Panel: Comparative Studies on Trade Routes, Economic Networks and Regional Integration in the Middle East: Recent Developments and Multiple Forms


Raum: F4, 2.0G, Fürstenberghaus

Neue Reihenfolge der Vorträge

Tag Zeit    
Do 09:30-10:00 Bennafla The ‘informal’ transnational circulation of goods in Morocco: how marginal places turn into important trading spots. The example of Salé
Do 10:00-10:30 Boedeker Raiding and Trading: Analysing Transnational Flows in Balochistan
Do 10:30-11:00 Pause
Do 11:00-11:30 Choplin / Vignal Transnational investments in the Middle East: questioning places and actors
Do 11:30-12:00 Wippel Tangier (Morocco) in Transnational Flows and Networks: Regionalisation from an Urban Perspective - Verlegt von 14:00
Do 12:00-12:30 Diskussion
Do 11:30-12:00 Montabone Turkish Investments in the Middle East: Towards a Neo-Ottoman Geography? - Abgesagt
Do 12:00-12:30 Schuß Islamic Finance between Regionalisation and Globalisation - Abgesagt
Do 11:30-12:00 Hofmann The eastern Mediterranean natural gas fields – Potential for a (sub-)regional economic cooperation? - Abgesagt
Do 12:00-12:30 Laanatza Comparison of the impacts of Jordan’s and Morocco’s Free Trade Agreements with the US and the EU respectively - Abgesagt
Do 12:30-13:30 Mittagspause
Do 13:30-14:00 Vignal Dubai as a transnational hub for the Middle East and beyond: renewed evidences - Abgesagt
Do 14:00-14:30 Wippel Tangier (Morocco) in Transnational Flows and Networks: Regionalisation from an Urban Perspective - Verschoben auf 11:30


Leïla Vignal, Steffen Wippel

Beschreibung des Panels:

Regionalisation and regionalism is a field of study that has attracted much attention also for the Middle East and North Africa over the last two decades. Yet, many developments and many aspects are still underexplored. Therefore “Géographies de la mondialisation: Émergence d’un système régional au Moyen-Orient” (SYSREMO / Système Régional Moyen-Orient), an interdisciplinary research program sponsored by the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), aims at updating our understanding of regional dynamics at work in the Middle East since the 1980s. It focuses on analysing transnational processes, flows, networks and practices, which contribute to the construction and emergence of a regional space, on different spatial scales between transnational global and regional articulations, the state level and locally centred practices. Among its working axes, one is destined for economic processes as main vectors of regional integration. Research of its members concentrates on intra- and transregional flows (mainly trade, investment and finance) as well as informal and illegal networks, trading routes and practices of new actors.

The many issues this involves will be taken up in the panel on economic regionalisation and regionalism in the Middle East, jointly organised by SYSREMO and the DAVO Working Group “Economics of the MENA Region”. Papers include case studies from different spatial and conceptual perspectives as well as more theoretically oriented considerations concerning the above mentioned topics.


Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft

Abstracts der Vorträge:

Bennafla, Karine: The ‘informal’ transnational circulation of goods in Morocco: how marginal places turn into important trading spots. The example of Salé

The circulation of ordinary goods is often conceptualized in terms of formal or informal channels, but these paths may in reality overlap. Informal marketplaces are central to the urban landscape and are the middle and lower classes’ source of mass-produced consumer goods. Products are displayed in the shops of the souks or the kissaria (small urban malls), or even on the ground of medinas’ alleys and sidewalks. Anthropologists emphasize the dimension of the bazar economy, or the commercial practices characteristic of the souk, following Clifford Geertz’s famous work on Sefrou. Authors have more recently begun referring to the practices of trabendo (suitcase commerce) or local buziness, which refers to a ‘bottom-up globalization’ (cf. Peraldi, Tarrius).

Transnational trade circulation also has a major influence on the internal spatial structuring of states apparently removed from the main routes and nodes of global commodity circulation. Within such countries, transnational flows of goods create a new national hierarchy of places, sometimes lending national, regional or local prominence to marginal spaces. At various spatial scales, places are being promoted through the agency of transnational flows: such places where the “glocal” (Swyngedouw) happens can be warehouses or banking cities, urban markets or market neighborhoods, and border towns. Not all are in large cities that sit at the interface between national and global levels. As an illustration, I would like to explore the case of two informal markets in Salé (Souq Toub, Souq el Kelb) located in a peripheral popular neighbourhood.

Boedeker, Just: Raiding and Trading: Analysing Transnational Flows in Balochistan

In European historic accounts and travelogues from the beginning of the 20th century the Baloch were known as “robbers”, “bandits” and “raiders”. Due to the harsh ecological conditions in the Baloch settlement areas, some groups were involved in predatory raiding of caravans as an important influx for their subsistence. “Multi-resource nomadism” and other forms of mobility of Baloch groups were strategies to cope with the harsh living conditions and the political constraints of the bordering states. Certain rebellious concepts, mobility and flexible patterns of social cohesion of the local groups were the preconditions that facilitated the groups to adapt relatively easy to a fast changing environment. These notions enabled them as well to engage in illicit trade with contrabands without infringing upon social conventions and concepts of honour.

Today, Balochistan is an important hub for the illicit trade with opium, fuel and Afghan work migrants because of its position at the crossroads between three states.  The paper discusses some examples from multi-sited ethnographic field research among Baloch groups living in border contexts in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In doing so, it exemplifies how economic flows and transnational trading networks have influenced marriage politics and social cohesion and how these social practices simultaneously are enabling economic flows across state boundaries. Illicit trade and the involved economic flows are forms of adaptation of the former practices of raiding and trading to the needs and requirements of a globalised world; they are rather an expression of a continuous adaptation to changing environments than an evidence of social change.

Choplin, Armelle / Vignal, Leila: Transnational investments in the Middle East: questioning places and actors

Our paper aims to show and analyse transnational investments in the Middle East and North Africa. Capital and financial flows are good indicators of regionalisation process. In order to visualise this process at different scales, we realised maps of investments, based on economic databases (Anima Investment network; Kompass – Worldwide, B to B company search engine). These maps highlight the main sectors of investment (finance, real estate, industry, transport, energy…), the main sites for investment (cities, industrial zones, free zones) and the major actors involved (private sector companies or semi-public Gulf groups). We aim at giving a picture of the last ten years, which allows to put into a more detailed perspective the increase in flows of foreign direct investments in the region as well as the rise of new investors (Gulf countries, Turkey, Asian countries). This mapping methodology is contrasted against a more qualitative approach, based on fieldwork conducted in Dubai, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt (as well as in Syria, prior 2011). Focusing both on major and invisible actors, on strategic as well as on more remote places, on the circulation of people as well as on the circulation of goods, on the legal or very material infrastructures developed to attract investment as much as on pragmatic strategies of implementation developed by investors, this work-in-progress will shed light on the economic networks articulating global and local dynamics. New relevant centralities as well as new borders are emerging, showing how fragile, but also strategic is the region.

Wippel, Steffen: Tangier (Morocco) in Transnational Flows and Networks: Regionalisation from an Urban Perspective

The port city of Tangiers is being developed into one of the biggest container hubs in Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East and North Africa. Together with other efforts to develop the Northern Moroccan city, which has long been neglected by the central government, the relocation of the cargo and passenger ports to the new site opens the opportunity to redevelop large parts of the city and its surroundings, becoming mainly oriented towards international business and tourism. Parallel to that, a number of industrial, free and logistic zones as well as a network of other transport infrastructure has been, is being or is planned to be established (motorways, Rocade Méditerranéenne, trans-Saharan route, high-speed railway line, Gibraltar Strait tunnel), with the latter considerably improving landside connections of Morocco’s Northern tip with Europe, the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In my presentation, I will consider the Northern Moroccan city as a gate and interface between inside and outside the country and as a nodal point in the worldwide network of human and material flows – both formal and informal trade, traffic, travel and migration. Infrastructure and urban development, outbound economic activities, transborder cooperation and emerging diverse regional orientations of flows will be studied. With that the presentation meets the need to investigate economically important processes of regionalisation and globalisation not only on the national state level, but also in smaller regional or local contexts. At the same time this is part of the entire kingdom’s current regional (re-)orientations and of wider regionalisation processes, especially (but not only) in the Euro-Mediterranean context, which has made the government rediscover Morocco’s “Mediterranean façade” since the 1990s.