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The Quest for Cultural Authenticity and the Politics of Identity

For the BRISMES annual lecture, Professor Sami Zubaida will explore the question of changing identities. What constitutes authenticity in different spheres of culture is contested between political and religious groups and ideologies. Discourses of difference between Muslim/national cultures and ‘the West’, and the resistance to perceived cultural invasion have featured prominently in these contests, over the generations from the inception of modernity to the present, and accelerated globalisation. These themes are explored in relation to religion, national culture, sexuality, music and food.

After an introduction by Professor Toby Dodge, Frances Guy will present the BRISMES Award for Services to Middle East Studies to Alastair Newton immediately after the lecture.

Alastair Newton has been Senior Political Analyst at Nomura International plc since October 2008, having first joined Lehman Brothers International in that capacity in 2005. Prior to Lehman, Alastair spent 20 years in the British Diplomatic Service. He served in sub-Saharan Africa, Paris (at the OECD) and the United States. In London, he worked in intelligence co-ordination (including during the 1990/91 Gulf War), policy planning and economic relations, as well as running the Prime Minister's G7/8 team from 1998 to 2000.

He is a Chairman of the Supervisory Board of African Development Corporation and a member of the Strategy Committee of the Paris-based consultancy, QALIS; the Chatham House Council and its Executive; and the Practitioners' Advisory Board of the journal Global Policy. Alastair was President of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies from 2010 to 2013.

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception from 19.30-20.30.

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Event Details

Speaker: Professor Sami Zubaida, Birkbeck
Chair: Professor Paul Starkey, Durham University
Date:  Wednesday 5 February 2014
Time: 18.00-19.30
Location:  Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE
Attendance: This event is free and open to all on a first come first served basis. Our events are very well attended, please make sure to arrive early. We cannot guarantee entry



Sami Zubaida is Emeritus Professor of Politics and Sociology at Birkbeck, University of London, Fellow of Birkbeck College, Research Associate of the London Middle East Institute, and Professorial Research Associate of the Food Studies Centre, both at SOAS. He has held visiting positions in Cairo, Istanbul, Beirut, Aix-en-Provence, Paris, Berkley CA and NYU, written and lectured widely on themes of religion, culture, law and politics in the Middle East, with particular attention to Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. His other work is on food history and culture. 

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