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New Sussex-Lund partnership promises Middle East study collaboration

A new strategic research partnership has been agreed between the Middle East and North Africa Centre at Sussex (MENACS) and the highly-regarded and internationally-recognised Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at Lund University in Sweden.

CMES Research and Funding Officer, Spyros Sofos, and Director of MENACS, Dr Hilary KalmbachCMES Research and Funding Officer, Spyros Sofos, and Director of MENACS, Dr Hilary Kalmbach

L-R: Spyros Sofos, Dr Hilary Kalmbach, Professor Michael Davies, Kristina Robertsson (CMES Director of Studies and International Engagement), and Umut Özkirimli (Professor leading the Nation and State project)L-R: Spyros Sofos, Dr Hilary Kalmbach, Professor Michael Davies, Kristina Robertsson (CMES Director of Studies and International Engagement), and Professor Umut Özkirimli (Professor leading the Nation and State project)

Supported by the International Partnerships and Networks Fund, the partnership has been in the making since late 2015, and is the outcome of a long process of exchange and careful planning over multiple visits.

Director of MENACS, Dr Hilary Kalmbach, said: "We’re excited to be deepening our relationship with the top centre for the study of the Middle East in Scandinavia. We each have a core focus on Arabic-speaking countries and their diasporas, and particular interest in the study of Islam, water, migration, and nationalism.

“Beyond this, we bring complementary strengths to the table. For instance, CMES has significant expertise studying Muslims in Europe while MENACS has a geographic scope that is unusually wide and inclusive, stretching from North Africa to Afghanistan, and Turkey to the Indian Ocean.

“Both centres are committed to using art and culture to broaden perceptions and enable dialogue within our universities and beyond. It’s a connection with significant potential that we look forward to developing over the coming years."         

Staff and students exchange opportunities will form a key part of planned activities, which will include joint research and teaching collaborations through a programme of meetings, conferences and workshops at Sussex, Lund and elsewhere.

The aim of the strategic research partnership is to have a transformative impact on the study of the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region through research, teaching, and international engagement, addressing topics of contemporary relevance.

The inaugural research initiative of this partnership, Nation and State in the Middle East and North Africa, is motivated by the need to address the tectonic changes that have shaken the region since the onset of Arab Uprisings in 2011.

The partnership will advance the centres' goal of being at the forefront of training the next generation of MENA experts. It’s also hoped that the collaboration will be a model for enhancing cooperation between the two universities as a whole.