EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 08 Jun 2022 | 17:00–18:30

Thinking the “Creative Class” between Amman, Beirut, Haifa and Berlin

Roundtable with Aseel Sawalha (Fordham University), Hanan Toukan (Bard College Berlin / EUME Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation 2019-23), and Himmat Zoubi (EUME Fellow 2018-22)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

This conversation invites a reflection on artistic and cultural practices in formal and non-formal spaces in and between four distinct urban locations that nonetheless share fundamental similarities: Hayfa, Beirut, Amman and Berlin. This reflection provides an opportunity to think about the ways in which the multitudes of cultural and knowledge producers at work in the gig economy today respond to neoliberal capitalism’s precarious policies towards cultural labor. Thinking about the conditions of possibility of alternatives ways of organizing within this framework the panel ask several questions: What drives the creative class today? What structural challenges does it face and what shapes the varied forms of its production? And what role does urban context, generation, class and gender play in shaping the subjectivities and conversations this class of creatives generate, beyond issues of the politics of representation?

To answer these questions and launching the discussion with a critical engagement with the term the “creative class”, the panel discussion will address issues of creativity, knowledge production, political engagement, the mobility and immobility of artists, and art-related products, and solidarities in the lives and works of activists, scholars, artists and writers in and from four interconnected cities in the Arab region and Europe. Through the process of discussion the panel hopes to think about how to to read the particularity of each locality while at the same time emphasizing their transnational interconnectedness as critical meeting points of intellectual and creative encounters.  

Aseel Sawalha has conducted anthropological fieldwork in the cities of Beirut, Amman, and New York City. In Beirut, she explored the ways in which various readings of the past informed and shaped debates over identity, ethnicity, culture and gender relations in the context of urban reconstruction in postwar Beirut. After Beirut, she carried out research about feminist arts collectives in New York City. Currently, she is studying the ways Iraqi and Syrian refugee artists and intellectuals are reshaping the cultural landscape of the city of Amman, Jordan.

Hanan Toukan’s teaching, research and writings sit at the intersection of international politics, Middle East politics, postcolonial and de-colonial studies, visual cultures, and cultural studies and are concerned with questions of identity formation, memory politics, postcolonial subjectivities, race and racialization, knowledge production, institutional politics and contemporary artistic and cultural practices.Prior to joining Bard College Berlin, Toukan was Visiting Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies at Brown University and Visiting Professor of Cultural Studies of the Middle East at Bamberg University.

Himmat Zoubi (Zu'bi) is a Palestinian researcher and feminist activist. She received her PhD in Sociology from Ben-Gurion University and holds two Master's degrees, one in Criminology and another in Gender Studies. Her work focuses on cities and urbanization in colonial context. Alongside her current project, “Re-urbanizing Palestine, Cultural Spaces and Palestinian Urbanity”, Zoubi is working on her book project “De-Urbanizing Palestine: Transforming Hayfa with Haifa (1948-1953)” about replacing Hayfa (the term Hayfa is used to distinguish between pre-1948 Hayfa and post-occupation Haifa) with Haifa during a transition period between the colonial British Mandate and the Israeli State. She published several book chapters and articles on gender, cities and settler colonialism, memory and oral history, indigenous knowledge and resistance.

Please register in advance via eume(at)trafo-berlin.deDepending on approval by the speakers, the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available via Soundcloud.

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