Symposium: “Jazīrat al-Maghrib”: North Africa as an Island
2 April 2016

Princeton University, Princeton New Jersey
Keynote Speaker: Julia Clancy-Smith, University of Arizona
Submission Deadline: 12 December, 2015

Jazīrat al-Maghrib: North Africa as an Island is a one-day interdisciplinary symposium organized by Princeton University’s North African Studies Group to bring together graduate students and scholars in North African Studies to explore the ‘island’ as an analytical category in our field. As a small strip of fertile land located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert, North Africa has been described since the ninth century as ‘jazīrat al-maghrib’ (Island of the West). Despite the term’s ancient roots, jazīrat al-maghrib still has traction in modern narratives of North Africa. While featured in many discussions, the ‘island’ as an analytical category is rarely defined, conceptualized, or afforded any critical attention. Moreover, the rise of ‘Island Studies’ in interdisciplinary, regional studies has complicated notions of ‘isolation’ and ‘insularity’ in relation to island societies, arguing that that islands are consistently defined by forces that promote both isolation and connectedness.
Through a morning Paper Panel and afternoon Works-in-Progress Workshop, our symposium seeks to explore these tensions as they relate to North Africa – conceptualizing, scrutinizing, and problematizing the island as an analytical lens. We hope to engage with theoretical, methodological, and disciplinary debates. Therefore, we encourage submissions from a range of disciplines including, but not limited to: anthropology, sociology, history, political science, international relations, art history, women’s studies, classical and ancient studies, and area studies.

Abstracts may focus on the following areas:

  • How do we define the ‘island’ as an analytical category in North African studies? What are the benefits and detriments of doing so? And what is at stake?

  • How is North Africa similar or different to other regions?  Can the region’s ‘islandness’ help us to conduct interesting or unusual comparative analyses?

  • How has North Africa’s ‘islandness’ shaped broad political and social processes?  How has it shaped its inhabitants’ conceptions of themselves vis-a-vis others?

  • Does engaging with the ‘island’ help us to transcend terms like ‘transcultural’, ‘transformative’ and ‘tolerant’?
Interested parties should submit abstracts (300-500 words) for either the Paper Panel or Works-in-Progress Workshop. Indicate “Paper Panel” or “Workshop” along with your submission. Finally, please provide your institutional affiliation and mailing address, as well as telephone number. Indicate whether a/v equipment will be needed. Deadline for abstract submission: December 12, 2015.
The presentations for the Paper Panel should be in English and twenty minutes in length (i.e., 10 double-spaced pages). Research memoranda for the Works-in-Progress Workshop should provide a 1000-1500 word summary of ongoing and/or proposed research. Accepted participants must submit these materials by March 2, 2016.
Submissions and questions should be directed to the Princeton North African Studies Group:
Call for Papers: Jazīrat al-Maghrib: North Africa as an Island

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