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Dar al-Kalima University and CAFCAW’s Round Table Larnaca-Cyprus, June 7 & 8, 2024

Dar al-Kalima University is organizing a round table with The Christian Academic Forum for Citizenship in the Arab World (CAFCAW), entitled “Culture, Religion, and the Body”. The round table will take place in Larnaca-Cyprus on June 7 and 8, 2024.
Contemporary discussions in Southwestern Asia and North Africa (SWANA) often hinge upon notions and praxis of the body, religion, and culture, including how differences are defined, intersections are perceived, and how they inform societal behaviors, draw upon and influence culture and religion, and have an impact on (and are impacted by) various religious, political and economic structures. Indeed, SWANA has been a hub of geopolitics in the last decades, and the site of various conflicts that have interested local and international organizations, institutions, academics, artists, and journalists, and this interest has been given more attention than other issues such as discourses on and practices of the body, culture, and religion.

However, much is still needed to be done when it comes to 1) deconstructing the macro-level frames of research/analysis and practice which are marked by insufficient attention to context; and 2) exploring, mapping, empowering, and promoting current voices and practices in the region and diaspora communities, as these voices/practices challenge assumptions of binaries, deconstruct stereotypes, and highlight the importance of gender equality (UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 5) toward building inclusive societies (SDG 16) in SWANA.
According to Dar al-Kalima University’s President, Reverend Dr. Mitri Raheb: “Dar al-Kalima University is always keen to tackle social and religious issues that many avoid. The issue of the body at the intersection of religion and culture is such an issue. The conference will gather scholars from across the West Asia and North Africa to analyze what role ‘the body’ is playing today in the socio-political discourse in the region. Our hope is that the proceedings of the conference will provide scholars and students with a tool to better understand this important issue.”
According to Program Manager Dr. Pamela Chrabieh: “This theme's importance grew from the concluding session of the 24th DAK/CAFCAW International Conference on Culture and Digital Transformation in June 2022 in Limassol-Cyprus. Several academics, artists, and practitioners from SWANA and diaspora communities identified it as timely and relevant to interconnected SWANA domains -- mainly cultural, social, legal, political, and economic. Participants will be invited to discuss the following questions: 1) Gender Representations/Agency and Gendered Bodies, by Investigating how gender is represented and negotiated in SWANA cultures, and the agency individuals have over their gendered bodies. 2) Framing, Utilizing, and Controlling bodies, by examining the ways bodies are framed and controlled by religious, social, political, and economic systems in SWANA, and the impacts of repressive legal frameworks/practices on bodily autonomy. Also, by analyzing the role of bodies in acts of resistance against occupation and war, as well as the ways bodies are oppressed and exploited in conflict zones. 3) The Body, Socialization, and Technology, by Investigating how societal norms, cultural practices, and religious beliefs influence the socialization of bodies in SWANA, and the implications for individual autonomy and self-expression.