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About us

Our profile

The Center for Middle Eastern Politics is part of the Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science at Freie Universität Berlin. Our associates work on and teach the various fields of research pertaining to the extensive scope of Area Studies / Politics of the Middle East and North Africa. This includes political, societal, as well as economic transformations in areas from Mauretania to Iran. It is our goal to appropriately trace the complex dynamics involved by connecting adequate and insightful theory and data.

In our research we ask for political dynamics "from below" in contexts of authoritarianism,  for  governance and civil society activities in the aftermath of social and economic crises, as well as for the potential and boundaries of regional and international cooperation. We make a point of including critical perspectives on the history of Europe and conctructive dialogue between the classical disciplines of Area Studies and Political and Economic Sciences.

Our history

The Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics was founded in 1980 as an interdisciplinary center of studies concerning the field of "Modern Middle East and North Africa", with an initial 5-year funding period by the Volkswagen Foundation. After the retirement of Prof. Friedemann Büttner the center has been under the direction of Prof. Cilja Harders since 2007.

In the course of time the center has developed an extensive network, both nationally and internationally, of many associates, current and former guest researchers and cooperation partners. Network activities include the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies and the Research Programme: Europe in the Middle East --- the Middle East in Europe.

Our topics

  • State and Statehood: transformation of authoritarianism, nationalism, state building
  • Transformation of Statehood: neoliberal reforms, local governance and institutions, politics "from below", informality
  • Significance of social movements and civil society actors: recent protests, constitutiencies, organizations, activities in the economic sector
  • Regional Relations: regional conflict and cooperation, political cooperation, intra-/interregional integration, south-south alliance (GAFTA, MEFTA, GCC)
  • Euro-Mediterranean Relations: institutional framework, political dynamics, economic implications
  • Reflection of research and the production of knowledge in and about the "West" and the "(Middle) East": postcolonial theory, orientalism and development politics.