The conference has brought two notable speakers: Abdullahi An-Na'im and Mahmood Mamdani
The American University in Cairo (AUC) opened yesterday the eighteenth annual Research Conference, titled “Social Justice: Theory, Research and Practice.” According to conference organizers, this year’s event is notable not only for the variety and relevance of the topics being discussed -- including how to use civil society to promote justice, the place of justice in sustainable development, and the gender and family relationship to social justice -- but also, because for the first time, the conference is open to the greater Cairo community.
This year’s conference, held through May 5, has brought two notable speakers to speak on the campuses. Abdullahi An-Na'im, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University and internationally recognized scholar of Islam and human rights and human rights in cross-cultural perspectives, opened the conference with a lecture titled "A Democratic State Cannot Be Islamic.” Tomorrow, Mahmood Mamdani, the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government in the Department of Anthropology and Political Science and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, a preeminent author of books on the origins of terrorism and the colonial legacy, will deliver the second keynote lecture titled “An African Reflection on Tahrir Square.”
“This year, the Social Research Center sought to bring concerns about social justice to a wider audience, and provide a platform to learn and engage with others who are working in this area,” says Hoda Rashad, director of AUC’s Social Research Center.
According to Rashad, social policy theme had already been chosen before the events of the January 25 revolution. She says this prophetic decision demonstrates how the applied research centers at AUC are sensitive and responsive to the concerns of the Egyptian community. “The theme is quite relevant to the current political environment as Egypt, now more than ever, needs a constructive and informed debate,” she continues. The conference features the research and writing of 58 AUCians representing both faculty and staff during nine sessions, which will span the three day conference.
Rashad expects that the experience of the revolution will encourage researchers to document the details of the social justice challenge and to analyze adopted policies. Rashad hopes that the attendees will become more informed and conscious of aspects social justice and more importantly, will engage in informed debate about current policies, their potential and necessary reforms.