Online Seminar

The Historicity of Democracy Seminar. Academic Year 2020-2021

Organized within the framework of the HISDEMAB international and collaborative research programme of the Leibniz-Association (ZMO-ZZF-IEG) in collaboration with IFPO and Manouba University.


You can also send an email to

The objective of this seminar is to explore the theme of the existence and nature of deliberative institutions and practices, as well as possible early democratic impulses in North Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim World from the Middle-Ages to the 19th century. Paying attention to the political, social and anthropological roots of such practices, concepts and institutions also allows for a critical and innovative discussion of processes of transformation, erasure, submission to an external order, reinterpretation, mythification or reinvention they have been the object of in the contexts of modernization, colonization, independence, the Cold War and in general the impact with ideologies and policies of the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Guests in the seminar are invited to discuss, among others, research questions relating to the civic role of guilds, the existence of local instances of deliberation, consensus-building, discussion or collaborative decision, the role of confessional communities in such processes as well as the institutionalization of such practices and its possible limits. Questions relating to the construction of citizenship, the functioning of assemblies and then parliaments, as well as on constitutional processes and their roots will also be addressed in the seminar, just like questions on citizen movements, mobilization methods, opinion formation, forms of negotiation and civic conscience. Guest contributors will address the question of the treatment under colonization and since decolonization of this complex heritage.

The 2020-2021 edition of the seminar takes place on selected Thursdays (15.00-17.00 Berlin-time) in the form of a videoconference

November 26, 2020: Dalenda Larguèche (Université de La Manouba, Tunis) “Feminine deliberative practices in Tunis: between intimacy, decision-making processes and the opinion

December 10, 2020: François Hartog (Directeur d’études émérite, Ecole des hautes études en  sciences sociales, Paris) “Reflections on Historicity, Time and Historical Research

January 28, 2021: Hedayat Heikal (Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Cambridge MA) “Constitutionalism in the Middle East and the question of democracy

February 18, 2021: Tariq Tell (American University of Beirut) “Debating Representation and Democracy in early-Independent Jordan

March 11, 2021: Abdul-Hameed Al-Kayyali (Institut français du Proche Orient, Amman) “The question of Power in Classical Islam: Searching for the Roots of Deliberative processes

March 25, 2021: Amr Elshobaki (Alahram center for political & strategic studies, Cairo) “Contemporary Visions of Historical Deliberative processes in Egypt

April 29, 2021: Hedwig Richter (Universität der Bundeswehr, München) “Historicizing Democracy. Inclusion and equality in the long 19th century.”

May 6, 2021: Selda Tuncer (Yüzüncü Yıl University, Van) “Women and Public Space in Turkey. A Gendered History of Modernity, Urban
Experience and Everyday Participation

May 27, 2021: Esther Möller (Professor of Modern Cultural History of North Africa, Universität der Bundeswehr, München) “Claims for humanitarian sovereignty, forms of political participation and the question of democracy in 20th century Egypt

June 10, 2021: Rashid Khalidi (Columbia University, New-York) “Anti-colonial Movements in the Middle East and the question of democracy

June 24, 2021: Falestin Naili (IFPO Amman) “Colonial contingencies: the political marginalisation of the municipality of Jerusalem under the British Mandate

July 8, 2021: Holger Nehring (University of Sterling) “Theoretical Reflections on Social Movements: contestation of liberal democracies and laboratories of democratic practices

The online seminar is free and open to the public upon registration.

HISDEMAB is an international and collaborative research programme of the Leibniz Gemeinschaft chaired by Nora Lafi (Leibniz-ZMO, Berlin) in association with Leibniz-IEG (Mainz), Leibniz-ZZF (Potsdam), IFPO Amman and Université de la Manouba (Tunis).

Members of the programme: Nora Lafi, Robin Schmahl, Simon Baumann and Maija Susarina (Leibniz-ZMO Berlin); Frank Bösch and Elisabeth Kimmerle (Leibniz-ZZF Potsdam); Manfred Sing and Marianne Dhenin (Leibniz-IEG); Falestin Naili and Abdelqader Amer (IFPO Amman); Habib Kazadaghli and Ahlem Hajjaji (Université de la Manouba)