Kraidy proposes a shift in the approach of Middle East studies

February 16, 2022

Northwestern Qatar Dean and CEO Marwan M. Kraidy delivered a keynote address proposing a shift in the approach of Middle East studies at a conference hosted by Hamad Bin Khalifa University. The Middle East Conference 2022 is the first major international conference dedicated to rethinking and re-imagining epistemologies, directions, and agendas of the Middle East hosted by the university.

In his keynote, Kraidy described a Middle East studies approach that is viewed as a nexus rather than a locus. He explains that viewing it as a locus suggests “a container approach” while approaching it as a nexus “entrenches a relational epistemology that considers circulation and contestation across, within, and without the borders of the Middle East,” adding that approaching it as a nexus will connect “this region with other world regions and with global forces; while at the same time taking into account local issues.”

In reflecting on the hegemony of Western thought in the field, Kraidy said it would be “foolish to reject Western thought wholesale,” rather the objective ought to be “shaking up its monopoly as a source of theories.” Further reflecting on what is lacking in the discipline, “we need criticism and decolonization, dialogue and transformation going on at the same time,” he added.

Kraidy expressed the need for the discipline to be collaborative, multimodal, and multilingual referencing the newly established Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South as a model that seeks to position Qatar, the Gulf, and the Arab world as a “nexus of flows of ideas, images, and people.”