SOAS University of London

SOAS Festival of Ideas

Cross Cultural Encounters - Panel Discussion


Date: 19 October 2020Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 19 October 2020Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Panel Discussion

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Cultural difference and conflict issues are part of everyday life and are often at the heart of civilisational debates. Yet the stories that shape individual experiences can often be elided. In this panel, we look at the context of cross cultural encounters from a variety of disciplinary and cultural perspectives from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In particular we look at the way knowledge travels and how it is shared and developed in collaborations and research between and across Global South and Global North scholars.

Moderator: Dr Hélène Neveu Kringelbach, University College of London

Panellists include:

  • Dina Matar - SOAS University of London
  • Lindiwe Dovey - SOAS University of London
  • Amina Yaqin - SOAS University of London
  • Marloes Janson - SOAS University of London
Dina Matar

Dina Matar is Reader in Political Communication and Arab Media and Chair Centre for Global Media and Communication and Centre for Palestine Studies at SOAS. A former correspondent and editor covering the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe, her research is interdisciplinary, but centrally located at the intersection of communication, politics and culture, memory and narrative practices, and activism, with a particular focus on the Levant (Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria as areas of research. She is co-founder of the Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, co-editor of the SOAS Palestine Studies book series (I.B. Tauris/Bloomberg) and co-founding editor of the new book series Political Communication and Media Practices of the Middle East and North Africa (Bloomsbury, 2021). Her monograph What it Means to be Palestinian: Stories of Palestinian Peoplehood (2010) has been used as a script for the internationally renowned animation movie “The Tower (2019)”. She is co-author of “The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication (2014) and co-editor of “Narrating Conflict in the Middle East (2013) and Gaza as Metahphor (2016).

Abstract: It is now common knowledge, at least within the scholarly world, that powerful epistemic and discursive entities have prevailed in the production of knowledge of the world divided between the Global North and the Global South. In such a configuration, any discussion of the Global South, as an imagined spatiality often defined by its perceived differences from the Global North, must also address how this imagination is interlinked with narrative, as image and discourse, and, as such, ask how narrative plays a role in the emergence and persistence of particular epistemic formations that are also sustained by material and structural conditions of power and resistance. In this talk, I will reflect on the role of mediated counter-narratives and self-representations in disturbing these epsitemes, focusing on Palestine.

Amina Yaqin

Amina Yaqin is Reader in Urdu and Postcolonial Studies at SOAS. She is Chair of the Decolonising Working Group and the Director of the SOAS Festival of Ideas. Her monograph Gender, Sexuality and Feminism in Pakistani women's poetry is forthcoming with Anthem Press in 2021. She is co-author with Peter Morey of Framing Muslims: Stereotyping and Representation after 911(Harvard University Press, 2011) and has co-edited, Contesting Islamophobia: media, politics and culture (IB Tauris/Bloomsbury 2019); Muslims, Trust and Multiculturalism: New Directions (Palgrave MacMillan 2018); Culture, Diaspora and Modernity in Muslim Writing (Routledge 2012). Her research is interdisciplinary and engages with contemporary contexts of Muslim life as well as the politics of culture in Pakistan where she grew up. She has been a collaborating partner on two projects, the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded International Research Network on Framing Muslims and the Research Councils UK funded Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue. She is a book series co-editor on Multicultural Textualities published by Manchester University Press and on the Advisory Board of Anthem Studies in South Asian Literature, Aesthetics and Culture, the Pakistan Journal of Women's Studies, Journal of Research (Humanities) Punjab university and the Journal of Commonwealth Literature. Dr Yaqin is the founding Chair of the Centre for the Study of Pakistan at SOAS and the co-founder of the Centre for Gender Studies.

Abstract: My presentation offers a brief review of the South Asian poet philosopher Muhammad Iqbal’s contribution to political thought. I consider his utopian search for common ground or bridge building by examining his iconic poem ‘Masjid-e Qurtaba’ (The Mosque of Cordoba) written in 1933 to consider the notion of community and nation, love and reason. I suggest that given Iqbal’s hybrid engagement with modern western philosophy and Islamic thought, Al-Andalus presented a centre ground from which to negotiate the colonised Muslim self politically and to philosophically re-present the idea of free will as a necessary part of modern Muslim identity formation. The framing narratives of the poem are that of la convivencia co-existence, the mosque and the Indian infidel. I argue that in al-Andalus Iqbal looks for an alternative to territorial anti-colonial nationalism, in the cosmopolitan cross-cultural mix of Christian, Jewish and Muslim influences and the heritage of Hellenism.

Lindiwe Dovey

Lindiwe Dovey is Professor of Film and Screen Studies at SOAS University of London, and the Principal Investigator of the five year, ERC-funded project Screen Worlds: Decolonising Film and Screen Studies (2019-2024). She is a researcher, teacher, filmmaker, and film curator, and her work aims to combine film scholarship and practice in mutually enlightening and creative ways. Originally from South Africa, she is passionate about African filmmaking in particular, and is the author of the books Curating Africa in the Age of Film Festivals (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), and African Film and Literature (Columbia UP, 2009), as well as many journal articles and book chapters about film culture. As a film festival founder, director and film curator, she has tried to raise the profile and visibility of African cinema in the UK, and with colleagues at SOAS she has also co-curated film seasons exploring film cultures and industries across the Global South. She is a member of the Decolonising SOAS working group, and is committed to continuing to work with others to make the mainstream film industry, film festivals, and higher education more inclusive, diverse and equitable. You can read more about her work at her SOAS website and personal website.

Abstract: In this brief presentation I will speak about how the Screen Worlds: Decolonising Film and Screen Studies project has centered practices of collaboration and co-authorship across cultures as a key component of how it is attempting to decolonise a particular discipline. I will talk specifically about how we have been experimenting with new models for co-edited volumes, but also about our collaborative work on films and audiovisual essays as modes of knowledge creation beyond the written word. The scholars and practitioners with whom we are working come from contexts in different parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America and elsewhere and – in particular – we have been trying to put African and Asian film scholars and filmmakers in dialogue with one another to think about “global screen worlds” from comparative vantage points that do not oscillate around Euro-America. I will contextualise our specific work within the broader movement to decolonise research practice and publication models on a global scale.

Marloes Janson

Marloes Janson is Reader in West African Anthropology and Associate Director of Research (Research Ethics and Researcher Development) at SOAS University of London. Her research is at the intersection of anthropology and religion, and the Gambia and Nigeria are her areas of ethnographic specialization. Her book Crossing Religious Boundaries: Islam, Christianity and ‘Yoruba Religion’ in Lagos (Nigeria) will come out with Cambridge University Press in 2021. Her previous monograph, Islam, Youth, and Modernity in the Gambia: The Tablighi Jama Ľat (Cambridge University Press for the International African Institute, 2014) was awarded the RAI Amaury Talbot Prize for African Anthropology. Her collaboration with Nigerian award-winning photographer Akintunde Akinleye resulted in the travelling photo exhibition The Spiritual Highway: Religious World making in Megacity Lagos (2014).

Abstract: The study of religion in Africa has long been pursued from a hegemonic Western perspective, reinforcing a Christian concept of religion that emphasizes belief at the expense of the practical dimension of Africans’ lived religiosity. Therefore, there is a pressing need for a reorientation of the study of religion, taking into account the transregional connections between the European centres of knowledge production and the former areas of imperial European outreach and acknowledging the validity of different ways of seeing the world. Drawing on Mbembe, in my research I have tried to study religion in the ‘pluriversity’ by transcending the conceptual and methodological rigidity that dominates much scholarship on religion.

Hélène Neveu Kringelbach

Hélène Neveu Kringelbach is Associate Professor in African Anthropology and vice-dean EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) for the Arts & Humanities Faculty at UCL. She gained her DPhil in Anthropology from the University of Oxford, and has done fieldwork in Senegal, France and the UK.

Between 2002 and 2012 she did research on dance, social mobility, morality and notions of self in Dakar, Senegal. The monograph coming out of this research, Dance Circles: Movement, Morality and Self-Fashioning in Urban Senegal (Berghahn Books, 2013) was awarded the 2013 Amaury Talbot Prize in African Anthropology (RAI, UK) and a special citation in the 2013 De la Torre Bueno Prize in Dance Studies (Society of Dance History Scholars, US). Since 2011 she has been carrying out on-going research on ‘mixed’ marriage and transnational family relationships between Senegal, France and the UK. This work focuses on interculturality within families, intergenerational memory, new ideas about love and marriage in Senegal and beyond, and the impact of migration and immigration policies on transnational family practices between Senegal and Europe.


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This event is part of the Virtual SOAS Festival of Ideas which will kick off a week-long series of virtual events. The festival includes: panel discussions, student led installations, masterclasses, keynote lectures, a public debate for/against on Decolonising Knowledge and a Verbatim performance by Bhuchar Boulevard on ‘Decolonising Not Just a Buzzword’ capturing SOAS conversations about the need to decolonise its imperial mission.

Keep updated on the upcoming Virtual Festival of Ideas events and watch recordings of previous events on the SOAS website. Please contact with any questions regarding this event and/or the Virtual SOAS Festival of Ideas.

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