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Meet mulls Arab Spring, ‘De-Centering of American Studies’
Haya H Al Muhannadi
/ Categories: In the Media

Meet mulls Arab Spring, ‘De-Centering of American Studies’

The larger legacy of American Studies is a critique which is always about challenging and de-centring received wisdom, a prominent scholar told yesterday the opening session of the conference ‘From Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park: The Arab Spring and the De-Centering of American Studies’ organised by the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.
“American Studies is a project in itself de-centring knowledge or rethinking knowledge. De-centring is a kind of friendly way of thinking about American Studies. Often people outside the domain of American Studies think that it is a field to promote the US in some way,” said Melani McAlister, co-organiser of the conference and associate professor, George Washington University at the opening session of the conference.
“The legacy of de-centring continued in 1960s and 1970s and American Studies became a programme of supporting new ways and approaches. These studies focused on bringing the prospect of marginalised people into the centre of American story,” explained McAlister.
“American Studies programmes were often committed to social movements. American Studies also has been increasingly transnational as there were US scholars and authors talking about the US role in the world,” she added.
Eid Mohamed, co-organiser of the conference and professor of American Studies and Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies at the Doha Institute highlighted the theme of the conference and introduced the speakers and guests at the opening ceremony.
Abdellahi Hussein, programme manager, Qatar National Research Fund spoke about the funding system of the organisation and highlighted the number of social science projects funded by QNRF so far. The present conference is funded through a QNRF programme.
Yasir Suleiman Malley, acting president, Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, Abdelwahab El Affendi, dean of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities and Reuben E Brigety, dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University also spoke at the opening session.
The keynote speech by Azmi Bishara, The Omnipresence of America and the Absence of American Studies, was read out by acting president Malley on the occasion.
The conference continues for the next three days with a number of panel discussions and presentations.

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