Welcome!

The Max Weber Foundation’s annual conference provides a forum for the foundation’s institutes and their research topics, as well as for other partner institutions. The event is organized and hosted by a different institute each year and provides the opportunity for an exchange of different international, comparative and transregional perspectives on current academic issues.

On this blog, you will find information on our program, event locations, panelists, and chairs. It will be updated during and after the conference, so be sure to come back for pictures and videos of our events.

Panel 1: Neighborliness and Friendship – The Neighbor as Friend

Chair: Birgit Schäbler (Orient-Institut Beirut)

Ajay Skaria (University of Minnesota):
Political Friendship:  Gandhi and the remaking of the neighbor.

One of the key words in Gandhi’s vocabulary is swadeshi.  Opposing the nationalist reading of the phrase, where swadeshi is exclusively economic in dimension, with a focus primarily on consuming goods from one’s own country, he tries to make it a more broadly ethical practical practice of neighborliness.  Such neighborliness, this paper suggests, involves a certain political friendship.  Neighborliness as political friendship is quite different from intimate friendship: one does not choose one’s neighbors, one’s neighbors are those in whom one finds oneself in relations with, and with whom there might often be intense disagreements.  The essay explores the tensions of neighborliness as political friendship.

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Panel 2: Neighborliness and Enmity: The Neighbor as Enemy

Chair: Miloš Řezník (German Historical Institute Warsaw)

Katarina Ristić (Universität Leipzig):
Neighbors as Brothers: Neighbors as Enemies – Memories of Neighborliness in (former) Yugoslavia

This paper looks at the memories of neighborliness in former Yugoslavia asking how the rise of ethnic animosities which led to the conflict affected neighborhood relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and what is the function of these memories in the post-conflict societies. Intensified globalization in 90s set forth dialectic process of de- and re-territorialization (Middell, 2014) with Yugoslav state actors failing to legitimize the state and its authority under the new global condition. As new actors with rivaling concepts of territoriality emerged, re-imaging ethnically mixed areas as ethnically cleansed nation-states, the conflict broke out tearing apart social tissue of society.

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Panel 3: Regulating Neighborliness: The Neighbor between State and Neighborhood

Chair: Franz Waldenberger (German Institute for Japanese Studies Tokyo)

Robert Pekkanen (University of Washington):
Making Neighbors: The Case of Japan’s Neighborhood Associations

An important aspect constituting “neighborhoods” and “neighborliness” in Japan is the widespread existence of neighborhood associations. Although local neighborhood associations are found in many countries, Japan’s are distinguished by their ubiquity, scope of activities, and very high participation rates, making them important for the study of society and politics. Most Japanese belong to one local neighborhood association or another, making them Japan’s most numerous civil society organization, and one that powerfully shapes governance outcomes in the country. And, they also often blur the state-society boundary, making them theoretically intriguing.

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Panel 4: Gendering Neighborliness: The Neighbor as a Woman

Chair: Mara Albrecht (Orient-Institut Beirut)

Betül Argit (Marmara University):
Neighborly Relations Between Manumitted Former Ladies of the Harem and their New Neighbors

Following their manumission, female palace slaves who belonged to the various ranks of the harem hierarchy, left the Imperial Palaces and settled in various neighborhoods of Istanbul either as married or as single with their “palace identity”. These women who established a new life following their transfer from the imperial palace thus readily became members of Ottoman society. An examination of court registers reinforces the notion that even though these women continued their relation with the Imperial Court, they did not isolate themselves spatially or socially from the wider urban population, and they established versatile relationships with members of society, mainly with the residents of the neighborhoods in which they lived.

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Panel 5: Neighborliness and Religion: The Neighbor as a Theological Challenge

Chair: Thomas Maissen (German Historical Institute Paris)

Chafika Ouail (Orient-Institut Beirut):
Revisiting Jiwār in Islam: Towards an Ontology of Co-Existence

The paper examines the concept of jiwār (neighborliness/neighborhood) in Islam by highlighting it ontologically and as norm and practice in the three spheres of Islam: jurisprudence (Fiqh), theology (Kalām), and spirituality (Sufism). Jiwār as a normative concept is crucial in jurisprudence; it contributed to a rich and fruitful legal discussion. It is also a very important ethical concept in Sufism; in facst, it considers it as a spiritual code of conduct to fulfill the highest aim of the religion which is being the perfect reflection of the Divine ethics. Yet, jiwār is rarely debated in the schools of Kalām, and is not elaborated on as a principle of faith, though it appears in the exegesis of Quran and in the interpretation of the Prophetic sayings as a representation of faith.

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Panel 6: Globalizing Neighborliness: The Neighbor at a Distance

Chair: Sandra Dahlke (German Historical Institute Moscow)

Wolfgang Struck (Universität Erfurt):
Distant Neighbors: Defining Neighborliness in the Age of Worldwide Communication

“England is the neighbor of Australia, while Egypt, for example, is millions of miles separated from Senegal, and Peking seems to be the antipode of St. Petersburg. The sea is easier to traverse now than the smallest desert, and it is due to it, as an American savant rightly expresses, that an international kinship of all parts of the world has emerged.” – <In his novel “The Children of Captain Grant” (“Les Enfants du capitaine Grant“, 1868), the French author Jules Verne envisioned a kind of global neighborliness created by an rapidly increasing traffic on the oceans. In 19th century, the process of globalization has reached a new stage. The modern techniques of communication, particularly the telegraph, the railway, and the steam ship, created new connections, so that closeness and distance seemed to be no longer a question of physical space.

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Panel 7: Neighborliness across Borders: The Neighbor as a Political Problem

Chair: Abdallah Soufan (Orient-Institut Beirut)

Roula Abi Habib Khoury (Saint-Joseph University Beirut):
Cross-Border Neighborliness Between Lebanon and Syria: a Sociological Perspective

Noriko Kawamura (Washington State University):
A Historical Inquiry into Neighborliness and the Shifting Boundaries Surrounding Japan

How can a historian of international relations focusing on the Asian Pacific world contribute to an inquiry into the concept of neighborliness? This paper will focus on Japan’s international relations with its neighbors—China, Korea, Russia/the Soviet Union, and the United States across the Pacific—since the age of imperialism and explore what the idea of territorial proximity (or propinquity) meant to the region. The paper will trace the historical trajectory of how Japan followed the Western imperial powers’ use of the concept of territorial propinquity (voisin) and asserted Japan’s special interests and supremacy in the bordering space (both land and sea) until the end of World War II.

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Panel 8: Neigborliness as a Challenge to the Self

Chair: Simone Lässig (German Historical Institute Washington)

Jakub Zbrzezny (University of Aberdeen):
The Clash of Liturgical Calendars, the Clash of Neighborhoods – Jewish Carnival in Christian Lent

At the beginning of the fifth century CE the governors of Byzantine provinces were given a peculiar order. They were supposed to intervene in the way in which Jews celebrated the festival of Purim, which commemorates the events described in the Tanakh in the Book of Esther. The aim of this intervention was to prevent Jews from burning what seems to be a cross-like effigy of Haman, the villain of the Book. In the view of the legislator, this Jewish custom was aimed at mocking Christian faith and therefore had to be stopped. The earliest witness to this peculiar order is preserved in the Codex Theodosianus, a code of Roman Law promulgated in 438 CE. The text of the order or its content reappear in subsequent Byzantine legal sources, which seems to attest to its continuing relevance. Importantly, some Jewish sources from Late Antiquity indicate that the effigy in question was indeed interpreted among the Jews at the time as a figure of Jesus, its original meaning as a figure of Haman notwithstanding. One question continues to puzzle scholars.

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Panel 9: Exhibiting and Performing Neighborliness

Chair: Thomas Kirchner (German Forum for Art History Paris)

Megan MacDonald (American University Cairo):
Out of the Neighborhood and into the Museum: Archival Space and the North African Neighbor in Contemporary French Exhibitions

How is the neighbor produced? How is the neighbor archived? In this paper I will examine a recent televised documentary on immigration in France “Histoire d’une nation” (2018), alongside recent museum shows concerning North African French citizens and discourses around migration and belonging, and a call for family histories and testimonies. The show « Ô Blédi! Ô Toulouse! » looks at North Africans in the French city of Toulouse, and is currently on view in at La mediatheque Jose Cabanis. l’Institut du Monde Arabe in Tourcoing recently put out a public call for testimonies from North Africans in northern France, and Mucem in Marseille has held several temporary exhibits such as “Algerie-France: La voix des objects” (2017-2019). These exhibitions come at a time when the relationship between France and Algeria—and by extension French citizens with intersecting and painful histories—is still described by many as “sensible” [sensitive] or “chaud” [too hot].

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Panel 11: Shubra: A Neighborhood in Cairo

Chair: Pascale Ghazaleh (American University in Cairo)

Mina Ibrahim (Universität Gießen) and Gaétan du Roy (Université Saint-Louis Bruxelles):

Everyday Practices of Neighborliness in Urban Cairo
In Egypt, one of the main themes of nationalist discourses is the unity of Christianity and Islam, the fraternity of the Cross and the Crescent. This affirmation of interreligious conviviality is often supported by examples of urban coexistence between neighbors belonging to different faith. The metaphor of the pluriconfesional house is often used in fiction (movies, novels or TV series) but also by Cairenes affirming that they live in harmony with their Muslim or Christian neighbors. The examples often convey images of shared practices and symbolic exchanges: people sharing food, inhabitant of the same building living the doors open to each other and considering the neighbors’ children as if they were their own kids, Christians greeting Muslims for their religious festivals as well as the opposite.

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