full name / name of organization: 
May Hawas
contact email: 

Travelling Literature, World Literature:
The Eastern Journey from Local to Global.

Papers are invited to participate in a panel for the BRISMES (British Society for Middle East Studies) Conference due June 2014 in Sussex around the theme 'The Middle East in Global Perspective'.

To view the 'Middle' (as well as 'Near', or 'Far') East in the world is to consider simultaneously the connections between the linked nodal points of towns and centres within the Middle East that define it as a cohesive region, and its own connections with 'other' regions that locate it in a global cultural dialogue. Departing from an interest in world literature and world history, this panel will discuss the fluid and integral concept of travel as genre, structure, motif or canon in the encounters of the diverse cultures and lingua francas of the Middle East. Rihla or safar accounts have been for various reasons some of the earliest, most circulated, and most sustained prose narratives. The region's often multilingual readers and writers created 'canons' of travel narratives which intersected over centuries of reciprocal reading, translation, reappropriation and reinterpretation. Questions the panel hopes to pose include: Can we speak of a consistent core concept of the rihla-safar in Middle Eastern literatures and belles-lettres from early times to the present? How did travel writing segue into the rise of 'modernity' and modern prose forms? How did travellers construct an integrated ecumenical world view for their multi-lingual and multi-cultural audiences, and how might they have also resisted the exclusionary, hegemonic identities propagated by local or foreign rulers and states?

Papers dealing with all, minor and major, languages, cultures and religions of Middle, Near and Far East within the context of travel and inter-influence are welcome. Those working on the relation between India and the 'Middle' East are particularly welcome. Please send an abstract of maximum 250 words to by 23rd October.