Call for Papers: “The Sectarian Question”

Call for Papers: “The Sectarian Question” (Deadline March 15, 2023)

The Beirut Summer Institute for Critical Development Studies

The “Critical Approaches to Development Studies” project at the American University of Beirut (AUB) is pleased to announce the call for applications to its second Beirut Summer

Institute for Critical Development Studies to be held in Beirut from July 17 to 22, 2023. The topic of focus for this year’s workshop is “The Sectarian Question”.

The Summer Institute will bring together around 15 early career scholars to discuss their work, fine-tune their research, attend lectures, and strengthen collaborative work towards joint publications in a peer-reviewed journal, with the help of leading scholars in the discipline.

This year’s workshop leaders include: Lara Deeb, Lisa Wedeen, Mona Harb, Melani Cammett, and Rima Majed


The “sectarian question” continues to occupy center stage in the analysis of life and politics in the Middle East and beyond. Used as a catch-all term, sectarianism remains one of the most deployed, yet least theorized, concepts in the study of conflict, (counter-)revolution, and everyday practices in the Middle East. This workshop asks: what does the concept “sectarian” mean and how do we make sense of it?

The literature on sectarianism has recently witnessed a proliferation of new studies and approaches that move the field towards more critical and rigorous takes on the sectarian question. Beyond the initial moment of sectarianization at the end of the 19th century, many of these studies are attempts to make sense of the changes and transformations in sectarian relations, practices and saliencies throughout the 20th and 21st century. In that sense, questions about the relationship between sectarianism and neoliberalism, power-sharing and consociationalism, sectarianism and (counter-)revolution, sectarian political economy, the role of ideology, affect, and sectarian subjectivity, the relationship of sect, gender, class and race, or sectarian infrastructures and geographies have all emerged as important axes of analysis to make sense of the sectarian question today.

This workshop is an invitation to push these discussions further by adopting an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the “sectarian question.” Topics of interest include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The Political Economy of Sectarianism
  • Sectarianism and Neoliberalism
  • Sectarianism as Identity Politics
  • The Role of Ideology in the Sectarian Question
  • Sectarian Infrastructures and Geographies
  • The Intersections of Sect with Gender, Race and Class
  • Sectarian Violence
  • Processes of Sectarianization and De-Sectarianization
  • Power-Sharing and Consociationalism
  •   Sectarianism and Uprisings
    • Everyday Practices of Sectarianism

Eligibility Criteria

This call is open to early career scholars working on issues related to the “Sectarian Question.” Eligible candidates must be in the last year of their PhD or within the first 5 years post PhD. Submissions are open to early career scholars from diverse disciplines and interdisciplinary fields (such as sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, geography, development studies, etc.) whose work is focused on the study of the sectarian question. The workshop is tailored to candidates who have a research project underway and are looking to fine-tune it and turn it into a publishable article. Selected candidates will be

asked to send a full draft of their paper by May 25th, 2023.

Submission guidelines

Applicants must submit the following documents:

  •  a cover letter explaining their interest in attending the 2023 Summer Institute,
  •  a CV
  • an abstract of a maximum of 500 words (in Arabic or English).


Submissions should be sent to no later than March 15, 2023.

To be circulated to: ACSS, Jadaliyya, MESA, APSA-MENA, APSN, ISA & ASA-MENA, MENA-Anthro list, MES section of AAA, AMEA, IFPO, CEDEJ, SEPAD, POMEPS