From 18-22 May, the transdisciplinary and international AGYA workshop entitled “Arab Women Circle” took place in Beirut as part of a tandem project by Enass Khansa and Luise Fischer. Numerous women, including AGYA members, from Lebanon, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom engaged in questions of female strength – especially in and through writing, music, visual arts, storytelling, and movement.
The AGYA workshop provided an exemplary occasion for academics and practitioners to meet, learn, and exchange ideas on the past and present of women’s voices in writing and the arts.
Dr. Luise Fischer, AGYA member
Starting point of the transdisciplinary AGYA workshop in Beirut is a 2023 forthcoming Arabic publication by AGYA member Enass Khansa on Medieval Women in Power that will also, jointly with AGYA member Luise Fischer, be published in German. The aim of the publication is to make medieval history interesting for a wide audience with a special focus on young readers, and to present female progressive thinking.
Transdisciplinary Writing Workshop
The transdisciplinary AGYA workshop brought together scientists, journalists, authors, and artists from Germany, France and Lebanon. Jointly, they will make a booklet, which translates biographies of ten women from medieval history into comics. Together with the publication 'Medieval Women in Power' the booklet will be distributed to educational institutes and schools both in Arab countries and Germany. Additionally, the newly formed group will produce scholarly articles to be published in academic journals, including the prestigious 'Hawwa Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World'; and they will conceptualize and write media articles for a broad readership to promote the voices of women in history. Thereby this project also tries to bridge the challenging gap between scholars and society through new forms of science communication. Primarily, the goal is to engage and build a network of institutions, high schools, educational initiatives, local cultural centers, that already teach history within a global perspective, and history and literature in the Arab world.
Unveiling Empowering Layers of History
As a new concept of transdisciplinary collaboration, the project has an experimental edge. AGYA members Enass Khansa and Luise Fischer contribute to the debates on the relevance of literature and its role in society; on empowering marginalized communities and giving voices to the women from our past. The project will unveil a layer of history that has thus far been neglected, misunderstood or eclipsed. It will also strengthen the relations between artists, scholars, and writers from Germany and the Arab world.
At the workshop, several questions rose around the role and relation of different knowledge systems. What counts as knowledge? Who holds it and how is it being spread? One central aspect concerned knowledge of the ancestors and knowledge of the land – an important aspect for various indigenous societies. Such knowledge has often been transmitted orally or in small groups. How do such epistemic systems, which stress the importance of community and belonging, relate to what is typically understood as academic knowledge? As a second central aspect, the role of women in societies – especially Lebanon – past and present was addressed. Whilst trauma and mental distress were considered significant and individually experienced life changes, the role and forms of empowerment and self-determination were debated. The group concluded that the workshop served as a starting point to a continued journey on exploring these questions.
The workshop took place in cooperation with Arab-German visual storyteller and artist Lena Merhej, Comic artist, co-founder of Samandal collective and founder of the Story Center.
- Project Title
- Making the Medieval Modern: Visual Interpretations of Women’s Affective Histories
- Funding Scheme
- Tandem Project
- Countries Involved
- Germany, Lebanon