Working title: Crises or new beginnings? Adultery and (involuntary) triangular relationships in contemporary literature and films

Joachim Harst (Bonn, Germany) & Sandra Vlasta (Vienna, Austria)

Infidelity commonly is regarded as a moment of crisis in a relationship. It might even lead to the end of a relationship, legally it can be a reason for divorce, the end of matrimony. Contrary to this view, we would like to understand adultery rather as a form of relationship, not as its end. The bond of matrimony and its modern day equivalent of long-term relationships intrinsically include moments of rupture and betrayal.

This can be readily exemplified by a number of recent books and films which deal with adultery and/or triangular relationships. Starting with the fundamental question whether these constellations are rather depicted as crises or as new beginnings, we will proceed with analyses on different levels: on the level of contents/plot and on the level of structure and medium. Finally, we will also look at the relation between fictionality and infidelity/adultery.

Love in the Middle East: Beyond Violence and War in Iraq & Palestine

Professor Nadje Al-Ali and Katherine Natanel (SOAS)

Our research is about love in an area of the world usually associated with hate and violence. What does love mean to people living in situations of war and conflict, such as has been the case for a long time in Palestine and Iraq? Is love an aspiration, sentiment and practice that moves people in the region beyond hatred and violence? How do people experience love when they are being forced to flee their homes, like Iraqi and Palestinian refugees in Jordan and the United Kingdom? Do their understandings and experiences of love change as they are forced to leave their homes and start new lives elsewhere?

We aim to introduce a new and original angle to studies of the Middle East, focusing on Palestine and Iraq. The concept of love will allow us to open up new research areas and questions in relation to the following areas of interest: 1) gender norms and relations – what it means to be an ideal man or woman in a particular context; 2) dynamics, strategies and tensions within families and communities; and 3) the way people relate to the state as well as their new homes after displacement.