Extractivism in Comparison: Reflexions on Trans-Regional Research Concepts and Methods

CrossArea e.V. in cooperation with BMBF Collaborative Research Project Extractivism.de / Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb (MECAM), Universities of Marburg and Tunis, GIGA German Institute for Global and Area Studies Hamburg / Centro de Estudos Latinoamericanos (CELA), University of Kassel / Centrum for Near and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS), University of Marburg / Merian Centre for Advanced Latin American Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences (CALAS) / University of Kassel, and Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico organizes the annual conference “Extractivism in Comparison: Reflexions on Trans-Regional Research Concepts and Methods”.

Extractivism is a global phenomenon, and understanding and explaining extractivism remains a challenge for cross-area studies, mainly because the way extractivism is approached varies significantly from region to region, both scientifically and politically.

(Cross-) area studies, on their part, are currently challenged to integrate seemingly global processes. The COVID-19 pandemic made once more apparent that the world is entangled in a global condition, and events in one location rapidly affect all other connecting locations. However, reactions to the pandemic diverged, as did the effects of the pandemic. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also clarified this global interconnectedness. Both events challenge current theoretical and methodological approaches to (cross-)area studies. They support a renewed discussion on their current state, methodological tools, and future academic role in the research landscape.

For this reason, this workshop will address the possibilities and limitations of the methodological toolbox of (cross-)area studies and global comparisons. Based on this discussion, the workshop takes extractivism as an entry point into discussing the depth of similar patterns of social change in different world regions.

You can download the program here

Inaugural lecture of the Chair Hichem Djaït : Histories and cultures of Islam entitled « Orientalisme et occidentalisme : de la grande divergence à la grande convergence »

For the launch of the “Hichem Djaït Chair: Histories and Cultures of Islam” within the University of Tunis – inaugurated in March 2022 in homage to the great Tunisian Islamologist and historian – the University of Tunis in partnership with the Institute of Research on the Contemporary Maghreb (IRMC), the National Library of Tunisia and the MECAM, has decided to start a cycle of conferences dedicated to him. Within this framework, starting in November, a professor of international renown will be invited each month to give a lecture related to the thematic field of Hichem Djaït’s research.

Pr. Henry Laurens (Professor at the Collège de France/Paris, France) will be invited on November 11, 2022 at 3:30 pm at the National Library of Tunis for the Inaugural Lecture entitled ” Orientalisme et occidentalisme : de la grande divergence à la grande convergence “.

Other internationally renowned scientists will be invited to Tunis in the following months – among them

  • Gudrun Krämer (Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies at Freie Universität Berlin/Germany)
  • Roberto Tottoli (Università degli Studi di Napoli l’Orientale/Italy)
  • John Tolan (Professor of History Member of the Academia Europæa Member of the Institut d’Etudes Avancées de Nantes Director of the ERC project “The European Qur’an (EuQu)”/France)
  • François Déroche (Statutory Chair Professor at the Collège de France/Paris, France)

MECAM is supporting this series of events with funds from its partner institution, the Philipps-Universität Marburg.


Masterclass Tunis 2022:Partiques d’écriture scientifique et approches méthodologiques en sciences humaine et sociales

In the framework of the “Masterclass Tunis 2022″ organised and supervised by the IRMC between 25 October 2022 and 05 November 2022 and entitled ” Pratiques d’écriture scientifique et approches méthodologiques en sciences humaines et sociales ” with Algerian PhD students, MECAM was involved through the engagement of its academic coordinator, Dr Julius Dihstelhoff. Dr Dihstelhoff gave a teaching unit on “A short interactive introduction to empirical social research and interview based research”.

You can download the program here

Extractivism Annual International Conference 2022  “Raw Materials, the Global South and Development in the 21st Century: mobilizing rents, grasping extractivist societies.”

With the participation of MECAM director Prof. Rachid Ouaissa the collaborative research project Extractivism.de organizes its first Annual International Conference from the 12th to the 14th of October, 2022, in Kassel, Germany. The conference’s theme is “Raw Materials, the Global South and Development in the 21st Century: mobilizing rents, grasping extractivist societies.”. This year’s conference aims to reconceptualize the theoretical relationship between extractivism and rents, stimulating deeper analyses concerning the particular and nuanced types of rent-led development trajectories. It wants to explore how and in what ways societies specializing in extracting and exporting raw materials reproduce themselves primarily through the revenues obtained by selling them to the global market. It also seeks to bring together ideas from different disciplinary fields in which rents and extractivism have major relevance, broadening the space for dialogue between Political Economy, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, International Relations, and Cultural Studies.

You can download the program here

The Mediterranean of Modernity: Global and Regional Perspectives

Between October 4 and 6 2022, the workshop “The Mediterranean of Modernity: Global and Regional Perspectives” takes place at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient Berlin.

Mediterranean studies are en vogue and historical research on the Mediterranean
of the 19th and first half of the 20th century are well developed. However, modern history research focusses sub-, trans- and non-Mediterranean frameworks. The workshop thus aims at contributing to a more comprehensive view by revisiting the genealogy of Mediterraneanism, discussing the placement of modern Mediterranean in the area of world history comparing the approaches of Mediterranean studies with the ones of neighboring and connected areas and seas as well as reflecting on the question of how the modern Mediterranean can be written. Regarding the research methods, workshop analyses the intersection between Mediterranean and Global History with regard to the modern age.

MECAM director Khaled Kchir presents our institution during the workshop in Berlin. In the framework of a roundtable, he discusses “The Modern Mediterranean in Global History” together with Manuel Borutta, Ulrike Freitag, Ilham Khuri-Makdisi and Nora Lafi. Georges Khalil is the moderator.

Program, you can download here

The Transformation of Silence: with Héla Ammar and Souad Mani curated by Marianna Liosi

With a focus on persisting injustices in post-2011 Tunisia, the Transformation of Silence is an exhibition curated by Marianna Liosi that explores different forms of truth seeking, as well as the emotions linked to persisting social injustices that affect the country and its communities. Stemming from personal and societal feelings of rage, frustration, and disillusion, a variety of artworks by Tunisian artists Héla Ammar and Souad Mani seek to express dissent and political action. They provide an overview of the challenges that the Tunisian civil society has to face, from legacies of injustice, massive migration to severe pollution. Simultaneously, the works play as “glitches” in the current social and political system that can open the space for political change.

The show brings together performative videos, video installations, sculptures, photographs, as well as new productions and archive materials that trace trajectories through spaces, confronting historical moments and desires across times.

The title of the exhibition is inspired by a speech held by Afro-American writer, womanist, radical feminist, professor and civil rights activist Audre Lorde, which is an invocation to take action and speak out.

The Transformation of Silence, curated by Marianna Liosi, is one of the outcomes of her 2021 fellowship on Memory & Justice, at Merian Center for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb (MECAM), Tunis. The event is the result of, and has been made possible by the cooperation between MECAM and La Boîte (Tunis), with the kind support of Fatma Kilani.

Media coverage (Lapresse , Justiceinfo )

MECAM at the Deutscher Orientalistentag 2022 in Berlin

From Left to right: Elizabeth Bishop, Julius Dihstelhoff, Alyssa Miller, André Bank, Arbia Selmi and Shreya Parikh

On Thursday, September 16, MECAM IFG V alumni fellows gathered in Berlin, funded by own funds of the MECAM partner institution German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), to participate in the centennial meeting of the “Deutscher Orientalistentag” (https://dot2022.de/). The event was a fantastic occasion for the fellows to reunite three months after the in-person fellowship wrapped up in Tunis and offered an opportunity for them to disseminate the results of their research. The MECAM papers were organized into a double panel on “Identities and Beliefs,” and divided into two sub-themes on “Muslim Identities and the Politics of Solidarity,” and “Imaginaries of the Other.” The panel was well-attended, and audience members contributed excellent questions and critical feedback for the panelists. In addition to presenting their research, the fellows benefited from attending the many other Tunisia and Maghreb-focused panels organized for the DOT-DAVO conference, as well as the chance to network with other scholars in the field and enjoy the many attractions offered by the world-class city of Berlin.

Panel Composition and Participation

Panel One: “Identities and Beliefs in the Maghreb I: Muslim Identities and the Politics of Solidarity”

Chair: Alyssa Miller (GIGA-Hamburg)


  • Guy Eyre, ABI Freiburg. Pious Paths Towards Politics? ‘Quietist’ Salafism and the Arab Revolts in the Maghreb
  • Alyssa Miller, GIGA-Hamburg. What Only a Mother Can Feel: The Promise and Limitations of Motherhood-based Solidarity in Tunisia.
  • Professor Elizabeth Bishop, Texas State University. Identities & Beliefs: The ‘M’ in UGEMA


Panel Two: “Identities and Beliefs in the Maghreb II: Imaginaries of the Other”

Chair: Hakki Taş (GIGA-Hamburg)


  • Julius Dihstelhoff, Philipps-Universität Marburg / MECAM. The foreign perception of German foreign policy by the Tunisian Nahda Party in the context of the Tunisian transformation processes after 2010
  • Shreya Parikh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / CERI-Sciences Po Paris. Hindaoui/a: The Racialized Imaginations of South Asian Bodies in the Middle East and North Africa
  • Arbia Selmi, researcher ERC LIVE-AR Ceped- IRD / associated researcher CMH-CMB-Forum Transregionale Studien. Tunisian Women’s Mobilizations for Equality: Identity, Beliefs and Unfinished Revolution?

Journée d’Etudes on « Identities and Social Dynamics » at University of Sfax

On 24-25 June, IFG V joined their partners at ECUMUS Lab at Sfax University for a Journée d’Etudes on the theme of “Identities and Social Dynamics.” The coordinator of IFG V Alyssa Miller took part in the opening and moderation of one the sessisons. The IFG V Fellow Elizabeth Bishop held a presentation titled “Beautiful Patience: UGEMA Leaders in ‘Brotherly’ Morocco, 22 October 1956” and the fellow Shreya Parikh talked about “Gendered contructions of race in Tunisia”.

Walking Tour of IFG V through the old Medina of Tunis with Dr. Jamila Binous

On 2 June, the IFG V group “Identities & Beliefs” went on a walking tour of the old city of Tunis, led by Dr Jamila Binous. An urban planner and historian, Dr Binous specialises in the urban heritage and built environment of the Medina of Tunis. Dr Jamila Binous is the author of several books on the Medina of Tunis. The visit began with a historical overview through the study of maps, followed by the Zawiya of Sidi Ibrahim al-Riyahi, Dar Lasram, and the Zitouna Mosque.

IFG V members meet film critic Kamel Ben Ouanes and filmmaker Sarra Abidi

On Wednesday 01 June 2022, members of IFG V “Identities and Beliefs”  met with film critic Kamel Ben Ouanes and filmmaker Sarra Abidi at the Majestic Hotel. It was an opportunity to talk with Mr. Kamel about the historical intersection of politics and cinema in Tunisia (through the institution of the cine-club). It was also an opportunity for members of IFG V “Identities and Beliefs” to share their experience of using documentary film as a social science research tool. The latter conversation was based on the experiences of the fellows in a documentary film training programme, led by Sarra Abidi. The participating fellows benefited from hands-on learning and were guided by a professional filmmaker through the conceptualisation, shooting and post-production stages.

International Colloquium – Approches pour l’histoire de la langue BERBÈRE: Mise en perspective  d’une langue à travers les âges

Organized by the University of Tunis, the Laboratoire du Monde Arabo Médiéval, the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Paris Nord and the Laboratoire Langues et Civilisations à Tradition Orale (CNRS, Paris). In partnership with: (1) The Agency for Heritage Development and Cultural Promotion (AMVPPC), (2) the National Library of Tunisia (BnT), (3) the National Heritage Institute (INP), (4) the Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts Beit al-Hikma.

Tunis 26 – 28 May 2022


Exchange between IFG IV and Prof. em. Habib Ayeb during an internal seminar

During an internal seminar, IFG IV fellows had the time to exchange with Prof. Ayeb (University of Paris 8, Observatory of Food Sovereignty and Environment). Dr. habil. Steffen Wippel, who is currently coordinator of the interdisciplinary fellowship group “Resources and Sustainability”, participated in this meeting. More information on the IFG IV Fellowship Programme “Resources & Sustainability”: https://mecam.tn/ifg-iv/

Tunis 16 May 2022



MECAM’s IFG IV “Resources and Sustainability” had the pleasure to welcome representatives of the research network “NATURAL RESOURCE EXTRACTIVISM IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE MAGHREB” to their group meeting on 28 April 2022.

At this meeting Hannes Warnecke-Berger, the project coordinator, presented the joint project of the Universities of Marburg and Kassel (https://extractivism.de/en/). With its comparative, cross-regional approach, the project considers itself in an intermediate role, linking two of the Merian centres, namely the MECAM – Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb in Tunis and the Centro Maria Sibylla Merian de Estudios Latinoamericanos Avanzados (CALAS) in Guadalajara, Mexico. Two of the project members, Meret Jacob-Lakrimdi and Luíza Cerioli, who work on the Maghreb, reported on their individual projects. While Meret works on spaces of negotiation and scopes of action for young people within the Maghrebi rentier states, Luíza investigates interdependencies between the international system and development plans in extractivist societies in South America, North Africa and the Gulf region. Rachid Ouaissa, who is both a director of MECAM and of the Extractivism project, also attended the meeting.


IFG V Excursion to Sousse/Sfax/Kerkennah

An excursion was taken by members of IFG V to Sousse, Sfax and Kerkennah in March 28 until 1 April 2022, to encounter social and political actors. This culminated in a series of essays that reflect on encounters at the UGTT headquarters and heritage spaces in the union’s geographical strongholds. The timing of the series’ appearance has proven serendipitous, as it coincided with a general strike declared by the UGTT for 16 June, in opposition to structural reforms proposed by the IMF.  In addition to an introductory essay written by Alyssa Miller and Arbia Selmi, stand-alone essays by Alyssa MillerAndré BankElizabeth Bishop, and Arbia Selmi have been posted on the #TRAFOBlog.



 Welcome to IFG I «Aesthetics & Cultural Practice»

Welcome to Tunis Interdisciplinary Fellowgroup I “Aesthetics & Cultural Practices”! We are happy to welcome the fellows at MECAM from March 18 to April 3, 2022. This will open a possibility for members of the group to exchange and get to know each other. More information about the members of the fellowgroup can be found here.



Destination Tunisia: Changing border regimes and Syrian displacement trajectories in the Global South

Dr. Wael Garnaoui (founder of the Border Studies Group, University of Sousse) will chair the webinar with interventions from Dr. Ann Zuntz (MECAM & University of Edinburgh), Marwen Bounab (University of Sousse), Asma Ben Hadj Hassen & Francesco Teo Ficcarelli (Mixed Migration Centre), and will be moderated by Dr. Marouen Taleb (Tunis Research Institute on Contemporary Maghreb). The first half of the webinar will provide insights into Syrians’ flight trajectories to Tunisia, presenting results from recent ethnographic fieldwork led by Dr. Ann Zuntz. The research comprised interviews with Syrian households, policymakers and aid providers in Tunisia; it redirects the focus from South-North journeys across the Mediterranean to South-South movement. The study demonstrates how pre-war migration and trade ties between Syria and Tunisia and Tunisia’s complex migration landscape have shaped Syrians’ conditions of arrival. Changing border regimes in Arab host countries have reordered Syrian movements across the Middle East and North Africa, forcing the poorest Syrians to travel the longest, most dangerous, and most expensive routes to reach Tunisia. MMC will close the webinar with insights from quantitative survey data collected over the last two years with Syrians residing in Tunisia which will shed light on the most common routes taken journey experiences and intentions for the future. Following the presentations, our discussant Marouen Taleb will respond with his comments and lead into the Q&A session.

The webinar is held virtually on Tuesday 8 February 2022, 17h00 – 18h30 (CET) (16h00 – 17h30 UTC) after register on Eventbrite

download here 

Dinner – meeting with representatives of German institutions based in Tunis

To promote the center as a platform for knowledge sharing and exchange between researchers from Tunisia, the Maghreb and Germany, the “Merian Center for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb” (MECAM) organized on December 14 a reception in its offices located at the Institute of Applied Studies in Humanities of Tunis (ISEAHT). During this reception the two directors of MECAM, Prof. Rachid Ouaissa and Prof. Khaled Kchir, with the presence of the president of the University of Tunis, Mr. Habib Sidhom, had the opportunity to present the structure of MECAM, and its main thematic clusters, to the various representatives of German institutions present in Tunis. This presentation continued around a buffet dinner, with an in-depth dialogue concerning the ambitions of this center and possible future cooperation.

Dialogue Forum – “Impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic on science and research in partner regions of the Merian Centers”

In their contribution to the Science Festival Globe21, the Merian Centres (represented by ICAS:MP – Delhi/India -; CALAS – Guadalajara/Mexico -; Mecila – Sao Paulo/Brasil – ; MIASA – Accra/Ghana -; MECAM – Tunis/Tunisia) will contribute from their perspective to a better understanding and general reflection on the immanent, but also the possible long-term implications of the COVID-19 crisis for research conditions in the Global South and international scientific cooperation. • Context information DOWNLOAD 

Ateliers et conférences

Presentation of MECAM and its themes at the University of Tunis

MECAM seeks to fill the role of an exchange platform and a common knowledge exchange between researchers from Tunisia, the Maghreb and Germany. To concretize this exchange, MECAM is conducting an intensive dialogue meeting with researchers from MECAM’s main partners, the University de Tunis, on its 5 thematic priorities.


As part of the cooperation between the University of Tunis and the University of Marburg, this round table aims to explore the prospects of digitization