Cities of the Arab World - Conference Details

An Interdisciplinary Conference - Cities of the Arab World: Theory, Investigation and Critique

Location: MSU Union, Lake Huron Room
Date: Thursday, February 14, 2019 - Friday, February 15, 2019
Registration Deadline: Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Global Urban Studies Program, the Department of Anthropology, and the Muslim Studies Program are pleased to announce an interdisciplinary conference entitled Cities of the Arab World: Theory, Investigation and Critique, to be held February 14-15, 2019, at the Michigan State University Student Union. Conference panelists, from the Middle East, Europe and the United States, will address a number of topics including environmental issues in Arab cities, the contributions of ethnic and religious minorities to urban life, the political economy of redevelopment and questions of civil conflict and post-conflict reconstruction. The inclusion of cities with significant Arab populations outside the Middle East enables exploration of questions of coexistence and conflict, and of the rich cultural production that globalization makes possible.



Thursday, February 14

Extreme but not Exceptional: Gulf Cities as Harbingers of Urban Futures
Harvey Molotch, Emeritus Professor of Social & Cultural Analysis and Sociology, New York University

Harvey Molotch is well known for his research and writing on cities, including the book on city development, Urban Fortunes (co-authored with John Logan). Other writings have been concerned with architecture and industrial design, local and national security, racial segregation, mass media, and public toilets. His most recent project is resulting in the edited book (with Davide Ponzini), The New Arab Urban: Gulf Cities of Wealth, Ambition, and Distress. He is Emeritus Professor NYU and UCSB, with prior appointments as Centennial Professor, London School of Economics and Visiting professorships at Lund, Northwestern, and Essex universities.

Friday, February 15

Urban Citizenship and the Politics of Presence in the Age of Forced Population Displacement
Mona Fawaz, Professor of Architecture and Design, Faculty of Engineering and Design, American University of Beirut

Mona Fawaz is Professor in Urban Studies and Planning, the Coordinator of the Masters Program in Urban Planning, Policy and Design, and Director of the Social Justice and the City Research Program at the Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy at the American University of Beirut. Professor Fawaz's scholarly interests reflect the imperative to make cities more inclusive. Her research spans across urban history and historiography, social and spatial justice, informality and the law, property and space, as well as planning practice, theory and pedagogy. She is the author of over 40 scholarly articles, book sections, and reports in Arabic, French and English and has edited several collections of essays on these issues. In addition, in her capacity as a public intellectual, Dr. Fawaz is deeply involved in professional and public debates concerning Beirut’s contemporary transformations, and she advocates for upgrading informal settlements, protecting the urban commons, improving livability, adopting inclusive planning standards, and defending the right to the city.


Thursday, February 14

In the Last Days of the City
7:00 pm. at the MSU Library, Green Room

In conjunction with the MSU Library Film Series, there will be a screening of Tamer al-Said’s award winning film, In the Last Days of the City (el Said 2016), set in Cairo. A discussion of the film, led by MSU’s Rola Nashef (Dept. of Media and Information), will follow.

View the conference brochure and Program: 
FINAL conference schedule

For more information, please contact: 
Najib Hourani at or (517) 353-8540.

To register: 
RSVP for the conference

Attendance is free, but registration is strongly encouraged for a more accurate refreshment count and for conference details.


Key sponsors

  • Global Urban Studies Program
  • Department of Anthropology
  • College of Social Science
  • Muslim Studies Program
  • Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, University of Michigan


Additional sponsors

  • School of Planning, Design and Construction
  • Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies
  • African Studies Center
  • Center for Advanced Study of International Development
  • Residential College in the Arts and Humanities
  • Department of History
  • Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities