“Normative Local Spaces in the Middle East”

first bi-local interdisciplinary workshop, November 7-9, 2013

hosted by

  • Dr. Jörn Thielmann, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen Centre for Islam and Law in Europe (EZIRE)
  • Prof. Dr. Patrick Franke, Otto-Friedrich-University Bamberg, Institute of Oriental Studies

founded by

Fritz Thyssen Foundation


  • Local Dynamics of the Struggle over Religion and Morality in the Public Space of Middle Eastern Cities.
  • Co-applicants and prospective doctoral students also met for finalizing the Volkswagen application.


  • Which topics regarding the clothing or behavior in certain spatial contexts are considered to be relevant and being discussed?
  • How is the change being communicated?
  • Who formulates claims of validity and what are they based on?

The focus is on 6 cities: Tunis, Sana’a, Amman, Beirut, Baghdad, Istanbul


April-June 2015

During this introductory phase all PhD-students were deliberately placed as a residential community to intensify contacts and to promote mutual exchange . In the aftermath of first group discussions in April 2015, to discuss the current state of each PhD project, different workshops and training sessions were held.

The individual activities during this three-month training period are listed below :

  • Workshop Academic Writing with Internet-Wiki, Dr. Natalie Struve

Text-Coaching & Reflection of writing habits with exercises on own texts

27.04.2015 and 29.05.2015

  • Workshop qualitative and quantitative methods of social research, Stephanie Müssig

“Researching morality, norms and values in societies”

08.05.2015, 18.05.2015 and 01.06.2015

  • Methods Workshop on “Content Analysis” in English, Andreas Tijé-Dra,

“Computer-aided analysis of texts (qualitative coding and quantitative lexicometric)”


  • Methods Workshop on “Geographic Information Systems” in English, Matthias Plennert,


  • German course A2, Language Centre FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg

summer term 2015

  • German conversation class: Experience Conversation “at night in Nuremberg”, Laura Massari

several appointments , chosen according to individual interests of PhD students


This training phase was accompanied by reading circles, literature searches and individual discussions on the further development of research designs, methods and research questions.

At the beginning of this period, the research objects and questions were adjusted. At the end of this period, the PhD-students also discussed their applied research designs and respective methodologies.

June 11-13, 2015

The training phase ended with an internal, three-day workshop of all project participants. Doctoral students and researchers met to discuss their applied research projects. Moreover, the planning of the project 2016 was discussed as well as joint theoretical and content keywords.

  • Planning of next project year 2016
  • Introduction of new team members and recruitment interview with the candidates to still free PhD position in Jordan and the post of the project coordinator in Sousse, Tunisia.


July-December 2015

During the second half of the year the doctoral students conducted their exploration of the selected Cities/Quarters under investigation: Tunis & Amman.  Due to the outbreak of civil war in Yemen, Abdulsalam al-Rubaidi was forced to change the subject of his thesis from concrete fieldwork in Sana’a to literary representations of space and politics in Yemenite novels. The doctoral students also shared their preliminary results of research on the team.

October and December 2015

Prof. Moncef Ben Abdeljelil and Oussama Bouffrikha (as deputy coordinator) came to Germany in order to discuss the planning of next project year 2016 as well as contractual agreements.

2nd Workshop at the University of Sousse and Field Visit in Tunis

April 20-27, 2016

Field research is at the center of the second year. Researchers and doctoral students visited the University of Sousse in April 2016 to discuss the progress of the research projects and to learn more about the history, society and culture of Tunisia.

They also conducted a field visit in Le Kram, Tunis.


(Joint) Exploration of the selected Cities by doctoral students

May-December 2016, Tunis

Workshop and Field Visit in Amman, Jordan

March 23-30, 2017

Project Workshop in Amman, accompanied by the visit of two different heritage sites, Petra and Jarash, to enable a better classification of Jordan discourses about tradition, history, Islam and the “Jordanian”.

Intern presentations of the individual research projects, general project discussions as well as project-based lectures took place.


Panel at the German Oriental conferences (DOT) in Jena, Germany,

September 18-22, 2017

Organization of Panel 29 “Changes in the Arab World: The interplay of the local, regional and national level” at the 33rd German Oriental Studies Conference in Jena, Germany. The participants of the project introduced their dissertation topics.