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Spaces of Participation: Topographies of Political and Social Change in Morocco, Egypt and Palestine

People | Subprojects | Collaborative activities | Cooperation | Press Kit | Financed by | Partners

Spaces of Participation is a joint research project based at ZMO with partners in Morocco (Mohammad V University-Agdal/Rabat), Egypt (Prof. Randa Abou Bakr) and Palestine (Birzeit University). The project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation for a period of three years (October 2014 – September 2017).

The main focus of the project lies on the making of participation in the Arab world through the study of a variety of space-related initiatives in the three countries: from cultural and youth centres to artist collectives to forms of political protests and virtual spaces. With this comparative approach, the project aims at (re)connecting political participation and space to expand our analysis of participation and to develop knowledge about the political functions of space. One of the emerging questions concerns the types of spaces which are conducive to the development of participatory practices and the conditions under which this occurs.



  • Prof. Randa Abou Bakr (Cairo University, Faculty of Arts, Department of English /  Coordinator of the Forum for the Study of Popular Culture)
  • Ass. Prof. Yazid Anani (Birzeit University, Department of Architectural Engineering)
  • Prof. Mokhtar El Harras (Mohamad V University-Agdal/Rabat, Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences, Department of Sociology)
  • Prof. Ulrike Freitag (ZMO)


  • Dr. Sarah Jurkiewicz (ZMO)



Moroccan Team (Summary)

The Re-Construction of Public Space as a Way of Political Socialization and Participation:
The case of Mohamed V Avenue in Rabat

Prof. Mokhtar El Harras (Mohamad V University-Agdal/Rabat)
Hicham Ait Mansour (Mohamad V University-Agdal/Rabat)
Mouloud Amghar (Mohamad V University-Agdal/Rabat)

Lbatwar: a Cultural Space in the City of Casablanca
Dr.  Fadma Ait Mous (Faculté Des Lettres Et Des Sciences Humaines De Ain Chock à Casablanca, Centre Marocain des Sciences Sociales (CM2S)



Egyptian Team (Summary)

The Rabaa Sit-In: An Analytic Study of the Use of Public Sphere
Mai Ayyad (Cairo University)

Digital Media and Informal Youth Collectives as Means of Social and Political Engagement
Mona Khalil (Cairo University)

Cyberspace as an Alternative Venue for Political Participation: A Study of Egyptian Visual User Created Content (UCC)
Nihal Nour (Cairo University)



Palestinian Team

Cultural Heterotopias and the Making of the Political  
Ass. Prof. Yazid Anani
Najla Al-Kayed




Spaces of Participation: Historical and Conceptual Considerations
Prof. Ulrike Freitag

Space-Making Practices and Urban Participation in Kuwait
Dr. Sarah Jurkiewicz

Public Space for Peace and Contention: Maydān al-Shuhadāʾ (Martyrs' Square) Shaping Political and Social Spheres of the City of Tripoli, Libya
Suaad Al Ghafal



The Making of Youth Centres in Morocco: Intermediate Spaces at the Crossroads between the "Social" and the "Political"
Dr. Yasmine Berriane (Zurich University, URPP Asia and Europe)

From Visualisation to Mobilisation: The Case of Palestine in a Transnational Context Explored
Dr. Hanan Toukan
(BGSMCS) (associated with Palestinian project)

Urban practices in post-revolutionary Egypt
Azzurra Sarnataro (University of Rome "La Sapienza", associated with Egyptian Project)

Negotiating Jerusalem along its borderlines. The Light Rail in Jerusalem
Amina Nolte (International Center for the Study of Culture, Gießen & participant in Common Spaces artist-lab)


Collaborative Activities

Common activities:
2015, October 4-8, Rabat: “Researching Spaces of Political, Civic and Cultural Participation: a Methodological Workshop” (Internal Programme, Public Programme)

2014, October 5-8, ZMO, Berlin: Kick-off Workshop held at ZMO

Egyptian team:
July 26-28, 2015: “Methodologies of Qualitative Research in the Social Sciences” (with particular reference to community initiatives)
Convened by Forum for the Study of Popular Culture
Conducted by Dr. Fadma Ait Mous, Faculté Des Lettres Et Des Sciences Humaines de Ain Chock à Casablanca
Venue: Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, 1 Dr. Mahmoud Azmi's Street, Zamalek

March 2-4, 2015: “Doing Qualitative Research in Media and Popular Cultural studies
Convened by Forum for the Study of Popular Culture
Conducted by: Dr. Anne Grüne- Researcher and lecturer of Comparative Cultural and Media Studies at the chair for International and Comparative Communication Studies at the University of Erfurt, Germany
Venue: Women and Memory Forum (WMF) in Cairo. 12 Soliman Abaza Street, Giza.

February 21-3, 2015: “Methodologies of Qualitative Research in the Social Sciences”
Convened by Forum for the Study of Popular Culture
Conducted by: Azzurra Sarnataro, Researcher in urban studies at University of Rome (La Sapienza)
Venue: British Council in Cairo

Moroccan team:
May 20-21, 2015: Faculty Seminar on “The reconstruction of public space in Morocco: political and civic practices among youth” (Reconstruction de l’espace public au Maroc: pratiques politiques et civiques chez les jeunes)
Laboratoire de Recherches et d'Etudes Sociologiques, Mohamed V University-Agdal/Rabat.

Palestinian team:
Assistance from the International Academy of Art Palestinian to Bring David Harvey for a seminar that targets issues relevant to the topic of research and its direction mainly the reclamation of the city and the urban crisis. Seminar 14th -19th September 2015 and a public lecture on the 15th September.

3rd December 2014: “Urbanisation of Rural Areas: The Emergence of Suburbs in Palestine,” workshop with Birzeit university students from diverse disciplines. The workshop was organized with the Center of Development Studies together with Linda Tabar and Samia Butmeh at Birzeit University.

German team:
September 17, 2015: Work talk at ZMO with an intervention by Azzurra Sarnataro on "Addressing Local Communities of Cairo's Informal Areas: from the Myth of Marginality to the Myth of Participation?"



Common Spaces: traveling artist-lab with participants from Amman, Berlin and Casablanca


Press Kit ZMO Forschungsprojekt “Räume der Partizipation”: Drehscheiben des politischen Protests by Jannis Hagmann | German | English and Arabic versions will follow soon


Financed by




Mohammed V - Agdal
Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines - Rabat

birzeit mohamed 5 heba