Middle East Studies Symposium | "Afterlives of Witnessing: Moving Images from the Levant and the Political Imagination"

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Date/Time: Saturday, November 04, 2017 9:00am - 5:00pm

Organized by Hanan Toukan, Adrienne Minassian Visiting Assistant Professor in the History of Art and Architecture and Middle East Studies, and Kareem Estefan, PhD student in Modern Culture and Media. The act of bearing witness, associated with the visual documentation of state violence and cultural practices of “speaking truth to power,” is central to international human rights discourse after World War II. But it has come under increasing scrutiny from artists, writers, and scholars working on and amid the political conflicts of the Levant region, who have questioned the impact that images of suffering have on global publics and critiqued the exceptionalization of the figure of the "witness" as a neutral, truth-telling individual. This symposium will examine the uneven, retrospective, and intergenerational temporalities of witnessing, the archival constructions and mediations involved in representing what are often traumatic moments of violence and rupture, and the ways in which artists filter these personal and collective histories through processes of fabulation and speculation. It does so in the context of urgent political events in Syria, Palestine-Israel, and the broader region, which demand witnesses, but perhaps even more so, new methods of representation, mediation, distribution, and translation that can extend and deepen the meaning and impact of bearing witness. This symposium will consist of three panels, each featuring four speakers giving 20-minute presentations. It will be preceded by a program of contemporary film/video works from the Levant to be screened November 3, 5:00 p.m., the evening before the main event. Conference Schedule: Friday, November 3, 2017: 5:00 p.m. Film/video program Q&A with artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou Rahme Saturday, November 4, 2017: 9:00 a.m.Registration, welcome, and introduction 9:30 a.m. Panel 1: Archival Afterlives 11:15 p.m. Coffee break 11:30 p.m. Panel 2: Speculative Images, Potential Histories 1:15 p.m. Lunch for invited participants 2:30 p.m. Panel 3: Traveling Images 4:15 p.m. Concluding Remarks Visiting Speakers: Basel Abbas Ruanne Abou Rahme Kay Dickinson Chad Elias Gil Hochberg Lamia Joreige Laura U. Marks Nat Muller Kamran Rastegar Ghalya Saadawi Stephen Sheehi Helga Tawil-Souri Stefan Tarnowski Nadia Yaqub Speakers from Brown University: Ariella Azoulay Beshara Doumani Kareem Estefan Hanan Toukan Organized by Middle East Studies with generous funding through the Adrienne Minassian gift in honor of Dr. Marilyn Jenkins-Madina '62 Cosponsored by: The Cogut Institute for the Humanities The Pembroke Center The Department of History of Art and Architecture The Department of Comparative Literature The History Department The French Department The English Department The Photographic Archives Research Group The Department of Modern Culture and Media The Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies