The 2nd International Congress of the I.A.I.S.:


The Contemporary Arab Islamic
and Minority Cultures in Europe as an Example

Venue: Università La Sapienza, Roma, July 1-4, 2003

Call for papers
It is to be noted from the very outset that the concept of marginalised cultures, as focused on by this congress, refers to issues of both an immaterial and a material nature. Therefore a host of disciplines, ranging from the natural and social sciences to fine arts and 'belles lettres' have to be drawn upon in the process of researching cultural marginalization both in the Arab Islamic Middle East and in a European context to-date.
Hence, the phenomenon of marginalisation is going to be tackled either directly or indirectly, by delivering the results of research in the natural sciences, e.g. genetics or pharmacology, as well as the social, literary, and artistic fields. To give an example: the renowned Arab Egyptian professor of genetics at Cairo University, Ahmad Mustagir (he was awarded the highest state prize for scientific research in Egypt in 2002) will talk at the congress about his genetic research which has lead to the discovery of a way of making use of sea water in irrigating vital crops like wheat. Without uttering one word about marginalisation, coming himself from a so-called developing country, he delivers the proof to the dominating cultures worldwide that the marginalised are nevertheless positively contributing to world cultures (in this case: agriculture) in the widest and most concrete sense, while those who consider themselves 'developed', especially in North America, are violating our nature and contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer of the earth's atmosphere and therefore, to a trend towards endangered and possibly diminished agricultural provisions on a worldwide scale.
Another example will come from the field of pharmacological research; this talk will be delivered at the congress by the renowned pharmacologist, professor M. Raouf Hamid. He will demonstrate the positive contribution that can be delivered by even the most marginalised cultures, in this case the Libyan culture, towards a critical reassessment of the globalised norms of the American Food and Drugs Administration. Professor Hamid's research, jointly carried out together with Libyan undergraduate students during the early 1980s, lead to the discovery that the culinary custom of Libyans to add hot pepper to each meal alters the absorption of medicine, and that the regular consumption of  hot pepper with each meal (in contrast to what the FAD norms imply) leads to a reduced risk of developing peptic ulcers. 
These examples demonstrate the reality of substantial contributions to our world culture by the most marginalised in our present world.

In this context, professor Hamed El-Mousily, of the Faculty of Engineering of Ein Shams University in Cairo, will present another example of self-reliant productivity, in this case based on the recycling of local Egyptian agricultural materials, such as palm tree branches, which resulted in the creation of small home industries in the countryside, in that zone which used to be marginalised in its own (marginalised) country.
This innovation is supporting traditional Egyptian crafts in a new organisational way, making them useful to the local marginalised communities as well as to the world at large.
The enhancement of indigenous creativity in the marginalised areas is an important thematic "axis" of this conference, and we would welcome similar papers dealing with contemporary endeavours in socio-cultures fighting marginalisation in other areas of the world, especially in the European context.

If financial support from the European Union can be obtained, we shall invite professor Abdalla Al-Gamal, of Helwan University in Cairo, in order to present his discovery of a means of 'translating' Arab musical notes into the process of weaving textile fabrics with Arab designs, and vice versa. He would also apply his approach to European music that would be 'translated' into Arab-Egyptian textile designs (combined with a live presentation at the congress).

In case of adequate financial support for the congress by the EU, we would equally like to extend an invitation to the founder of the Aoud Musical Centre at the Cairo Opera House, Nasseer Shamma, who has contributed to a development of the possibilities of the aoud (or lute), the Arab musical instrument which played a major role in Euro-Arab cultural relations several centuries ago. Shamma, who is of Iraqi descent but living in Egypt, would present at the congress an aoud recital, apart from delivering an introductory paper about the development of this instrument.

This exemplary selection of concrete contributions of marginalised cultures does not mean that the conference would leap into the 'concrete' without any basic reflections on the phenomenon of marginalisation.
The renowned professor Mohamed Dowidar of Alexandria University who is also president of the African Economists' Association, will present an analysis of the phenomenon of marginalisation from a global socio-economic standpoint. Whereas M. Abdel-Monem Riad, the distinguished professor of international law at Cairo University and former judge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, will deliver a demonstration of the mechanisms of marginalisation with regard to human rights in a worldwide context.
It is expected that the internationally renowned professor of economics, Samir Amin, will attend this congress as well, as a board member of the International Association of Intercultural Studies (IAIS) which is in charge of the organisation of this event.

As to the Humanities, a critique of the cultural dependency apparent in the Arab media, which shall focus on the main factors of marginalisation in this vital area, will be presented by Awatif Abdel-Rahman, professor of Journalism at the Faculty of Mass Communications at Cairo University.
Apart from this, a host of Arab artists and writers will contribute.
Ezzel-Din Naguib, for instance, a painter, writer, and art critic who founded in Cairo the Asala [Originality] association in order to promote the indigenous Egyptian craftsmanship that is being marginalised by World Market mechanisms, will present the experience of his association in fighting marginalisation.

The Arab viewpoint with regard to established studies, especially at Western universities, will be addressed as well.
Andalusian studies, as well as Russian literature, will be tackled, from varying Arab standpoints, by distinguished Arab scholars.
The same applies to literary theory and the arts, including theatre and drama today.

In addition to asking for further contributions on the  marginalised cultures of the Middle East and Northern Africa, this call for papers addresses marginalised cultures and literatures in Europe, hoping to focus, for instance, on creative writing in the Irish language.
We would love to have at the conference a play staged in Gaelge that could be presented along with a simultaneous translation via audio equipment and earphones. It is hoped that the financial support of the EU would make this possible.

If we single out literature in the Irish language as an example of marginalisation, we know full well that there are other, equally marginalised cultures in Europe today, a fact that is apparent not only with regard to 'small' European countries like Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Luxemburg, or Finland, but also concerns several other European countries - if we think, for instance, of Occitany and Britanny in France, and Flanders / Wallonia in Belgium.

The aim of this exercise is not only to draw attention to the valid contribution of such marginalised cultures to world culture, but also to draw precise comparisons between them, thus to clarify what marginalised cultures may have in common and what is specific about them.
We hope that this would make it possible at the end of the conference to suggest a common platform, drafted with the aim of pointing out possible steps and strategies to overcome their being marginalised on a worldwide scale.

Proposals for papers, along with a 15-20 lines abstract (in English), are to be submitted no later than 15 November 2002, to:
Magdi Youssef, President, Interntl. Association of Intercultural Studies (IAIS).
(e-mail address:)  (please note the 'underscore': magdi_youssef)

In addition to the Arab / Islamic contributions already agreed upon or still expected, European and other contributions on the congress theme will be outlined in the programme of this congress,  to be published early next year.

The official languages of the Congress are:
English, French, Italian, German, and Arabic.
However, for practical reasons, English will be the lingua franca of all the sessions at the conference.
It will also be the language in which the proceedings of the Congress will be published. Further editions in other languages are not excluded.