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 Critiques of Power

Call for Abstracts

Arab Critical Theories and Horizons of Emancipation

Deadline for Abstracts: October 15, 2019


The Critiques of Power working group at the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS) is pleased to invite you to submit papers for a closed workshop on December 14-15.

The Critiques of power working group (CoP) is an ACSS working group that was formed in 2017, bringing together scholars from diverse fields, including anthropology, social and intellectual history, gender and sexuality studies, political science, and comparative literature. 

We are interested in modern and contemporary Arab critical works and theoretical productions that diagnose the multiple modalities of power (e.g the technologies of rule of states; the logics of communal solidarity; the operations of patriarchy and gender exclusion; the forms of economic exclusion and dispossession; and the modes of exploitation and destruction of the natural environment) at work in Arab societies and the posited horizons of emancipation from their grip.

In revisiting recognized conceptual works and excavating works that have not been previously considered a part of the Arab archive of critical thought, our aim is to reconsider these multiple critical traditions from today’s vantage point, not only to carry out intergenerational conversations, but more importantly, to assess whether, and how, they could illuminate aspects of our present. We particularly welcome readings of this archive that are not over-determined by an investment in speaking back to the ‘West’ through the marshaling of such binaries as: West/non-West; homogenization/difference; universal/particular; secular/non-secular; and westernized elites and intellectuals/non-westernized masses.

We welcome papers in Arabic, English, or French that explore the multiple facets of this critical diagnostic archive such as those pertaining to questions of language, translation and theoretical imaginaries; the conundrums of positionality (geographic, institutional, and militant); and historiographical thematics (periodization, minoritarian traditions, and narrative frames).


Abstract and Paper Guidelines

Abstracts should include one or more primary texts that the paper is based on. Please include in your abstract your full name, institutional affiliation, and a short bio. 

Upon acceptance of abstracts, we will ask for papers that discuss the primary archival document that has been submitted. 

The papers are expected to be 8000-10,000 words in length.  

Papers will be submitted three weeks before the workshop and will be circulated to all participants of the closed workshop. 

Please send abstracts and the primary text to

The workshop will be closed, but will include a public keynote panel on critical translation practices across generations.



Working Groups Program

The Working Groups Program (WGP) aims at bringing scholars from across the Arab region and beyond, who are at different stages in their academic careers, to work collectively and comparatively on a particular research theme. This collaborative work not only enables the WG to explore and develop new and innovative research agendas from interdisciplinary perspectives but also allows its members to network effectively and share academic knowledge, skills and experience.

The Critiques of Power Working Group (CoP)

The Critiques of Power (CoP) Working Group was formed by the Arab Council for Social Sciences (ACSS) in 2017. Bringing together scholars from different fields and institutions, the CoP Working Group aims at an interdisciplinary critical engagement with Arab thought and in the process, at revisiting and expanding the archive of Arab theorizing on multiple forms of power.

Through rereading the seminal works, while also attempting to unearth some of the lesser known theoretical productions on power in the region, the CoP Working Group focuses on how and when these works were produced and circulated, by whom, from where, and to what ends.

The group aims to not only carry out intergenerational and interdisciplinary conversations between texts, ideas and concepts, but more importantly, to assess whether their critical tools could be put to use in critical practices in, and for, our present.

This yield to the present drives the CoP Working Group’s commitment to engaging with independent organizations and groups in the region who are critically reflecting on issues of power in their work.

This Working Group is funded by a grant provided to the ACSS by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Working Group Members