Postcolonial Studies


Sonja Hegasy studied Arabic and Islamic Studies at the American University in Cairo, the Universities of Witten/Herdecke and Bochum, graduating from Columbia University in 1990. Her PhD on State, Public Sphere and Civil Society in Morocco was published in German in 1996. Hegasy has taught at the Freie Universität Berlin on liberalism in North Africa, the role of NGOs in international cooperation, and on foreign policy of the Arab League states. She co-directed two DFG-projects together with Ulrike Freitag on overcoming violent pasts in the Middle East. She then directed the project Transforming Memories: Cultural Production and Personal/Public Memory in Lebanon and Morocco. Her interests include civil society and social movements, modern Arab intellectual thought, modern cultural history, as well as politics of memory in post-conflict societies. Since 2008 she serves as Vice Director of the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. At the Barenboim-Said Akademie, she teaches the modern history of the Middle East and postcolonial theory.

Hegasy has received research grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation and the DAAD. In 2016 she was a Fulbright Fellow at the City University of New York. She holds numerous honorary positions on academic advisory councils, including the Trajectories of Change program at the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius and the Maghreb Studies Center of Arizona State University.


Sonja Hegasy is co-editor of the special issue, Memories of Violence, Social Life and Political Culture in the Maghreb and Mashreq, of the journal ‘Memory Studies’ (2019, together with Norman S. Nikro). She has been active in introducing the work of contemporary Moroccan philosopher Mohamed Abed al-Jabiri in Germany: In 2009, she co-authored with Reginald Grünenberg the foreword, “Ex okzidente lux. Der arabische Aufklärer Mohammed Abed al-Jabri,” for the only extant German translation of his writing to date: Kritik der arabischen Vernunft. Die Einführung (Berlin: Perlenverlag). In 2018, her article “Dare to be wise! On the Reception of Mohammed Abed al-Jabri Post-2011,” was published in Islam, State, and Modernity: Mohammed Abed al-Jabri and the Future of the Arab World (New York: Palgrave).

Most recent is her introduction and interview with the Moroccan philosopher Mohammed Abed al-Jabri in polylog. Forum für interkulturelles Philosophieren e.V., Wiener Gesellschaft für interkulturelle Philosophie, Heft Nr. 44 (2021), pp. 129-149, and an essay on Edward W. Said: Palestine isn't just another country."