The seminar “Epistemology and politics – Researches in the Near and Middle East” confronts approaches to the transformations of the Near and Middle East in their relations with the global, and develops approaches to reflection and transdisciplinary realization from situations, narratives, representations, practices. They are the analyzers of the many forms of life and experimentation of the common, the redistribution of territories and conflicts, the violence of war and historical oppression, and catalysts new thoughts of politics, social and critique of knowledge.
It confronts an expanded corpus in the human and social sciences towards Art & Media and political and decolonial studies in a context of international exchange.
We must reconsider the different dimensions of the conflicts in the Near and Middle East (their local, regional, international dimensions, their intricacies), within the logics imposed by the neoliberal globalization, and the discursive, political, social constructions, etc. in the multiple forms of life and the experiments of the movements that went through the decade.
Democracy and freedom hopes disappointed, revolutions crushed into civil wars, reconfigurations and perpetuations of the same international conflicts, restorations of ultra-conservative neoliberal regimes. The reopening of Iran in this context would thus be a mere prerogative of the markets. Then, the recent coup in Turkey, the final destruction of Aleppo, confirm a reiteration of violence.
In the global, particularly Kurdish and Palestinian situations make paradigm of a necessary continuity of criticism of the colonization and the model of the nation-state, with the various proto-, para- and supra-state forms (military, entrepreneurial, humanitarian, etc.) which both undermine and continue it. Nested in other territorial units, these regions of the Middle East are experiencing an intensification of situations calling into question social, political and economic etc. dominant models.
The ‘new forms of political agency’ and the post-national theoretical productions, the languages of memory beyond violence, the construction of multiple affiliations, the experience of borders, the politics of knowledge and translation are the questions we propose to adress.
The heterotopic condition of knowledge of exile and displacement, in what Said called ‘traveling theories’, as a permanent condition, and the production, translation, transmission, reception of knowledge according to this condition, through multiple borders striating certain regions of the Middle East in their connection with the global (intensified by the war and its high level of economic regime) confronts the need for permanent reconstruction of society. Free and occupied areas, zones of peace and conflict, embargo and free trade, regional and national borders, then enclaves, camps, checkpoints, walls, etc. exhaust any attempt of a single map. The multiplicity of ways of translating, according to a high intensity of translation, produces a changing, discontinuous territory, and a shared heterotopic condition.
The permanent construction of society, between utopias of another society to come, and heterotopy of the conditions of exile and displacement, authoritarian regimes, neocolonial regimes, and conflicts, questions the constructions of history. This makes it necessary to map the stories, situations, experiences, practices included in the temporalities of the singular courses and the collective memory.
This cartography, or rather this critical and constructive genealogy of society, is elaborated by margins, contradictions and forms of resistance. It is therefore partial and subjective in the sense of a non-externality to this cartography or rather to this genealogy. This is both an epistemological and critical choice, for a micro-history, and a micro-sociology, a positionality in knowledge, that is inherent to censorship in history, culture, language, etc. by institutions and states.
We must reconsider everything that translates, between neoliberalism, war economies, and different forms of censorship and repression etc., in terms of religions, cultures and ideologies, where each of these terms and their relations are permanently displaced and resignified within symbolic systems and social systems, and which are not reducible to them.
Moreover, just as the exile, in exile from the inside and the outside or the different forms of current extra-territorialization, with the modularity of rights, and non-rights, this other condition linked to globalization of the construction of multiple affiliations that reconstruct other international scales in the local, the translocal, and which also acts in the production, translation, transmission and reception of knowledge is increasingly contradictory to an asymmetrical geopolitics and a logic of nation-states and their supra-national structures, their border policies.
Different confluences in the movements, the thinkings, the experiments, with the criticism of the economic hegemonies and the state-centisms postulate other social projects, political, economic, etc. This is what we want to talk about when we use the term post-national production: the deconstruction of the state-centrisms in the form of the modern nation-state, but also of all other state-centric monisms such as concept of the uniqueness of the nation, society, culture, market, legal order, history, etc. to the problematics of the plurality of processes in social, political, economic, etc., the complexity of these processes and systems, the multiplicity of sites of their constructions and their challenges. The notion of Eurocentric modern political autonomy is thus deeply questioned, based on the uniqueness of a relationship between a historicity regime and the pre-political and political pre-emption, and hence of post-politics.
Movements in recent decades, especially feminist movements have changed the notion of politics, where the integrity of the body, affects, reflection and sensitivity, personal and collective pathways matters, and points to other meanings, other memories (other physico-psychic and cognitive qualities) and literary, aesthetic, relational qualities, etc.
Spring movements in the Near and Middle East, Maghreb and Makrech, was a social and political laboratory where the dimension of everyday life was both the starting point, and beyond the failures, their plan of continuity.
This integrity is one of the premises of this project’s approach, from which the confrontation with references to past and present history engages new formulations, and new thoughts of politics, social, and criticism. knowledge.
Notes gathered by Béatrice Rettig, February 2017.