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Bodies in Crises, Crises as Bodies in the Middle East and North Africa

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Organizer: Merve Tabur

Co-Organizer: Müge Özoğlu

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The twenty-first century has been described as the age of crisis marked by climate change, and financial, political, and humanitarian turmoil. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is often perceived as an exclusive body that is always already entrenched in these crises. This seminar aims to analyze the crises associated with the MENA and contextualize them in a broader perspective. We explore bodies in crises, which are shaped and altered by various historical, cultural, environmental, medical, scientific, and technological advancements that took place in the MENA during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We also look at how crises are conceptualized and reified as bodies. Our focus is on exploring a range of issues, including precarious and marginalized bodies, the intricacies and physicality of the body, embodiment, the future of the body, and nonhuman bodies.

In our examination of bodies in crises, we problematize hegemonic discourses that capitalize on crisis and disaster sensationalism. We open to discussion the concept of crisis used in different fields such as law, medicine, politics, and economics. As Reinhart Koselleck (2006) points out, the term ‘crisis’ is now commonly used in modern social and political language, referring to urgent, recurring, and critical situations and conditions. Accordingly, this seminar examines how changing socio-political structures, environmental and demographic circumstances, and scientific and medical developments impact our understanding of the term in relation to the body.

We investigate bodies in crises from a comparative perspective, with historical and theoretical insights from environmental humanities, posthumanism, medical humanities, gender studies, postcolonial studies, and migration studies, among others. We invite proposals that engage with texts and visual and performing arts with a particular focus on the MENA and its diasporas. Papers that focus on how bodies in crisis were conceptualized in earlier periods are also welcome.

We welcome papers on a diverse range of topics, including affect, animal bodies, AI, bodies of water, agency, biopolitics, ethics of care, prosthetic senses, tactility, transcorporeality, and trauma.

Participants are invited but not limited to critically explore and reflect on the following questions in the context of the MENA and its diasporas:

*How do human and nonhuman bodies respond to different crises?
*How are conceptions of embodiment, agency, and care changing?
*How do contemporary understandings of the body in crisis relate to epistemologies of the body from earlier periods?
*How do literary and artistic works from the MENA reinforce or challenge hegemonic discourses of crisis? Do they offer alternative ways of interpreting states of instability, transition, and transformation beyond the crisis framework?

Please send a 250-300 word abstract with a short bio to Müge Özoğlu and Merve Tabur

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