MECAM workshop
Mi 15 Mai 2024 – Do 16 Mai 2024

Cities in the Arab Imagination: Fiction, Reality, and Futurescapes

MECAM Transregional Workshop convened by Teresa Pepe (University of Oslo/ MECAM Fellow 2021), and organized by Diana Abbani (MECAM/Forum Transregionale Studien) within the framework of MECAM's transregional workshop, in a collaboration of Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Europe (EUME), and the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo.

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

The workshop aims to explore how Arab cities have been conceived, envisioned, planned in the Arab imagination. As Fredric Jameson theorizes in his seminal essay The Future of the City, this requires “an interdisciplinary approach that mobilizes, alongside the obvious (and anticipated) areas of architecture and urbanism, such heterogeneous disciplines as psychoanalysis and geography, history and business, economics and engineering, biography, ecology, feminism, area studies, ideological analysis, classical studies, legal decisions, crisis theory, et cetera” (2003).

With: Rasha Abbas (Independent, Berlin), Sanabel Abdelrahman (EUME Fellow 2023/24), Ammar Azzouz (British Academy Research Fellow /University of Oxford), Rasha Chatta (Freie Universität Berlin/MECAM Fellow 2021/EUME Fellow 2017-2021), Muhammad Jabali (Independent, Berlin), Hanan Natour (Freie Universität Berlin), Katarzyna Puzon (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Yahia Shawkat (10 Tooba, Cairo/Berlin), and Loaay Wattad (EUME Fellow 2023/24).


Abstracts & Bios


If you would like to attend in person or receive the Zoom link for the first day, please register in advance via

Wednesday, 15 May 2024 | MECAM Workshop/ Berliner EUME Seminar (hybrid sessions)
14:30     Welcome and Introduction

15.00-16.30   Teresa Pepe (University of Oslo / MECAM Fellow 2021): Cities of the Future in the Arab Literary Imagination
Chair: Rasha Chatta (Freie Universität Berlin / MECAM Fellow 2021 / EUME Fellow 2017-21)

16:30-17:00    Coffee Break

17.00-18.30    Ammar Azzouz (British Academy Research Fellow /University of Oxford): Erased City: Imagining a Future without Ruins?  
Chair: Anne-Marie McManus (SYRASP / Forum Transregionale Studien)
Part of the BEYONDREST Conversation Series “Restitution and its Vantage Points: Beyond the Preservation Paradigm”

19:00    Dinner Reception

Thursday, 16 May 2024 (in person sessions)
9.30-11.00    Panel 1 | Fictional Realities
Chair: Mina Khanlarzadeh (EUME Fellow 2023/24)
Loaay Wattad (EUME Fellow 2023/24): Jerusalem's Dragons: Sociological and Fantastical Realities in Palestinian and Israeli Young Adult Literature
Hanan Natour (Freie Universität Berlin): Tunis and Beyond: Power, Access, and Representation in the Tunisian Arabic Novel

11:00-11:30    Coffee Break

11.30-13.00    Panel 2 | Speculative Futures
Chair: Yvonne Albers (Freie Universität Berlin / EUME Fellow 2022-24)
Sanabel Abdelrahman (EUME Fellow 2023/24): The Future Arab City: A Palimpsest of (Post) Colonial Imaginaries
Rasha Chatta (Freie Universität Berlin / MECAM Fellow 2021 / EUME Fellow 2017-21): Beirut and the Ruins of the Future in Speculative Comics

13:00-14:00    Lunch Break

14.00-15.30    Panel 3 | Urban Structures
Chair: Mariam Abou Ghazi (Freie Universität Berlin),
Katarzyna Puzon (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin): ‘After the Future’: A Walk in Time in Beirut
Yahia Shawkat (10 Tooba, Cairo/Berlin): Two Dimensional Futures: The Stubborn Failures of Egyptian High Modernist Planning

15:30-16:00    Coffee Break

16:00-17:00     Panel 4 | That Was Tomorrow: A Conversation about Arab Imaginaries in Berlin
With Syrian writer Rasha Abbas (Independent, Berlin) and Palestinian artist Muhammad Jabali (Independent, Berlin) moderated by Diana Abbani (MECAM/Forum Transregionale Studien), on the future of Berlin, once envisioned as an Arab cultural hub, exploring the evolving dynamics and narratives shaping the city.

17:00    Closing Remarks







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