Manfred Sing

Manfred Sing is representing Leibniz-IEG Mainz within HISDEMAB. He is also teaching Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Basel (Dpt of Social Sciences) and at the University of Freiburg.

He was born in 1966 in Baden-Württemberg. He studied Islamic Studies, Sociology and History at the University of Freiburg and the University of Damascus. In 2005, he obtained a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Freiburg. He has been teaching as a lecturer at the University of Freiburg, where he also conducted a postdoctoral project (2007-2008), funded by the German Research Foundation, on the evolution of former communists in the Middle East after 1989. He worked as a research associate with the Orient Institute in Beirut between 2009 and 2012 and at the Leibniz-IEG between 2013 and 2020. In the framework of HISDEMAB, Manfred Sing is investigating Debates on Citizenship and Secularism in Semi-Colonial Egypt. The project studies the development of citizenship and citizenship rights after 1922 when Egypt became formally independent. It critically discusses the secondary literature on the period and aims to take a fresh look at the relevant sources. The interwar period in Egypt has often been described as part of an Arab “failed” liberal experiment. Most studies on the emergence
of modern Egypt focus on the strained relations between the British, the monarchy, and the parliament, thus stressing the malfunction of the parliament as one of the main reasons of failure. This kind of analysis explicitly or implicitly evolves around the idea of the maladaption of democracy to Egypt (or Arab countries more generally) or a lack of thorough understanding by Egyptians of the requirements of democracy. This kind of analysis, however, often shows a limited understanding of
central concepts. Manfred Sing’s research endeavour aims to show that it is necessary to treat Egypt not as a “container.” Leaving behind methodological nationalism, the aim is to show how the idea of Egypt has spatial and temporal extensions that reach beyond its geographical borders and have been differently negotiated. Thus, the emergence of Egypt must be located in post-Ottoman as well as British imperial contexts, in transnational Arab as well as Muslim contexts. Moreover, beyond
the triangle of colonial administration, palace and parliament, subaltern groups like workers and a growing middle class, who staged demonstrations and claimed their rights, must also be seen as a lively expression of a growing political participation that reaches back to the Ottoman times and the beginnings of the anti-colonial movement.

Among Manfred Sing’s publications: “Arab Self-Criticism after 1967 Revisited“, The Arab Studies Journal, 2017, 25-2, p.144-191; “New Approaches to Arab Left Histories” (with Sune Haugbolle), The Arab Studies Journal, 2016, 24-1, p.90-97; “Arab Post-Marxists after Disillusionment: Between Liberal Newspeak and Revolution Reloaded” in Hatina M., Schumann C. (eds), Arab Liberal Thought after 1967, New-York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, p.155-175; “The Specters of Marx in Edward Said’s Orientalism“, Die Welt des Islams, 2013, 53, 2, p. 149-191 (with MiriamYounes); “Brothers in Arms: How Palestinian Maoists Turned Jihadists“, Die Welt des Islams, 2011, 51,1, p. 1-44; “Sacred Law Reconsidered: The Structural Similarity of Islamic and Western Bioethical Discourses“, Journal of Religious Ethics, 2008, 3-1, p. 97-121; Progressiver Islam in Theorie und Praxis. Die interne Kritik am hegemonialen islamischen Diskurs durch den roten Scheich ‘Abdallah al-‘Alayili (1914-1996), Würzburg: Ergon 2007.

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