Webinar Arab Diasporas in Europe:  Spaces of Political Subjectivity Formation and Activist Engagement

This conference will be held virtually on January 21st from 14h00-17h00 CET and will explore various spaces in which new political identities and forms of political activism are emerging among Arab diaspora communities in Europe. The first panel, organized by the University of Copenhagen’s “Mediatized Diaspora” project, will explore how media use in a transnational social sphere informs political action and identity formation, drawing on empirical cases of Syrian, Tunisian, Bahraini, and Egyptian diaspora communities in Europe. The second panel, organized by the Arab Reform Initiative, will explore specific new activist initiatives and the emerging spaces of political engagement, looking in particular at how members of Arab diasporas in Norway are creating a transdiasporic space of political engagement, how those exiled in Berlin are widening their solidarities and ideas of what activism can mean in practice, and how Lebanese diaspora activists are using a decentralized space to move from humanitarian aid to political engagement.

You can register to attend by following this link. You will receive a Zoom confirmation email should your registration be successful. Alternatively, you can watch the event live on our Facebook page.

The webinar will be in English with no Arabic interpretation.


Panel 1:

Political Intercultural Communication in Diaspora: An Empirical Analysis from the Arab Diaspora in Europe

Moderator: Ehab Galal

From a political and intercultural communication perspective, the panel will discuss the transnational interactions of the Arab diaspora in Europe. The panel will explore multidimensional and multi-local media practices and how these inform the sense of belonging and degrees of political activism among Syrian communities; the socio-political and transnational effects of the media on the Tunisian diaspora; the differing roles media plays in activism and identify formation among diasporic Bahraini  communities in London and Denmark; and how diasporic media, as a transnational political actor, came to act as a political critic and opponent in post-revolutionary Egypt.


  • The Mediated Complexities of Belonging and Political (De)Mobilization among Syrian Dissidents in Europe
    Speaker: Zenia Yonus, PhD candidate, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • The Political Mediatized Sphere of Diaspora
    Speaker: Mostafa Shehata, Assistant Professor, Menoufia University, Egypt
  • Making an Impact. The Role of (Media) Activism among Bahrainis in London and Denmark
    Speaker: Thomas Fibiger, Associate Professor, University of Aarhus, Denmark
  • Mediatized Egyptian Opposition in Diaspora
    Speaker: Ehab Galal, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Panel 2:

Carving Out Space: Configurations of New Transnational and Transdiasporic Activist Communities

Moderator: Sarah Anne Rennick

While Arab diaspora political activism in Europe is not a new phenomenon, the wave of migration since 2011 and the socio-political trends that underscore the reasons for exit and the factors mediating relationships to homeland and host country are reconfiguring diaspora mobilization. From the activist perspective, the panel will present how the Citizen Academy seeks to train Norway-based diasporic youth from Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Sudan, and Algeria to participate in and influence the Norwegian public debate and cultural scene, and how exiled Egyptian political activists are making use of the dynamic and politically rich city of Berlin to widen their political perspectives and solidarities.


  • The Citizen Academy: Creating New Space in Norway for Transdiasporic Political Engagement
    Speaker: Zeina Bali, Co-Founder SPACE
  • Undoing Exile: Redefining the Political in Berlin
    Speaker: ElSayed Mahmoud ElSehamy, PhD candidate, University of Manchester
  • Impact Lebanon and the Sawti Initiative: Activism from the Diaspora
    Diana Abbas, Co-Founder Impact Lebanon

Speaker Bios

Zeina Bali is the co-founding director of SPACE, a non-profit organization established in 2015 in Norway with the purpose of curating and presenting high-quality knowledge, history, art and culture from the Middle East and North Africa. Prior to joining SPACE, she worked with several INGOs and research institutes focusing on education and youth empowerment. She holds a MSc in International Development and Management from Lund University, Sweden.

Thomas Fibiger is Associate Professor in Arab and Islamic Studies at the Department of the Study of Religion, University of Aarhus. He obtained his PhD in Anthropology from Aarhus University in 2010, with a thesis on historicity and political imagination in Bahrain. He has later worked with Shia in Kuwait, with the role of sectarianism in Bahrain and Kuwait, and currently with the Bahraini Shia diaspora in London and Denmark, within the research project Mediatized Diaspora.

Ehab Galal is Associate Professor at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, Copenhagen University. He has approached research questions from a cross-disciplinary perspective inspired by media as well as ethnographic, cultural and religious studies. Since 2018, he has been leading a research team working on the project Mediatized Diaspora, which investigates transnational media use and contentious politics among Arab diaspora in Europe.

Mostafa Shehata is Assistant Professor of political communication at Menoufia University. He received a PhD from Roskilde University in 2018, which focused on media and contentious politics in Egypt, and he worked at the same university thereafter as external lecturer. He also joined University of Copenhagen in 2019 as a post-doctoral researcher working within a multidisciplinary collaborative project (Mediatized Diaspora).

Zenia Yonus is a PhD Student at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen. She has specialized in modern Syrian history, and particularly the dynamics of media coverage during the conflict. Her PhD research, within Mediatized Diaspora project, is about media practices among Syrian diaspora groups in Europe. The project seeks to understand the role of the media in political action formation, and to unfold the influence of the media on Syrians’ everyday life.

ElSayed Mahmoud ElSehamy is a PhD candidate at the University of Manchester, Department of Social Anthropology. His doctoral project explores the politics of exile and its contestations in the Egyptian context. ElSayed has been a researcher (2019-2020) at The Aleppo Project, Central European University. His research interests include politics of exile, incarceration, displacement and dispossessions, and state configurations.

Diana Abbas is the Co-Founder of Impact Lebanon.


The work of the Mediatized Diaspora project was funded by Independent Research Fund Denmark, Grant number: 8018-00038B. The work of the Arab Reform Initiative was funded by the Ford Foundation.