Advancing Research on the Global South

January 09, 2022
Northwestern University in Qatar has announced a new research institute that will focus on the Global South. Dean and CEO Marwan M. Kraidy said that the institute is a flagship initiative for Northwestern Qatar, “designed to amplify the reach and impact of our faculty and student research and mediamaking, and to enhance our reputation as a distinctive contributor to Northwestern University, the Qatar Foundation, and knowledge more broadly.”
From its Qatari and Arab location, the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South (#IAS_NUQ) will produce and promote evidence-based storytelling focused on the histories, cultures, societies, and media of the Global South. “IAS_NUQ has an inclusive vision of globality,” Kraidy said, “that recognizes the diversities and inequalities that shape our world.”
Kraidy said he founded the institute to mitigate the under-representation of researchers and creators from the Global South in global knowledge production. Many stories about Qatar, the Arab world, and the Global South are told by authors, researchers and journalists in the West. The local creation of globally relevant knowledge, and the establishment of South-to-South intellectual, creative, and educational exchanges, are vital to successful knowledge based-societies and sustainable communities. With partners like Qatar Foundation and the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs at Northwestern, #IAS_NUQ will be transformative in positioning NU-Q to shape our understanding of the world.
In its formative years, the institute will focus on four broad themes:
  • Ways of Knowing in the Global South: Starting with Qatar and the Arab world, how do we understand social and cultural change, the role of women and youth, and the vibrancy of thought traditions from the Global South. How do we create and share impactful local knowledge, and how do we convey it with evidence-based storytelling?
  • Geopolitics, Information, and Culture: How have nation branding, social media platforms, and digital communication transformed media and sovereignty? How are notions of security and precarity changing in the world today? How does strategic communication, change cultural perceptions and media strategies in international relations? How do we counter misinformation and propaganda?
  • The Global Future: what are the challenges facing urban life? How do we best research sustainability and infrastructure, datafication and the future of work, learning, health, and leisure? How is the gig economy evolving in the Global South? How do we learn to live with climate change as we endeavor to reverse it?
  • Media Work in the Global South: how are media careers changing? How are journalistic ethics, norms, and practices changing? What is the present and future of media and creative industries (publishing, screen production, gaming)? What is the impact of platformization and streaming on cultural production, distribution, and consumption?
By leading multidisciplinary teams of researchers and creators to tackle enduring issues and pressing challenges, the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South will make significant contributions not only to knowledge, but also to society at large. To distribute research and creative outcomes widely, Kraidy said the institute will have a multi-lingual and multi-modal press. “Any research about the Global South produced at a leading US university in Qatar must be disseminated in both Arabic and English, and at least one-third language of relevance. Our multi-lingual outputs will also be multi-modal, making full use of digital technologies to broaden our reach and deepen our impact.”
“IAS_NUQ has an inclusive vision of globality, that recognizes the diversities and inequalities that shape our world”
- Marwan M. Kraidy, dean of Northwestern Qatar and founder of IAS_NUQ
To execute this strategic vision, Kraidy assembled a strong and experienced team.
Clovis Bergère, assistant director for research at the institute, will lead the mentoring of undergraduate and postdoctoral fellows, as well as publications and research produced by the institute. Bergère noted that the institute will work with scholars and students at NU-Q and beyond who have expertise in the liberal arts, media, communication, and journalism.
“#IAS_NUQ will amplify the work being done by our faculty and students while also encouraging more undergraduate research and offering mentoring to students who are interested in pursuing advanced degrees,” he said.
To encourage students at Northwestern Qatar to pursue research projects focused on the Global South, the institute also announced one-year Global Fellowships for students to support original research that reflects the mission and core themes of the institute. Kraidy said that the fellowships are an “opportunity for students who have a research or creative project to develop it into an original contribution to evidence-based storytelling, and hence to knowledge.”
Under the mentorship of Bergère, the undergraduate fellows will develop their concepts and deepen their research skills while also having the opportunity to publish or produce a scholarly output with the institute’s press and present it to the Northwestern Qatar community.
Kraidy said the institute will also “host fellows who work on individual projects and collaborate in local and global research groups, produce multi-lingual and multi-modal publications and creative media and organize lectures, screenings, workshops, and conferences.”
In November, the institute hosted a panel discussion that examined new approaches to critical security studies from a Global South perspective. The panel, which was moderated by Northwestern Qatar Professor Sami Hermez, was part of a workshop organized by the Arab Council for the Social Sciences Critical Security Studies Working Group. Panelists included Omar Dahi, associate professor of economics at Hampshire College; Pete Moore, visiting professor at the Kuwait Program at Sciences Po at the Paris School for International Affairs; Sarah Parkinson, assistant professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University; and Matteo Capasso, Max Weber research fellow at European University Institute.
Marina Krikorian, research manager for programs and projects, said that the panel represented the critical, interdisciplinary approach that the institute will foster through its programs and projects. “Sponsoring initiatives by researchers from the Global South on issues directly impacting their regions of study will further develop nuanced scholarship on a broad range of topics that takes into account global and regional flows, as well as local contexts, she said.
The institute will work closely with the school’s research office, the DAMA Lab, and Northwestern’s Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs to advance the school’s academic mission. Collaboration with the DAMA Lab will focus on multi-modal projects and digital publications.
Kraidy was named dean and CEO in 2020 and early on decided to leverage Northwestern Qatar’s unique community, identity, and location to launch an institute that plays a major role in furthering his vision for the school and taking its students, faculty, and staff to new heights.
"As I noted when I was appointed to lead Northwestern Qatar,” Kraidy said, “the future of education is global, interdisciplinary, and digital. The Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South positions Northwestern Qatar at the forefront of shaping that future.”
For regular updates on the institute, follow its Twitter account @IAS_NUQ.