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


Institutional Communication Service

26 June 2017

USI launches 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 French political scientist and arabist Gilles Kepel, who will propose the 10 public lectures “Inside the MEM”. The lectures are addressed to USI students – with a choice of adding the lectures to their study curricula – researchers and anyone interested in these topics.

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 up to the current crisis.

The public lectured will be given in English by Prof. Kepel, starting on September 21, 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 full programme of events that will be held at the Lugano campus Auditorium on Thursdays, in the late afternoon. On September 22 and May 4 only, the lectures will be held on Friday morning. 

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


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

Free admittance (registration required). 

For registations and more information on the programme of the Middle East Mediterranean Freethinking Platform: [email protected]