About Inaugural Middle East Conference 2020 | HBKU
Hamad Bin Khalifa University


Ideas Towards New Agendas

Representations of the Middle East in recent years have been beset with disturbing images of conflict and civil war, radicalism and sectarian strife, ethnic and gender violence, and destruction and forced displacement. Such portrayals are not limited to popular discourse alone; the academic and research agenda too have been securitised by concerns over radicalism and identity politics. There is no shortage of metaphors used to underscore the region’s apparent deviation from ‘normalcy’ observed elsewhere.

All regions have, no doubt, their own distinctive characteristics, which need to be recognised. This is the academic tradition which underlies area studies in general. Middle East studies is no exception, with the examination of the MENA region’s distinct characteristics constituting its core. However, the perception that the Middle East is somehow different in an unfortunate manner from the rest of the world, transcends this and has reshaped – and arguably distorted – both public understanding and the research agenda of the region.

Attempting to chart an approach that questions both universalist and cultural-relativist stances, this conference presents an opportunity to recast the Middle East beyond the reductive daily headlines. The case for the conference and its timing emanate from an urgent need to redress a distorted research agenda which has in recent years been unduly shaped by conflict, radicalism and security issues. The principal objective is to take steps to develop a new, more constructive agenda for Middle East studies which recognises the region’s evolving characteristics and challenges but also sees these in the wider context of international dynamics and interactions. 

Acknowledging the problematic origins of the term ‘Middle East’ and, relatedly, the birth of Middle East area studies, we encourage participants to re-think and re-imagine the epistemologies, directions and agendas of our field. How, and to what extent, do colonial legacies still dominate knowledge production, research agendas and representations of the Middle East? How can these be overcome? What would it mean to study the Middle East from a transregional, transnational and translocal perspective that de-essentialises the region, and instead traces networks and mobilities of goods, ideas and people within and beyond the region? 

The Middle Eastern Studies Department (MESD) at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) in Hamad Bin Khalifa University is proud to host this inaugural two-day international conference on 20-21 April 2020 in the Education City in Doha. This is an interdisciplinary conference and we expect participants with expertise from a broad range of academic disciplines in both social sciences and humanities. The conference aims to contribute to the dialogue on Middle East studies in its quest for developing new research agendas.

About Hamad Bin Khalifa University 

Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), was founded in 2010 to continue fulfilling QF’s vision of unlocking human potential. HBKU is a homegrown research and graduate studies University that acts as a catalyst for positive transformation in Qatar and the region while having a global impact.

Located within Education City, HBKU seeks to provide unparalleled opportunities where inquiry and discovery are integral to teaching and learning at all levels, utilizing a multidisciplinary approach across all focus areas.

HBKU is committed to actively contribute to the Qatar National Vision 2030 by building and cultivating human capacity through an enriching academic experience and an innovative research ecosystem. Through applying creativity to knowledge, students will have the opportunity to discover innovative solutions that are locally relevant and have a global impact.

At Hamad Bin Khalifa University – our students, faculty, staff, partners, and leadership – all share a common belief in the power of higher education and research to make a positive impact in the development of nations.

More information at www.hbkh.edu.qa 

About Education City

Our flagship initiative is a campus of more than 12 square kilometers that hosts branch campuses of some of the world's leading educational institutes; a homegrown university, and other research, scholastic, and community centers. Together, these institutes make Education City a unique model of academic and research excellence, pioneering a new approach to multidisciplinary, global education and enabling breakthroughs that benefit Qatar and the rest of the world.

Total Students across our universities and schools: 8,000+
 Universities located in Education City: 9
 Schools as part of our Pre-University Education network: 11

More information at www.qf.org.qa/education/education-city

About Qatar

Qatar has been an independent sovereign state since 1971. Qatar comprises an 11,500 sq. km peninsula extending northwards into the Arabian Gulf. It has 563 km of uninterrupted coastline. The country’s population stands at 2.69 million and its capital city is Doha.

Qatar has a desert climate with year-round sunshine, very hot summers and mild winters. Mean monthly temperatures range from 17°C in January to 36°C in July, sometimes reaching highs of 40°C+ during the summer. Rain is infrequent, falling in brief showers mainly in winter.
Local time is GMT/UCT + 3 hours. There are no daylight savings adjustments. The main language is Arabic, and religion is Islam.  The local currency is the Qatari Riyal. The power plugs and sockets are of type D and G. The standard voltage is 240 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

More information at www.visitqatar.qa