Spaces of Participation: Topographies of Political and Social Change in Morocco, Egypt and Palestine
The ZMO team members investigate historical and current forms of participation in the Arab Gulf.
Spaces of Participation: Historical and Conceptual Considerations
Prof. Ulrike Freitag
Prof. Ulrike Freitag's historical case studies draw on her past work on Hadhramaut as well as on current work on Jeddah. She investigates how new types of institutions, such as schools aimed at a broader public, cultural and sporting clubs, boy scouts and other associations, as well as libraries offered spaces for new types of association and activism in the late 19th and first part of the 20th century. Together with extant scholarship on the period in other Arab regions, this can help build a history of activism and contribute to a broader understanding of social engagement often hidden behind a dominant interest in authoritarian statehood.
Cultural Activism in Kuwait: Space-Making Practices and Participation
Dr. Sarah Jurkiewicz
The project investigates contemporary spaces of involvement in Kuwait city – focusing on urban space and participation. The case studies are cultural initiatives that actively engage with the urban texture of Kuwait city and try to "reclaim the city" – such as the urban gardening project The Secret Garden or the Arabana art space that re-uses a restored old warehouse. At the same time the project sets out to study more marginalised space-making practices by migrant groups and the bedoon ("without", i.e. without citizenship, which mainly refers to former nomads without citizenship who are deprived of basic rights such as public education and health care).
By analysing how the actors make use of concrete material spaces, emerging modes of urban participation and publicness – both of which have been influenced by transnational trends – will be explored. In addition to that preoccupation with contemporary practices and spaces, these shall be compared to historical spaces of involvement in Kuwait's urban history.
Public Space for Peace and Contention: Maydān al-Shuhadāʾ (Martyrs' Square) Shaping Political and Social Spheres of the City of Tripoli, Libya
Suaad Al Ghafal
This research project investigates the role of public spaces in shaping political spheres in Libya, focusing on Martyrs Square in the city of Tripoli. The square has served as a central stage for key political events: from the Italian occupation to Libyan independence, and throughout the rule of Gaddafi to the violent conflicts in post-Gaddafi Libya. Both pro- as well as anti-government actors have tried to use the square as a stage during these different periods. This study aims at investigating the use and perception of Martyr’s Square by both governments and non-governmental groups since the 1920s. While canvasing key moments of conflict in history, the research mostly focuses on the period since 2011. In doing so, the study will analyse for the first time the role of a central public space in Libyan history.
In order to investigate the diverse uses as well the perceptions of people who were involved in the use of the square, a qualitative methodology is applied; employing, on the one hand, already existing literature such as books, documents, websites, newspapers and journals; and on the other hand interviews with participants and observers selected from various groups undertaking different political activities in the square. A basic theoretical tool will be Henri Lefebvre’s theory of space, which he has conceptualized as being constituted by physical elements as well as, crucially, the practices and perceptions linked to a particular place.