Intellectuals and Historical Transformations in the Arab world

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The events that occurred during the winter of 2011 surprised and destabilized Arab intellectuals. The large majority of the latter did not foresee the changes and even theorized a lack of change, convinced that the long-standing regimes were set to stay.
In order to understand and analyze this unsynchronized attitude, the role and status of intellectuals within authoritarian regimes should be examined, as well as the complex inter-relations between the intelligentsia and power -a political relationship strictly linked to the evolution of contemporary Arab societies and cultures (19th-20th centuries), influenced by reformism and torn between “Oriental” and “Western” political imaginaries.
The meeting, due to be held on 17 and 18 May 2014 at the Hotel Mövenpick Gammarth in Tunisia, does not aim at establishing an academic update of the situation, but rather at rethinking the itinerary of Arab intellectuals through an historical perspective, in order to understand their discourse and positions within a fast changing intellectual and political space. The study will therefore question the interweaving of the intellectual and political spheres in so far as intellectuals are both producers of sense and aspire to play a political role meant to change society and culture.
The reflection, which will mainly deal with the relationship of Arab intellectuals with politics, will focus on four axes or panels:
• Arab intellectuals in history;
• Arab intellectuals, Islam and otherness;
• Youth, new media and social networks;
• A final round table on Arab intellectuals and political power.
Organised by the Moulay Hicham Foundation, the Conference is convened by Khadija Mohsen-Finan and Mohamed Kerrou.