The Third Annual Conference on “Democratic Governance: Sectarianism and the Manufacturing of Minorities in the Greater Arab Mashreq”

Dead Sea, Jordan, September 2014


ACRPS will be holding its Third Annual Conference on “Democratic Governance: Sectarianism and the Manufacturing of Minorities in the Greater Arab Mashreq” in Jordan from September 13-15. Social scientists from across the region will convene to discuss questions of sectarianism and religious minorities, relying on diverse evidence from across the Arab world. Papers will be presented across seven sessions held over three days.

H.E. Dr. Abdullah al Nsour, the Prime Minister of Jordan, will inaugurate the conference, followed by a keynote address from Dr. Azmi Bishara. Other keynote presentations will be delivered throughout the conference including “Sectarianism has its History: On the Conditioning of Sects as Political Units” by Dr. Ahmad Beydoun; “Sectarianism in National and Regional Conflicts” by Dr. Burhan Ghalioun; “Sectarian Constitutionalism and State-Building Crisis: lessons from the Lebanese Laboratory by Dr. Wajih Kawtharani and “Historical and Present-Day Issues on the Situation of Arab Christians” by Dr. Tarek Mitri.

The conference proceedings will close on the afternoon of Monday, September 15, , with a roundtable discussion on “Arabism, State and Patriotism in Confrontation with a Shredded Social Fabric, Sectarian Politics, and the Inflation of Sectarian Identities into National Groups ”. The subject matter of the conference has been a strong theme within the research output of the ACRPS.

On August 20, 2014, ACRPS researcher Abbad Yahya had presented some preliminary research findings at the Center's weekly seminar. Titled

Statistics and the Production of Sectarianism” , Yahya's paper focused primarily  on the cases of Syria and Lebanon, and investigated the relationship between statistical research and census-taking and sectarianism, noting how in non-democratic settings, demographic surveys and their classification of population groups, have led to the subsequent production, reproduction, consolidation (or weakening) of sectarianism. Yahya concluded that the census procedure, regardless of the extent of impartiality and objectivity displayed, invariably provided a solid foundation upon which hegemonic confessional, ethnic, and linguistic identities could be constructed. The essential problematic posed by figures and data sets may be that their neutrality on the surface conceals a tremendous potential for exploitation and “investment” for sectarian ends. Census - taking in the Arab world is a sensitive issue – participants at this ACRPS seminar noted the dearth of analysis on census-taking procedures and the details thereof.

Yahya will present an extended version of his work on the afternoon of the first day of the three-day meeting in Jordan., which runs from September 13 to 15.

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