Speaker: Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab, a Lebanese scholar based in Beirut.
Trained as a philosopher at the American University of Beirut and at Université de Fribourg in Switzerland, her work is focused on the philosophy of culture, both Western and Postcolonial, with a particular interest in contemporary Arab thought. Over the course of her academic career, she has taught at several universities in Lebanon, the USA and Germany. Those include the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University and Balamand University in Lebanon, as well as Columbia, Yale and Brown Universities in the USA and most recently as Visiting Professor of the Humanities at the Cogut Center of Brown University. She has also been a research fellow at Erfurt University, at the Berlin Free University in Germany and at the German Orient Institute in Beirut.
Her latest book is entitled Contemporary Arab Thought. Cultural Critique in Comparative Perspective (Columbia University Press, 2009). In it she compares Arab debates on culture in the post-independence era with similar debates in Africa and Latin America. Her current project is to extend her comparative framework to include contemporary Greece and Turkey and construct a “post-Ottoman” understanding of the region.
Abstract: The recent Arab uprisings have been an unprecedented time of dramatic social and political movement. It has also been an intense moment of debate among participants and witnesses of the historic events. Among the many questions raised in the debates has been that of the role of the intellectuals, or of the lack thereof, in predicting, contributing to, and participating in, these momentous changes. Have Arab thinkers, and particularly the critical thinkers among them, been in tune with these movements? Or have they been totally disconnected from what was brewing in their own societies for many years, if not decades? What connections, if any, could be noted between contemporary Arab intellectual critique and contemporary Arab protestation?
Hosted by the Centre for the Study of Political Community.