American University of Beirut

Conference Highlights

​​​​​​​​​​Academic conferences are a central part of the role that CASAR plays both at the American University of Beirut and internationally. Since 2005, CASAR has hosted a biennial international conference in American studies, bringing together scholars from all over to discuss the fractious, multi-dimensional, and shifting relationship between America and the Middle East. Several of these conferences have yielded conference proceedings. The center has also sponsored or co-sponsored several other conferences on topics ranging from architecture and urban city planning, to the legacy of famed Syrian playwright Sa'adallah Wannous, to the role of the digital humanities in the contemporary liberal arts. Below are a few highlights, where you can find details about three recent conferences. The first and most recent is Latin America, al-Andalus, and the Arab World. Next we have Darwin, AUB, and the Arab World from 2016, and finally, Sexual Sovereignty: Citizenship, Governmentality, Territory from 2013. You can also find a comprehensive list and access to further details about both our biennial international conferences and our co-sponsored conferences​ by following the appropriate links.

​​Latin America, al-Andalus, and the Arab World, April 15, 17, and 18, 2018

In this, our most recent conference, CASAR had the honor of welcoming world-class scholars of Arabic and Latin-American languages, literatures, and theatre to AUB for a conference focusing on cultural movement, influence, change, and parallels between the Arab World and Latin America. Focus on a​l-Andalus, or Arab Spain, helped to bring Europe's much-obscured Arab history to the foreground, as scholars and attendees were encouraged to discuss historical, cultural, and linguistic connections between the Arab world and Latin America. Some of the most notable scholars present were Luce-López Baralt from the University of Puerto Rico and Christina Civantos from the University of Miami, who delivered keynote speeches which can be seen below. This conference also welcomed a delegation from the City University of New York's PhD program in theater and performance, thus constituting the first major collaboration to take place in the wake of the recent memorandum of understanding between AUB and CUNY, including CASAR, AUB’S Theater Initiative, CUNY’s Graduate Center and the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center. While already thematically unique, this conference was only further distinguished by a cutting edge, experiential production of Federico García Lorca's “Blood Wedding" that was produced as an opening event for the conference. This groundbreaking production,  directed by Assistant Professor of Theater Sahar Assaf, was based on her translation  of the original Spanish script into Lebanese colloquial Arabic. It was staged as a "promenade theater experience" in a series of actual homes in the mountain village of Brumanna, Lebanon.

Conference Program

blood wedding bride with mirror.jpg

"The Secret Literature of the Last Muslims of Spain​" - Luce López-Baralt, University of Puerto Rico

"An Andalusi Philosopher Abroad: Av​erroes, Translatability, and Tolerance​" - Christina Civantos, University of Miami

Darwin, AUB, and the Arab Worl​d, September 25-27, 2016

This international conference was held in celebration of AUB's 150th​​ anniversary, taking the opportunity to look back not only at the university's relationship with the work of Charles Darwin, but also at the famed father of evolution's impact on and relationship to the Arab World. This conference was part of a joint intiative on behalf of CASAR and the Center for Arts and Humanities to bring science into dialogue with the liberal arts. Distinguished speakers included scholar of medical anthropology at Yale University, Marcia Inhorn, Director of the Center for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies, Saleem Hameed, and Betty Anderson, a specialist on the Arab world's intellectual history from Boston University. In addition to two days of keynote lectures and academic panels about Darwin in various areas and fields of cultural production (i.e. the Muslim world, theater, literature, film, medicine, and the liberal arts), the conference was opened with a staged reading of the play After Darwin by renowned British playwright, Timberlake Wertenbaker. The staged reading can be seen alongside other highlights of CASAR's dramatic performances on our theater page.

Conference Program

“Charles Dar​​win a​nd American Liberal Education” - Betty Anderson, Boston University

“From Darwin's Natural Selection to Techno-Procreation: Medically Assisted Reproduction and Islamic Bioethics in the High-tec​h Middle East" - Marcia Inhorn, Yale University


Sexual Sovereignty: Citizenship, Governmentality, Territory, March 13-15, 2013

This three-day conference invited scholars from diverse fields and areas to discuss the relationship between processes of state formation and the politics of gender and sexuality. Organized by former Edward Said Chair of American Studies, Jasbir K. Puar, hosted by CASAR, and co-sponsored by the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies, the conference featured five keynote speakers and six panels, all organized around themes such as “Nation Building," “Remaking Kinship," and “Sexual Lawfare." Other than scholars Kehalulani Kuanui and Peter M. Coviello, whose lectures you can watch below, keynote speakers included Elizabeth Povinelli from Columbia University, who presented a talk entitled “Sovereign Disciplines, Queer Objects," Paul Amar from UC Santa Barbara, who spoke about “Popular Sovereignties versus Counterrevolutionary Sexualities in today's Egypt," and Sima Shakhsari of Wellesley College​ who presented on "Politics of Rightful Killing: Iranian Transgender Refugees and the Promise of Freedom."​

"Savage Sexualities, Hawaiian Indigeneity, an​d the Politics of State Sovereignty" - Kehaulani Kuanui, Wesleyan University


"How the Mormons Became White: Polygamy, Indigeneity, Sovereignty" - Peter M. Coviello,​​ Bowdoin College

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