EUME Summer Academy
Mo 25 Aug 2014 – Fr 05 Sep 2014

Conflict and Mobility: Urban Space, Youth and Social Transformations

In cooperation with Philipps-Universität Marburg, Zentrum Moderner Orient, French Centre Jacques Berque and École de Gouvernance et d'Économie

École de Gouvernance et d'Économie (EGE) in Rabat

The Summer Academy was chaired by a group of scholars that included Michael Allan (University of Oregon), Baudoin Dupret and Zakaria Rhani (both Centre Jacques Berque, Rabat), Nora Lafi (Zentrum Moderner Orient/ZMO, Berlin, member of EUME), Rachid Ouaissa and Friederike Pannewick (both from the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies/CNMS, Philipps-Universität Marburg and members of EUME), Martin Baumeister (Deutsches Historisches Institut Rom). It was held in cooperation with the Centre Jacques Berque in Rabat, the Université Mohammed VI Polytechnique in Benguerir, the CNMS, the research network "Re-Configurations: History, Memory and Transformation Processes" of Philipps University Marburg.

Please find the schedule of the Summer Academy here, and the original call for applications here. The Summer Academy was accompanied and documented on the EUME blog: eume-city (

The uprisings in the Arab world have challenged traditional paradigms for understanding culture and politics in the region and have opened up new sets of questions in both spheres. The 2014 Summer Academy in Rabat on "Conflict and Mobility: Urban Space, Youth and Social Transformations" was part of an ongoing interest of EUME and the CNMS in Marburg in investigating the interplay between culture and aesthetical practices, new social movements and revolutionary processes in the Middle East.

The 2014 Rabat Summer Academy had been a follow-up of the EUME 2012 Summer Academy at the American University in Cairo, and of a series of seminars and workshops dealing with the current transformative processes in the Middle East and their impact on the scholarship on the region. Under the title "Aesthetics and Politics" the 2012 Cairo Summer Academy addressed "Counter-Narratives, New Publics, and the Role of Dissent in the Arab World". "Aesthetics and Politics" and "Culture and Politics" were also the themes of the regular EUME Berliner Seminar in the Winter Term 2012/13 and the Summer Term 2013. Seminar sessions included presentations by EUME fellows such as Tarek El-Ariss on "Fiction of Scandal: Literature, New Media and Revolutionary Politics in the Arab World" or round-tables on  "Culture, Class, Youth, Performativity and the Transformation of the Public Sphere in the Arab World", where a group of scholars from the CNMS in Marburg presented their work to colleagues in Berlin. Questions of the intellectual, the role of literature, and artistic production in the political process that had been addressed at the 2012 Cairo Summer Academy were further investigated in a joint EUME-CNMS workshop on "Commitment and Dissent in Arabic Literature since the 1950s" that took place on June 27 - 29, 2013 in Marburg. The proceedings of this workshop will be published in an edited volume under the same title by early 2015. Questions of conflict, violence and mobility in the cities around the Mediterranean are central questions of  the regular "Urban Studies Seminar", which is chaired by Nora Lafi and Ulrike Freitag (both Zentrum Moderner Orient) and organized in a cooperation between EUME and the ZMO.

The 2014 Academy in Rabat took up several threads and questions developed in these contexts and enlarged the focus on the city and urban studies, various forms of mobility and conflict, not only in the Middle East and North Africa but also in neighbouring regions or countries.

The Summer Academy

The Summer Academy has brought together 37 doctoral and postdoctoral scholars as well as more established scholars from more than fifteen countries and various disciplinary fields for two weeks to discuss topics and questions related to the agenda of the summer academy. Discussions were based on  the participants’ ongoing research projects. Debates occurred also in thematically structured groups and in panel discussions on questions relating to youth, social movements, protests, and urban and social transformations in the Arab world, Argentina, Greece, Spain, Turkey and Iran.

Specialists in Architecture, Urban Planning and Human Geography contributed insights on  how the different structures of cities, questions of access and physical mobility influenced forms of protest in these sites, and on how developments in urban design have affected or facilitated new forms of protest.  Historians examined historical contestations over public spaces (including aspects of their control) and the current trend of gated or walled communities, and discussed historical precedents for the types of mass mobilization seen in the last few years, and the ways in which the uprising challenges national historical narratives or complicates national historiographies.

Social scientists adressed the question of political economy of urban development, legal anthropology of urban tenure, as much as the urban governance or economy itself and the social profiles of people laying claim to public space.  They further inspected the roles of changing demographics, gender, youth and migrants, both groups which might conceive of the city as a space offering advancement, development, entertainment, and social change, but also a source of frustration.  

Daily and ordinary usages of urban spaces in relation to times, activities, professions, mobility, housing, business, etc.  have been questioned. How do people not only conceive of the city but also inhabit it, develop specific types of dealing with it, coordinate with one another, produce and play with local norms, contribute to a sense of belonging or exclusion, develop specific competences, and participate in the production of local orders?

These issues were related to explorations of aesthetic forms reflecting urban space, mobility and civic imaginations – not only in literature, but also new media, music, film, performance, fashion and street art. How have these aesthetic forms facilitated the imagination of forms of political practice and an urban public sphere? And how should we conceive of the place of literature and art in urban spaces and processes of social and political transformations from the early 20th until the early 21st century?

The Summer Academy also included two afternoon panels led by representatives of the two Marburg-based research networks Re-Configurations and “Figures of Thought | Turning Points. Cultural Practice and Social Change in the Arab World”, that gave their members the opportunity to present and discuss their concepts and research questions in an international setting. Moroccan scholars were invited to give talks at the Summer Academy. Zakaria Rhani (Mohammed V University) discussed Moroccan youth and the will for secularization during the 2011 uprisings. Najib Bounahai (Ibn Toufail University and EGE) talked about the politics of performance and the performativity of politics in revolutionary North Africa. Mohammed Bensalah (École de Gouvernance et d'Économie), spoke on transformations of political Islam and the Arab Spring. Finally, Mohamed Tozy (EGE) delivered a talk on current social transformations in Casablanca.

The city in the conceptualization of the academy has been perceived  as an urban and social structure that facilitates the imagination and proliferation of citizenship and social mobility, not only by its space and structure but also by the culture that is produced within the city. The participants addressed questions of how cultural forms inflect the political imaginary in contested urban space, and discussed  traces, and echoes of a new (or revisioned)  political vocabulary in novels, art, poetry, songs and films of the last decades. They asked how public space might be understood not solely as a stage of protest and politics, but also of everyday life. The city serves as a site of negotiation between cosmopolitan consumerism and local traditions, but also as a site for experimental living and utopias.  Its gated communities, stalled avenues of mobility, the dreams and nightmares of migration are just as prevalent as alternative forms of solidarity and mechanisms of control and survival. The Summer Academy  addressed  some of the new terms, frames of understanding, and transformations that have begun to crystallize through the political and cultural changes in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings and questioned how and in what ways the uprisings across the Arab world reformulate the relationship between politics and culture in and outside the region.  

The following scholars participated in the Summer Academy:

Omar Al-Ghazzi (University of Pennsylvania), The Mnemonic Battles of the Arab Uprisings: The Case of the War over Flags in Syria
Michael Allan (University of Oregon), Re-Framing Orientalism: The Afterlife of Cinema in Colonial Algeria
Anne-Linda Amira Augustin (Philipps Universität Marburg), Family Memories and Urban Areas as Contested Spaces – Being Young and South Arabian in Aden (Southern Yemen)
Jamal Bahmad (Philipps Universität Marburg), Screens of Reconfiguration: Political Violence and Collective Memory in Contemporary Maghrebi Cinema
Martin Baumeister (Deutsches Historisches Institut Rom), Mediterranean Metropolises. Urban Transformations, Urban Imagineries and the Lure of Mediterraneism
Mohammed Bensalah (École de Gouvernance et d'Économie), Transformations of Political Islam and the Arab Spring
Koenraad Bogaert (Ghent University, Belgium), Urban Politics in Morocco: A Political Economy of Uneven Development
Ines Braune (Philipps Universität Marburg), Parkour: Claiming Public Space in Morocco
Najib Bounahai (École de Gouvernance et d'Économie), Performance, Politics, Space in Youth Subcultures
Nancy Demerdash (Princeton University), Razing Gourbivilles and Decolonizing Space: Bourguibist Spatial Politics in Post-Independent Tunisia
Baudoin Dupret (Centre Jacques Berque), Urban informality: Ethnographic Perspectives on Law, Justice and Pluralism
Emily Drumsta (University of California, Berkeley), Inconstant Constantine: Physical Landscapes and Literary Paradigms in Algerian Fiction from the 1990s
Meriem El-Haitami (Universite Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah), Islamist Feminism in Morocco: (Re)defining the Political Public Space
Hatim El Hibri (American University Beirut), The Before / After Shot: Solidere’s Corporate Films, and the Work of Images in Postwar Beirut
Aziz Iraki (Institut National d'Aménagement et d'Urbanisme-Rabat ), Solidarities in the City
Mohamed Elshahed (New York University / EUME Fellow 2013-14), Producing the Public: Space, Media and Participation
Dina El-Sharnouby (Freie Universität Berlin / Cairo), Youth Politics in Revolutionary Egypt
Gretchen Head (University of California, Berkeley), Contesting the City: Dissident Writing in the Final Decade of Ben Ali’s Rule
Sarah Jurkiewicz (ZMO Berlin), In Search of Urban Involvement—Cultural Activism in Kuwait City
Özlem Köksal (London), Narratives of Taksim and the Gezi Protests in Visual Culture
Perrine Lachenal (CNRS / Aix-Marseille Universite), Learning Self-Defense in Revolutionary Cairo: Gender, Class and the Economy of Violence
Nora Lafi (Zentrum Moderner Orient/ZMO, Berlin), Historical Anthropology of Violence in Ottoman Cities: Reflections on Cairo, Tunis and Aleppo (1798-1864)
Felix Lang (Philipps Universität Marburg)
Amir Moosavi (New York University), Cities at War: The City, Writer and the Limits of Fiction from the Iran-Iraq War
Rachid Ouaissa (Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies/CNMS, Philipps-Universität Marburg)
Friederike Pannewick (Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies/CNMS, Philipps-Universität Marburg), Art and Resistance
Jimena Ponce de Leon (Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Argentina), Youth and Street Art: Strategies Developed in a Changing City
Stefano Portelli (University of Rome), The Social Impact of Urban Renewal in Peripheral Neighbourhoods: Comparative Ethnography in Mediterranean Cities
Zakaria Rhani (Université Mohamed V and Centre Jaques Berque), Revolutionary Dynamics in Morocco: Youth and the Will of Secularization
Achim Rohde (Phillips Universität Marburg), Re-Configurations: History, Memory and Transformation Processes
Christoph Schwarz (Philipps Universität Marburg), Political Activism under Authoritarian Rule. Historical and Family Narratives of Young Protesters in Morocco and Tunisia
Nicholas Simcik Arese (University of Oxford), Common-ing the Compound: Conceptions of Citizenship and Ownership as Poverty Frontierism in the Squatting of Cairo’s Gated Suburbs
Dimitris Soudias (Philipps Universität Marburg), Theorizing a “Sociology of The Square”: Space, Habitus, and Liminality in the 2011 Occupations of Tahrir and Syntagma Square
Cristiana Strava (SOAS, University of London), At Home with Modernity: Exploring Place-Making on the Margins of Casablanca
Mohammed Tozy (École de Gouvernance et d'Économie), Une Métropole au Défi du Référentiel Ethnique
Maaike Voorhoeve (Rechtskulturen Fellow 2013/14, Amsterdam), Controlling Bodies, Controlling Space: The Case of the Law Prohibiting Sexual Harassment in Tunisia
Deniz Yonucu (Cornell University), From Center to Margin: Rethinking the Gezi Uprisings with Istanbul’s Alevi Neighbourhoods

Institutional Framework

The Summer Academy has been conducted within the framework of “Europe in the Middle East—the Middle East in Europe” (EUME), a research program at the Forum Transregionale Studien in close cooperation with the two Marburg-based research networks “Re-Configurations. History, Remembrance and Transformation Processes in the Middle East and North Africa” (funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research),  and “Figures of Thought | Turning Points. Cultural Practice and Social Change in the Arab World” (directed by Friederike Pannewick and funded through a Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Award by the German Research Foundation (DFG)), the Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin, the French Centre Jacques Berque in Rabat, and the École de Gouvernance et d'Économie (EGE) in Rabat.

The Summer Academy was part of the strategic cooperation between the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Foundation—German Humanities Institutes Abroad. It was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) and the German Research Foundation (DFG).

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