The Middle East and North Africa Research Group


MENARG is a multidisciplinary research group housed within the Department of Conflict and Development Studies, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium.The MENARG is primarily dedicated to the production of knowledge about - and critical insight into - the politics, society, and economy of the contemporary Middle East and North Africa. Affiliated researchers are also concerned with issues and phenomena that link the MENA to Europe and the global world order: neoliberalism, "Islam", the so-called "war on terror", and solidarity.


Domains of research include, but are not restricted to:

  • Social movements, revolution, and contentious politics;
  • Islamism and religious mobilization;
  • Urban studies and the politics of space;
  • "Globalization" and the dynamics of political change and continuity in the region;
  • Conflict, (market) institutionalization, and state (re)constitution (cases include Iraq, Somalia, and Palestine);
  • Ideological change and the politics of meaning;
  • The impact of the "war on terror," particularly the production and diffusion of ideas and practices associated with it;
  • "Islam in Europe";
  • Islam and civil society in central and southern Asia, and in sub-Saharan Africa;
  • Biopolitics, bio-economy and the political economy of assisted reproduction, gender and sexual politics

Main goals

  • The pursuit of theoretically informed and methodologically rigorous inquiry into the forces shaping politics, economy, and society in the contemporary Arab-Islamic world;
  • Advancing knowledge about, and understanding of, the social and political challenges faced and posed by Muslim communities in Europe;
  • Promoting scholarly publication of research related to these themes, both through MENARG sponsored publications, and via the contributions of MENARG affiliated researchers to the scientific literature;
  • The translation of specialist knowledge and theoretical insight into practical policy recommendations, as well as into policy tools for governmental and non-governmental organizations;
  • The design of courses within the social sciences curriculum of Ghent University, and the development of educational materials and programs for the general public.
  • Promoting more informed public understanding of salient issues through public seminars, speaking engagements, and contributions to the media;
  • Strengthening individual and institutional capacities for political and social research into the MENA region.


Senior Staff

  • Sami Zemni
  • Christopher Parker
  • Koenraad Bogaert


  • Brecht De Smet
  • Omar Jabary Salamanca
  • Robin Vandevoort
  • Sigrid Vertommen
  • Soraya El-Kahlaoui 
  • Joachim Ben Yakoub
  • Marlene Shäfers


  • Charlotte Vekemans
  • Fayrouz Yousfi 
  • Pieter Rondelez
  • Naïma Lafrarchi
  • Natan De Coster


Department of Conflict and Development Studies 

Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 41

9000 Gent, Belgium

32 9 264 69 19