The Contemporary Social Sciences Research Team (SSC) brings together researchers and lecturers whose work deals with the historical, political, sociological, economic or cultural processes that impact the Arab and Muslim worlds, from the early 20th century to the modern day.
In a comparative perspective, this team aims to decompartmentalise research on the Maghreb and the Mashrek, questioning the effects of historical processes (colonisation, independence, development, economic liberalisation, democratic transition, authoritarian resilience, etc.) that they share with other regions of the world (Europe, North America, Latin America, etc.). This research takes current “projections” of this region in a globalised world into account, as well as a diverse range of unique regional approaches (the Maghreb’s strong connections to Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, Near- and Middle-Eastern migrations in the world, but also more recent immigrations toward the Arab world). Using a multi-disciplinary perspective, this research brings together different approaches from the social sciences: political sciences, history of the present day, sociology, geography and anthropology.
The SSC Research Team’s activities include several research programs, and follow three principal themes.
Researchers, Professors and Emeritus: Saïd Belguidoum (MCF), François Burgat (DREM), Myriam Catusse (CR), Kamel Chachoua (CR), Vincent Geisser (CR), Eric Gobe (DR), Jean-François Legrain (CR), Fabienne Le Houérou (DR), Françoise Lorcerie (DREM), Cédric Parizot (CR), Thomas Pierret (CR), Marine Poirier (CR), François Siino (IRHC)
Associate Researchers: Aomar Baghzouz, Maya Ben Ayed, Chérif Bennadji, Myriam Benraad, Bernard Botiveau, Erminia Chiara Calabrese, Rémi Caucanas, Marie-Christine Cerrato Debenedetti, Matthieu Cimino, Agnès De Féo, Chiara Diana, Chérif Driss, Simon Dubois, Mustapha El Mnasfi, Pierre France, Julien Garric, Gérard Groc, Laure Guirguis, Jean-Robert Henry, Marion Lecoquierre, Jean-Baptiste Le Moulec, Ahmed Mahiou, Abdelouahab Makhloufi, Ali Mekki, Valérie Orange, Stéphane Papi, Sara Tonsy
The recent protest movements, and the resilience of authoritarian regimes, has brought the political question back to the fore when considering the future of the Maghreb and the Mashrek. If public action in the region has long been perceived as apathetic, recent upheavals have encouraged researchers in the social sciences to reappraise their methods, approaches and paradigms. These events, however, have also made clear the need to apprehend these socio-political transformations over the long term. Contrary to what is commonly held, these changes were not born in the “Arab Uprisings”, but are symptomatic of long-term transformations and deeper trends. The work around this research theme aims to comprehend socio-political transformations in the Arab and Muslim worlds from three key perspectives:
The field of civil mobilization: Social movements, the revival of union action, the politicisation of sexual, cultural and religious minorities, the formation of opposition coalitions, the emergence of new social, territorial and generational divides, etc.
The field of public action: The impact of civil mobilization on public policies and State and regional government reform (decentralisation, regionalisation, etc.), favouring sector-led approaches (justice, security forces, health, education, environment, emigration-immigration policies, etc.).
The field of transnational policies: Initiatives for regional cooperation, multilateral relations, interstate conflicts, the assertion of religious solidarity in the Arab world, the rise of ethnic nationalisms, policies of allegiance between the state and diasporas, etc.
This rapidly-expanding research theme at IREMAM covers several projects and research programs:
The ethnicization of social relations (ethnicity, secularism and discrimination): This research looks at inclusion policies and processes for populations of immigrant origin from Muslim countries settled in Europe. It questions the prevailing political ideology and public action, as well as the mobilizations and the social and cultural practices of these populations. In particular, studies look at how school education deals with religious and cultural diversity. Conflicts around secularism, struggles against discrimination, and the normalisation of Islam are some of the key subjects under study. In the field of education, ties have been established with SFERE, a federative institutional structure set up by Aix-Marseille University, as well as with the INSPÉ and the Local Education Authority of Aix-Marseille. The RIED network (International Education and Diversity Network) has offices in France through IREMAM.
Economic anthropology and religious norms: This theme deals with the study of the tripartite relationship between religious officials, politics and the economy. It brings together research that analyses the normative religious dynamics of “market economies”, where the economy is partly “disincorporated” of its social relations. Taking into account both the economic dimension of religious practices, and the religious dimension of economic practices, provides an opportunity to reappraise the binary model of secularisation that puts the political in opposition with the religious (according to various models of “leaving” or “returning” to religion, post-secularisation, etc.). This theme coordinates and encourages research on the circulation and commercialisation of “faith goods”, both material and immaterial, which are resistant to classical economic analysis, are legally challenging, and do not fit well into an overly restrictive sociological conception of “religious practices”. To this aim, the MHALEC program (funded by the Central Bureau of Worship, French Ministry of the Interior, 2016-2018) works to keep abreast with the economic, legal and socioreligious reality of the halal market in France (and its legal aspects in the European Union).
Islamic humanitarian aid in France, from “NGO” label to the search for an original Muslim approach ? This program, financed by the French Ministry of the Interior’s Central Bureau of Worship, aims to study the emergence of associations and humanitarian NGOs labelled as “Muslim” in the French public space. Between mimetism of a universalist-style humanitarian aid and the search for an alternative Islamic approach, between the need for professionalisation and activist engagement drawing on a co-religious ethos, between forces of change and continuity, what is specific to French Islamic humanitarian aid, and what makes it unique ?
Since the early 2000s, the countries of the Maghreb and the Mashrek have seen a new stage in their urban transition. With 70% of the region’s population concentrated in its cities, which have expanded considerably, the urban structure has become increasingly dense, and the hierarchy of urban networks reinforced. Be they national or regional cities, medium or small towns, cities in the process of restructuration, young cities (with planned urbanism), or new cities (with local dynamics), the city of the Arab world comes in many different forms. Steeped in their own contradictions, bubbling with tension, they seek coherence and structure under the joint and contradictory actions of public policy and of different social actors. The societies of the Arab and Muslim worlds face many common challenges, and each have developed their own unique methods for building their urban societies, more or less dependent upon characteristics inherited from their contrasting histories. The ambition of this theme is to explore different fields that might allow us to better comprehend urban dynamics, by privileging themes such as urban restructuring and socio-spatial redistribution, the production and circulation of urban and architectural models, public policies and urban governance issues, practices in public spaces, social groups in the city, local identities and hierarchies of belonging, and forms of urban mobility.