Call for Papers #4


The peer-reviewed online journal “Middle East – Topics & Arguments” (META) is calling for submissions for its next issue, which will be entitled “Area Studies”.

In this issue we want to discuss the concept of area studies as it relates to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In the years following 9/11, the region has witnessed a renewed interest in Western academia, not least of all in Germany where the state and private foundations are among the foremost sponsors of area studies programs. This increase in funding opens a range of opportunities for developing and pursuing novel approaches to area studies in an era of globalization and increasing transregional interdependencies. At the same time, this policy arguably reproduces and intensifies inequalities between academic systems in the global north and those in regions that are being studied in area studies programs.

This issue will address both the historical evolution of area studies and related disciplines (in the case of the MENA region: Islamic studies, Oriental philology, Middle East Studies, etc.) as well as contemporary developments on a conceptual as well as an empirical level. We call for submissions that are critically engaging with concepts and methods used in area studies programs (and related disciplines) and discuss the changing relations between area studies and systematic disciplines over the years. We also welcome contributions discussing what a self-reflective and critical area studies approach today might look like.

In a globalized world that is often seen as consisting of fluid and interconnected spaces, geographical and epistemological borders, which may define an area, would seem to be blurred. Yet, at the same time, and in a notable departure from this globalizing trend, rigid border regimes are being (re-)installed between specific countries and whole regions in multiple parts of the world, thereby calling into question the assumption of an increasingly integrated world system. We are therefore interested in submissions that analyze relevant actors as well as the political, economic, structural, and other factors that might underlie the definition of areas and the inclusive and exclusive effects of such demarcations for academic knowledge production.

Obviously, the ongoing massive transformations within the MENA region known as the Arab Spring have a material as well as a non-material impact on the institutions of knowledge production in Europe and Northern America (e.g. a higher interest of third party funding vs. withdrawal of third party donors, special issues of journals and lecture series, new MA programs, etc.). But, first and foremost, these upheavals have substantial effects on the universities and research centers within Arab and other neighboring countries where similar developments are taking shape. In this issue, META therefore encourages an open debate on the institutional landscape of knowledge production within the MENA region itself, particularly against the backdrop of the Arab Spring. In this context, the current trends towards the restructuring of universities in the MENA region are of particular interest. We are also interested in submissions that address the impact of the ongoing transformations in the MENA region on working relations between scholars and academic institutions located there and those in the global North, including the effects thereof on the production of relevant knowledge on the MENA region in both parts of the world.

We call for articles from a broad array of disciplines including political science, sociology anthropology, literature studies, cultural studies, media studies, linguistics, history and economics. We encourage articles that discuss current developments within area studies in a broader context of institutional frameworks, funding policies, and geo-political considerations.

Prior to developing a complete manuscript, authors are asked to submit an abstract (300 words max.), a short CV (150 words max.) and 3-5 key bibliographic sources. Please clearly indicate the research question, the method to be used, and the empirical material your research will be based on.

The editors will make a preliminary decision regarding the topic’s relevance to the journal’s aims and scope and will provide suggestions for developing the manuscript. Please consult our website for further information about the journal’s concept, sections, and authors’ guidelines.

All articles that fall into the general framework of the journal, but do not relate to the special topic “Area Studies”, will be taken into consideration for the “off topic” section of META.

The deadline for abstract submissions is May 31, 2014.

The deadline for article submissions is September 30, 2014.

Proposals and manuscripts and other editorial correspondence should be sent to: