Collaborative Learning in History and Anthropology

project abstract​

A bit of context in Cairo: the humanities in (post-)revolutionary Egypt

In 2014, I pondered how to tackle the sensitive topic of intimacy in my anthropological investigation. With a background in both dance and anthropology, I realized dance could be an epistemological tool for understanding. Thus, I devised Dancing Aesthesia, a methodology blending dance with Arts-Based Research and Research-Creation.

Engaging with various dance communities, including students and professionals, we collectively explored intimacy through movement and creation. Participants became co-researchers, shaping the study’s direction. Extended workshops fostered deep reflection on intimate experiences, translating them into diverse forms of expression. Acting as a choreographer, I orchestrated the exploration, inspired by the non-hierarchical ethos of the SenseLab in Montreal, integrating theory and practice through live movement experiments.

A bit of context in Bern: The THoR Initiative and the Co-Lab “Engaged Connected Practice”

Since 2016, when Anne Clément-Vollenbroich joined as assistant professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Bern, our collaboration evolved. Co-hosted by the institute of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, we joined the Taking the Humanities on the Road (THoR) initiative at the Walter Benjamin Kolleg Bern, co-founding the Co-Lab Engaged Connected Practice.

In this Co-Lab, we recognized the vibrant revival of the humanities outside established university systems. Emphasizing the need for an “engaged connected practice,” we shifted scholarly focus to the margins, engaging with community concerns and challenging knowledge politics. Inspired by Subrahmanyam’s “connected histories,” we initiated dialogue across humanistic traditions and disciplines.

Collaborative Learning in History & Anthropology between Cairo & Bern (“Collaborative Learning”)

Our first concrete project was “Collaborative Learning in History & Anthropology.” This teaching experiment facilitated courses simultaneously for students in Bern and Cairo. Participants engaged in shared readings, exchanged perspectives through weekly sessions, and culminated in a collaborative workshop. All participants were regarded as co-producers of knowledge, with courses conducted in English and Arabic, utilizing Self-Directed Education and alternative pedagogies.

project leaders​

Anne Clément-Vollenbroich

Anne Clément-Vollenbroich

Middle Eastern Studies, University of Bern

Hussein El-Hajj

Hussein El-Hajj

Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Nariman Moustafa

Nariman Moustafa

Former Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Echidna Global Scholar at Brookings



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