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Jannis Grimm (Alumnus BGSMCS)


Contested Discourses & Contentious Dynamics: The Politics of Signification in Post-revolutionary Egypt

Jannis Julien Grimm is a Doctoral Fellow in the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies at Freie Universität Berlin, where he investigates political violence and the dynamics of contention in post-revolutionary Egypt and Turkey. He has studied Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science in Münster, Berlin and in Cairo where he has spent several years studying and working. Investigating the transformation processes in Egypt since 2011 through the perspective of “politics from below”, Jannis Grimm has conducted field research in Egypt, Turkey and Palestine. Moreover, he has been actively engaged with practitioners in the field through his work on civil society and human rights for the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, SWP Berlin. Since 2013, he co-authors the German Development Ministry’s annual report on Egypt and is a reviewer for its Early Warning Crisis Indicator. Jannis Grimm regularly writes for several Blogs on Middle East politics. In addition, he tweets @jannisgrimm on Egypt’s political affairs.

Contested Discourses & Contentious Dynamics: The Politics of Signification in Post-revolutionary Egypt

Starting from the puzzle of resilient protesters in the context of a reemergent securocratic state in Egypt, this project examines the issue of mobilization under authoritarian contraction. Its conceptual perspective is defined by the realization that processes of social mobilization are contingent on situational interaction between political contenders. This interaction takes place on the streets, where police forces shoot tear gas and demonstrators block road, and it takes place on a discursive level, where contenders articulate competing narratives about contentious events. I argue that the mobilizing success of movements as well as the creation of opportunities for collective action depends heavily on this discursive representation.

Accordingly, this project attempts to trace the unfolding waves of mobilization in post-revolutionary Egypt in their performative and in their discursive dimension: The aim is to identify the competing and discourses and meaning ascriptions that emerged and became sedimented after the fall of Husni Mubarak. It employs a nested research design which combines a quantitative tracing of contentious dynamics during through protest event data with qualitative analysis of the contested discourses on these dynamics. Ultimately, this dissertation can thus be considered an attempt of mapping both the performative and the discursive arena of Egypt’s post-revolutionary contentious politics.

From the popular protests against the President Mursi in 2013, over the Islamist ‘Anticoup’ movement and the 2016 ‘island-protests’, to the labor protests which have recently reemerged across the country, I explore how discourses have been challenged, incorporated, modified and appropriated by different actors in a struggle for discoursive hegemony. By closely tracing the Egyptian protest dynamics with the proposed analytical focus, I hope to shed light on the impact of these shifts in the discursive architecture of contentious politics on the opportunities for both, contentious claim-making, and state repression.


Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Cilja Harders

Second Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Donatella della Porta, Prof. Dr. Carola Richter

Selected publications:

  • Grimm, Jannis and Merin Abbass. 2019. "Wenn die Waffen sprechen. Ursachen, Auslöser und Folgen des Bürgerkriegs in Libyen". Analysis for Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Berlin (http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/iez/15419.pdf)
  • Grimm, Jannis. 2018. "Das Ende des „Arabischen Frühlings“ der Bewegungsforschung", Forschungsjournal Soziale Bewegungen, 31(3): 84–92. (https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/fjsb.2018.31.issue-3/fjsb-2018-0068/fjsb-2018-0068.xml)
  • Grimm, Jannis and Cilja Harders. 2018. "Unpacking the Effects of Repression: the Evolution of Islamist Repertoires of Contention in Egypt after the Fall of President Morsi", Social Movement Studies, 17(1): 1-18.
  • Grimm, Jannis and Ilyas Saliba. 2017. "Free Research in Fearful Times: Conceptualizing a Global Index to Monitor Academic Freedom", IdPS-Interdisciplinary Political Studies, 3(1): 41-75.
  • · Grimm, Jannis and Stephan Roll. 2017. "Zwischen Kooptation und Marginalisierung: Ägyptens Parteiensystem im Wandel." In: Sigrid Faath (Ed) Politische Parteien in Nordafrika: Effektive Gestalter der Politik?. Berlin: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (http://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_51123-544-1-30.pdf?).
  • · Grimm, Jannis. 2017 [2014]. „Die Grenzen autoritärer Kontrolle: Dynamiken von Mobilisierung und Repression nach dem Militärputsch in Ägypten“, Discussion Paper, Berlin: Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics (http://www.polsoz.fu-berlin.de/polwiss/forschung/international/vorderer-orient/publikation/WP_serie/DP-2014_Jannis_05.pdf).


For a more comprehensive list of publications, please visit: https://bgsmcs.academia.edu/JannisJulienGrimm