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What do we need to know about the MENA region today?

Simon Sheikh
1 June 2011

There are two things we need to know. Firstly, we need to know what we know, that is, how much or how little? Secondly, we need to know who 'we' are in this context. Obviously, there is a different 'we' at stake, whether inside or outside the region, as well as many differences within the region. So, from the outside we need to know which forms of 'we' are working in the region, and how they see themselves, their histories and possible futures: what are their horizons of expectation?

The question takes on an added urgency in the light of recent political events in the Middle East, and how they are, perhaps mistakenly, perceived by the outside, the West, as completely unexpected. Should we have known, and thus expected, more? Additionally, what shall the constitution of 'we' as the people in the region expect – of themselves, their projects, and the world beyond? Surely, the surprised 'we' of the West needs, now more than ever, to 'unknow' itself in order to not only know themselves as a 'we' anew, but also to know more – something, anything – about the unexpected political subjects of the region, and to ask ourselves what we can do?'

Simon Sheikh

is a curator and theorist based in Berlin.

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A platform is a space for speaking in public. It is an opportunity to express ideas and thoughts. It also suggests the formal declaration of a stance or position on any given subject.

Unique to Ibraaz is a 'platform', a question put to writers, thinkers and artists about an issue relevant to the MENA region. This platform is sent to respondents both within and beyond the MENA region and contributions will be archived every 12 months.