More than 270 authors responded to a call for papers on “Violence and Politics in Contemporary Arab Societies,” the theme of a conference to be hosted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Tunis this September 12-13. The record response confirms the necessity of continued efforts to understand the region’s social change.

Organizers of the meeting, the fourth in the Annual Conference on Democratic Transition series convened by the ACRPS, accepted 170 of the proposed papers, with 100 authors already submitted full article drafts in anticipation of the meeting. Of these, 45 have been approved and incorporated into conference proceedings, so far. Participants hail from a variety of academic disciplines, representing the geographic and demographic diversity of the Arab world. While diverse, the researchers share a sincerity and dedication to the field, and include a number of distinguished Arab speakers and authorities in the cultural and academic sectors.

Given the overwhelming response to the conference call, organizers decided to divide the proceedings into two separate, parallel streams. Each stream will include seven complete sessions held over the two days of the conference, in addition to two keynote lectures. The individual sessions will discuss a range of topics, including:

•Politics and violence
•Political violence in an Arab setting
•Case studies of violent groups
•Violence and identity
•Examples of state violence
• The language and rhetoric of political violence
•Tolerance in the face of violence
•Women and youth
•Manifestations of violence in urban spaces: political results

On the second and final day, a round table discussion titled “Politics, Violence and the Democratic Transition: Issues, Questions and Pending Questions” will bring the sessions to a close.

This conference builds on the progress of three previous events. The first, in 2012, examined Islamists and the Democratic Transition and was followed by two conferences in 2013 and 2014 that focused on Citizenship and Social Integration; and Sectarianism and the Formation of Minorities in the Greater Arab Levant, respectively. To build no the work of these gatherings, organizers chose a topic meant to reflect the immediate risks faced by Arab countries in the wake of the changes rippling through a region  in which political, societal and identity-based forms of violence have merged.

The question of violence within the social transformations presently underway, then, is undoubtedly pressing. The conference theme also compels investigators to examine the phenomenon of social transformations through the prism of societal and political violence in its various forms. Observers have been invited to examine the interrelations between the rhythms of societal change, whether they have been gradual and accumulative or rapid and surprising on the forms of violence in a particular society, as well as how these impact the societal and political roles of individuals and groups. Taken together, these combine to create new sets of circumstances that feed the phenomenon of social-political violence, and justify its use.

The linked questions being explored through the conference theme, and the interdisciplinary researchers who will gather to explore the question of violence and politics only confirm for organizers and ACRPS, their belief in the inseparability of the humanities, social sciences and themes of social change, as well as out of a need to encourage sociological analyses that are at once critical and embrace a positive understanding of social change.


To register for this conference, please find the registration form and other materials on the conference event page.