International bilingual summer school program for postcolonial-sensitive teaching and research in Arabic Studies

Arabische Philologien im Blickwechsel / نحو دراسات عربية برؤى متعددة — Concept

Ever since Edward Said’s criticism of Orientalism (1978), Arabic Studies has been the classical research field for identity and alterity processes. But while Said’s critique and its further development by Postcolonial Studies today belong to the theoretical and methodological canon of Arabic Studies, the knowledge generated has hardly found its way into actual teaching and research practice. Despite numerous cooperation and exchange programs, deep epistemic and linguistic divides still separate the various specialist traditions and academic languages and these need to be overcome if the existing plurality of knowledge production in Arabic Studies is to become visible and fruitful. Instead of research about the “Other” or without the “Other”, we need transcultural academic teaching and learning communities that produce knowledge in a dialogue between equals. To this end, a change in perspective (“Blickwechsel”) is needed in a double sense: reciprocally taking a closer look at the other, which entails a fundamental change in perspective. This also demands building bridges linguistically, which means a consequential usage of Arabic as a modern academic language in Arabic Studies in the West and of English by Arab scholars.

The initiative “Arabische Philologien im Blickwechsel / نحو دراسات عربية برؤى متعددة” (“Towards Multi-Perspectival Arabic Studies”) holds summer schools at Arab and European universities focusing on topical research questions and brings together outstanding young academics from Arab and European universities, active in the field of Arabic Studies in the broadest sense, with established scholars — also from Arab and European universities — to form intensive learning communities. The PhD students and postdocs present their current research projects in small groups, but do so in the academic language they are less well versed in. This approach aims to promote the use of Arabic as an active academic language at European universities and vice versa, English as an active academic language at Arab universities. In addition, fundamental texts in both Arabic and English relevant to the thematic of the respective summer school are discussed in plenary sessions. Guest lectures by renowned scholars complement the program.

The international bilingual summer school program for postcolonial-sensitive teaching and research in Arabic Studies was initiated in 2013 at the Freie Universität Berlin’s Seminar for Semitic and Arabic Studies. The VolkswagenStiftung and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research have generously supported the summer schools.

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On the individual summer schools: