Research related to the Middle East and North Africa takes place primarily within the following broad themes, within which staff pursue individual research and run collaborative projects.
- Sustainability, environment, resources
Research at Sussex related to sustainability and the environment in the MENA region is notable for its focus on solving significant challenges related to sustainable management of environmental resources. Members of staff involved in this theme include Allam Ahmed, Jan Selby, and Greg Shapland. Related centres at the university include the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP) and the Centre for World Environmental History (CWEH).
Environmental security, especially of water resources, is a signficant focus for MENACS members. Jan Selby's research in this area focuses in particular on international water, climate and energy politics. This area was a major focus for Greg Shapland during his tenure as the most senior analyst on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK government, and has continued to be of significant interest thereafter.
- Religion, culture, translation, connection
A cluster of faculty within MENACS examine the impact of religion on the society, culture, and politics of the Middle East and North Africa from the eighteenth century through to the present day. They focus in particular on connections between the MENA region and the wider world, as well as the processes of cross-cultural translation and interaction that emerge from these connections. These processes have had a significant impact on the role of Islam in Muslim majority and minority contexts, which in turn has lead to fierce debates about cosmopolitanism, multiculturalism, and civilisational politics. As a result, this cluster informs our understanding of the complexity of inter-religious relations in the contemporary world as well as in the past.
Cluster members include philosopher Anthony Booth, early modern literary scholars Feras Alkabani and Matthew Dimmock, sociologist June Edmonds, economist Rumy Hasan, historians Hilary Kalmbach and Jacob Norris, anthropologists Magnus Marsden and Filippo Osella, and international relations scholar Fabio Petito. These academics have or are cultivating ties with the Centre for German-Jewish Studies, the Sussex Asia Centre and the Sussex Africa Centre, as well as national and international institutions such as Georgetown University, Wilton Park, the British Council, the British Museum, Chatham House, the EU's Radicalisation Awareness Network and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
- Nation-State (De)Formation: Geopolitics, state, society
This theme brings together researchers studying international history, political sociology and anthropology of the Middle East focusing on the following areas: ‘the making and un-making of the nation-states, contentious politics, global history of cities, modern educational history, social movements, and modern development’. Researchers working on this theme seek to combine conceptual rigour, empirical depth and interdisciplinarity. Centre members involved in some way with this theme include Hilary Kalmbach, Kamran Matin, Jacob Norris, Filippo Osella, Jan Selby, and David Tal.
The current area of core activity is 'Nation and State in the Middle East', which is also the title of a joint project involving Centre for Middle Easter Studies (CMES-Lund), Middle East Centre (MEC-LSE) and MENACS, which is led at Sussex by Kamran Matin.
- Arts, museums, education
Research relating to the arts and education at Sussex is notable for its engagement work outside of academia. Academics involved with this theme include Anne-Marie Angelo, Matthew Dimmock, Martin Evans, Alisa Lebow, and Ceren Ozpinar. Members of this theme maintain close ties with the Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts (ACCA), the Centre for the Visual, and the Centre for International Education (CIE).
For instance, Matthew Dimmock's knowledge of Islam and how it is represented in literature played a significant role in the staging of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, at the Glyndebourne Opera House in the summer of 2015. Martin Evans' research on the French Empire in North Africa has led to his involvement in curating an exhibition that compares immigration to Paris and London from the 1960s onward for the Musée de l’histoire de l’immigration in Paris. Alisa Lebow's research into documentary film has led her to establish an archive that tracks independent and documentary filmmaking in Egypt since the revolution.
- Migration, diaspora, movement
MENACS researchers approach the study of migration from a wide range of social science and humanities perspectives. The group includes geographers Michael Collyer, Ceri Oeppen, historians Anne-Marie Angelo, Martin Evans and Jacob Norris and former-FCO analyst Greg Shapland. Several of the social scientists are members of the world-renowned Sussex Centre for Migration Research.
- Rights and resistance
Research on rights in the MENA region occurs includes work from legal, historical, development, and anthropological perspectives. The group includes Anne-Marie Angelo, David Karp, Michael Kearney, Amir Paz-Fuchs and Mariz Tadros. Several are also involved in the Sussex Rights and Justice Research Centre.
- Conflict, security, stabilisation
- Science, technology, commerce
MENACS cultivates a number of partnerships to support its research activities.
- Internal Partners
MENACS is currently hosted within the School of Media, Arts and Humanities, with the majority of its staff coming from this school and the School of Global Studies. It regularly coordinates with centres across the university, including:
- Sussex Humanities Lab
- Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP)
- Sussex Centre for Migration Research (SCMR)
- Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA)
- Sussex Asia Centre
- Sussex Africa Centre
- Sussex Centre for American Studies
- Sussex Centre for the Visual
- Sussex Centre for Conflict and Security Research (SCSR)
- Sussex Centre for World Environmental History
- Sussex Resistance Studies Network
- Partners in the Middle East and North Africa
Qatar University College of Arts and Sciences - The Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS)
The Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences(CHSS) at Qatar University College of Arts and Sciences is involved in the project 'Nation and State in the Middle East' with MENACS, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University, and the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics.
Cairo University, Egypt
The university is developing a partnership with Egypt's flagship public university, Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt.
- Partners outside of the Middle East and North Africa
Lund University - Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)
MENACS has a partnership with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University in the south of Sweden. It started on 12 March 2016, with the visit of director Dr Hilary Kalmbach and centre member Dr Kamran Matin to Lund and was finalised on 16 September 2016 with the signing of a MOU at Sussex University.
One of the activities associated with this partnership is a joint research project between CMES, MENACS, the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics, and The Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) at Qatar University College of Arts and Sciences entitled 'Nation and State in the Middle East.'
London School of Economics - Middle East Centre (MEC)
Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics is involved in the project 'Nation and State in the Middle East' with MENACS, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University, and The Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) at Qatar University College of Arts and Sciences.
Musée de l’histoire de l’immigration (History of Immigration) in Paris
MENACS is home to a project that is curating an exhibition that compares immigration to Paris and London, from the 1960s onward for the Musée de l’histoire de l’immigration in Paris