Mintaqa is a space where local intuition and creativity meet global expertise. It provides training in cutting-edge research methods and writing skills to recent social science, humanities, architecture, and journalism graduates of local universities in the Arab region. Recent developments in the Arab region—and, more specifically, in the Mashriq/Levant—have brought about the collapse of an intellectual order, but a new order has not yet emerged. The authoritarian political climate and the focus of the old intellectual order on grand theory, rather than reality on the ground, have proven obstacles in the development of new ways of studying and thinking about political and social life in  the region.



The training initiatives of Mintaqa will admit cohorts of up to 15 students for a 12-month program. We have designed a research and training model that puts fieldwork at the heart of the process. To this end, we have created a multi-year research agenda on TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOCIOPOLITICAL ORDER. The curriculum will provide students with the tools to design and execute innovative and well-supported research that is currently in short supply from the region’s local universities. The skills that will be taught range from 'big picture' skills, like how to posit, test, and support an argument, to the basic mechanics of research like conducting interviews and taking notes in the field.

Our aim is to introduce cutting-edge research methods without taking away the local ‘soul’ of the research or distorting the original insights of the researcher; the curriculum will do so by keeping students engaged in the field throughout the research process, helping them to use and look for new local sources, training them in how to relate to the field ethically (including how to deal with interviewees and how to gather and analyze documents), and exposing them to a range of styles of social science writing in Arabic.

Mintaqa will provide the same skills to all students but will allow them to choose one of several themes related to the changes the region is undergoing and work on it for the whole year. The themes include urban destruction, economic geography, the social fabric, city markets, and migration. Training workshops will bring students together with experienced researchers and include a practical component that guides them through the production of a piece of work. The practical component will feature repeated interaction with and mentoring from a skilled practitioner in the student's area of specialization. By having the student focus on the same theme throughout the program, the initiative aims to develop substantive expertise, in addition to the general research skills being taught.

We will work exclusively with students from the generation of youth who have grown up during the region's popular uprisings and wars. The program is seeking promising minds above all else, and will take into consideration the cultural diversity of the Arab region. In selecting participants, we will not discriminate on the basis of applicants' social background, gender, or any identity characteristic (other than age).


The Team

The commonality among all members of the team—apart from their personal emotional and intellectual commitment to the subject matter—is our personal experience in the region. Our experience has led us to the conclusion that most training and empirical research programs either produce knowledge that fits into outsiders’ molds or preserves local insights but fails to make them into systematic arguments legible to a broader audience.

The team has grown to include the following five members:

Kheder Khaddour


Kevin Mazur


Armenak Tokmajyan


Mohamad Alrabiuo


Rana Taha




This project was supported through the Nawa-if.