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Call for proposals for a special issue of Arabian Humanities (No. 9) : “Bringing the nation back in. Plural national identifications in the contemporary Arabian Peninsula”

Deadline for submitting the abstracts : 15 September, 2016

Guest Editors: Anahi Alviso-Marino (CESSP/CRAPUL) and Marine Poirier (IREMAM/Sciences Po Aix)

This thematic issue deals with the transformation of national identifications in a region characterized by many transnational mobilities and circulations, and at a time — from the Gulf war till today — when these dynamics have intensified and are now blurring or exacerbating feelings of belonging.

Rather than question the notion of identity, this issue aims to problematize and conceptualize the “elusive” notion of identification (Martin, 1994). In line with the work of Rogers Brubaker and Frederick Cooper, our purpose is to consider the cultural artifact that is nationalism (Anderson, 1983) by examining the social ties, affinities and senses of belonging that underlie inclusion in a group or a community (Brubaker, Cooper, 2000: 19-21). As such, particular attention will be paid to intersections between categorical commonality (shared attributes) and relational connectedness (ties to other people) by observing how social ties affect what it means and how one identifies with a group (Tilly, 1978).

Through a close observation of how official and non-official nationalisms are constructed, social actors will also be examined, namely those who find themselves between developing — more or less consciously — the “cultural products of nationalism” inspired by patriotic ideas, and those who participate in the production of “official artifacts” or official nationalist products directly commissioned by the state (Anderson, 1983). As these forms of politicization are not always voluntary or conscious, proposals will strive, drawing from Lisa Wedeen’s work, to question the dynamics at play in the production of “national subjects”. To what extent do these nationalistic discourses contribute to shaping individuals who “enact (self-consciously or unconsciously, fervently or mildly) their roles as citizens, patriots, or simply members of a nation-state” (Wedeen, 2008: 64)? Such discourses, together with the social agents who produce them and the different media through which they are communicated and shared, are especially relevant as they express “idioms of national, affective connection” (Wedeen, 2008: 23). To this end, selected proposals should address the issue of nationalism through the study of objects, actors, practices and discourses that produce a diversity of means of identifying with the nation (either orthodox or heterodox, mainstream or marginal).

Although nationalism was not the principal object of study, a number of works dealing with the Arabian Peninsula have already touched on these questions while studying politics “elsewhere” or “otherwise”. Such works deal with theatre actors (Hennessey, 2014), musicians (Sebiane, 2007), visual artists (Alviso-Marino, 2015), joyriders (Menoret, 2014) or “everyday” citizens (Wedeen, 2008), and question — more or less consciously — the ambivalence of their relation to politics. This perspective provides an opportunity to explore for example the variety of senses of belonging to a group or to a national imaginary by focusing on the process of state building (Valeri, 2013) or, more largely, on the formation of political communities (Beaugrand, 2007; Louër, 2014) and how they manifest in the urban space (Beaugrand, Le Renard, Stadnicki, 2013; Al-Nakib, 2016; Fuccaro, 2009; Kanna, 2011), in sociabilities and in modes of consumption (Assaf, 2013; Le Renard, 2014), even in labor relations (Planel, 2008). Thus, a particular emphasis will also be placed on questioning transnational circulations and hybrid identities as well as the constraints and borders that restrict human, economic and social mobilities in the Arabian Peninsula (Bonnefoy, 2011; Gruntz, 2012; Moghadam, 2013). Articles in this issue could also address the stakes linked to the production of identities and historical narratives (Mermier, 1999; Lambert, 2008; Honvault, 2008), or competing interpretations of the nation in times of political crises, conflicts or wars (Grabundzija, 2015; Shehabi, Jones, 2015). While these examples and approaches are not exhaustive, authors are encouraged in general to


the conditions that influence the formation of distinct and changing national subjectivities (Vitalis, 2006; Chevalier, Martignon, Schiettecatte, 2008).

We favor an approach based on the “bottom up” observation (Bayart, Mbembe, Toulabor, 2008) of “micro events” (Ginzburg, 1980) and of “unidentified political objects” (Martin, 2002). This means rethinking nationalism through research objects and subjects that are novel in the way they allow an understanding of the relations individual subjects maintain with the nation as an “imagined” and materialized institution. By proposing new narratives or even counter-narratives (al-Rasheed, Vitalis, 2004), the papers gathered in this issue will thus contribute to uncovering “the illusion of cultural identity” (Bayart, 1996) and questioning the “invention of tradition” (Hobsbawm, Ranger, 1963).

This special issue is addressed to historians, anthropologists, sociologists, linguists, economists, geographers and political scientists, and is particularly open to approaches that focus on unexplored subjects within these disciplines. Contributions based on compelling empirical material would be greatly appreciated (iconography, archives, ethnography, etc.).

Article proposals, in English or French, should be sent before September 15, 2016 to the guest editors of this issue Anahi Alviso-Marino ( and Marine Poirier ( as well as to Sylvaine Giraud (

Proposals should be one to two pages in length and should include:

  • - the title of the article,
  • - a short presentation of the empirical material and the methods used,
  • - all the necessary information identifying the author: name, institutional affiliation, institutional address, telephone and e-mail.

Following the acceptance of the proposal, authors will be notified during the month of September, the deadline for submission of papers (max 9,000 words) is January 15, 2017.

Authors are kindly asked to conform to the official guidelines of Arabian Humanities, available here or from the Editorial Secretary, Sylvaine Giraud (


Al-Nakib Farah, Kuwait Transformed. A History of Oil and Urban Life, Standford, Standford University Press, 2016.

Al-Rasheed Madawi, Vitalis Robert (dir.), Counter Narratives. History, contemporary society, and Politics in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, New York, Palgrave, 2004.

Alviso-Marino Anahi, Les artistes visuels au Yémen, du soutien à la contestation de l’ordre politique, thèse de doctorat en science politique, Université Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne et Université de Lausanne, 2015.

Anderson Benedict, Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Londres, Verso, [1983] 1991.

Assaf Laure, « Autour d’un café : sociabilité des jeunes à Abou Dhabi », in Laurent Bonnefoy, Myriam Catusse (dir.), Jeunesses arabes : loisirs, cultures et politique, Paris, La Découverte, 2013.

Bayart Jean-François, Mbembe, Achille, Toulabor Comi, Le politique par le bas en Afrique noire. Contributions à une problématique de la démocratie, Paris, Karthala, 2008.

Bayart Jean-François, L’illusion identitaire, Paris, Fayard, 1996.

Beaugrand Claire, « Émergence de la « nationalité » et institutionnalisation des clivages sociaux au Koweït et au Bahreïn », Chroniques yéménites, 14, 2007.

Beaugrand Claire, Le Renard Amélie, Stadnicki Roman (dir.), « Villes et dynamiques urbaines en péninsule Arabique », Arabian Humanities, 2, 2013.

Bonnefoy Laurent, Salafism in Yemen : Transnationalism and Religious Identity, Londres, Hurst & Co, 2011.

Brubaker Rogers, Cooper Frederick, “Beyond ‘Identity’”, Theory and society, 1, vol. 29, 2000, p. 1-47.

Chevalier Patrice, Martignon Vincent, Schiettecatte Jérémie (dir.), Yémen. Territoire et identités, Revue des Mondes Musulmans et de la Méditerranée (REMMM), 121-122, 2008.

Fuccaro Nelida, Histories of City and State in the Persian Gulf: Manama since 1800, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Ginzburg Carlo, The Cheese and the Worms. The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller, Baltimore / Londres, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980

Grabundzija Maggy, Yémen. Morceaux choisis d’une révolution. Mars 2011 - février 2012, Paris, L'Harmattan, 2015.

Gruntz Lucile, « La révolution du Golfe au Caire ? Migration de travail dans les monarchies pétrolières et changements sociopolitiques en Égypte », Migrations et Sociétés, 143, vol. 24, 2012, p. 73-86.

Hennessey Katherine, “Drama in Yemen. Behind the Scenes at World Theatre Day”, Middle East Information Project (MERIP), 271, vol. 44, 2014.

Hobsbawm Eric, Ranger Terence (eds.) The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1963.

Honvault Juliette, « Une génération après… La mémoire du passé ottoman dans l’autobiographie yéménite contemporaine », Chroniques Yéménites, 15, 2008, p. 35-54.

Kanna Ahmed, The Superlative City. Dubai and the Urban Condition in the Early Twenty-First Century, Minnesota, University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

Lambert Jean, « Les enjeux identitaires de l'écriture de l'histoire dans le Yémen contemporain », Transcontinentales, 6, 2008.

Le Renard Amélie, A Society of Young Women. Opportunities of Place, Power and Reform in Saudi Arabia, Stanford University Press, 2014.

Louër Laurence, “The State and Sectarian Identities in the Persian Gulf Monarchies: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait in Comparative Perspective”, in Lawrence G. Potter (ed.), Sectarian Politics in the Persian Gulf, Londres, Hurst & Co, 2014, p. 117-142.

Martin Denis-Constant (dir.), Sur la piste des OPNI (Objets politiques non identifiés), Paris, Karthala, 2002.

Martin Denis-Constant (dir.), Cartes d’identité. Comment dit-on « nous » en politique ?, Paris, Presses de la Fondation Nationale de Sciences Politiques, 1994.

Menoret Pascal, Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Mermier Franck, « Yémen : les héritages d’une histoire morcelée », in Remy Leveau, Franck Mermier, Udo Steinbach (dir.), Le Yémen contemporain, Paris, Karthala, 1999, p. 7-35.

Moghadam Amin, « De l’Iran imaginé aux nouveaux foyers de l’Iran : pratiques et espaces transnationaux des Iraniens à Dubaï », Arabian Humanities, 2, 2013 :

Planel Vincent, « Les hommes de peine dans le paysage urbain », Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée (REMMM), 121-122, 2008.

Sebiane Maho, « Le statut socioéconomique de la pratique musicale aux Émirats arabes unis. La tradition du leiwah à Dubaï », Chroniques Yéménites, 14, 2007, p. 117-135.

Shehabi Ala’a, Jones Owen Marc, Bahrain's Uprising: Resistance and Repression in The Gulf, London, Zed Books Ltd., 2015.

Tilly Charles, From Mobilization to Revolution, New York, Random House, 1978.

Valeri Marc, Oman. Politics and Society in the Qaboos State, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013.

Vitalis Robert, America’s Kingdom. Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier, Stanford University Press, 2006.

Wedeen Lisa, Peripheral Visions. Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen, Chicago/London, University of Chicago Press, 2008.

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