The Third Annual Social Science Conference at Al Akhawayn University
The theme of the third Social Science conference to be held at Al Akhawayn University on May 21, 22 and 23 2016 is “Inequality and Marginality in Local, Regional and Global Contexts.” The objective of the conference is to allow scholars to present empirical research and raise questions about the sources, manifestations, multiples dimensions and consequences associated with inequality and marginality in their various meanings. The purpose of the conference is also to raise theoretical questions and discuss these two concepts that have been neglected in debates in the Social Sciences in general, and in Morocco in particular, despite their relevance to the understanding of social constructs.
Inequality and marginality are indeed very often linked to each other. Regardless of the different approaches taken to treat the subject, marginality seems to result from inequality, and more precisely, from uneven growth. The two concepts were originally present in the 1960’s and 1970’s in the Latin American literature which was inspired by Marxism in terms of its analysis of development and its consequences, but they were progressively replaced with more neutral, and therefore, more acceptable concepts, such as the “relative autonomy” or the dichotomy “core/periphery” and the resulting dependent growth of the periphery. But avoiding the debate did not make the issues disappear. Inequality and marginality are today at the center of concern of observers as various parts of the world today, more specifically the MENA region, are confronted with structural problems and extensive instances of inequality and marginality, with economic, social, cultural and political consequences at the local, regional and global levels. According to several scholars and policy makers, different forms of violence and extremism cannot be understood without relating them to the structural problems of marginality and inequality that manifest themselves within states and across borders. The same is said of migration, whether rural-urban or transnational.
In a local context, inequality has resulted in various forms of marginalization that are expressed in terms of class, gender, ethnicity and geography. Migration and violence are not the only expressions of these marginalizations, as social movements and new cultural modes of expressions are also common ways of echoing subaltern voices that alert societies and governments of the issues and problems.
In regional and global contexts, power, capabilities and resources are distributed unevenly and have subsequently resulted in different social movements and new forms of contestation that are taking place simultaneously in developed, underdeveloped and developing countries and that are far from being exclusively based on material factors. These contestations aim both at the structural and institutional factors that have frozen power structures and at the distribution of wealth, with the objective of problematizing them and exploring potential alternatives to them. An interesting aspect of the debate about inequality and marginality is conceptual in nature and relates to the “ready-made formulas” of problem-solving knowledge that aim in fact at reproducing inequalities. Raising questions about this knowledge and contesting its premises is in itself an important subject of inquiry that the conference wishes to raise. Activists and intellectuals “on the margin” have continuously been critical of the dominant neo-liberal paradigms of development but the alternative solutions, meanings and the relevance of emancipation should also be problematized. It is hoped that the conference will be a venue where scholars can engage with these seemingly conflicting intellectual views in a manner that transcends narrow disciplinary visions.
In accordance with the main goal of the organizers of this annual conference, an important aim is to treat inequality and marginality from an interdisciplinary perspective. To what extent are local, regional and global inequalities intertwined? In what ways has globalization historically played a role in inequalities and marginalities of the 21st century? What are the political dimensions of inequalities? What are their social consequences? How does marginality or inequality manifest itself culturally? What kinds of relationships, if any, can we establish between inequality and various forms of violence and extremisms?
We therefore call for contributions from all areas of Social Sciences to debate the concepts of inequality and marginality and the issues related to them and resulting from them. We expect contributions that problematize the simplistic economic and materialist approaches, although we do no underestimate the key role of economics in the understanding and the definition of inequality and marginality.
The conference organizers call for proposals on the following themes and remain open to proposals on themes not listed here.
- Human development
- Economic development
- The effects of information and communications technologies on inequality/marginality
- Legal aspects of inequality/marginality
- Artistic and cultural expressions and contestations of inequality/marginality
- How inequality/marginality impacts political processes and institutions
- The marginalization of youth and their cultures
- The social and spatial dimensions of inequality/marginality in housing, education, health, employment, etc.
- Local, national and transnational solidarities
Conference presentations can be delivered in Arabic, French or English.
We encourage scholars to present panels that tackle the same issue from different disciplinary perspectives, as well as papers which we will place in multi-disciplinary panels. Doctoral and other graduate students are strongly encouraged to submit their requests. Abstracts should indicate the topic, the research question, the hypothesis and the methodology the paper plans to engage in, and should not be more than 350 words long. Although co-authored papers will be accepted, only one presenter will be entitled to present the paper at the conference.
On Friday May 20, the day before the conference proper, Al Akhawayn University’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences will offer a series of workshops on research methods and publication strategies aimed at graduate students. The registration fee for the one-day workshop is 150 MAD.
Abstracts should be sent to the Steering Committee for review by February 15, 2016. Acceptance notices will be sent by March 21, 2016. The all-inclusive (shared room and meals) registration fee for the conference is: 300 MAD per person, 150 MAD for students. To submit an abstract or register for the graduate workshops, please access the appropriate link below or copy and paste the link in an internet search engine. Upon acceptance, there will be some limited funds for international travel.