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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Reminder: CFP for Panel in AAA 2013: "Desiring the Middle East: Self-Formation, Subjectivity and Change"

*Panel CFP for 112th AAA Annual meeting: **Future Publics, Current

*November 20-24, 2013 in Chicago IL** *

*Panel Title: Desiring the Middle East: Self-Formation, Subjectivity and

Across the Middle East, public discourse is dominated by talk of a
yearning for change, transformation and development in a variety of
vocabularies that advocate for multiple ways of envisioning a better
future. More than two years after the spark of the Arab uprisings, the
political results of which remain unclear, and amid distinct political
and economic transformations in the region from Turkey to Iran to Morocco,
the desire for change continues to be articulated. Within this context,
this panel takes as its focus intensified discourses and practices of
self-making. We focus on the ideas of self-formation and improvement in
their broadest sense, attentive to the ideals and imaginings of progress
and development, both personal as well as that of the community and state.
We seek to explore pious and non-pious, regulatory and non-regulatory forms
of self-making as they overlap and relate to each other, such as those
involving body-making, education, entertainment, sport, fashion, and
consumption, as well as to interrogate the ways that these techniques are
themselves constituted and debated.

The panel will examine various practices of self-formation in an effort to
extend the debate on the trope of self-cultivation (Mittermaier 2012 cf.
Schielke 2010). In doing so, we seek to further our understanding of
enjoyment, pleasure and desire in the ways they relate to self-making and
personal development. Desire is central to our understanding of agency,
subjecthood and self fashioning (Hafez 2011, Mahmood 2005, McNay 2000,
Moore 2011). Papers will explore the ways that desire is situated to the
conditions in which it emerges, conditions shaped by creating new
lifestyles and patterns of consumption, as well as new ways of being and
engaging with the world (Rofel 2007). This panel will pay close
attention to the ways that desire is felt, cultivated, directed and
articulated in processes and goals of self-making as well as how desire
relates to public life.

By speaking to a major trend in the anthropology of subjectivity, this
panel asks how different methodologies and locales may inform the
interrogation of the self and shed light on the emerging politics of the
Middle East by training our analytical gaze on narratives and practices of
self-making. Our theoretical aim is to understand the ways in which
desire and discipline is perceived, built and experienced in the lives of
the individual. *What is the relationship between desire and agency and
how should we understand their significance in relation to
subject-formation? How might attention to subjectivity illuminate our
understanding of processes of self-improvement? How can a gender analytic
illuminate our analysis of desire and self-making? How do practices of
self-improvement relate and chafe with the state? How does neoliberalism
shape conceptions and itineraries of self-development? What are the
broader factors that stimulate hope, and what are the possibilities of
change that hope opens up? How might a comparative conversation serve to
further theoretical discussions of the religious and the secular? How
might thinking about ethnography as a practice of self-formation for the
anthropologist shed light on the subject?** *

Please send 250 word abstracts to Nermeen Mouftah ( and Sertaç Sehlikoglu ( by
March 18.

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