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The Quest for Cultural Authenticity and the Politics of Identity


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Speaker(s): Professor Sami Zubaidi
Chair: Professor Paul Starkey

Recorded on 5 February 2014 in Old Theatre, Old Building.

For the BRISMES annual lecture, 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. The BRISMES Award for Services to Middle East Studies will be presented immediately after the lecture to Alastair Newton.

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. Books: Islam, the People and the State: Political Ideas and Movements in the Middle East (3rd edition 2009); A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East (edited, with R Tapper, 2nd edition 2000); Law and Power in the Islamic World (2003) and Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Middle East (2011).

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