Decolonizing and Deconstructing the MENA/SWANA


New University in Exile Consortium, Department of Anthropology and Cultural Research and the Institute for Political Sciences at Bremen University 
Wednesdays 12:00 - 14:00 CEST
14 WEEKS (19.4.22 - 22.7.22)


The Middle East and North Africa, SWANA, is of great strategic importance, as it has a large part of the world's oil reserve, home to world’s sacred sites, and is located at the crossroads of important trade routes. There are important issues in the SWANA that come from the past and give the current parameters to the region in general. The Palestine-Israel issue, the water crisis, the bloody rivalries of the regional states, the democratization process and the sectarian wars are the main concerns in the region. It has not always been easy to change the old order in the SWANA. The region has been shaken by serious political crises and social upheavals recently. Youth, women and social media have impacted the formation of these social movements. Recent developments and changes in the region prompted many to rethink the region and look at the ongoing events from different angles. In this context, this seminar series will be organized online for those interested in the field in order to better analyse the change processes and transformations in the SWANA. The course will last for 14 weeks and different topics related to the region will be discussed each week.

Learning Aims

To provide a general understanding about:
  • Information about the 19th and 20th century SWANA political history
  • Obtaining information on modernization movements in the SWANA
  • Obtaining the necessary information about the causes and nature of regional rivalries and conflicts in the SWANA
  • To explore views on social issues, social changes and various social movements in the SWANA

Upon the successful completion of the course students will be able to:

  • To review the main breaking points of the contemporary political history of the SWANA
  • To evaluate the main problems of the SWANA in the light of new changes in the region
  • To discuss the main characteristics of social movements in the SWANA
  • To discuss the dynamism of new social movements in the SWANA


A full outline of the course syllabus can be found here.


Teoman Aktan has a PhD in Political Science and Public Administration from Istanbul University. His doctoral thesis focused on the genealogy of autonomy, with Iran and Azerbaijan serving as case studies. He has carried out research projects on organizational commitment (2010), ethnic nationalism (2011), the intergenerational value conflicts between different generations in Iran (2012). He gained experience by participating in advocacy activities in various non-governmental organizations in Turkey between 2016-2019. He worked as a research fellow at Columbia Global Center/Amman in 2019-2020.


Mabruk Derbesh is currently at the University of Bremen. He got his higher education in Canada and the US where he was awarded a PhD in Applied Management and Decision Science with a focus on social science. He has been a faculty member at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, University of Tripoli, where he taught management subjects. In recent years, he has been teaching Comparative Politics and SWANA/MENA Mediterranean and Middle East politics at Bremen University, Germany.

This course is co-sponsored by The New University in Exile Consortium and hosted by Universität Bremen, Department of Anthropology and Cultural Research with the support of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Institute of Near and Middle East Studies.