization, devolution of state authority and federalism have on sovereignty as well as on political inequality, participation and loyalty?
  • Socio-Political Actors: What socio-political actors are emerging within and across societies and states? What are some of the emergent forms of organization, alternative discourses and new imaginaries forged by social movements, labor unions, political parties, NGOs, community organizations, transnational social movement organizations, etc.? How can underprivileged groups such as refugees, domestic workers, construction workers, peasants, slaves mobilize? What is the nature of new or renewed demands, for dignity, social justice, citizenship rights and human rights?
  • Military Establishment: What is the role of military establishments, especially in the case of civil conflict and fragmenting or failing states? What other types of organized armed groups exercise power and control and how are these forms linked to local, national or regional reconfigurations of territory and space and sovereignty?
  • Regional, National and Transnational Actors: How is sovereignty exercised at different scales of political organization and how do these scales intersect to transform state power and forms of governmentality and sovereignty as well as to structure social space in particular localities?
  • Citizenship, Political Participation, Human Rights: How is citizenship, belonging or disenfranchisement experienced and performed in the everyday lives of different groups in society, including the poor and the marginalized, the middle classes, civil servants, young men and women among others? How does the interplay of different social markers (religion, gender, age, ethnicity, etc.) deepen the experience of participation or marginalization of certain social groups? What is the impact of these processes on political participation, social mobilization and rights?
  • Securitization - Concepts and Practices: What is the relationship between processes of securitization and state sovereignty? What forces, discourses and practices are leading to the increasing securitization of various domains of state and society across the region? Is the concept of ‘human security’ still relevant in a context of escalating militarization of public and private space?

2) Social Space and Power

This theme focuses on the processes, mechanisms and political economy of the production and reproduction of social spaces of political power, participation and resistance. Contemporary transformations can be examined through the lens of space and place, including reconfigurations of borders, boundaries and political geographies across the region. The notion of social space encompasses the different arenas or fields within which social relations, roles and dynamics unfold and express themselves. State actors, regional and transnational actors (including international NGOs, global corporations, militant movements) all play important roles in shaping social space and power. Specific issues could include:
  • Democratization of Public Space: How is the production of public space related to both state and transnational policies and political processes? How is sovereignty over space exercised and when does it lead to the democratization of public space versus social exclusion, disempowerment and deprivation?
  • Virtual Space: How does virtual space - and different types of media - become forums for mobilization, identity formation and resistance, as well as impact the novel exercise of state sovereignty? How are these processes and policies legitimized? What kind of ideologies and theories - or other forms of knowledge production - are invoked to justify and legitimate them?
  • Forms of Resistance (Social, Political and Cultural): What forms of resistance to state power and authoritarian practices are emerging across the region and what kind of change is being imagined and sought? How are these forms of resistance related to the multiplicity of sovereignties that are manifested in any particular locality or national territory?
  • Mobility, Identity and Transformation of Space and Place: What forms of mobility and identity formation are occurring across the region and what kind of space and place transformations do they entail? How does the expansion of militarization and securitization relate to issues of political power and the need of protecting ruling elites from the threat of a stigmatized “other”? 
  • Neo-Liberal Effects and Social Justice: What role have political and economic policies, such as privatization, deregulation, and liberalization undertaken in the past decade played in reducing or furthering political participation and social mobilization? What are the implications for social justice, as discourse, as practice and policy?
  • Spatial Reconfigurations - Urbanization and Ruralization: What are the mechanisms of security and militarization in cities, towns and regions, and their impacts on dwellers’ mobility and spatial practices? What is the impact of spatial reconfigurations, of urbanization and ruralization on natural environments, resources and landscapes, and their social and economic roles in the daily lives of dwellers?
  • Gendering Space: How are state and non-state policies, practices of sovereignty and spatial politics shaping gender, space and place in the region? How are femininities and masculinities, and gender roles, re-articulated throughout these processes? Are conventional notions of public and private challenged and blurred and in what ways? What is the relation between gender, place and the political?

3) Political Geography of Refugees and Displaced Populations

Displacement and refugee movements have long been part of the Arab political and geographical landscape, however these flows have taken on bigger dimensions and a deeper urgency in the last decade. Hardly any facet of the region, from political economy to development to security to gender dynamics to education, to cultural and artistic expression can be studied in isolation from the effects of forced migration. Further, these desperate flows of people are linking Arab countries to one another, and also with neighboring states (near and far) in new ways. State sovereignty may be compromised or strengthened through the passage of refugees and displaced populations across their borders and a multitude of national and international actors are mobilized through such movements, creating complex realities on the ground. Issues to be examined within this theme could include:

  • Refugee Camps Today: How do the politics of ‘encampment’ play out in different settings? This issue is related to how displaced populations are labelled, managed and monitored by states as well as through humanitarian intervention. How do camp dwellers relate to their compatriots who are not in camps and to host communities and how does humanitarian aid affect these relations?
  • Violence and Displacement - Gender and Generation: The experience of violence in conditions of displacement is always mediated by many factors including gender and age-group. What forms of violence and what types of coping mechanisms exist among different segments of refugee and displaced populations?
  • Genealogies and Cartographies of Displacement: ‘Becoming a refugee’ is not the result of one act (leaving home, crossing an international border) but the outcome a multitude of forced and chosen decisions. What genealogies, narratives and cartographies of displacement and refugeehood are produced through these journeys?
  • The Discursive Production of Refugees: Refugees are produced through discourses and policies as much as through wars and armed conflict. Who is labelled a refugee and who is not and what ensues in terms of rights and process of inclusion and exclusion? What actors are involved in these processes in different contexts?
  • Resistance, Performance and Cultural Production: What are the contexts in which refugees become politically active, productive and creative both individually and as communities? How do refugees represent themselves and their predicaments in art, music, literature, drama and other forms of cultural production? Are these expressive forms of resistance or accommodation?
  • The Political Economy of Refugees: ‘Root causes’ of displacement reveal complex intersections of politics and economics that lead to the unmooring of populations from their homelands and settlements. What concepts are needed to understand these multiple causes of displacement? In addition, refugees are usually presented as a ‘drain’ on national economies and global humanitarian aid. Can refugees be seen as productive persons? How do they fit in the national economies into which they are inserted? What economic niches and roles do they exploit and inhabit? Can national development policies integrate into their practices planning for and with refugees?
  • The Mediterranean - A Space of Dreams and Death: The Mediterranean Sea has emerged as the setting for the most dramatic and media-tic scenes of refugee movements, particularly in the past 5 years. A space of crossings for centuries, it continues to play its role as connector and as divider in the 21st century. The sea itself becomes and actor and a social space. How are North and South being reconfigured across the Mediterranean? How does the focus on the Mediterranean reflect or deflect world attention from the sources of conflict and displacement?

Application Instructions and Conference Information

The ACSS invites proposals for individual paper presentations or for organized panels. The Conference Planning Committee will review all applications and select the final list of presenters.

We strongly encourage applications in Arabic, however proposals may be submitted in Arabic, English or French and should be in the language of the planned paper and presentation. Simultaneous translation will be available at the conference.

1) Individual Applicants
To submit a paper proposal, please complete the online application form including the cover sheet and an abstract of 1 page (or approximately 500). See this page for guidelines on how to write a successful abstract.

Please note that applicants can submit a co-authored paper proposal. However, if selected for inclusion in the conference, the ACSS can only guarantee financial support for the primary author. The ACSS will decide if it is possible to provide support for a second author on a case-by-case basis after the selection decisions have been announced.

2) Organized Panels
The ACSS strongly encourages individuals or research institutions to submit an organized panel on the themes of the conference. Each panel should include 3-4 papers and the panel organizer should also present a paper in the panel.

To submit a panel proposal, please fill out the online cover sheet for a panel submission. In addition each panel participant should fill in the individual paper application (the cover sheet and abstract).

To submit a proposal for an organized panel, click here.

Deadline for submissions is September 6, 2016. Selection decisions are announced by October 6, 2016.

Each applicant may present only one submission. Multiple submissions by the same author(s) will result in the immediate disqualification of the applicant.

Selected participants are required to submit their completed papers by February 2, 2017. If the paper is not received by this deadline, the participant will be removed from the conference program. All conference abstracts will be posted on the ACSS website and made publicly available, and paper presenters may be asked to revise their abstracts for posting. In addition, the full conference papers will be made available to all the conference participants on a password protected webpage or Dropbox as well as on a USB distributed at the conference.

After the conference the ACSS may invite a number of papers for inclusion in one or more publications, which may include translation of the paper into different languages. Individuals are free to accept or decline to take part in these planned publications.

Conference presentations should be 15-20 minutes per paper and may be presented in Arabic, English or French. Simultaneous translation from English and French into Arabic and from Arabic to English will be provided. The conference site will be A/V equipped. Additional details on the composition of individual panels will be available after selection decisions are announced on October 6, 2016.

Paper presenters will be covered fully for economy-class travel and accommodation costs. The ACSS will provide up to three-four nights’ accommodations, based on flight availability and travel itineraries.

If not selected to present a paper at the conference, please note that applicants are encouraged to register to attend the conference, which will be open to the public.

Questions? Please contact:

To APPLY click "Further official information" below and fill the online form.

This opportunity has expired. It was originally published here:

Similar Opportunities


Refugee Studies

Social Sciences

Eligible Countries


Host Countries


Conference Types

Call for Papers