Postponed to Fall 2021 – Archive Wars: The Politics of History in Saudi Arabia

The production of history is premised on the selective erasure of certain pasts and the artifacts that stand witness to them. From the elision of archival documents to the demolition of sacred and secular spaces, each act of destruction is also an act of state building. Following the 1991 Gulf War, political elites in Saudi Arabia pursued these dual projects of historical commemoration and state formation with greater fervor to enforce their postwar vision for state, nation, and economy. Seeing Islamist movements as the leading threat to state power, they sought to de-center religion from educational, cultural, and spatial policies. Archive Wars explores the increasing secularization of the postwar Saudi state and how it manifested in assembling a national archive and reordering urban space in Riyadh and Mecca.

Join us for this virtual talk and Q&A: (Zoom ID: 880 8414 1217)

SPEAKER: Rosie Bsheer is Assistant Professor of History at Harvard University, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on oil and empire, social and intellectual movements, urban history, historiography, and the making of the modern Middle East. Rosie’s publications include Archive Wars: The Politics of History in Saudi Arabia (Stanford University Press, 2020) and “A Counterrevolutionary State: Popular Movements and the Making of Saudi Arabia,” Past and Present (2018). She is a contributing editor of the journal Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (CSSAME), Associate Producer of the 2007 Oscar-nominated film My Country, My Country, and a co-editor of Jadaliyya E-zine. Rosie received her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University (2014) and came to Harvard from Yale University, where she taught for four years.

DISCUSSANT: Gokh Amin Alshaif is a PhD student in History at UC Santa Barbara. Her dissertation explores the social history of Yemen’s marginalized Black community, the Muhamasheen. She focuses on race, racialization, and Blackness in the Arabian Peninsula and is interested in questions of genealogical imagination, revolution, and resistance in marginalized communities. Gokh is also a researcher at the Insaf Center for Defending Freedoms and Minorities, a non-governmental Yemeni organization that defends racial and religious minority rights in Yemen.


May 26 2021


10:00 am - 11:30 am

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