The Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb (MECAM) was 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 first Interdisciplinary Fellow Group (IFG), “Aesthetics & Cultural Practice”, MECAM has invited applications for five short-term fellowships in July 2020 for researchers at different career stages for the period from April to July 2021.

MECAM information flyer:


MECAM was founded in April 2020 as an international centre for interdisciplinary research and academic exchange. It is located in Tunis/Tunisia with branches that shall be developed in Casablanca/Morocco and Beirut/Lebanon in a second phase. MECAM is a joint endeavour of a consortium of seven Tunisian and German research institutions: It is coordinated by the Philipps-Universität Marburg and the Université de Tunis and supported by the Universität Leipzig, the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg/Germany, the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin/Germany, the Institut Tunisien des Études Stratégiques (ITES) in Tunis/Tunisia, and the Université de Sfax/Tunisia. During a three-year preliminary phase (2020-2023), this consortium is entrusted with the institutional development of MECAM and the preparation of the project’s main phase (2023-2032). The Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany sponsors MECAM with a budget of 1.7 million Euros during the first three years.

The overall theme “Imagining Futures: Dealing with Disparity” guides MECAM’s research agenda on the (re-)negotiation of complex social and political processes after the “Arab Spring.” MECAM aims at analysing these processes against the backdrop of disparities and inequalities that divide and connect both the Maghreb and the neighbouring regions historically and currently.

MECAM will establish a fellowship programme in Tunis with the aim of bringing together scholars from the Maghreb, Europe, the Middle East and beyond so that they gain time and free-space to work on their self-chosen research projects within one of the above-mentioned thematic research clusters (IFGs). The fellows will be offered excellent working conditions for research and debate. MECAM intends to hold seminars and workshops, as well as academies in different places in and outside the region. The fellowship programme will be supplemented by mobility grants for research stays in Germany for the benefit of scholars from Tunisia, the Maghreb, and other Arab countries. The “Rencontres Ibn Khaldun” are conceived as a series of special events seeking to highlight the work of MECAM. Communication techniques through open access publications and other forms of knowledge transfer and translation among the academic community and to other target audiences will be of particular interest. For its work, MECAM can rely on the expertise, the existing formats and networks of the partner institutions in Tunis, Marburg, Sfax, Berlin, Hamburg and Leipzig. All German partner institutions are members of the Forum Transregionale Studien.

MECAM is directed by Rachid Ouaissa (Philipps-Universität Marburg) and Khaled Kchir (Université de Tunis) and steered by a council of 12 members that also include: Fadma Aït Mous (Hassan II University of Casablanca), André Bank (GIGA Hamburg), Sami Ben Jannet (Institut Tunisien Des Etudes Stratégiques), Tamirace Fakhoury (Lebanese American University), Jörg Gertel (Universität Leipzig), Georges Khalil (Forum Transregionale Studien), Saoussen Krichen (Université de Tunis), Abdelwahed Mokni (Université de Sfax), Anika Oettler (Philipps-Universität Marburg), , Friederike Pannewick (Philipps-Universität Marburg/member of the board of the Forum Transregionale Studien).

The Advisory Board of MECAM consists of the following persons: Raja Ben Slama (National Library of Tunisia / Université de Manouba), Karima Dirèche (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Aix-en-Provence), Farid El Asri (International University of Rabat), Zeina G. Halabi (American University of Beirut), Imed Melitti (Institut Supérieur des Sciences Humaines de Tunis), Christoph Menke (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main), Emma Murphy (School of Government and International Affairs, Durham), Isabelle Werenfels (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik).

Contact at the Forum:

Contact in Tunis (academic coordination):

Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb
c/o Institut Supérieur des Études Appliquées en Humanités de Tunis (ISEAHT)
27, rue Florian
Borj Zouara (Bab Saadoun)

MECAM website
Youtube channel
MECAM series at the TRAFO Blog