EVENT Jan 15
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Locating the Lost Archive of Arab Cinema

Organization: Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth (USJ)
Categories: Aesthetics, Film, TV, & Media
Event Date: 2021-01-15 Abstract Due: 2021-01-15

Locating the Lost Archive of Arab Cinema



This special issue asks how our histories of Arab cinema might change if we tackle the problem of Arab cinema’s lost archive(s). From most of the films made in Lebanon prior to 1975 to the cinemas of Iraq, Yemen, Palestine, Sudan, and elsewhere, there are many reasons why films and their histories may have been lost to current memory. From structural and environmental issues and the lack of investment in proper storage facilities and maintenance, to films lost to censorship and forgotten in the ravages of conflicts and time as they fell out of fashion or did not find distribution circuits; or, indeed, found them only on ephemeral channels, like now-defunct TV stations or fleetingly-lived digital sites. While, as Jacques Derrida wrote, the archive conveys both structures of power and gatekeeping, it also gestures to a space – perhaps online – where the materials of the past are collected. Yet, despite and with awareness of these structural limitations at the intersections of power and knowledge, archives remain crucial to our ability to research and develop sophisticated narratives of the past. A dearth of official and unofficial well-maintained film archives across the Arab world compounds our ability to understand the cinematic past.


The October 2021 special issue of Regards solicits articles on the problematics of writing cinema history sometimes without the films themselves, and often without archives. Building on scholarship by film scholars like Allyson Nadia Field (Uplift Cinema, Duke University Press, 2015), contributors are invited to submit scholarly pieces on topics that include, but are not limited to:

·         Archiving film history in the Arab Middle East

·         Formal and Informal Archives

·         Studying cinema without films

·         Digitization and the archive

·         Histories and geographies of cinemas and cinema-going

·         Histories of film-watching outside of cinemas

·         Writing alternate film histories: The popular press and Arab cinema in its early decades

·         What is a minor cinema?

·         The forgotten genres of Arab cinema


Submission guidelines

Authors wishing to submit an abstract (in French, English or Arabic) are invited to send it to the following address:

regards@usj.edu.lb. Before January 15, 2021.

Authors should provide the following information:

·         An abstract of the article (approx. 500 words).

·         Keywords.

·         A mini bio-bibliography (approx. 100 words).

The abstracts will be examined by the editorial committee, and the authors will receive an answer before January 30, 2021.


Scientific Committee

·         Hamid Aidouni, PR (Université Abdelmalek Essaadi, Maroc)

·         Karl Akiki, MCF (Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, Liban)

·         Riccardo Bocco, PR (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Genève, IHEID, Suisse)

·         Fabien Boully, MCF (Université Paris Nanterre, France)

·         André Habib, PR (Université de Montréal, Canada)

·         Dalia Mostafa, MCF (University of Manchester, Angleterre)

·         José Moure, PR (Université Paris Panthéon Sorbonne – Paris 1, France)

·         Jacqueline Nacache, PR (Université de Paris, France)

·         Ghada Sayegh, MCF (IESAV, Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, Liban)

·         Kirsten Scheid, Associate PR (American University of Beirut, Liban)

Editor-in-chief: Joseph Korkmaz, PR (Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, Liban)

Edition editor: Ghenwa Hayek, Associate PR (University of Chicago, Etats-Unis)



Toufic El-Khoury