5 - 9 July 2021
Between 2019 and 2020 a new wave of protests erupted across the Middle East and North Africa: in Iraq, Lebanon, Algeria, Sudan, Egypt and Jordan protests were largely triggered by dire socio-economic conditions, corruption and a sentiment of political disenfranchisement. People asked for regime change as well as radical changes in governance and public policies. Demands for transparency and accountability standards within established legal frameworks have been particularly strong. Political parties and the ruling elites met these demands only with trite political narratives and technocratic choices and not with genuine changes, facilitating and reinforcing in fact greater corruption and inequality. As a result, an increasing number of citizens demand greater access to information to the decision-making process, to policy implementation and, more broadly, to have more direct control over procedures.
Although demands for bread and dignity remain one of the protesters’ central claims, this new wave of revolts increasingly questions the ‘rules of the game’. Governance's procedures, economic policies and strategies, the narrowness of political power are all strongly questioned. This resonates with the idea that people are increasingly aware of the fact that a profound revolutionary change of the system is necessary to build a real democracy, not just a procedural one. In this sense other forms of governmentality emerge.
The 8th edition of the summer school “Understanding the Middle East” critically unpacks power, politics and governance, exploring the role they have in re-defining the trajectories of Arab states.
In short, the objective of the summer school is to offer useful tools of analysis to better understand the complexity of the Middle East and, at the same time, to put forth thoughtful explanations rather than oversimplifications.
June 22 - june 27, 2020
From 2011 a renewed attention to the political dimension of the space arose. The use of spaces, especially urban spaces, has played a central role in the Middle East: demonstrations, strikes, protests, sit-ins or even confrontations have been constant elements in many Middle Eastern cities. These places have seen the emergence of various forms of resistance, ranging from the cultural and intellectual scenes to the social and political contention. This has resulted in a renewed interest of politics in the management of space, especially in authoritarian contexts where the control over individuals is also part of the control over the space, crucial element to State’s sovereignty and stability.faculty & timetable 2020
June 17 - june 21, 2019
The success of the previous editions in terms of participation of students and professionals from all over the world pushed the Department CPS to renew its commitment with a new edition entitled Identity in the Middle East and North Africa: actors, strategies and dynamics. The aim of this new edition is to critically reflect on identities and their politicization exploring the role they have played through time and space to read and represent political events in the region. Identity will be therefore used to frame relevant themes such as class issues, minority status, formation of the state, sectarianism, language and gender issues, among others.faculty & timetable 2019
June 25 - june 29, 2018
The Summer School “The Struggle for Regional Hegemony: Natural Resources and Human Flows” is part of the international graduate initiatives of the Department of Culture, Politics and Society of the University of Turin. Its goal is to expand and strengthen the inter-institutional cooperation with the Middle East region. The one-week summer school is the first of its kind in Italy and Europe. The lessons are held in English. The School’s faculty and scientific committee are composed by worldly renowned professors coming from European and Middle Eastern universities. The main aim of the school is to provide the tools to understand the Middle East and its current transformations. The summer school favours a political science approach and offers perspectives that are fundamental to better comprehend critical points at the regional level, while paying attention to the current dynamics in some of the countries where the so-called “Arab Spring” has developed. Each year the school focuses on a different topic. This fifth edition reflects on the role of natural resources and human flows in shaping the politics of the Middle East: the management of natural resources (hydrocarbons, gas, water, nuclear power) and human flows (war refugees, environmental refugees, displaced people, etc.) play a central role. Competition over resources, indeed, is something affecting borders, identities, nationhood and, of course, ecology.faculty & timetable 2018
July 3 - july 7, 2017
Within the context of the TOMidEast initiatives, the Department of Cultures, Politics and Society of the University of Turin, is pleased to announce the fourth edition of the Summer School “Understanding the Middle East” dedicated this year to the issue of De-constructing narratives, imaginaries and representations.Narratives, imaginaries and mythical representations affect the study and the comprehension of the Middle East. Those narratives are, nowadays as in the past, at the heart of a stereotyped and often racialised, essentialist and culturalist reading of such a crucial area of the world.This fourth edition of the summer school “Understanding the Middle East” critically reflects on those narratives that, over the years, have fuelled a simplistic and inaccurate reading of the Middle East in academia, policy circles and media. Starting with the most difficult narrative to challenge – Orientalism – the summer school deconstructs some of the representations that have shaped the Middle East, contributing to foster its presumed exceptionalism: democratization, sectarianism, political Islam, clash of civilizations, and permanent conflict. To do this, alternative stories, processes, and debates are employed to interpret the transformations of the region. In particular the focus will be, among others, on the role of social classes, the discourse of Arab intellectuals, trade unionism, and contentious politics.A specific focus will be on the role of old and new media with the participation of communication’s experts coming from the MENA region.The final objective is to offer useful theoretical tools and empirical evidence to understand the complexity of the current transformations and, at the same time, to re-open a discussion free from constraints and simplifications.faculty & timetable 2017
June 27 - july 1, 2016
The control over and the access to the resources of the Middle East have always played a strategic role in the global balance of power. During the 1970s and 1980s the relevance of the Middle East was not only due to its hydrocarbons and strategic location in the Cold war. In fact, regional actors began to employ oil and gas revenues as key elements of geo-political games, while at the same time experiencing a gradual transformation of their own economies through processes of privatization and liberalization.The connection between the reinforcement of authoritarian regimes and rentierism on the one hand and the control over political and economic systems on the other hand have clearly highlighted the interplay between the State, the political economy and the management and exploitation of strategic resources.The political consequences of the growth of inequalities, the emergence of new actors interested in the control and exploitation of strategic resources, the increasing interconnection with the global economy, the economic alternatives that new actors suggest and the rise of insecurity in the region are just some of the issues that need further examination. The third edition of the summer school “Understanding the Middle East” focuses precisely on them.faculty & timetable 2016
June 29 - july 3, 2015
The profound changes that have occurred across the Middle East over the past four years have challenged the geographical and also political notion of borders and boundaries. The geographical borders became more porous to ideologies and transnational groups and the political boundaries between state and society faced major changes thanks to the new raise of “street-politics”.Both challenges to traditional borders and boundaries have led to the emergence of new actors employing discourses and practices that are destabilising. This destabilisation can have positive effects – the introduction of the language of rights for instance in political discourse – or negative ones- the rise of sectarian violence. In any case both challenges need further examination and the second edition of the summer school “Understanding the Middle East” focused precisely on them.faculty & timetable 2015
June 30 - july 4, 2014
The Middle East is a region that plays a key role for the comprehension of the current international interests, global changes and tendencies that since 2001 have been shaping international politics. At the same time it is also a strongly controversial area, whose interpretations have been distorted and biased by an often inaccurate media coverage and information spreading.The outbreak of the so called ‘Arab Spring’ has brought again the Middle East to the attention of the international arena without, however, that the extent of the ongoing transformations was properly analyzed and disseminated. That is why a deep analysis and understanding of the core issues of this complex region is fundamental today.faculty & timetable 2014