Main Speakers

The 2008 Humanities Conference will feature plenary session addresses by several Main Speakers who are noted artists, writers, and curators.

The International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities will feature plenary sessions by some of the world's leading thinkers and innovators in the field, as well as numerous parallel presentations by researchers and practitioners.

Garden Conversations

Main speakers will make formal 30-minute presentations in the plenary sessions. They will also participate in 60-minute Garden Conversations - unstructured sessions that allow delegates a chance to meet the speakers and talk with them informally about the issues arising from their presentation.

Please return to this page for regular updates.

The Speakers

  • Alparslan Acıkgenc

    Alparslan Acikgenc is professor of philosophy at Fatih University, Istanbul. He obtained his BA at Ankara University, M.A. at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. He taught at Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey as Assistant and Associate Professor in the department of philosophy. Then he served as professor of philosophy at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He joined Fatih University in 1999 where still serves as the Dean of College of Arts and Sciences. Professor Acikgenc published many articles in various professional journals on comparative philosophy, history of philosophy and philosophy of science. He has published the following books: Being and Existence in Satre and Heidegger: A Comparative Ontology (Kuala Lumpur: International Institute of Islamic thought and Civilization, 1993); Islamic Science: Towards a Definition (Kuala Lumpur: International Institute of Islamic thought and Civilization, 1996); Scientific Thought and its Burdens (Istanbul: Fatih University Publications, 2000); Philosophy of Knowledge (in Turkish), (Istanbul: Insan Yayinlari, 1992); Scientific Tradition in Islam (in Turkish) (Istanbul: ISAM, 2006); Islamic Scientific Tradition in History (in Turkish in the press). He also has books on epistemology and is currently working on a comprehensive history of philosophy in Islamic civilization.



  • Patrick Baert

    Patrick Baert is Fellow of Selwyn College and University Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. He developed a new perspective on philosophy of social science, inspired by American neo-pragmatism and Continental hermeneutics. Amongst his publications are Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Towards Pragmatism (2005), Social Theory in the Twentieth Century (1998) and Time, Self and Social Being (1992). He was Vice-President for Publications of the European Sociological Association and President of its Social Theory Network.








  • Alice Craven

    Alice Craven teaches in Comparative Literature and is FirstBridge Coordinator at the American University of Paris, where she co-hosted the 4th International Conference for New Directions in the Humanities last year, on the special theme: Discourses Veiled and Unveiled: The Public Intellectual and Islam in New Directions for the Humanities. She has collaborated extensively in the development of interdisciplinary pedagogy and curricular reform in the Humanities, with a focus in the past few years on the building and teaching of a senior capstone course entitled Viewing and Reviewing Islam. She is currently working on a book project about the “act of reading” at risk in the humanities, and has recently given talks on the life and work of French slam artist Abd Al Malik.






  • Selçuk Esenbel

    Selçuk Esenbel is a professor of History at Boğaziçi University. She obtained her Ph.D. at the Columbia University. She has taught at the Department of History, Boğaziçi University, where she acted as chairperson between 1994 and 2003. Since 2005 Selçuk Esenbel is also teaching part-time at Fatih University (Department of History). Professor Esenbel published many articles in various professional journals on history of Asia with particular focus on Japanese history. She has published the following books: Even the Gods Rebel: Peasants of Takaino and the 1871 Nakano Uprising in Japan, (Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies, 1998); The Rising Sun and the Turkish Crescent: New Perspectives on the History of Japanese Turkish Relations (Istanbul: Boğaziçi University Press, 2003); Çağdaş Japonyaya Türkiyeden Bakışlar (Perspectives on Modern Japan from Turkey) (Istanbul: Simurg Press, 1999). Esenbel is member of many leading associations, including American Historical Association, Association for Asian Studies, and European Association for Japanese Studies. She is also awarded by various institutions, like Japan Foundation (Special Prize for Japanese Studies, 2007) and Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (Special Award for the promotion of Japanese-Turkish academic relations, 2007). Esenbel is currently working on the following topics: Japan and the World of Islam; Japanese Pan Asianism, Western Culture in Meiji Japan and Ottoman Turkey, Peasant Uprisings in Meiji Japan, and Japanese History in Turkish.




  • Souad Halila

  • Souad Halila has a PhD in History from the University of Southern California. She majored in American history & international relations, and minored in US literature. Her PhD thesis focused on the intellectual development and diplomatic career of African American Ralph J. Bunche. She taught English and Literature for eleven years at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. From 1999 to the present, she has been teaching US and GB history and culture at the University of Tunis and Sousse, Tunisia. She lectured extensively in the USA, Saudi Arabia, Spain, France, and Tunisia on contemporary issues related to the US, France, the Middle East, and North Africa. In September 2006, she spent 4 weeks at Wilson College, Pennsylvania as a senior Fulbright Visiting Specialist.

    She has a broad interest in environmental issues and green philosophy but her research focuses primarily on US intellectual, political, social, cultural, and religious history, particularly social and political movements, race relations, African American history, Arab American history, and multiculturalism. She initiated several courses related to these topics at her university. Recently and since 9/11, she has focused her research on Islamic issues and the Occident.