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Call for pa­pers: Twelfth Nordic Conference on Middle East­ern Stud­ies

“The Middle East in Myth and Reality”

Reykjavik, Iceland, 22–24 September 2022

The Nordic Society for Middle Eastern Studies (NSMES) (, the University of Iceland and the Middle Eastern Studies Program at the University of Iceland are pleased to announce the call for papers for the Twelfth Nordic Conference on Middle Eastern Studies. NSMES is an independent non-profit association for scholars in the Nordic countries working on the Middle East. It covers all subjects in the humanities and social sciences, from antiquity to the present day. The NSMES conference takes place every third year in one of the Nordic countries, is held in English, and is also open for participants beyond the Nordic countries. This time the theme for the multidisciplinary conference is “The Middle East in Myth and Reality”.

The Middle East is a term laden with notions, implications, projections and clichés. Often defined as a “cradle of civilization”, the region it defines has not only been the setting for premodern events and narratives of lasting impact upon the world at large; it has also been mythicised from outside like few other places in the modern era, and remains globally contested both in myth and in reality. Simultaneously desired and detested, a source of inspiration and symbol of otherness, its real-life experiences often seem to clash with past and present expectations and prejudices. Conceptions and perceptions of the region both from within and from neighbouring and distant parts of the world have accumulated over a long span of time, resulting in a plethora of material available for academic study.

Paper proposals are encouraged to explore and discuss social, political, geographical, historical and religious myths and realities from all fields and disciplines of the Middle Eastern studies, including – but not limited to – the following fields: Middle Eastern history, anthropology, archaeology, religion, politics, sociology, language, and literature. To this may be added the study of identity, religion, gender, immigration, minorities and many other phenomena. Papers on other relevant themes pertinent to current Middle Eastern Studies are also welcome.

Keynote Speakers

  • Ragnhild Johnsrud Zorgati (University of Oslo): “Narrating the Middle East in Nineteenth-century Scandinavia: Travelogues, Academic essays, Novels, Paintings, and Photography in-between Myth and Reality.”
  • Charles Kurzman (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill): “Myth-Making and Reality-Making in Middle East Political Movements.”
  • Zareena Grewal (Yale University): “Where in the World is the Muslim World? The Middle East and Global Islam.”
  • Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen (University of Copenhagen): “The Prophet Muhammad in Myth and Reality.”

Abstract Submission

The deadline for submitting proposals is 15 March 2022.

For a roundtable, please submit a proposal comprising an abstract of about 150 words on the theme as well as the names and institutional affiliations of convener, chair, and panelists. For pre-organized panels, please submit a proposal comprising the names and institutional affiliations of convener, chair, and panelists, as well as title and abstract of about 150 words for the panel itself and for each paper presented. A pre-organized panel consists of a chair plus 3–4 panelists with single papers.

For individual papers please submit your name, institutional affiliation, contact information, the title, 3–5 keywords, and abstract of your paper not exceeding 150 words. 

Please submit proposals to:

Further information can be found on the conference website.

It is hoped that severe Covid-19 restrictions will not be in place in September 2022, but if they are, the conference will be postponed until a better time.


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