Photo: Rodion Kutsaev, via Unsplash

Research Programme "Culture and Foreign Policy"

"Cultural exchange forms the lifeline of dialogue between societies"

ifa | Sanctions affect not only the political, but also the cultural relations between two countries. ifa's recently published study on the "Side Effects of Sanctions" identifies this clearly. In this discussion, author Christian von Soest gives an insight into the issues and background of, but also possible solutions for the strained relationship between sanctions and culture. For von Soest, cultural exchange represents the "lifeline" that is formed by social dialogue. He emphasises that the side effects from sanctions need not inevitably be negative; they could simultaneously be a fresh impetus for promoting enhanced civic commitment.
By Isabell Scheidt

CrossCulture Tour

'Theatre of the Oppressed' by Ramshid Rashidpour, Iran

In 'Theatre of the Oppressed', Iranian Ramshid Rashidpour aims to raise political awareness and combine it with a liberating educational function. The destination of the theatrical journey taken by the Iranian-German cast is not fixed, as the plot development and dialogue are largely determined by the audience. Only one thing is certain: 'Theatre of the Oppressed' merges democratic processes and shared ideas and solutions to create a promising entertainment format.

Karim Ghantous (CC0 1.0) via Unsplash

Reading in times of conflict

Kurdistan's Book Café | More than 3,500 books in Kurdish, Arabic and English can be found in the 'Book Cafe'. Rafan al-Ta'i opened this one of a kind café in Erbil despite procurement difficulties, financial barriers and the 'tumultuous security situation'. Regardless of many obstacles, she created a place that lets people forget what happens outside the cafe. By Sahar Moqaddem

Darul Aman Palace in Kabul; Photo: Bruce MacRae (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0), via Flickr


The strong women of Darul Aman | 'This is our cultural heritage: We have to preserve it', says Wazhma Kurram a twenty-six year-old structural architect. Together with 50 other architects and engineers Wazhma works on site of Kabul’s Darul Aman Palace. Once built to house Afghanistan's parliament the building is currently in a war-torn state. As part of an entirely Afghan project Kurram and her colleagues aim to set a peaceful example in the midst of war. By Sandra Petersmann

Kimberly Farmer (CC0 1.0) via Unsplash

A Fresh Look at Crisis Prevention

'PeaceLab 2016'

GPPi | After one year of various debates the summary of the project 'PeaceLab 2016' has been published. A diverse group of stakeholders from the German government, civil society, academia, and the parliament discussed different aspects of Germany's role in crisis prevention and peacebuilding. The project was initialized by the 'German Foreign Ministry' and various German ministers, such as former Foreign Minister Steinmeier, were part of the debates. The final report gives ideas for German government guidelines on this topic.

Rafah, Gaza; Photo: DYKT Mohigan (CC BY 2.0), via Flickr

Comedy made in Gaza

No escaping life in Gaza | From Reham al-Kahlout’s point of view "comedy is the best way to get people to change". The 19-year-old Palestinian is the only woman in the young comedy troupe called "Bas ya zalma". Other than her male colleagues she has to cope with repeated harassment and criticism, but quitting is not an option for the fierce comedian. By Peter Münch

Photo: Markus Petriz (CC0 1.0), via Unsplash

Emancipation in Afghanistan

Breaking down cyber barriers

ifa | By teaching girls programming and computer literacy, two sisters in Afghanistan have triggered something of a digital revolution.

Memorial to honour Gebran Tueni, Lebanese journalist who was killed in 2005. photo © ifa/Pfordte


From Amnesty to Amnesia

ifa | "In Lebanon, repression has become a permanent state of mind," says the journalist and Orientalist Monika Borgmann. With the archive "UMAM Documentation & Research", founded in 2004, she attempts to fill the gaps in the country's collective memory. In her latest documentary "Tadmor", former Lebanese detainees break their silence. The theatrical release at different cinemas in Switzerland starts on 9 March 2017.
Interview by Juliane Pfordte

Eustaquio Santimano (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) via Flickr

Culture Report, EUNIC Yearbook

Ukraine goes into extra time

The cities that hosted Euro 2012 are currently at war, despite the ceasefire. There is now fighting in places where the ideals of friendship between peoples were once celebrated. Hopes that Ukraine could move a step closer to central Europe by hosting this mega sports event in conjunction with Poland have been shattered. What remains? Writer and football fan Serhij Zhadan reports from a war-weary country on the outer edges of Europe.
By Serhij Zhadan

[] Foto: Hala Elkoussy, My Cairo, edition esefeld & traub, 2014


"There’s nothing left of the euphoria on Tahrir Square"

"MYCAI – My Cairo" is the title of the book published by Jörg Armbruster in late 2014 with the Syrian, German-speaking writer Suleman Taufiq. On the occasion of the book launch in the ifa Gallery in Stuttgart, we spoke with him about his Cairo, the "Arab Spring" and his long-standing work as ARD foreign correspondent for the Middle East.
Interview by Juliane Pfordte

Poster in the Palestinian refugee camp Burj Al Barjneh; © photo: ifa / Grassmann


Creating perspectives and space to grow – cultural projects in Lebanese refugee camps

ifa | Leila Mousa, ifa expert for the 'Foreign Cultural and Educational Policy in refugee camps' research project.
Interview by Dorothea Grassmann

Gabriele Fangi, Wissam Wahbeh: Große Moschee in Aleppo (CC BY 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Reconstruction of Aleppo

"Others destroy and we rebuild"

The battle-torn city of Aleppo lies in ruins. Nonetheless, former residents of the city and experts located in Budapest are already working towards the reconstruction of the 5000 year old metropolis.
By Iris Mostegel

Further information:

Amine Ghrabi (CC BY-NC 2.0) via Flickr

Higher education in Tunisia

The vestiges of spring | The Arab Spring started in Tunisia, five years ago. Led by students, the people toppled their leader. How are Tunisia’s young people doing today? A tour of the universities in Tunis.

By Arnfrid Schenk

Catalogue of the ifa-Library

[] ifa-Bibliothek
Scott Webb, via Unsplash