Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Middle East Critique

For a Special Issue on

Transregionalism in the Middle East and Northern Africa

Abstract deadline
31 July 2024

Manuscript deadline
28 February 2025

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Special Issue Editor(s)

Estella Carpi, University College London
[email protected]

Luigi Achilli, European University Institute
[email protected]

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Transregionalism in the Middle East and Northern Africa

Transregionalizing the Middle East and Northern Africa. Solidarity, Assistance, Fear, and Violence Beyond the Border.

The Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) – a presently contested denomination – historically offers a clear reminder of the transregional dynamics that challenge traditional understandings of geographical, political, and cultural boundaries. This Special Issue aims to scrutinize the concept of transregionalism radiating from and revolving around the MENA as a result of migrations generated by conflict and disasters. Against this backdrop, it aims to explore how identities, solidarities, assistance, as well as fear and violence all transcend national borders, thereby reshaping both sending and receiving societies in profound ways. Its rationale arises from a recognition of the increasingly interconnected nature of regions, where dynamics of crisis, migration, violence and identity transcend traditional geographical and cultural boundaries. This interconnectedness challenges the static, territorially bound concepts of area studies and necessitates a nuanced understanding of how a complex web of interactions that transcends rigid categorizations influence and reshape both regional and transregional landscapes. By a similar token, while still departing from the MENA as a self-evident terminology and epistemology, by mapping out its multiconfigured transregionalisms, this Special Issue aims to contribute to current debates questioning the MENA as a singular “region”.


Despite escalating mobility, disaster and conflict dynamics in the area, scholarly discourse often remains compartmentalized, with studies predominantly focusing on either localized MENA contexts or diasporic groups overseas and, to a lesser extent, bridging these within a transregional framework. A survey of existing literature reveals a significant gap in capturing the multifaceted implications of transregional dynamics in the Middle East and Northern Africa, which largely contribute to shaping the macro as well as the micro politics of inhabiting this geography. While there has been a burgeoning interest in diaspora studies (e.g., Khater, 2005; Varadarajan, 2010; Koinova, 2017; Adamson, 2019; Balloffet, 2020; Dijzkeul and Fauser, 2020) and the role of migration in shaping global cities and policies (e.g., Fauser, 2012; Crawley and Kofi Teye 2024; Levitt and Schiller 2004; Spencer 2018; Triandafyllidou, Moghadam, Kelly and Şahin-Mencütek, 2024), the MENA as a locus of analysis for overlooked and/or invisibilized, multidirectional, and multiconfigured transregionalisms remains understudied. 


In greater detail, studies in this context have been instrumental in unveiling the complexities of transnationalism (Vignal, 2016) – rather than transregionalism – by exploring how cross-border mobility has reshaped state–society relations in the country of origin (e.g., Sadiq and Tsourapas 2023), kinship and gender roles (Joseph 2009; Zuntz 2021), identity, nationhood, and societal ties beyond territorial boundaries (Allan, 2014; Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, 2014; Feldman 2018), and transnational medical provision (Dewachi, 2014). These studies have significantly deepened our understanding of how global forces and local identities intersect, particularly in the context of migration and displacement, and predominantly following nationality lines. 


However, despite these important advances, the broader transregional implications are often overlooked or are approached through the limited understanding of diasporas. These implications can foster new forms of regional connections along less visible geographic paths that go beyond the already well-explored simple bilateral relations between homelands and diasporas. While these traditional relationships have been significantly studied, the potential for more complex, multi-directional interactions to redefine regional identities and alliances remains under-explored, suggesting a need for a deeper understanding of how these dynamics operate beyond national frameworks. Moreover, the ways in which war, trauma, fear, and violence - especially in its selective forms (Kalyvas, 2006) - can also cross national borders and impact the lives of citizens abroad (e.g., Moss, 2016) have been under-studied. Research to date, often emphasizes the impact of conflict and displacement on regional stability and migrant integration within host countries but lacks a comprehensive analysis of how these processes historically operate across transregional spaces, influencing and being influenced by the collective and/or individual actions that span the globe. This gap highlights the need for a more nuanced examination of how these dynamics operate across larger regional contexts, affecting a multitude of countries and groups interconnected by historical, cultural, and political ties.


The importance of dedicating a special issue to transregionalism in the Middle East and Northern Africa lies in its potential to fill these scholarly gaps by integrating the region's internal dynamics with its global interactions. In light of Fiddian-Qasmiyeh’s call to place the region in conversation with global perspectives through the lens of South-South humanitarianism, education programs, cooperation, and differently motivated forms of solidarity (e.g., 2009, 2014, 2016, 2020), and Sarah Green’s endeavor (2022) in the Mediterranean Basin to capture “crosslocations” to examine “different locating regimes in the same geographical space”, we argue that mapping the multiconfiguration of a transregional Middle East and Northern Africa is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it acknowledges and addresses the evolving nature of migration and displacements often motivated by conflict and/or disasters, which has transformed this region into a space of dynamic flows and exchanges that defy conventional geopolitical categorizations, across the Global North and South. Secondly, it provides a platform for examining the complex networks and/of individual forms of solidarity, assistance, violence and resilience that link the Middle East and Northern Africa to various parts of the world, challenging the dominant narratives framed along mere ethnic or religious lines. Lastly, by exploring the transregional dimensions of social, political, and humanitarian dynamics, this special issue aims to contribute to a more complex understanding of the MENA’s role in the contemporary world by capturing the empirical geographies that contextually matter.


The main goals of this special issue, therefore, revolve around illuminating the intricate transregional networks that characterize this context, challenging conventional narratives through critical examination and empirical evidence, and ultimately contributing to the redefinition of transregionalism itself. By showcasing research that highlights the interconnectedness of the MENA with the broader world, this special issue seeks to inform policy and practice, guiding both scholars and practitioners in areas related to migration, conflict resolution, and humanitarian assistance. Through a multidisciplinary collection of articles, we aim to forge new paths in understanding the complex interplay of identities, solidarities, and assistance but also emotional landscapes, social trauma, fear, oppression, and violence that cross borders and continents, thus offering fresh perspectives on the MENA’s place in a global context.


Themes and Submissions: We welcome submissions from a wide array of disciplines, including but not limited to anthropology, political science, sociology, geography, psychology, and Middle East studies. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:


  • Political solidarities and the construction of identity across transregional spaces.
  • Agency and resilience in transregional migration trajectories.
  • Violence and war beyond borders, as well transregional manifestations of fear and trauma, and the emotional dimensions of transregional experiences.
  • The impact of transregional networks on local, national, and global policymaking.
  • The role of community assets and leadership in transregional forms of care and support.
  • Non-normative and diaspora-led models of care in transregional contexts.

Submission Instructions

Submission Guidelines: Submissions should include original research articles. Abstracts and authors’ CV should be submitted to [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] by 30 July 2024. The submission of final manuscripts is expected by 28 February 2025.

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