Course “Inside the MEM. New Dynamics of the Middle East Mediterranean region”
Faculty of Communication Sciences


Lecturers: Prof. Gilles Kepel, Dr. Federica Frediani
Semester: Spring Semester 2019 
Credits: 3 (28 hours) 
Language of the course: English
Language of the public lectures: French



This is an elective course, which due to the interdisciplinary connections of the topics explored, is aimed at third-year Bachelors and Masters students. It is recommended for students interested in international relations and geopolitical configurations, and in particular for students of the Masters in Public Management and Policy (PMP), International Economics and Politics (MEPIN), Tourism, Economic Policy (MEP), Philosophy, and Media Management. The course forms also an introduction to the topics to be addressed in the Summer Summit 2019.

The course analyses current geopolitical configurations and conflicts in the Middle East Mediterranean region. Over the last ten years, there has been a transition from the universal enthusiasm for democracy manifested by the “Arab Spring” and “Revolution 2.0” to the affirmation of Salafism together with a return to authoritarianism and civil war. Current developments will be seen in the context of history of North Africa and the Middle East region, from the beginnings of post-colonial era, the decline of nationalism and the ascent of Islamism. Attention will also be given to the international context and the conflict between lesser and major powers present in a region that is perpetually changing as well as the impact of fluctuations of the price of oil on the equilibrium of the region. Consideration will also be given to the impact of these revolutions: increase in flows of migrants and refugees as well as the dissemination of Jihadism on Europe.

Didactic Approach 

Professor Gilles Kepel will give lectures twice a month, on the dates indicated below. The Thursday lectures will be delivered ex-cathedra,while those given on Fridays will take the form of seminars which will include presentations by students. Prof. Kepel will give also five public lectures in French, on Thursday evenings.

Exam Modalities

There will be an oral exam (70%). Students will also make a presentation in class and write a paper that will count towards the final grade (30%).


Gilles Kepel, Sortir du chaos. Les crises en Méditerranée et au Moyen-Orient, Gallimard, Paris2018 (those who are not familiar with French will be provided with an alternative text). At the beginning of the course, a detailed bibliography will be provided.  


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  • The Lectures

    During the academic year 2018-2019, Prof. Kepel will give five public conferences, in French. ‘Inside the MEM region’ public programme offers the opportunity to students, scholars and the general public to convene and share insights. This multi-generational, mixed format enables a broad discussion on the topics of political and social unrest in the MEM region, from the Arab Spring up to the current crises.


    February 2019

    Thursday, 21 February

    • Course: 15:00 -16:30, General Introduction, The Islamisation of the political I (1973-1979)
    • Public conference: 18:30 - 20:00, Sortir du Chaos: les crises en Méditerranée et au Moyen-Orient

    Friday, 22 February

    • Course: 10:00 -12:30, The Islamisation of the political order II (1973-1979)


    March 2019

    Thursday, 7 March

    • Course: 15:00 - 16:30, The onset of international jihad: taking on the “near enemy” (1980 – 1997)
    • Public conference: 18:30 - 20:00, Sortir du Chaos: le baril et le coran

    Friday, 8 March

    • Course: 10:00 -12:30, The second jihadist phase: against the “distant enemy” (1998 – 2005)

    Thursday, 28 March

    • Course: 15:00 - 16:30, Tunisian democracy, between social divide and jihadist peril
    • Public conference: 18:30 - 20:00, Sortir du Chaos: des "Printemps arabes" au "Califat jihadiste"

    Friday, 29 March

    • Course: 10:00 - 12:30, Egypt between Muslim Brotherhood and military society


    April 2019

    Thursday, 11 April

    • Course: 15:00 - 16:30, Libya disintegrates: from rogue state to tribal-jihadist lawlessness
    • Public conference: 18:30 - 20:00, Sortir du Chaos: après Daesh entre désagrégation et recomposition

    Friday, 12 April

    • Course: 10:00-12:30, The Sunni abort Bahrain’s uprising and Yemeni tribalism to outburning identities


    May 2019

    Thursday, 9 May

    • Course: 15:00-16:30, From the Syrian insurrection to jihad in the Levant

    Friday, 10 May

    • Course: 10:00-12:30, The fracturing of the Sunni bloc

    Thursday, 23 May

    • Course: 15:00-16:30, The global stakes in the fight for the Levant
    • Public conference: 18.30 - 20:00, Sortir du Chaos: l’enjeu planétaire de la bataille du Levant

    Friday, 24 May

    • Course: 10:00-12:30, General Conclusion, Middle-eastern fault lines and global tectonics


  • Previous Course

    Inside the Middle East Mediterranean region 2017-2018

    Inside the MEM region is a program that promotes a greater understanding of the complex situation in the MEM region, under the guidance of leading experts, and through a series of conferences, that bridge the gap between the academic world and the general public. The program is the global educational component of the MEM Freethinking Platform, consisting of a an academic course, a series of lectures and seminars.


    September 2017

    Thursday, 21 September
    The Setting of the Postcolonial System in the MENA Region and its Ambiguities

    Friday, 22 September
    From Nationalisms to Islamism: the Watershed Decade of 1970s

    October 2017

    Thursday, 19 October
    The First Phase of Jihad: from Afghanistan to Algeria (1979-1997)

    November 2017

    Thursday, 23 November
    The Second Phase of Jihad: the Al Qaeda Era (1998-2005)

    December 2017

    Thursday, 14 December
    The Third Phase of Jihad: the Ideological Underpinnings and Implementation (2005- …)

    February 2018

    Thursday, 22 February
    The Dynamics of the Arab Upheavals of the 2010s: North Africa

    March 2018

    Thursday, 8 March
    The Dynamics of the Arab Upheavals: the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf

    April 2018

    Thursday, 12 April
    The Dynamics of the Arab Upheavals: The Levant

    May 2018

    Thursday, 3 May
    From the Arab-Israeli Conflict to the Sunni-Shia Confrontation: the Great Powers Game

    Friday, 4 May
    From the ISIS «Caliphate» to the Jihad in the West: the European Challenge