The Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb (MECAM) has recently been established at the Université de Tunis/Tunisia to strengthen cooperation in the Humanities and Social Sciences in and across the Maghreb, the Middle East, and Europe. The overall theme “Imagining Futures: Dealing with Disparity” guides MECAM’s research agenda on questions of Aesthetics & Cultural Practice, Inequality & Mobility, Memory & Justice, Resources & Sustainability, and Identities & Beliefs. These constitute the core issues of MECAM’s five thematic research clusters and Interdisciplinary Fellow Groups (IFG). For its third Interdisciplinary Fellow Group (IFG), “Memory & Justice”, MECAM invites applications for five short-term fellowships for researchers at different career stages for the period from September to December 2021. This call for applications is open to researchers from all countries including Tunisia.
Deadline: 15 March 2021; 24.00 CET.
The Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb (MECAM), based in Tunis, is a new institutional framework for interdisciplinary, transregional, and intergenerational research. It focuses on complex social and political processes and issues of common interest that divide and connect the Maghreb, the Middle East and Europe historically and in our time – e.g. beliefs, distribution of resources, migration, rule of law, socio-economic conflicts, and (transitional) justice. MECAM aims to construct and strengthen scholarly networks between Tunis and Germany, and across the Maghreb, the Middle East, and Europe. From a vantage point in the Maghreb, MECAM’s guiding theme “Imagining Futures – Dealing with Disparity” addresses the complex processes of (re-)negotiating societal experiences into ideas for the future (‘imagining futures’) within the context of different forms and scales of disparity and unequal conditions (‘disparity’). It explores the connection between multidimensional disparity and the possibilities of building and negotiating future-oriented ideas and models through five thematic clusters, which represent important issues of common concern in the Maghreb, the Middle East, and Europe. The clusters correspond with the respective Interdisciplinary Fellow Groups (IFG): “Aesthetics & Cultural Practice”, “Inequality & Mobility”, “Memory & Justice”, “Resources & Sustainability”, and “Identities & Beliefs”. The analysis proceeds from both a historical and geographically comparative perspective.
The main focus of the IFG “Memory and Justice” is as follows: It explores how discourses on, as well as practices of, memory and justice are narrated and performed with a view to the future of post-conflict societies in the Maghreb region and the Middle East. This entails an understanding of memory as a reflection of social and political positioning. It also requires an engagement with intentions of remembrance, such as nation building, reconciliation, advocacy for the concerns of marginalized groups, or resistance to dominant narratives, i.e. with the hopes and aspirations envisaged as an end of memory. Justice is defined broadly to include punitive justice in the form of criminal prosecution, restorative justice in the form of truth commissions, apologies and reparations etc., as well as transformative justice aimed at bringing about a peaceful future coexistence. Here, too, the question of how justice in the present shall affect the future is key. Researchers with a disciplinary background in social sciences, memory studies and cultural studies who work on the following questions are invited to apply for the fellowships: How does dealing with the legacy of the past through memory and justice affect the (re-)negotiation of future imaginaries and expectations, and to which extent memory and justice be reconciled in this regard? How is memory narrated and performed from the perspective of disparate backgrounds, and with what intentions to the future? What concrete or future social and political changes are envisaged through the pursue of justice? What status should be given to collective memories, testimonies and remembrance, with a view to building a future national memory, and how does individual memory relate to collective memory in this context?
ELIGIBILITY & MOTIVATION
Applications are welcome from researchers at all stages of their academic career: advanced PhD OR postdoc OR advanced researchers in any discipline of the humanities or social sciences such as anthropology, history or political science.
- You are interested in discussing your own research in the framework of MECAM’s main theme “Imagining futures – Dealing with disparity” with colleagues from the Maghreb, the Middle East and Europe.
- You are eager to do collaborative work, engage in collegial debate and exchange within an interdisciplinary group of fellows on questions of “Memory & Justice”.
- You are interested in revisiting your own research questions from a different vantage point.
- You want to become part of a (new) network of interdisciplinary, intergenerational, and transregional exchange and debate on disparity and the competing models for the future that co-exist in the societies of the contemporary Maghreb, Europe, and other parts of the world.
MECAM’s resident fellowships are awarded to individuals for four months from 1 September to 31 December 2021 on the basis of innovative and high-quality research projects that correspond to the IFG’s focus. In exceptional cases due to the pandemic, the fellowships can be arranged in hybrid and/or sur-place ways, where the individual fellow remains at her/his place of actual residence for part of or for the whole fellowship period. Successful applicants will become ‘MECAM fellows’ with all relevant rights and obligations for their fellowship period. The stipend/salary costs of the fellows will be covered by MECAM according to the principle ‘no gain, no loss’ on an individual basis: The financial agreement aims to enable the invited fellows to stay at MECAM without reducing their net-income (i.e. the sum of all verifiable salaries). In addition, all fellows will be reimbursed for relocation costs to Tunis and accommodation costs in Tunis. However, the maximum monthly accommodation costs are 600 dinars (approx. 190 EUR). Furthermore, it is also possible that proven research costs can be reimbursed up to an amount of 500 EUR.
MECAM Fellows will become part of a network, which will be built up by subsequent groups of fellows over the next years, and by the scholars of the institutions that are involved in the institutional framework. In the initial phase, the IFGs include doctoral students, postdocs, as well as advanced researchers from Germany, Tunisia, the Maghreb, the Middle East, Europe, and other regions and countries. There are also networking opportunities via the specific networks of IFG representatives from MECAM’s partner institutions, as well as with scholars that may be invited within the IFG as guests.
EXCHANGE AND DEBATE
The primary aim of all fellowships is to create a high-quality and flexible setting for a peer-to-peer exchange and debate between researchers from different countries, disciplines, and in different phases of their academic career: The IFG combines virtual and in-person forms of exchange and debate, and facilitates collaboration and engagement with scholars at MECAM partner institutions, students, and the wider public. An IFG coordinator will support the fellows during their stay at MECAM and will organise the on-site scientific programme; comprising colloquia with lectures on individual projects, collective writing processes and, if appropriate, organizing an initial and/or concluding workshop.
MECAM offers the freedom to pursue individual projects on a topic of personal choice, such as an academic article, an essay, a policy paper, a book, a report, etc.
MECAM provides its fellows with office workspaces equipped with digital infrastructure as well as publication facilities for open-access and peer-reviewed formats of publication through the infrastructures of its partners. It offers assistance in finding accommodation and other organisational aspects. Moreover, the exchange between fellows is supported by a secure digital workspace (TrafoHub) and other digital tools.
MECAM assigns its partner institution, Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin, with the processing of personal application data. Therefore, we kindly ask you to submit your application via the secure online application platform of the Forum Transregionale Studien by 15 March 2021, 24.00h CET:
Applications by email will not be considered. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact MECAM’s coordination team: mecam-office(at)uni-marburg.de
As part of your application, you will be asked to prepare and upload:
- Curriculum vitae including publications (2-3 pages),
- Research proposal: Short abstract of your project (max. 1000 words),
- Names and contact details of two referees (university faculty members or practitioners in a field relevant to the applicant’s project) who can serve as referees (no letters of recommendation required),
- One recent writing sample: journal article (published or forthcoming), book or thesis chapter.