The Event(s) of Citizenship: Contemporary Political Experience in the Middle East and North Africa

28 March 2019, 10:30 - 29 March 2019, 14:30

Room S3, Alison Richard Building, Sidgwick Site

This is a closed workshop and only open to invited participants. It has been convened by Dr Charis Boutieri, a Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, in King's College London, and CRASSH Visiting Fellow 2018-19. 

Traditionally embedded in institutional glossaries and procedural politics, the scholarly concept of citizenship often carries traces of residual legalism that bind political subjectivity and praxis to state mechanisms and techniques of governance. Specifically, seen against the seemingly enduring backdrop of the elusive yet hegemonic entities of State and Law, citizenship appears as the product of processes of structuration regardless of whether the lens of this structuration is top down or bottom up.

Given that anthropology is able to tap into the diverse kinds of events that shape both the content and meaning of citizenship and the onslaught of monumental events in the region from 2011 onwards, this workshop will assess citizenship in the Middle East and North Africa through the prism of events. The purpose of the workshop is to ‘eventalize citizenship,’ a gesture understood in at least two ways: 1) Draw on anthropological and historiographic debates on the relationship between event and structure as a way to renew and further refine a concern with the “(un)intelligibility of the contingent” (Sahlins 1985) or, as Edgar Morin put it, with “noise, the event, the accident” (1972:13) 2) Problematize the normativity of the everyday especially for those who perceive the non-eventful everyday as a struggle for survival, equality, and justice (Foucault 1991; see also Caton 1999). How do these forms of inquiry broaden our conceptual framework of citizenship? Workshop contributions and general discussion will interrogate how events are plotted into narratives of political experience by both our interlocutors and by ourselves (Ricoeur 1992). We will ask whether and how the effects of so-called “structuring” and “anti-structural” events differ in the way they put pressures or give affordances to citizens in the everyday as well as in exceptional moments. We will critically probe the symbiotic relationship between citizenship and liberalism through mass manifestations and other articulations of citizenship that disrupt the normalizing rhythm of the ‘rule of law’ and of ‘civility’. We will embed citizenship within temporal frameworks that may intersect with but also escape linear narratives and representations of belonging, aspiration, and dissent. In sum, the workshop will position the event at the juncture of time, turning it into the prism that allows us to see both how time plays out and “how one plays with time” (Merleau-Ponty; see also Fabian 1983). 



 

Lori Allen (SOAS)
Arthur Asseraf (Cambridge)
Sebastien Bachelet (Manchester)
Charis Boutieri (KCL)
Samuel Everett (CRASSH, Cambridge)
Simon Goldhill (Cambridge)
Serra Hakyemez (Minnesota)
Sian Lazar (Cambridge)
Yael Navaro (Cambridge)
Esra Özyürek (LSE)
Marta Agosti Pililla (SOAS)
Mezna Qato (Cambridge)
Amanda Rogers (Colgate)
Sertac Sehlikoglu (Cambridge)
Seçkin Sertdemir (LSE)
Charles Tripp (SOAS)
Alice Wilson (Sussex)