Reconfiguring the (Non-)Political. Performing and Narrating Change and Continuity, Tunis 2016

Summer Academy Tunis 2016 (Photo: Anne-Linda Amira Augustin)

The transregional academy was held 28 August to 04 September 2016 in Tunis.

The Summer Academy focused on changing notions of ‘the political’ (in the broad sense of the French term ‘le politique’), seeing it as part of transformative processes and power struggles in the MENA region in recent years. Articulating social grievances and demands, taking up political struggles and the ongoing confrontation between regions, generations, elites and groups defined in ethnic or confessional terms – all these do not necessarily lead to comprehensive transformations of the political system or state institutions. In fact, as is evident in an increasing number of MENA countries since 2011, these recently unleashed dynamic processes may even descend into civil war. Just the same, it is important to note that previously excluded political actors are now entering the stage, coming up with and practicing new forms of activism, developing new forms of agency, proposing alternative political projects, finding new ways of narrating experience, and envisioning different prospects for their lives.

The Summer Academy was chaired by a group of scholars that included Michael Allan (University of Oregon), Laura Ruiz de Elvira (ERC WAFAW/IREMAM), Andrea Fischer-Tahir, Malte Hagener, Felix Lang, Rachid Ouaissa, Friederike Pannewick, Achim Rohde, Christoph Schwarz, Steffen Wippel (all from Philipps-Universität Marburg), Karima Darèche, Imed Melitti (IRMC, Tunis), Habib Kazdaghli, Mouna Tekaya (UMA, Tunis), and Georges Khalil (Forum Transregionale Studien / EUME, Berlin).

The Summer Academy was conducted in the framework of the research network “Re-Configurations. History, Remembrance and Transformation Processes in the Middle East and North Africa”, supported by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research and “Figures of Thought | Turning Points. Cultural Practices and Social Change in the Arab World”, a research unit funded through a Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Award of the German Research Foundation. Both are located at the Center for Near and Middle East Studies of Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany. The Summer Academy built upon the model established by the research program Europe in the Middle East—The Middle East in Europe (EUME) that is carried on as “Transregional Academies” by the Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien.