The Middle East: Diversity - Variation - Interpretation

The Seventh Nordic Conference on Middle Eastern Studies
21-23 September 2007,  Helsinki




Key note -speakers









Contact details


Extended deadline for submission of abstracts and panels!

Image of the Middle East as uniform, violent and culturally stagnated keeps on repeating in the media, popular imaginaries and academic stereotyping. This biased view is strengthened by ever more new conflicts that are presented to the Western audience as proof of the prevalence of only one kind of religious orthodoxy throughout the Middle East with absence of diversity in views or variety in cultural manifestations. Ideas of conflicting civilisations are celebrated by insensitive acts that take as the starting point misinformed images of cultural otherness.

In the Nordic countries, a rich legacy of Middle Eastern studies prevails. These studies represent a variety of disciplines, historical periods and theoretical perspectives. In the Seventh Nordic Conference on Middle Eastern Studies our aim is to make visible the richness of this scholarly work. The conference continues in the interdisciplinary collaborative vein that started in the first Nordic conference held in 1989 in Uppsala, Sweden. The aim of the conference is to bring together internationally acclaimed scholars as key note speakers and Nordic scholars of Middle East research. The conference theme “The Middle East: Diversity – Variation – Interpretation” calls upon papers from all historical periods discussing the broader Middle East and based on original scholarly work. The conference is open to researchers and students based in Nordic academic environments, as well as guests from other countries. A special session will be devoted to postgraduate students to present their ongoing work.


1. Themes

In academic work on the Middle East, concepts of “diversity” and “variation” have increasingly characterised the enquiry in disciplines whether relying on textual, linguistic, historical, ethnographic or social science methodologies. In movement from monolithic and one-dimensional interpretations on historical formations, institutions and conceptual notions, studies bring forth the variety and often contradictory nature of discourses and cultural representations. While the notions of diversity and variation call upon focusing on change or on encounters, the multitude of aspects influencing scholarly and other interpretation needs to be made visible, too. In discussing diversity, variation and interpretation the presenters are encouraged to bring fore their theoretical reflections as well as methodological approaches used.


2. Format

We welcome individual paper proposals and complete panel and round table proposals on all fields of Middle Eastern studies. Abstracts should not exceed 350 words and should include the main argument, material used and disciplinary discussions the paper involves.


3. Submission guidelines

The conference is hosted by the Institute for Asian and African Studies and the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, both in the University of Helsinki. Abstracts should be sent by June 30, 2007 to Dr Sylvia Akar or Dr Susanne Dahlgren. (E-mail