by Sune Haugbolle.
As-salamu ‘alykum! Under this signature of CUMINet you’ll be able to follow the bits and pieces of my work that makes it onto the blog. There’s going to be a fair bit of Lebanese affairs as that is my main orbit in the universe of things Middle Eastern (as much as I try to break loose from it). I was in Beirut recently and will return in January, and regularly, and one of my next entries will be about the situation there.
Second, I’ll be writing about my research with the New Islamic Public Sphere Programme. My current project deals with secularism as a (dying) force in Arab media and the cultural industries – you can read more about it here. At the moment I’m ploughing my way through a stack of old articles from the Lebanese press on secularism that I collected at the as-Safir archives. There’ll be an entry on that at some point if I ever make sense of it.
I will also be devoting time to theoretical debates, anecdotes, field notes, and Middle East studies discussions. On that note, I’ll be blogging MESA 2008 from Washington D.C. from November 21 to 24. The programme looks promising this year. I’ll be chairing a panel with my Oxford friend and former al-Jazeera starlette Nahid Siamdoust on memory in popular culture, Sunday morning at 8.30. Other than that we’ll see what comes up. I’ve definitely got the panel on “Arab Thought in the Post-Liberal Era, 1939-1975” marked down. Nothing could be more important in Hourani-inspired work on intellectuals than to fill the gap on the period immediately after Arab independence. It’ll be fun. MESA is always an occasion for meeting old friends, tuning in to debates and trends in the field, and meandering between films, books, and ending up with something unexpected. – More soon!