Preparations for 5th International Conference - Landscape Perspectives on Palestine

Birzeit University is gearing up for its 5th International Conference to be held November 12-15, 1998. The theme of the conference is Landscape Perspectives on Palestine and distinguished international scholars including Professor Edward Said, W.J.T Mitchell and J.M. Wagstaff will present papers on this topic. Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, will also make a presentation during the conference.

The conference is devoted to the exploration of the distinctive place and meaning of the land of Palestine, historically and now, as a lived material space and site for contending identities. Being the first of its kind, the conference adopts a broad interdisciplinary approach and aims to provide new insights in areas where there is insufficient knowledge or awareness.

The opening session will hear a Keynote Address by Edward Said, entitled, "Palestine: Memory, Invention and Space." Also addressing the opening will be the Palestinian Minister of Higher Education, Munthir Salah.

Initial preparations were initiated in early 1996 by Tania Naser, a local musician and artist and Basem Ra'ad, from the English Department at Birzeit University. A preparatory committee was formed chaired by Basem Ra'ad and contact with international scholars and associations was established. In Spring 1998 a Conference Committee was formed, chaired by Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, who told BZU News, "Birzeit University is committed to advanced knowledge on Palestine and all its aspects and this is the 5th international conference that deals with humanities and social sciences."

There will be 32 presentations by distinguished Palestinian and international scholars such as Edward Said from Columbia University, M.J. Wagstaff from the University of Southhampton, W.J.T Mitchell from the University of Chicago, the French scholar Dominique Edde and Dr Shadia Touqan, from the Welfare Association, Jerusalem, who will present a paper on the reconstruction of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Associated with the conference will be various exhibitions including a display by the Palestinian Institute of Archaeology on its Activities and Discoveries. There will also be cultural performances and a field trip organized in conjunction with the Directorate of Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture and the Artas Folklore Centre, Artas.