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Cultural and Social Anthropology

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Cyrenaica Contested: Politics, Identity and Justice in Times of Turmoil

Funding: DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Duration: 2021-2024

Project lead: Dr. Thomas Hüsken and Professor Dr. Amal Obeidi


The region of Cyrenaica covers the entire eastern part of Libya, and alongside Tripolitania in the west and Fezzan in the south forms one of the three major regions of the country. Since 2011 Cyrenaica has witnessed the often violent competition between a number of different political models and practices (state-like, tribal, Islamic, jihadist, federalist, and separatist). In addition, controversial discourses about history, identity, and the role of Cyrenaica within Libya have emerged, and a quest for reliable and legitimate forms of conflict resolution is currently taking place. Against the background of the ongoing civil war in Libya, Cyrenaica has been characterized as the adversary camp of the internationally recognized government in Tripolitania. However, despite such a categorization there is little current empirical research about the region. This project will fill this gap. Using a collaborative research approach combining the work of a German ethnologist and a Libyan political scientist, the project will explore four interconnected thematic fields: 1. Politics in Cyrenaica: State, Non-state and Political Economy; 2. The Making of Identity in Cyrenaica; 3. Politics, Practices and Understandings of Justice; and 4. Ethical and Methodological Challenges for Research in Danger Zones. Gender is a crosscutting theme in all fields and will thus allow us to reach beyond the prevailing male bias (i.e. towards male activism and practices) in research on the region. The project will deliver academic insights of practical relevance about the renegotiation of the post-independence order in a neglected historical region of Libya.

Link to the project

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