Al Jazeera Center for Studies and the Centre for the Study of the International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa (CIRMENA) at the University of Cambridge collaborate on a media research project titled “Tunisia’s Political Transition and the Developing Role of the Media”. This joint effort is a result of a collaboration agreement between Aljazeera Media Network and University of Cambridge.
CIRMENA acts as a focus for research and study of North Africa and Middle East affairs in the United Kingdom and is affiliated with the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Cambridge.
The research project, which will last for one year (August 2013 – August 2014), aims to investigate and uncover through first-hand, empirical research, how the media’s role is being interpreted and utilized in Tunisia, as the country moves toward an inclusive political culture and system of laws. The specific goals of the project include:
1. to determine how the media is being situated legally and in practice within the politics and society of Tunisia;
2. to discover how the media has responded to the loosening of restrictions in the first years following the departure of Ben Ali and how it understands and practices the profession within a changing political context;
3. to trace how the media is contributing to the process of political socialization within the new Tunisia;
4. to add to the body of existing theory on media as a critical factor in emerging structures of good governance; and
5. to provide a framework that can be extended to like studies of other states in the Middle East and North Africa, in order to broaden the range of case studies, and to enable comparative analysis of local media in the region’s fast-changing political systems.
The chief investigator for this research project will be Dr. Roxane Farmanfarmaian, an Affiliate Lecturer in International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa, University of Cambridge. Also, Dr. Farmanfarmaian was Al Jazeera Centre for Studies’ first Visiting Fellow in 2012.
The findings of this research project will be presented at two workshops, one in Doha at the Al-Jazeera Centre of Studies, and one in Cambridge at CIRMENA. It is expected that the findings of the study will be published. Additionally, material from the study could be presented for news-value on al-Jazeera News, as well as formulated into a special al-Jazeera in-depth broadcast on media in Tunisia.
This research project will provide a framework for similar projects to take place elsewhere in the region in states undergoing their own experience of a liberated media environment and a newly developing political culture. It is intended to be the first in a series that could include other countries such as Libya, Iraq, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, and others, so as to develop a region-wide, yet in-depth study series that offers unique insights on the relationship of media and politics in the current era.