News from Project B09

Dr Roy Karadag
Dr Roy Karadag
Roy Karadag looks back on two short research stays in Egypt and reports on bureaucratic hurdles, promising archives and the devastating state of the Egyptian education system.

You travelled to Egypt for project B09. Where exactly have you been and for how long?

I was in Cairo for two shorter stays: one from late September to mid-October and then again from mid-November to early December. I was a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Political Science at the American University in Cairo.

What were your plans for these two research stays?

I knew that access to authorities, ministries and politicians in Egypt had become tricky. With the harsh repression that has prevailed since 2013, the situation has also become increasingly difficult for scientists, especially for European or US scientists. It is very difficult to build up well-founded networks locally if you have not yet researched and published on Egypt, as it is the case with me. That is why my trips to Cairo were primarily intended to find out whether I would even get access to the ministries in order to find out how social policy is negotiated and implemented over there.

And how did it go?

I initially conducted eight or nine interviews, mainly with teachers and doctors, and I also had several background talks with academics. First of all, I wanted to talk to the people who are active in the socio-political fields we are investigating. I wanted to find out what these people could tell me about dealing with health insurance companies or with the apparatus, the ministries. I wanted to know which political decisions are relevant to their everyday lives and which developments determine them the most.

And what about access to authorities and ministries?

I come back a little disillusioned. During my first stay, I approached the university experts in the social policy fields. One was even an advisor to the Minister of Education. But unfortunately this was not helpful for access to ministries and politicians. I will probably have to give up the idea of being able to conduct expert interviews in the ministries. This is a great pity, because research on Egypt in the 1990s and 2000s by people who were able to expand their networks over many years was really strong: great books on power networks, corruption, Islamist and other opposition groups; but unfortunately very little on policy fields such as health and education.

Today there are invincible bureaucratic procedures to prevent unpleasant research and research into opposition and resistance. And, unfortunately, also harsh violence, as the murder of the Italian doctoral student from Cambridge showed. Such violence only needs to be used once or twice to ensure that the message really is heard and that the fingers are kept off the investigation of trade union activism. Cairo has become really unfree in this respect.

What does this mean for your work?

We will confine ourselves to going through the historical material, the newspaper archives, in order to reconstruct certain phases and certain socio-political decisions. Building on this, we want to see what effect this has had on issues of state formation, state-society relations, people's expectations of governments and administration. Thus we can best develop something like a historical theory of social policy in Africa to show what is specific to Africa and what role the continent plays or can play in discourses on global social policy.

The access to the archives is guaranteed?

The newspaper archives are now fairly well available online. Of course I still try to get access to central archives. In Cairo, the central location would be Dar al-Watha'iq, the Egyptian national archive. It's all just a matter of formal enquiries and will probably be a longer bureaucratic process. But it should be possible. It would be nice to have such material on decrees, because these decrees are most likely to show what everyday political life looks like in Egypt.

You are examining three policy areas: Health, education and nutrition. Which period do you want to cover?

Our plan is to cover the whole century - 1918 to 2018. Of course it is difficult to investigate three policy fields over 100 years. Therefore, when analysing the newspaper archives, other material and secondary literature, we concentrate primarily on the major shifts that occurred in North Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. In Egypt, the late 1940s and early 1950s are very interesting because social policy served for the first time to legitimise the new state bureaucracy.

You mentioned that you interviewed teachers and doctors. What was the most interesting thing you learned from these people?

The focus of the conversations was on education, and a depressing picture emerged. Egypt is a poor country with huge social inequality. This is also evident in the field of education and education policy. Upper middle classes and the rich have detached themselves and can offer their children diverse and good educational opportunities. They have already sent their children to German, American or British schools in the past, and now the Japanese are also involved. There is strong differentiation and competition within the economic and bureaucratic elites and their children for power opportunities in decades to come. This competition is brutal. There is something like a central baccalaureate, but there are also accusations of corruption and fraud. There is much room to turn money into educational opportunities, while lower classes struggle with overcrowded classes, difficult transportation systems and schools with poor infrastructure. That's why parents scrape together every cent to offer their children tutoring - and this tutoring is offered by teachers who don't earn much themselves. For the teachers it is not decisive to teach at a public school, but to give private lessons. This of course diminishes the quality of general education. All ideas developed in global educational discourses like interactive teaching and the like simply bounce off these harsh socio-economic realities.

You have now mapped the field and explored networks. How do you proceed?

I will go to Egypt and Cairo again to look at the material from the 1940s to the 1970s. I will systematically compile the material on relevant political decisions in order to discuss and evaluate the greatest similarities and differences within our project.


Contact:
Dr. Roy Karadag
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67468
E-Mail: karadag@uni-bremen.de

Alex Nadège Ouedraogo, doctoral researcher in project B09, spent four weeks in Senegal. In two different regions, Dakar and Casamance, she explored the topic of her thesis: social policy related to food security.

Nadège, you have recently returned from a research trip. Where have you been?

I was at Dakar and I visited Ziguinchor, a city in the south of Senegal, that has seen conflicts for several years but now everything seems to be calm.

What was the purpose of your trip?

During the first week, I took part in a summer school in Dakar that was organised by the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and the Centre for African Studies Basel (CASB). The theme was: "African Studies and Africanists: Whence the Gaze?". As my parents are from Burkina Faso, I've been interested in working with Africans scholars and in Africa. It was interesting to be surrounded by other PhD students from the African continent. I learned a lot about doing a PhD and doing research in Africa. Well, and after that I stayed another week in Dakar collecting information to locate archives and networking. Then I travelled to the South during the third week to explore and learn about the region and came back to Dakar for the final week. These last three weeks of my trip were directly related to my PhD and the research within our B09 project while the first week was more about being a researcher in an African context.

What is you research about?

In our project B09 we are working on social policy in Africa, and in my case it's about social policy related to food security. My recent trip to Senegal helped me a lot to find a more particular and original angle from which to conduct my research.

How did this happen?

I did not make any appointments for any interviews before I started my research trip. I wanted to have first impressions of what's going on at the local level. I did not want to run into the government or NGOs straight away but rather meet and talk with the local population. That is what I did.

Could you already gather information or data that you can use for your research?

Not actually data. But I now know in which direction I want to conduct my research. Speaking with many local people and sitting with them on the market helped me a lot. I also visited some households that I got introduced to. I discussed with these people what they think about social policy and what it means to them. I soon realised that most of them do not even use those terms. It doesn't make sense for them. Most of them use the term public policy. This preliminary research trip helped me to adopt a certain position and a certain vocabulary. I also realised that for the locals food security depends on access to food. Access not so much in financial terms but rather in terms of transportation and local availability. Most people told me that they would like to buy certain kind of food but cannot find it. Or that it is produced for export exclusively. It was interesting to discover that food security is closely related to transport infrastructure and spatial planning.

Which language did you speak with the local people?

I spoke French. But most people in Senegal speak Wolof which I don't speak. That made it a bit harder to make sure people understand me and vice versa. But most of the time I had someone local who helped interpreting when people did not speak much French. But I will do my best to learn basics of Wolof soon.

What are your next steps?

Now I have to write my thesis proposal. Thanks to this preliminary field trip and the readings, I had done before I should be fine. Now I have ideas of how I want to conduct my research and it's more grounded because I've been in the country.

Have you planned next trips already?

If my thesis proposal is approved, I hope I will be able to go back to Senegal for a longer period of time. Time is really a constraint. I cannot leave all my activities here in Bremen but it's really important for my ethnographic research approach to be in the country and to stay as long as possible.


Contact:
Alex Nadège Ouedraogo
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 176 73 96 96 90
E-Mail: ouedraogo@uni-bremen.de

Dr. Roy Karadag
Dr. Roy Karadag
Roy Karadag presents a draft paper that examines the questions: What effect did the uprisings and subsequent regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt have on social policy? Did the democratisation of Tunisia lead to a strengthening of the welfare state?

The situation in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East before the so-called Arab Spring was similar: deficient state budgets, low economic growth, weak industrialisation, high unemployment, lack of prospects for young people. As a result of these similarities, the protests originating in Tunisia have spread throughout the region and led to the overthrow of the government in many countries.

But what effect did these regime changes have on the social policies of the respective states? Roy Karadag, Kressen Thyen and Saara Inkinen, who are working together in the CRC project "Transnational Welfare - Rise, Decay and Renaissance of Social Policy in Africa", are investigating this question. In a case study they compare post-revolution, democratically ruled Tunisia with military-ruled Egypt. Has the democratisation of Tunisia led to an expansion of social policy programmes?

At the colloquium of SFB 1342, InIIS and BIGSS on June 12, Karadag presented the state of the art in research on this topic. Karadag gave an overview of the literature dealing with the interrelation between democratisation and state welfare programmes. According to this, there are three "schools of thought":

a) Most of the literature assumes a positive correlation between democratisation and the extent of state welfare programmes. The reasons are: the growing influence of large underprivileged sections of the population through democratic elections while at the same time putting pressure on elected governments to meet the demands for an expansion of social services.
b) A smaller number of authors cannot see any connection between the democratisation of a country and its social policy. Non-democratic governments are also interested in a stable society. Welfare programmes are one tool to achieve this goal.
c) A minority of authors come to the conclusion that democratisation tends even to lead to a reduction in social programmes. Examples include Latin American countries that have cut their social benefits under the influence of international organisations such as the World Bank and the World Monetary Fund.

So what is the situation in Tunisia and Egypt? So far there have been no significant differences between the social policies of the two countries, Karadag reported. Both countries initially tried to preserve their social policy institutions and programmes, but have been implementing austerity measures in cutting energy and food subsidies for a year now, even against resistance from the population.

According to Karadag, however, it is still too early for a final evaluation. Tunisia is facing a presidential election in 2019. It will soon become clear how the government and opposition politicians will act in the election campaign phase and what role social policy will play in this. However, the Egyptian military regime under President Sisi is implementing these cuts through increased repression and violence against opposition and activists.
Karadag, Thyen and Inkinen plan to present their detailed research results first at the CRC conference in October 2018 in Bremen and then publish them first as a working paper and later in a peer-reviewed journal.


Contact:
Dr. Roy Karadag
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67468
E-Mail: karadag@uni-bremen.de