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University of Balamand > News > Archive > The impact of Arab

The ​impact of Arab Uprisings on the citizenship in the Arab world

The department of Political Science and International Affairs at the University of Balamand has successfully hosted a three-day international conference, Nov. 12-14, addressing the topic of “The Impact of the Arab Uprisings on Citizenship in the Arab World”. Overall, twenty-two papers were presented by speakers coming from a dozen of different countries, from Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia.   
Citizenship is and should be regarded as a necessary concept for the formation of any healthy democratic system. It simply suggests that the people living within a country are seen as “citizens” rather than “subjects”, which imply they have rights and duties that cannot be taken away from them. Moreover, citizenship is characterized by a contractual relation in the sense that a “social contract” between the citizens and the state is put in place and it clearly defines the roles, duties and the limit of power between the two parties of this contract. 
This conference was interested in addressing and understanding the extent to which Arab Uprisings had affected the rise and development of citizenship and integrated it as a fundamental pillar for building our societies.
Gilbert Achkar, professor at the University of London and the author of many books, was the keynote speaker at the conference.  
Starting with the first panel, on citizenship and the Arab uprisings, and the second panel, on the impact of the uprisings on citizenship in Lebanon, six speakers presented their papers. Each of these two panels were moderated by Dr. Mohammed Rihan and Dr. Sabah Ghandour. 
“On the Significance of the Dignity Slogan in the Arab Turmoil” was the first lecture by Mudar Kassis from the University of Birzeit in Palestine, followed by a lecture by Ghassan El Khaled under the title of “The Vicissitudes of Citizenship in Arab Political Thought.”  Both went through major points about citizenship and gave their own definitions and arguments based on their professions in philosophy and sociology. 
“Nationalism, Uprisings, and Citizenship” was the third paper in this panel given by Najla Hamadeh, from the association of women researchers in Lebanon. The last paper presented was “Citizenship Between the Religious and Secular State in the Arab Uprising,”   by Khalil Khairallah. In the second panel, citizenship, with a focus on Lebanon, was  the subject of discussion.  
Two papers were presented; the first by Karolin Sagebush, from the Marburg university, titled “Disrupting Order, Claiming Citizenship: ‘New’ Forms of Action in the Wave of Lebanese Anti-Sectarian Protests, 2010-2012” and the second was given by Dr. Noura Assaf from the University of Balamand, “The Impact of the Arab Uprising on the Empowerment of Lebanese Civil Society: 2011-2014”.    
Thursday's panels were very diverse. In the first part of the day, all papers were discussing citizenship in relation with the media and social change. We had Nahawand Elkadiri Issa, From the Lebanese University, Mohammed Al Agaty, from Arab Forum For Alternatives, Dina Mansour, from the Arab Council for Social Sciences, and Hasna Hussein from  the University of Mundiapolis, Morocco. In the second part, public space, democracy and rights were addressed in relation with citizenship.
Three papers were presented by three different scholars; Giuseppe Tassone, Abdallah Nassereddine and Zineddine Kherchi. The final panel for this day was on arts. Two professionals were there to present two different topic about  the arts and citizenship,  Jamal Bahmad and Watfa Hamadi. 
Everything has an end. The last day was divided into two panels. The first part   addressed political shifts under the uprisings by Stephane Valter, Clement Stuer, Gaetan Du Roy, Rim Saab, and Maria Fenis. The second part was about children, youth and the uprisings. The first paper presented by Zeina Osman under the title  “Subversive Childhood: Political Children of the Arab Uprising.” The second paper by Iyad Riyahi and Firas Jabber, “Youth Uprising in Palestine, from Spring to Autumn.”
What we believe distinguishes this conference was the behind-the-scenes continuous collaboration between various members of the Balamandian community: professors, administrative, public relations officers and students joined forces together, under the supervision of Dr. Sami Ofeish, chairperson of the Political Science and International Affairs department- for the success of this conference.
Next to the academic aspect, we should emphasize  the brilliant cooking talents of our THM colleagues who contributed to the overall pleasure of attending this conference. Numerous speakers voiced their satisfaction with the quality of the meals that were served.    
By Yasmine Hajar
and George Khoukaz
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