Call for Applications

Social Visibility, Affect & Epistemics of Protest in Morocco and Tunisia since 2011

Deadline for submission: February 10, 2018

“The Maghreb in Transition” is an interdisciplinary research partnership between the Ludwigs-Maximilians University of Munich and eight partner universities in Morocco and Tunisia, namely Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University (Fez), Hassan II University (Casablanca), the National Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics (INSEA) (Rabat), Al Akhawayn University (Ifrane), Mohamed V University (Rabat), the University of Sousse, the University of La Manouba (Tunis), and the University of Carthage (Tunis). This multilateral cooperation is sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as part of the German-Arab Transformation Partnership.

In February 2018, “The Maghreb in Transition” recruits twelve highly motivated research fellows (Ph.D. students and Postdoctoral researchers) into its project “Social Visibility, Affect & Epistemics of Protest in Morocco and Tunisia since 2011”.

The Project

The project examines the politics of contestation and everyday resistance in Morocco and Tunisia since 2011 from three interrelated perspectives:

1. Regimes of Visibility & Aesthetics of Resistance

This first analytical focus starts from the premise that the (semi-)authoritarian state (Ottaway 2013) and state-affiliated media have enacted particular regimes of visibility during and after the 2011 uprisings. These regimes (re-)produce and sanction the boundaries of (il-)legitimate political action on a spatial and symbolic level. Subaltern actors, on the other hand, draw on a hybrid stock of creative practices, aesthetic forms, and disruptive techniques of protest and everyday resistance that negotiate and challenge these hegemonic boundaries, thereby seeking to display their own accounts of social (in-)justice, political freedom and human rights to a local, national and global audience. From these ongoing “wars of position” and “maneuver” (Gramsci) a number of descriptive and analytical questions arise:

• What are the hegemonic regimes of visibility that the post-2011 state has established?
• What are the aesthetic forms and creative practices that subaltern actors deploy to render their dissidence, protest, and resistance visible?
• In which geopolitical networks and traditions of sovereignty and resistance are these hegemonic regimes and contentious practices rooted?
• Through which networks and media do these regimes and traditions of contention circulate across regional, socio-political, and historical boundaries?
• How are these practices and traditions adopted and reconfigured in the process?

2. Contentious Emotions: The Politics of Affect in Morocco & Tunisia

Anger (ghaḍab), frustration (iḥbāṭ), contempt (ḥogra) are the key terms of this strand. Affect and emotion played an instrumental role in triggering the 2011 protests. Although the highly emotional charge of the latter was striking, the political significance and function of these emotions have remained largely understudied. Drawing on theories and approaches of the affective turn, the project focuses on the specific repertoire of affect that has come into effect during and after the protests in 2011. It tackles, but is not restricted to, the following questions:

• What are the emotions that (have) protruded before, during and after the social uprisings in Morocco and Tunisia in 2011?
• Where can we possibly embed the historical grammar and temporal tradition of these emotive practices?
• What are the courses of action in which these emotive and affective traditions have been reshaped and refashioned?
• In which material forms and media practices have these emotions been manifested and rendered visible?
• On which visual, linguistic and bodily vocabulary do these emotive practices draw?
• How is political affect inscribed in- and onto the individual body?

3. Contentious Knowledge: Epistemes of Resistance & the Pluralization of Knowledge after 2011

The past and ongoing protests in the Arab world and their massive, social and political ramifications have put into question the idea of an “Arab Exceptionalism” and its underlying essentialist perception of the region as a frozen political and social entity that is unable of democratic change. The rise of the “Arab street” in 2011 has brought to the forefront other vernaculars and voices that aim at producing a different kind of – at times “tacit” or “embodied” – knowledge on democracy, social justice, good governance and human rights. Against the backdrop of this crisis and pluralization of knowledge both in and on the region, the project invites research proposals that investigate, among others, the following questions:

• Where could knowledge – its various disciplines, its formal and informal institutions, its practitioners (academics, religious scholars, intellectuals, etc.) – be situated in relation to hegemonic centers of power and their subaltern margins prior to 2011?
• Has this situatedness been subject to change since 2011?
• To what extent have everyday resistance, subversion and protest since 2011 given rise to different voices and vernaculars of outspoken, tacit and embodied forms of knowledge on the Muslim woman, good governance, the state, and other discursive entities that were crucial to the uprisings?
• Who are the main actors, and what are the central paradigms of this contentious knowledge?
• What are the media and the (in-)tangible, (non-)linguistic, iconographic and bodily forms in and through which this contentious knowledge does circulate?
• And how can more traditional sites of knowledge production (including academy) engage and interact with this contentious knowledge?

Responsibilities

Besides providing an original research proposal, abstracts need to address the following three issues:

1. Publication: Beyond an Academic Audience
Research projects naturally get promulgated in different shapes and formats. This project fosters and encourages a plural understanding of the act of publication that includes, but goes beyond traditional forms of academic publishing (i.e. a written text, an article, a book chapter, etc). Hence, candidates are enthused to think beyond textual forms and to use other media and forms of dissemination to present their research results, including photos, videos, blogs, vlogs, posters, installations, performances, political and social projects etc. The choice of these means should reflect the targeted audience (on this, see 3. below). The publication strategy should be addressed in the abstract.

2. Collaborative Research: Interdisciplinarity & Multilateralism
Candidates are required to conduct their research in close collaboration with other candidates (and vice-versa) from different nationalities and research disciplines. Research teams can be formed during or after the kick-off workshop.

3. Citizen Science & Participatory Action Research
Knowledge matters – taking inspiration from concepts and approaches from Action Anthropology, Participatory Action Research, and Citizen Science, the project invites research proposals that seek close cooperation with civil society actors. This cooperation should permeate the entire research process: the identification of a relevant research topic, the formulation of a research question, the collection of data, analysis and the publication of results (see 1. above). Planned cooperation partners must be named in the abstract.

Requirements

either enrolled as a Ph.D. student at a German, Moroccan or Tunisian University or completed dissertation in the last four years.
• good oral and written skills in Arabic, English or French; knowledge of German is an asset.
• good team worker with the ability to operate in an interdisciplinary environment.
• ready to participate in five to six workshops in Germany, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Duration

The project will run until December 2018.

Benefits

• to participate in several sessions of academic training (research methodology, teaching) in Germany, Morocco, and Tunisia.
• to become part of a vibrant and transnational network of scholars in Germany, Morocco, and Tunisia.
• to gain experience in establishing and working in an international and interdisciplinary environment.
• to conduct and publish a research project that matters.
• cover of project-related expenses (travel and accommodation); no scholarships or grants are available.

Application Modalities

Applications are open to MA and Ph.D. students and Postdoctoral candidates enrolled at a German, Moroccan or Tunisian university. Candidates are asked to submit a CV and an abstract. Suitable candidates are invited for an interview at the end of February 2018.

Contact

Please send your application in English or French until February 10, 2018, to Dr. Ramzi Ben Amara (ramzibenamara@googlemail.com), Dr. Moulay Driss El Maarouf (elmaaroufmoulaydriss@gmail.com) and Dr. des. Amir Hamid (amir.hamid@lmu.de).

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