Inside the MEM: 10 public lectures on the Middle East Mediterranean

Media and Communication Service

USI promotes a new study platform of analysis and discussion on the Middle East Mediterranean, with the aim of encouraging a critical and shared look on the events that are changing the region and the face of Europe.

The Middle East Mediterranean Freethinking Platform, this is how it will be called, will be directed by renowned political expert and French orientalist Gilles Kepel, who will propose the 10 public lectures “Inside the MEM”. The encounters will target USI students – with a choice of adding the lectures to their study curricula – researcher and anyone interested in the topic.

This multi-generational innovative format will help developing a free debate on the main political, cultural and social challenges of the region, starting from the Arab Springs till the current crisis.

The encounters, held in English by Prof. Kepel, will begin on September 21st and will explore the region historical context, from the post-colonial age, to the decline of nationalisms, to the affirmation of Islam. Careful attention will be given to the conflict between global powers in the complex game of regional politics, to the impact that oil and gas fluctuations have on the stability of the regions, to the effect of migration and the presence of Jihad members in Europe. Additional training at the conferences will be proposed as a seminar by PhD Federica Frediani, Manager of the MEM Platform Educational Program.

The platform will also organise in 2018 events involving academics, intellectuals, artists, politicians, economists, media representatives and non-governmental organisations, taking advantage of Lugano’s privileged location as a neutral place connecting Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

Below, the lecture programme that will be held in the Auditorium on Lugano Campus every Thursday, late afternoon. On September 22nd and May 4th only, the lectures will be held on Friday morning. 

  • September 21st: The Setting of the Postcolonial System in the MENA Region and its Ambiguities
  • September 22nd: From Nationalisms to Islamism: the Watershed Decade of 1970s
  • October 19th: The First Phase of Jihad: from Afghanistan to Algeria (1979-1997)
  • November 23rd: The Second Phase of Jihad: the Al Qaeda Era (1998-2005)
  • December 14th: The Third Phase of Jihad: the Ideological Underpinnings and Implementation (2005)


  • February 22nd: The Dynamics of the Arab Upheavals of the 2010s: North Africa
  • March 8th: The Dynamics of the Arab Upheavals: the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf
  • April 12th: The Dynamics of the Arab Upheavals: The Levant
  • May 3rd: From the Arab-Israeli Conflict to the Sunni-Shia Confrontation: the Great Powers Game
  • May 4th: From the ISIS “Caliphate” to the Jihad in the West: the European Challenge

Entry is free (registration required). 

For more information on the programme of the Middle East Mediterranean Freethinking Platform or to register, please refer to