The Middle East Working Group is now under the direction of EUI researchers, and has been renamed as the Muslim World Working Group.
After the creation of the specialised Middle East Directions Programme last summer, the working group on the same topic was shelved. However, continuing demand for a researcher-led forum in which to discuss similar themes prompted the creation of a new organization.
The new working group, which benefits from the advice of Professor Olivier Roy, was named the Muslim World Working Group to broaden the group’s appeal and utility. ‘Since there are fewer researcher working on the Middle East, we decided to widen the geographical area,’ said Nedra Cherif, a third year researcher from the SPS department who coordinates the group.
‘We look at the Muslim world in terms of a cultural and political definition, not a religious one,’ Nedra told EUI Life. ‘Basically anywhere the dynamics of Islam have an impact,’ she said. For example, Nedra’s PhD case studies are in Tunisia and Egypt. Meanwhile, the research of Max Weber fellow Sophie Lemiere, another coordinator of the group, focuses on militancy in Malaysia.
In their first year, the group intends to organise weekly meetings, including informal discussions of topical events or relevant literature. ‘It is also a good opportunity to find out what other researchers are working on, and to try out ideas’, Nedra explained. ‘We have even helped researchers practice for their thesis defence.’
The group is currently preparing for a roundtable event on Turkey, to be held in March, in cooperation with the Middle East Directions Programme and the Migration Working Group. ‘We also hope to show a documentary about the experiences of Muslims in America before and after the Trump election,’ said Nedra.