Call for papers *EXTENDED* - The Middle East c.1960-1980 - Global and Transnational Perspectives *POSTPONED* - New date to be announced soon!

Call for papers *EXTENDED* - The Middle East c.1960-1980 - Global and Transnational Perspectives *POSTPONED* - New date to be announced soon!

9 March 2020

The Middle East c.1960-1980 - Global and Transnational Perspectives

Conference: TBC 

St Antony’s College, University of Oxford

Supported by Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute

In recent years the “global 1960s” and the “global 1970s” have been the focus of much interest, popular as well as scholarly, but this interest has largely concerned itself with western Europe and the USA. This conference seeks to integrate the Middle East into the global perspectives used to understand these two decades. It intends to re-examine the history of the Middle East in the two decades roughly bracketed by the years 1960 and 1980, a period which represented the high point across the region of a political radicalism which was profoundly global in character. Symbolically inaugurated by Che Guevara’s visit to Gaza in 1959, and closed by the consolidation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the early 1980s, and the Lebanon war, the siege of Beirut and the eviction of the PLO from Beirut in 1982, this period was saturated both by the discourses of revolution and anti-imperialism and by actual upheavals in the world of concrete politics. The many landmarks of these years included events such as the victory of Algerian independence in 1962 following a long war with France, the launch of the Palestine revolution, the establishment of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen following a long war with Britain, the overthrow of the monarchy in Libya in 1969, the rebellion in Dhofar between 1962-76, and the Iranian revolution of 1977-1979. In addition to such major transformations, these years also saw serial popular interventions in politics, sustained labour activism and the formation of leftist organizations, including in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies. By the mid-late-1970s, however, these political and ideological trends were already faltering, reflecting a global trend. This eventually resulted in a widespread disillusionment which, although at first taking place largely under the radar, accelerated rapidly, eventually succumbing to the rise of an ideological and political challenge in the specific form of Islamic activism and a generalized acceptance of neo-liberalism.

This conference aims to reconfigure the history of the Middle East in these decades no longer as an agglomeration of discrete episodes but as a single, integrated phenomenon with its own dynamic and logic. It will look at the ways in which events in the Middle East were shaped by global and transnational contexts and, in turn, the impact events in the region exercised on other parts of the world. Topics include but are not limited to:

  • The general character of the period around the world and ways in which it shaped the Middle East
  • The role of media, print, radio, television and film
  • Routes of transmission and exchange of cultural and artistic influences, for example in propaganda art and posters
  • Collaborative efforts between the Middle East and European cultural producers, best exemplified in film by the Italian-Algerian co-production, “The Battle of Algiers”
  • Travel, migration and simply movement within the Middle East and between the Middle East and the wider world
  • The “educational revolution” and the role of education inside and outside the Middle East, in the West and in the Eastern bloc, who studied what and where?
  • The consequences of the transformation of the issue of Palestine from a local conflict to the central global struggle of the period
  • The turn to armed struggle, examples including Palestine, Yemen, Dhofar, and links with militant European groups.
  • The lessons and significance of other zones of conflict, for example Vietnam, Cuba, Latin America and the fate of Chile under Allende.
  • An Arab Hanoi? An Arab Havana? The role of cities as foci of radicalism for the domestic, regional and global environments: Algiers, Beirut, Aden.
  • Changing perceptions of the Middle East in Europe and the USA
  • Formation and influence of solidarity movements and networks in the West
  • Intellectual exchanges, networks and influences, the role of “travelling theories”
  • The role of transnational, regional and global political organizations
  • The role played by a hegemonic Leftism in shaping political Islam


Abstracts of a maximum of 500 words should be submitted to Dr Stephanie Cronin, no later than 31 December, 2020, at