This four-year research project launched in 2010 is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. It is based both on multi-archival and oral history research. The activities of the project consist of the publication of a monograph, organisation of a conference, editing of a book, and the publication of articles in academic journals.
The relationship between the university and the state in the Middle East, as in many other regions, is of critical importance. In the Middle East, as in most developing regions, universities formed, as they still do in some cases, part of the state system and were considered as a quasi-government department. As a result, higher education, colleges and universities were not only regarded as adjuncts and instruments of state policy, but also were extremely sensitive to and affected by government changes.
However, we should analyze state and university relations the other way around too: governments were extremely sensitive to and affected by changes and student unrest at colleges and universities. While regimes intended to co-opt students and the intelligentsia through redistribution of resources, the student body was emboldened – materially and politically– by the same actors that sought to “depoliticize” them. Because of the special position of universities in state-society relations, students and faculty members were caught between the state and a series of formal as well as informal networks to which they connected, allowing students to pretend to speak to and in the name of the “nation”. In so doing, the universities, but also the colleges, became, in the post-war era, increasingly central for protest and became spaces from where political changes which would succeed each other during the second half of the twentieth century were announced.
Our project aims to study these issues by observing and comparing three case studies: the Kurdish movement in Iraq and Turkey; the leftist movement in Turkey (largely animated by “minority” members, namely Alevis) and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a non-minority movement). Hence, the following essential and broad questions will need answering:
The comparative angle of this research will allow us to observe:
In so doing, this project seeks to offer a new reading chart for the question relating to the crisis of the state and the durability of states and regimes, and conflicts in the Middle East.
Researchers affiliated with this project.
Middle East with a special focus on Egypt, Iraq, and Turkey.
Units of Analysis
States, political movements, student organizations, professors, state employees and educational institutions. The project will emphasize the political ingenuity of the states, and modes of construction and stabilization of the dissident movements in the long term through the study of a specific site of interaction – the university milieu – between the actors mentioned above.