Conference “The First World War in the Middle East: Experience, Knowledge, Memory”

On the occasion of the commemoration of the First World War, the Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB), the Institut français du Proche-Orient (Ifpo), the History Department of the Université Saint-Joseph (USJ) and the Institute of Palestinian Studies (IPS) are organising the international conference “The First World War in the Middle East: Experience, Knowledge, Memory” to be held in Beirut on November 3 and 4, 2014. 

The aim of the conference is to question and to rethink the place of this conflict in the history of the Middle East. Aiming at encouraging new approaches to a well-established field of historical enquiry, the debates of the conference are organised around three interconnected axes:OIB PLakat

● From the perspective of social history and historical anthropology, the scholars want to explore how people experienced the war, how they lived through it and what it meant for their daily lives.

● From the point of view of a long-term history of science and knowledge production, the conference considers the impact of the war and of its transregional and global dimensions on orders of knowledge and the institutional and informal systems producing it. Of special interest are the emerging nationalist movements, their interactions with the self-reforming Ottoman and later the colonial or Mandatory educational systems, and their long-term effects on shifting notions of science and education in the region.

● Finally, the scholars will examine, from the point of view of the sociology of memory, how this ‘Great War’ is remembered in literature, arts, commemorations and celebrations. The aim is to reflect the dynamics of how, when, where and by whom this war has become the object of commemoration, be it private or official, particularly when taking into account the more recent periods of violence in the region.

The abstracts of the conference you will find here.



Valeska Huber – Re-Ordering the mind: International Education in the Middle East after The First World War

Valeska Huber talks about a region that was heavily affected by the Great War and was re-ordered in the aftermath. During her talk she explores distinct meaning of ordering the minds, namely:

1. Education and formation of elites in the Middle East.
2. The setting of international standards of comparability – finding expression in attempts to measure the mind or standardise admission to education or to unify degrees.
3. The creation of new mindsets aiming for instance at self-determination
4. The development of an international mind – to use a rather vague term of the period.

Valeska Huber, who joined the Deutsches Historisches Institut London in April 2011, studied history and political science at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and at the University of Cambridge. After undertaking archival research in Britain, France and Egypt she spent a year as Visiting Fellow at Harvard University working on her doctoral dissertation on the history of mobility and acceleration in the Suez Canal Region (1869-1914). Her main fields of interests are colonial and global history with a focus on the Middle East, the history of mobility and migration, as well as spatial approaches in history, particularly urban and maritime history. She is currently engaged in a research project on globalization and the export of education in the twentieth century.

Valeska Huber – Re-Ordering the mind: International Education in the Middle East after WWI from maxweberstiftung on Vimeo.