EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 11 Okt 2023 | 17:00–18:30

Ordinary Lives and Extraordinary Upheavals

Asef Bayat (University of Illinois / HU Berlin), Chair: Alia Mossallam (EUME Fellow 2017-24)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

What can the ordinary people, the subaltern groups, do to enhance their life chances in the face of the despotic regimes, exclusionary (neo)liberal economies, or colonization of the everyday life by the moral authority? How can they resist the extraordinary power of the elites who are entrenched in the institutions of the state, economy, technology, and knowledge? This talk explores the relationship between the politics of everyday life and large-scale political upheavals and revolutions. It concludes with a discussion of why attention to popular politics is important for our analyses of social and political transformations.

Asef Bayat is Professor of Sociology and Catherine & Bruce Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Before joining Illinois, he taught at the American University in Cairo for many years, and served as the director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) holding the Chair of Society and Culture of the Modern Middle East at Leiden University, The Netherlands. His research areas range from social movements and social change to religion and public life, urban space and politics, and contemporary Middle East. His recent books include Being Young and Muslim: Cultural Politics in the Global South and North (ed. with Linda Herrera) (Oxford University Press, 2010); Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam (Oxford University Press, 2013); Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East (Stanford University Press, 2013. 2nd edition), Revolution without Revolutionaries: Making Sense of the Arab Spring (Stanford University Press, 2017), Global Middle East: Into the 21st Century (ed. With Linda Herrera) (University of California Press, 2021), and Revolutionary Life: The Everyday of the Arab Spring (Harvard University Press, 2021).

Alia Mossallam is a cultural historian, pedagogue and writer interested in songs that tell stories and stories that tell of popular struggles behind the better-known events that shape world history. Her current project at EUME (2021-23), “Tracing Emancipation Under Rubbles of War”, retrieves the physical and political journeys of Egyptian and North African workers on the various fronts of World War I through the songs and memoires that recount their struggles. Some of her writing can be found in The Journal of Water History, The History Workshop Journal, the LSE Middle East Paper Series, Ma’azif, Bidayat, Mada Masr, Jadaliyya and 60 Pages. An experimentative pedagogue, she founded the site-specific public history project “Ihky ya Tarikh”, as well as having taught at the American University in Cairo, the Freie Universität in Berlin, the Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts, and the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.

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