Call for Papers - "(Un)Civil Society, Past and Present"


The 4th Annual UCSB Islamic Studies Graduate Student Conference: "(Un)Civil Society, Past and Present"

Abstract Deadline: January 15, 2014

Conference: April 4–6, 2014   |   University of California, Santa Barba


Islamic societies are witnessing an unprecedented wave of protests and revolt that have provoked renewed discussions over the character of civil society. From the 2009 Iranian “Green Movement” to the ongoing “Arab Spring” movements across the Middle East, there continues to be an intense political contest between various reform movements, ideologies, and the state.

This conference aims to explore the complex and varied social and political forces that have comprised civil society and its relationship to the state in both historical and contemporary contexts.

Professor Gilbert Achcar of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London will be this year’s keynote speaker. Professor Achcar is a leading scholar on politics and developmental economics in the Middle East and North Africa and he has written extensively on the Arab Spring movements.

We invite paper proposals that treat a variety of topics concerning civil society, such as:
1. To what extend did pre-modern forms of civil society exist in Islamic societies?
2. How have competing notions of 'civil society' coexisted in the public imagination?
3. The state as a site of civil disobedience and the state's regulation of civil protests.
4. The role of technology as a facilitator and/or inhibitor of civil discourse.
5. How do Islamic discourses situate the Sharia with respect to civil society?
6. The place of gender in the construction of civil discourses.
7. Artistic representations, public spaces and visions of (un)civil society.

Submission Guidelines: To apply, please submit proposals (maximum 300 words) and a two-page CV by January 15th, 2014. Ph.D. students in advanced stages of research and dissertation writing are especially encouraged to apply. Email proposals to

Back to all events