Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Graduate Research Seminars
MES Graduate Research Seminars are organised by graduate students of the DMES with the aim of fostering academic collaboration and interdisciplinary discussion among our graduates. MPhil and PhD students of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies are invited to present their work at the seminars. Priority will be given to the DMES graduates, who will be encouraged to present their research in progress and receive feedback from peers and participants from other related departments. Graduates of other departments are also welcome to present their research on the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Caucasus. MES Research Seminars are organised twice a term, each seminar consisting of two 20 minute presentations followed by 10 minute Q&A session. The seminars end with refreshments and informal discussions.
Unless otherwise noted, seminars take place from 4pm to 5pm in Rooms 8 & 9 at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Sidgwick site) followed by refreshments in the FAMES Common Room.
Lent Term 2017
- Tuesday, 7th February, 2017 [ poster ]
Dorota Molin, MPhil student, FAMES
'We are Not Like the Palestinians': Hebrew & Arabic in the Israeli Negev-Bedouin Community
The Israeli society is increasingly polarised between the Jewish and the Arab population. On the other hand, for the Arabs, there exists a pragmatic need to use Hebrew in public life. In light of this, one would expect their attitude towards Hebrew to be marked by the tension between the ideological and the pragmatic. Indeed, it is this resentment towards Hebrew that has been emphasised by researchers. However, as this paper contends, studies often omit the wider spectrum of attitudes towards Hebrew. Moreover, the Negev Bedouins specifically have not been included in such sociolinguistic investigation. Therefore, I contend that in this community, Hebrew is often viewed as a pragmatic communication tool in civic life and is thus not avoided. This lack of resistance towards Hebrew stems from the split between the personal-communal and the public-professional. While Negev-Bedouin tribal-ethnic identity belongs to the former category, the use of Hebrew falls within the latter category. In contrast to this strictly practical approach, some younger Bedouins consider fluency in Hebrew a sign of belonging to the ‘progressive’ Israeli society. This tendency is attested also in the wider Israeli Arab community. These preliminary findings proceed from fieldwork and rely mostly on the study of phonology (non-native accent) and code-switching (language mixing).
Melissa Gatter, PhD student, FAMES
Remaking Childhood: Humanitarianism and Growing Up Syrian in Za'atari Refugee Camp
Children in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan are part of a new generation of Syrians growing up in an environment where, for them, daily life in a refugee camp is the norm. This paper explores the humanitarian space of the world’s largest refugee camp and examines what its politics of humanitarianism means for childhood lived out in displacement by youth from Dar’a, Syria. Through an analysis of children’s relationship with the NGO Save the Children, I emphasize the need to analyze the daily interactions taking place within NGO centres in camps to reach beyond the common critique of humanitarianism that examines power relations between aid worker and refugee from above. Based on fieldwork completed in Za’atari camp in February and March 2016, including observations of youth activities, house visits, and case studies, this study investigates the particular childhoods being manufactured within Save the Children’s youth-friendly spaces, where youth between the ages of three and nineteen customize these childhoods to their individual situation. This paper argues that Za’atari’s humanitarian governance stands in for the political state in producing and managing childhoods that promote youth and enable agency, create citizens of a humanitarian government, and refocus Dar’awi children’s outlook away from their political histories toward their futures. I reiterate that children who are involved in the NGO’s activities are growing up part of a nuanced—not a lost—Syrian generation and discuss the implications of this particular Syrianness on their idea of return to and reconstruction of Dar’a. The argument addresses the paradoxical space of the camp and acknowledges that child refugee empowerment and potential to contribute are dependent ultimately upon external factors, in the face of which humanitarianism, though a committed presence in Za’atari youth lives, is urgently hopeful, but believes itself to be helpless.
- Thursday, 2nd March, 2017 [ poster • Facebook event ]
Simon Sévan Schäfer, MPhil student FAMES
Armenian Studies: An Appreciation of Yeghishe Charents' "Dantesque Legend"
Yeghishe Charents (1897-1937), or Եղիշե Չարենց in Armenian, has been dubbed one of the most influential Armenian poets of the 20th century. After setting the stage with an overview of the Armenian history and Hayasphere, the focus will lie on Charents and his “Dantesque Legend” Դանթեական առասպել, which was written when he was only nineteen years old. We will have a closer look at the structure and content of this decasyllabic poem and discuss ways of interpretation as well as its reception.
Mohammad Javad Shomali, PhD student FAMES
The World of Arabic Papyri: The Development of the Arabic Scripts from the Nabatean Era to the Islamic Period
This paper is a study of the development of Arabic script from its ancestor alphabet, Nabatean. This paper analyses inscriptions, parchment and papyri to piece together the evolutionary trail of the Arabic alphabet from its very beginning to its more developed stages during the first three centuries of Islam. Different styles of Arabic script in Egypt and Eastern part of Islamic world are studied.