By Yousra Sbaihi. Not many Maghrebis have the chance to perform on some of Europe’s most prestigious comedy shows. However, the few who have successfully climbed their way up to the stage, I advance, are disrupting the theatrics of white francophone stand-up shows.
The #MECAM series features contributions to the overarching theme of the Merian Centre for Advanced Study in the Maghreb (MECAM), “Imagining Futures: Dealing with Disparity”. The complex social processes that characterise the Maghreb and the adjacent regions historically and at the present time are addressed in five thematic clusters: “Inequality & Mobility”, “Memory & Justice”, “Aesthetics & Cultural Practice”, “Resources & Sustainability”, and “Identities & Beliefs”. Each of these themes is discussed and analysed in the work of the Interdisciplinary Fellow Groups (IFGs) hosted by MECAM and by scholars from the universities and institutes that constitute the consortium that supports MECAM. The themes of the IFGs are the different threads of the #MECAM series.
MECAM is a joint endeavour of seven German and Tunisian Universities and research institutions: The University of Marburg, the University of Tunis, Leipzig University, the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies in Hamburg and the Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien, the University of Sfax, and the Institut Tunisien des Études Stratégiques (ITES). MECAM is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), supported and hosted by the University of Tunis.
Series editors: Julius Dihstelhoff (MECAM), Jessica Metz, Claudia Pfitzner (both Forum Transregionale Studien).
This thread seeks to consider the profound influence that societal changes have exerted on aesthetics and cultural practices (and vice-versa). It aims at addressing and redressing how aesthetic representations of disparity and entanglement are narrated, visualised, and performed in order to present the futures on offer to their respective societies. The essays are the result of the collaborative work of the Interdisciplinary Fellow Group “Aesthetics & Cultural Practice”.
Thread editors: Rasha Chatta (Freie Universität Berlin), Sahar El Echi (École Superieure de l’Audiovisuel et du Cinema, Tunis), Farouk El Maarouf (Universität Gießen), Katarzyna Falęcka (Newcastle University), Teresa Pepe (Universitetet i Oslo), Angela Rabing (Universität Bremen), Felix Lang (coordination, Universität Marburg)
#Inequality&Mobility examines the complex relationships between rising inequalities and diverse types of mobility in present-day Tunisia and the Maghreb, based on the collaborative work of an interdisciplinary group of early career researchers in the social sciences. The contributions are a product of the International Fellow Group “Inequality & Mobility” at MECAM. It consists of short reflections and impressions from diverse field sites, interviews with Tunisian researchers and activists involved in conversations and projects with the group, as well as longer essays by the fellows and invited contributors. Reflecting the multilingualism of its contributors, the texts are written in English, French, and Arabic.
Thread editors: Myriam Amri (Harvard University), André Weißenfels (Freie Universität Berlin), Moslem Nasser (Université de Tunis), Souhir Bouzid (ISTEUB Tunis), Wael Garnaoui (Université de Sousse/Université de Paris), Johannes Frische (Universität Leipzig), Ann-Christin Zuntz (University of Edinburgh), Katharina Grüneisl (coordination, Universität Leipzig)
The contributions to the #Identities&Beliefs thread reflect the ways in which identity-based and belief-related disparities shape the (re-)negotiation of imaginaries, visions, and models of the future. We ask: which identity-based disparities and diverse beliefs are available and dominant in specific contexts? What are their similarities and differences across different social and political settings? How have the disparities around identities and beliefs evolved in recent history and up until the present, and which visions for the future emanate from them? In addressing these guiding questions, we draw on an open understanding of the concept of ‘identities’, encompassing aspects of ideology, ethnicity, and religion. The essays emerge from the collaborative work of the Interdisciplinary Fellows Group on “Identities and Beliefs” at MECAM.
Thread Editors: André Bank (German Institute for Global and Area Studies), Elizabeth Bishop (Texas State University), Guy Eyre (King’s College London), Shreya Parikh (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / Sciences Po), Arbia Selmi (Centre Marc Bloch), and Alyssa Miller (Coordination, German Institute for Global and Area Studies).
Par Yousra Sbaihi. Peu de Maghrébins ont la chance de se produire dans les spectacles d’humour les plus prestigieux d’Europe. Cependant, les rares qui ont réussi à se frayer un chemin jusqu’à la scène, à mon avis, viennent bousculer la théâtralité des spectacles de stand-up francophones blancs.
By Arbia Selmi. Despite its important role in the history of Tunisia, the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) is one of the most telling examples of the perpetuation of gender inequalities in Tunisia. The trade union environment is considered a male universe and is dominated by a patriarchal culture where women, until today, do not really find their place.
By André Bank. Internationally, the standing and profile of Tunisia’s General Labor Union (French: ‘Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail’, UGTT) has been shaped by three broad images: The first image emanated from the UGTT’s active participation in the so-called Jasmine Revolution in 2011, when its leadership and members protested the ‘ancien régime’ of President Zine Abidin Ben Ali.
By Elizabeth Bishop. A photograph near the bottom of the wall caught my attention at the Habib Achour exhibit in the Kerkennah branch of the Union Générale des Travailleurs Tunisiens (UGTT, General Union of Tunisian Workers). A caption provides the information that the black-and-white photograph was taken on 26 January 1978.
By Alyssa Miller. In a 2012 essay published on the webzine Nawaat, sociologist Hela Yousfi alleged that the Ennahda party – then head of Tunisia’s transitional government and dominant partner in the ‘Troika’ coalition – was surreptitiously attacking the UGTT by dumping garbage in front of its regional branches.
By Alyssa Miller and Arbia Selmi. Since the time of its foundation in 1946, the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) has shifted its focus from trade union activism to political action. Due to its participation in the independence struggle, alongside the national liberation movement led by the Neo-Destour party, the UGTT has enjoyed unparalleled historical legitimacy on the Tunisian political scene.
Interview with El Meya by Katarzyna Falęcka. The artist Maya Benchikh El Fegoun (El Meya) was born in 1988 in Constantine, Algeria. Her paintings, often populated by women, respond to different visual legacies that include Orientalist images and the iconography of the Algerian War of Independence. El Meya is interested in the interiority of women, their dreams, desires, sins, life forms, and sociability.
L’artiste Maya Benchikh El Fegoun (El Meya) est née en 1988 à Constantine, en Algérie. Ses peintures sont souvent peuplées de femmes, car elle réagit à différents héritages visuels, notamment les images orientalistes ou l’iconographie de la guerre d’indépendance algérienne.
By Alena Strohmaier. “Politics in the Middle East is now seen”, proclaimed political scientist and director of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House Lina Khatib in 2012, designating a new era of political activism in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).