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Jannis Julien Grimm

Jannis Julien Grimm

Regional Coordinator for Trade Unions and Social Justice in the Middle East and North Africa / Libya Policy Analyst for the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

Dr. Jannis Julien Grimm is a Research Associate at the Institute for Social Movement and Protest Studies (ipb) in Berlin and the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics at Freie Universität Berlin. Since April 2019, he is furthermore a member of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s Middle East and North Africa Department where he functions as a Libya Policy Analyst and as the Regional Coordinator for the foundation’s trade union cooperation and social justice projects in the MENA region.

Jannis has studied Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science in Münster, Berlin and in Cairo, and has spent several years investigating processes of social mobilization and authoritarian contraction in the Middle East and North Africa at different renown research institutions, including the German Institute for International and Security Affairs - SWP Berlin, the Orient Institute Istanbul (OII) and the COSMOS Center on Social Movement Studies at Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence. Jannis has conducted extensive fieldwork on civil society mobilization and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa and has served as a consultant to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation, the Federal Foreign Office as well as several human rights organizations and political foundations. Prior to his doctoral studies at the BGSMCS from 2015 to 2019, he was a member of SWP Berlin’s interdisciplinary project on ‘Elite Change and new social mobilization in the Arab World’.

His work at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (BGSMCS) centered on the dynamics of social protests and state repression and explored the shifting coalitions of contenders in Egypt since the 2013 military coup and their contending conceptions of political legitimacy. The aim of investigating processes of political contestation both in the discursive and the performative arena was to illustrate how the narratives established around contentious events crucially accounted for the success, failure, adaptation and evolution of protest and repression campaigns in post-revolutionary Egypt. Jannis completed his doctoral studies with the publication of his thesis ‘Contesting Legitimacy: Protest and the Politics of Signification in Post-Revolutionary Egypt’ in early 2020 and is now working on his forthcoming book.

Since 2016, Jannis additionally co-heads the ‘SAFEResearch’ project for the development of a training curriculum for safer field research in hostile environments – a project that was born out of collective discussions on field work safety at BGSMCS. His current research at the Institute for Protest and Social Movement Studies Berlin (ipb) can be considered an attempt to ‘map’ the so-called ‘Arab Winter’. It focuses on the processes of social mobilization and autocratic restoration in five North African and Middle Eastern countries after the highly mediatized events of the Arab Spring.

Jannis is also a commissioning editor for the Forschungsjournal Soziale Bewegungen (FJSB), the German Journal of Social Movement Studies, as well as the convener of the international DVPW colloquium ‘Politics from Below’. To learn more, visit his website at https://www.jannisgrimm.com/ or follow Jannis on Twitter @jannisgrimm where he tweets on Middle East politics and issues pertaining to researcher security and academic freedom.

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (since 2019)

Regional Coordinator of FES Global Trade Union Project in the Middle East and North Africa Region / Libya Policy Analyst

The SAFEResearch Project (since 2016)


Institute for Protest and Social Movement Studies (since 2017)

Associate Researcher

Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics, Freie Universität Berlin (since 2019)

Associate Researcher

Dissertation Project (2015−2019)

Contesting Legitimacy: Protest and the Politics of Signification in Post-Revolutionary Egypt

In his dissertation Jannis examines the issue of mobilisation in the context of authoritarian contraction through the lenses of hegemony theory. It explores the shifting coalitions of contenders in Egypt since the 2013 military coup and their contending conceptions of political legitimacy. Its conceptual perspective is defined by the realisation that processes of social mobilisation are contingent on the dynamics of interaction between political contenders. This interaction takes place on the streets between demonstrators and police forces, and it takes place on a discursive level where contenders articulate competing narratives about contentious events, in an attempt to establish hegemony for their reading of social reality. He argues that the trajectory of mobilisation and opportunities for cross-movement alliance building, as well as the scale of repression wielded by authorities against their contenders heavily depend on the outcome of this latter, discursive struggle. Accordingly, in his dissertation project he investigates the unfolding waves of mobilisation in post-coup Egypt in a nested research design that combines quantitative protest event analysis with in-depth qualitative analysis of the contested discourses about events on the ground. By tracking the contentious dynamics in Egypt with the proposed analytical focus from the 2013 Tamarod-uprising, over the Anti-Coup campaign against the deposition of President Mursi, to the restoration of an authoritarian order under the aegis of General Al-Sisi and, finally, to the 2016 Tiran and Sanafir island protests, he highlights the impact of shifts in the discursive architecture of contentious politics on the conditions of possibility and the opportunity structures for both, resistance and repression. The aim of investigating processes of political contestation both in the discursive and the performative ‘arena’ is to illustrate how the narratives established around contentious events crucially account for variances in the reaction of movements to regime action, of regimes to mobilisation, and of the broader public to the means by which these principal contenders interact with each other to achieve their goals—for instance, by escalating collective action and radicalising repertoires, or by restricting civil liberties and deploying state violence against protesters. Ultimately, Jannis’ thesis is thus attempts to map Egypt’s contentious politics in the first years of Al-Sisi’s reign. By systematically linking the performative and the discursive in an analytical framework informed by discourse theory and relational approaches of social movement studies, he proposes an integrated approach to the study of contentious politics—one that 30 years after the cultural turn in the study of contention is still lacking.

For a comprehensive list of publications, please visit: https://www.jannisgrimm.com/bibliography or https://fu-berlin.academia.edu/JGrimm

Selected publications:

Grimm, Jannis. 2022. Contested Legitimacies. Repression and Revolt in Post-Revolutionary Egypt. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Online verfügbar unter https://directory.doabooks.org/handle/20.500.12854/78099.

Grimm, Jannis; Koehler, Kevin; Lust, Ellen; Saliba, Ilyas; Schierenbeck, Isabelle. 2020. Safer Field Research in the Social Sciences: A Guide to Human and Digital Security in Hostile Environments. Thousand Oaks, CA; London: Sage.

Grimm, Jannis. 2020. Contesting Legitimacy. Protest and the Politics of Signification in Post-Revolutionary Egypt. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin. https://refubium.fu-berlin.de/handle/fub188/26771

Grimm, Jannis; Nina-Kathrin Wienkoop und Moritz Sommer (Hg.). 2019. "Konflikt, Kompromiss, Konsensus: Wie Bewegungen und Institutionen miteinander interagieren." Forschungsjournal Soziale Bewegungen 32(2).

Grimm, Jannis. 2019. "Egypt is not for sale! Harnessing nationalism for alliance building in Egypt’s Tiran and Sanafir island protests", Mediterranean Politics 24(4): 443-466.

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).

Grimm, Jannis. 2017. "Convergent Authoritarianisms in Egypt and Turkey." In: Sada. Washington, DC: Carnegie endowment for International Peace (http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/?fa=68797).

Ander, Felix, Jannis Grimm, Jan-Philip Vatthauer (eds.). 2016. Some Vantage Points for Rethinking Movements and Institutions, in: Bretterblog (08/2016) (https://bretterblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/some-vantage-points-for-rethinking-movements-and-institutions-introduction-to-a-blog-series/)

Grimm, Jannis and Stephan Roll. 2016. "In der Sackgasse: Ägyptens Menschenrechtsorganisationen im Visier des Sicherheitsstaates." In Wegbereiter für Demokratie in Nordafrika, eds. Sigrid Faath. Berlin: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

Grimm, Jannis. 2015. Repressing Egypt’s Civil Society. State Violence, Restriction of the Public Sphere, and Extrajudicial Persecution, Berlin: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP Comments 2015/C 41), 8 S., http://www.swp-berlin.org/en/publications/swp-comments-en/swp-aktuelle-details/article/repressionen_gegen_aegyptens_zivilgesellschaft.html

Grimm, Jannis. 2015. "Menschenrechte in Nordafrika: Ernüchterung macht sich breit", Politische Ökologie, 2 (141): 58-64.

Grimm, Jannis. 2015. "Eine Schwalbe macht noch keinen Frühling: Die arabischen Umbrüche in der politikwissenschaftlichen Literatur", Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft, 9 (1-2): 97-118.