European Commission - 7th Framework Programme European Museums and Libraries in/of the age of migrations last updated: February 2015

Al-Masha or the Space of the Common

31 October - 1 November

Berlin, Germany | Haus der Kulturen der Welt


The Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, is promoting the Workshop Al-Masha or the Space of the Common, which will take place in the framework of the international, interdisciplinary symposium A Journey of Ideas AcrossIn Dialogue with Edward Said (31 October – 2 November 2013).

HKW is a place for international contemporary arts and a forum for current developments and discourse located in Berlin.
The workshop Al-Masha or the Space of the Common takes up an urgent current topic to be examined in the spirit of Edward W. Said, whose work inspires the symposium and workshop: It aims to reflect on public and common space in regard to as well as beyond the events and places of the Arab revolts. These revolts have been fundamentally challenging the repressive and conservative face of public space in the Arab world and have enabled re-articulations of common space. However, the ambiguous nature of contemporary public space could be also observed in the context of recent protest movements in Western societies. And finally, the categories of public and private need to be reconsidered in places such as refugee camps, given the fact that no legal recognition or the right to private property exists here.

Against this background, the purpose of the workshop is to explore ways in which public and common spaces are shaped and constituted. Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti propose a critical understanding of the contemporary notion of the public by re-imagining the notion of the common. The demand for active participation is a fundamental aspect of the common and is also present in the Arabic term masha, referring to shared land, whose possession was recognized through practice: Masha could only exist when people cultivated land together. Thus, it appears to be crucial for this category to be activated in common use.
How to engage with the space of the common or al-masha today? Participants are invited to examine, explore, question, and re-invent the notion of common space and its practices and conceptualizations in the Arab world and beyond. Participants are expected to be actively engaged within their own cities and communities through their work and interest, either conceptually or practically, or both.

The workshop Al-Masha or the Space of the Common is an integral part of the interdisciplinary symposium A Journey of Ideas Across – In Dialogue with Edward Said that re-engages with Edward Said's body of work on yet-to-be-explored paths. Among others, participants of the symposium are: Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Meltem Ahiska, Mohammad al-Attar, Ahl al Kahf, Rana Barakat, Asef Bayat, Akeel Bilgrami, Subhi Hadidi, Abdelfattah Kilito, Mahmood Mamdani, Samia Mehrez, W.J.T. Mitchell, Fawwaz Traboulsi, and Trinh T. Minh-ha. Participants of the symposium and the workshop are expected to take part in the whole programme in order to provide an exchange of ideas and a debate between the speakers of the symposium and the actors of the workshops.

Young researchers and theoreticians, artists and activists are invited to submit an abstract not exceeding 500 words (1 page) explaining with what ideas, topics and projects you would like to contribute to the workshop, together with your CV to project assistant Fabian Ledwon, Ledwon(at) by August 17, 2013.
Selected participants will be granted the journey to Berlin and accommodation in Berlin for the duration of the workshop and the symposium, if required. All travel arrangements will be organized by HKW.


» link to the Conference