Transformations of Life: AGYA at the Salon Sophie Charlotte 2022

Transformations of Life: AGYA at the Salon Sophie Charlotte 2022

From exhibition to fishbowl, from panel discussion to sound art: AGYA offered a diverse programme with interdisciplinary approaches on transformations of life and research in Berlin and from Arab-German perspectives. As host of the AGYA salon, AGYA Principal Investigator Prof. Dr. Verena Lepper welcomed all guests and invited to a lively exchange. The manifold programme attracted numerous international visitors showing the great demand of face-to-face encounters after two years of pandemic restrictions. 

AGYA Exhibition: Biographies in Motion - The Arab Intellectual Community in Berlin

Specifically curated for this occasion, the famous Paternoster in the BBAW was converted into an exhibition space of a special kind: The photo exhibition ‘Biographies in Motion - The Arab Intellectual Community in Berlin’ made faces of the Arab communities in Berlin visible and brought them out of the shadow of exile. This exhibition is an outcome of the Tandem Project "Arab Uprisings – Beyond Media and Liberation: Publication & Exhibition“ by AGYA member Lena-Maria Möller, and AGYA alumna Hanan Badr with portraits by the Egyptian photographer Eman Helal.

The installation with photographs and accompanying statements in the circling cabins of the Paternoster offered literally moving insights into life and living of the Arab diaspora in Berlin. The portrayed intellectuals, artists, journalists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and cultural mediators coming from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, and Tunisia represent the diversity of the Arab diaspora in Berlin. 

AGYA Principal Investigator Verena Lepper together with AGYA alumna and curator Hanan Badr and photographer Eman Helal festively opened the exhibition by setting the Paternoster in motion. 

Following the movement of the Paternoster upwards from the first to the fifth floor, visitors were invited to listen to AGYA members and portrayed intellectuals looking back at the Arab Uprisings more than ten years ago. Here in Berlin, they took stock on topics such as migration, education, arts, language and identities.

AGYA Fishbowl Discussion: The New Now in Science and Research

In form of a fishbowl discussion, AGYA members and alumni from different disciplines jointly discussed “The New Now in Science and Research”. The panel actively involved the public audience and shed light on challenges and opportunities on post-pandemic science and research; including topics such as responsible research, travel and access (in)equalities, ideas on permeable research systems, public engagement, scientists as activists, and sustainable cooperation on equal terms.

The fishbowl panel consisted of AGYA Co-Presidents Amro Ali (online) and Mahmoud Abdel-Hafiez, and AGYA members Sonja Buxbaum-Conradi, Luise Fischer, Mujtaba Isani, and AGYA alumna Julia Hauser.

The moderator of the event, AGYA member Hanna Pfeifer summarized the main outcomes and recommendations of the fishbowl panelists: 

  • Enhance reflection on paradigmatic assumptions in science and research.
  • Find a balance between virtual and in person-formats in academia, in any case, do not decrease funding for mobility.
  • Make use of the powerful tool of science communication and promote it as valuable transferable skill.
  • Open up, share knowledge, publish open access and get engaged with the global scientific community and society as a whole.

AGYA Panel Discussion & Sound Art Performance: Voices of Global Berlin – Big City Life

The AGYA event in the Einstein-Saal was yet another highlight of the evening showcasing the results of the AGYA project “Global Berlin in the 21st Century” that has been funded by the State of Berlin. In an inspiring and stimulating panel discussion, AGYA Principal Investigator Verena Lepper exchanged with AGYA Co-President Mahmoud Abdel-Hafiez, AGYA alumna Hanan Badr, and AGYA member Philipp Blechinger on various facets of life in a megacity like Berlin from Arab and German perspectives. Ranging from smart mobility concepts and strategies of cultural mediation in the digital age to Arab perspectives on transformation processes in Berlin, they discussed why Berlin is a harbour for the Arab diaspora, how urban planning can be improved in order to also serve female needs, and which innovative formats can be developed and implemented in cultural education. 

Capturing these fresh impulses, the sound artist Amin Fallaha imagined ‘Future Sounds of Megacities’ in a live DJ set. The sound installation with recorded street sounds from Cairo and Berlin composed by Amin Fallaha and Tobias Hagelstein made the process of technological innovation in urban mobility audible in an interactive sound and music collage.


AGYA Soundscape 'Future Sounds of Megacities'

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Biographies in Motion - The Arab Intellectual Community in Berlin


Date and Venue

21 May 2022
Berlin Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (BBAW), Germany

Editorial Team

  • Masetto Bonitz
  • Dr. Sabine Dorpmüller
  • Sebastian Fäth
  • Ann-Cathrin Gabel