Prof. Dr. Sonja Hegasy 

Struggle over Mined Territory: Historical Contingency in the Aftermath of the Moroccan Truth and Reconciliation Instance (2003/04)

15 December 2022 to 30 April 2023

Research Description:

This project examines socio-political change in contemporary Morocco resulting from a new engagement with its violent post-colonial past. Starting from the premise that “the politics of interpretations has been entangled in larger political conflicts” (ICAS:MP), the project researches history writing in contemporary Morocco. It takes three post-colonial key events of the 20th century, and examines how their understanding and mediatization has changed over the last twenty year, taking the foundation of the first Middle Eastern Truth and Reconciliation Instance in 2003/04 in Morocco as a historical cesura. From the beginning historians have been implicated in the commission. Meanwhile their review process has started with numerous publications coming out.

Since 2010 the IER has been followed-up with a remarkable process, that seeks to implement collective reparations (IER I) as well as new forms of history writing (IER II). The latter is in the focus of this project: IER II comprises the establishment of archives, regional museums as well as a national museum, and covers the scientific reworking of 20th century Moroccan history. The process to come to a joint reading of the past is probably as important than the results (e.g. in forms of memorials or museums). The project thus research how the circulation of memories put cracks into the quiescence that reigned over Moroccan society for over 60 years and how dealing with the Years of Lead has led to exposing further past and present violence. The means and possibility of enlisting personal experiences of violence and trauma in public has been a crucial development, with implications beyond the country.


Dr Sonja Hegasy studied Arabic and Islamic Studies at the American University in Cairo, the Universities of Witten/Herdecke and Bochum, graduating from Columbia University in 1990. Her PhD on “State, Public Sphere and Civil Society in Morocco” was published in German in 1996. In 1998 she joined the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) and serves as its Vice-Director since 2008. Inter alia, she directed the project “Transforming Memories: Cultural Production and Personal/Public Memory in Lebanon and Morocco”. Her interests include civil society and social movements, modern Arab intellectual thought, as well as remembrance and politics of memory in post-conflict societies. From 2019 till 2021 she taught modern cultural history of the Middle East at the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin.

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