Methodological Approaches

Within the framework of five thematic clusters “Inequality & Mobility”, “Memory & Justice”, “Aesthetics & Cultural Practice”, “Resources & Sustainability” and “Identities & Beliefs”, two methodological approaches are adopted:

The “Comparing Historical and Regional Perspectives” axis: historical developments are highlighted and future patterns and disparities are compared spatially. This raises the question, for instance, which aspects might be rooted in pre- or post-colonial power structures in the Maghreb or in other regions.

The second methodological axis “Numerical Methods” integrates numerical methods as research tools in the human and social sciences.

Guiding theme

MECAM’s guiding theme “Imagining Futures: Dealing with Disparities” addresses the complex processes of (re)negotiating societal experiences into ideas for the future (“imagining futures”) in the context of different forms and scales of disparity and unequal conditions (“dealing with disparities”). It explores the link between multidimensional disparities and the possibilities of constructing and negotiating future-oriented ideas and models. This guiding theme of MECAM is defined more specifically through two key research questions:

– How do multidimensional disparities in Maghreb societies, often rooted in colonial rule and anticolonial resistance, shape different social spheres and life sectors?

– What are the effects of these specific disparities on the scope of coexisting and competing models of the future within and outside the Maghreb?

MECAM’s research activities are divided into five thematic clusters: “Aesthetics and Cultural Practices,” “Inequality and Mobility,” “Memory and Justice,” “Resources and Sustainability,” and ” Identities and Beliefs.”

Aesthetics & Cultural Practices

How do aesthetic forms and cultural practices influence the process in which models of the future are (re)negotiated in the Maghreb? How do they reflect disparities? And conversely, what influence do societal transformations have on aesthetic and cultural practices? The main objective of this axis is to study the ways in which aesthetic representations of disparity are narrated and performed in order to present the proposed futures to their respective societies.

Inequality & Mobility

How do real and perceived social inequalities and the ensuing sense of insecurity influence the (re)negotiation of visions and models of the future? To what extent is mobility a reaction to multiple forms of inequality? Inequality manifests itself in a growing gap between rich and poor, urban and rural areas, different generations, genders, and ethnic and religious minorities. This thematic focus addresses the intersecting aspects of migration and feminist studies, shedding new light on the intertwined dimensions of privilege and discrimination in the context of contemporary mobilities.

Memory & Justice

How does the legacy of the past, as well as its legal, political and cultural treatment, influence the (re)negotiation of future models, imaginaries and expectations? How is memory narrated and presented from the perspective of disparate horizons? The aim of this thematic area is therefore to assess the ways in which discourses and practices of memory, law and justice are narrated and performed with regard to the future of the Maghreb societies. This concern entails an understanding of memory as a reflection of social and political sentiment.

Resources & Sustainability

How do societies deal with emerging socio-economic disparities and growing environmental problems? What economic models could ensure a socially and environmentally sustainable future? The primary focus of this theme is the study of the origins and potential impacts of a range of economic and social strategies currently being experimented within the region. These strategies include, for example, investments in renewable energy and efforts to strengthen sustainable resource governance, the expansion of microfinance and microcredit, and economic diversification through the expansion of infrastructure and digital economy.

Identities & Beliefs

How do different co-existing identities and identity-based disparities influence the (re)negotiation of future visions and models? What forms of addressing identity and belief-based disparity are available and viable? The aim of this theme is to closely examine the disparities from which the multiple identities and beliefs transmitted and constructed by the Maghreb are manifested and consolidated. The concept of “identity” is intended here in a broader sense, as a term encompassing ideology, ethnicity and religion. By contrast, the concept of “beliefs” refers to the more concrete convictions and positioning of an individual or group in relation to particular issues.