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PhD projects at the Department of Middle Eastern Politics

Current PhD projects

  • Hanna Al Taher: Imagining, Claiming and Resisting Belonging - Gendered Citizenship in Jordan

    Abstract to follow

  • Clara Easthill: A comparative case study of the influences on Afghan resistance movements between 1979 and 2004.

    C. Easthill


    Between 1979 and 2004, the Afghan central state underwent a number of noteworthy changes. After the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1979, several distinct phases of war impacted Afghanistan: From the initial fight, which saw many Afghans joining resistance movements against the Soviet forces and communist central state, to a civil war, to the Taliban regime, war defined the country’s development. After 9/11 and a renewed effort to drive out the Taliban, Afghanistan established a new governmental system with international (military and political) support. These decades of varying conflicts inflicted severe damages on the country and changed the political landscape within it, with political actors changing their roles and positions to adapt to the political context. Some of these actors, notably the Mujahideen, who had initially emerged as a resistance movement to the Soviet regime, mirror these changes:

    The Mujahideen had initially emerged as guerrilla forces fighting the central state. There were distinct and often oppositional factions of Mujahideen who received varying levels of support. After the fall of the Soviet-supported Communist regime, the Mujahideen briefly governed the country in a coalition, while civil and factional war continued. Mujahideen factions then positioned themselves in different, often changing, ways towards the Taliban regime, and finally many played a central role in the emergence of the new state post 2001. This thesis aims to present an analysis of Afghan resistance movements between 1979 and 2004.

    This thesis embeds the transformations of the state and the changing military-political role of the Mujahideen, into rentier theory. There are two main, connected, foci to this work: Firstly, the thesis aims to analyse the rent-seeking activities of the Mujahideen, showing which activities of the Mujahideen can be classified as rent-seeking and emphasising the effects thereof on the Afghan state and population. The second focus highlights the role of the international community within the conflict by analysing in which ways they incentivized and influenced these rent-seeking activities. By following these two research foci, the thesis aims to show the factors that contributed to Afghanistan’s fragmentation, the effects of which are noticeable until today. The underlying assumption is that the specific national and international context in which the wars arose, specifically the dominant rentierism, caused this fragmentation. The analysis will be carried out by comparing five case studies, i.e. five Mujahideen leaders who were active in the period under analysis. Their political and military activities, and changing roles, are analysed from a biographical and comparative perspective. Importantly, these activities include the relations of the Mujahideen to one another, with the central state and the (international) public.

    Theoretically, the thesis follows the rentier approach, and the main methodology includes the Biographic Method as well as a comparative approach.


  • Alexander Lohse: Status-seeking strategies of a rising regional power: The United Arab Emirates’ foreign policy since 2004

  • Katharina Siebert: Collective Identity in Social Movement Organizations

    This thesis focuses on the collective identity of social movement organizations (SMOs) and aims at discovering how the nature of a group’s collective identity affects the organization’s actions. By comparing the collective identities of case study organizations and tracing their development, this thesis tries to shed light on how variations of collective identity translate into differences with regard to their behavior, especially flexibility and change.
    As this question has not been sufficiently answered by the existing theoretical research on social movements and SMOs, this thesis will firstly discover how variations of collective identity in SMOs can be identified and made comparable. To this end, a theoretical instrument will be developed in order to systematically assess the collective identity of a SMO. Secondly, this study will explore how variance with regard to collective identity affects the behavior of SMOs.

  • Katrin Sold: Neue Mittelschichten in Nordafrika. Die Rolle junger Unternehmensgründer im politischen Transformationsprozess in Algerien, Marokko und Tunesien

    Further information concerning the research of Katrin Sold is available here.

Completed Dissertation Projects

Elyssa Jalloul: The Zeitouna Masters: Knowledge and the reconfiguration of the political field in Tunisia after 2011: The Zeitouna Mosque. (Disputation 25.01.2024)

Luíza Gimenez Cerioli: The Strategic Triangle in the Persian Gulf: dynamics of the relationship between United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia (Disputation 25.01.2022)

Nadia Abou Shady: The reconfigurations of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood post-2013 (Disputation 19.11.2021)

Christian Achrainer: Egypt’s External Alignments Post-2013: Regime Survival Amid Regional and Global Environments (Disputation 22.03.2021)

Thomas Jakob: Trade Unionism and the Institutional Equilibrium in MENA States. A Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) supported Study of the Arab Upheavals 2011 – 2013 in Twelve Countries (Disputation 18.03.2021) 

Manuel Sakmani: Interkommunitäre Kooperation in ethnisch-pluralen Gesellschaften: Schiitisch-maronitische Beziehungen und die Allianz zwischen Freier Patriotischer Bewegung und Hizbullah im Libanon (Disputation: 02.10.2020)

Taoufik Rached: Die politische Rolle der Mittelschichten in Marokko: Wandel oder Status Quo? (Disputation: 22.07.2020)

Julius Dihstelhoff: Handlungsstrategien deutscher Außenpolitik im Kontext der Umbruchprozesse in der MENA-Region seit 2011 mit Fokus auf moderat-islamistischen Akteuren - Fallbeispiel Tunesien (Disputation: 19.02.2020)

Christian Neugebauer: Economic liberalization and authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa: A comparative political economy of Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Morocco, 1950 - 2011 (Disputation: 20.01.2020)

Karolin Sengebusch: Die libanesische anti-konfessionelle Protestwelle 2010-2012: Formen, Strategien, Politikkonzepte. (completed 11/2017)

Jens Heibach: Oppositional Cooperation under Authoritarianism – The Case of the Joint Meeting Parties in Yemen (completed 12/2016)

Sabrina Bonsen: Eine politikwissenschaftliche Untersuchung zum Märtyrerkult im Libanon. (completed 6/2016)

Ali Sonay: Being Young and Political in Egypt: The Case of the April 6 Movement. (completed 1/2016)

Leandros Fischer: Der Israel-Palästina-Konflikt und die deutsche Linke am Beispiel der Partei DIE LINKE. (completed 2015)

André Bank: Regionale Kriege und lokale Ordnungen im Nahen Osten: Irak, Palästina und neue Herrschaftsformen in Jordanien. (completed 2010)