Daniele Cantini

Daniele CantiniNetwork Member

Daniele Cantini is a social anthropologist currently working at Martin-Luther-University in Halle (Germany), as senior research fellow and academic coordinator at the Graduate School and Research Cluster “Society and Culture in Motion”. He earned his PhD in social anthropology at the University of Modena and the University of Milan-Bicocca in 2006, with a thesis on the Jordanian university system and its students. In 2007-8, and again in 2010, he was affiliated researcher at the Centre d’Études et de Documentation Économiques, Juridiques et sociales (CEDEJ, Egypt), working on different projects dealing with university education and its privatisation, citizenship worries, youth, religious minorities and migration. In 2011, he moved to Germany, as a postdoc and then senior research fellow at the Research Cluster “Society and Culture in Motion” at the University of Halle-Wittenberg (2011–2016); between 2013 and 2016, he led a German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)-funded project, managed by the Orient-Institut Beirut, on doctoral studies at Egyptian universities. In 2016-7 he was research associate at the Orient-Institut Beirut, Lebanon, an institute of the Max Weber Foundation. In 2018-2019 he was research associate at the Asien-Orient-Institut at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

In March 2017 he obtained the Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale in Social Anthropology, and in May 2019 the same qualification for the equivalent of Middle East Studies, both in Italy. Daniele taught a variety of courses at the University of Milano-Bicocca (2020), Modena (2008–2015) and at MLU (2012–2015) on the anthropology of the Middle East, social and political anthropology and the ethnology of Africa and the Mediterranean.

Current position
Senior Research Fellow and Academic Coordinator
University affiliation
Research Cluster and Graduate School "Society and Culture in Motion", University of Halle


Building Research Capacity
SCHO.MO.RES: Scholarly mobility, knowledge production and research capacity building

The project explores the relationship between research training, scholarly mobility, career paths and social science knowledge production in the Arab region, concentrating on Beirut as one of its main hubs, and on recent developments in the local provision of postgraduate training. The main research question is to examine the role of recently established local programs and institutions offering postgraduate training and research grants in altering the conditions of doing research as well as career paths in social sciences both in Lebanon and throughout the region, in contrast with an earlier, and still predominant, mode of graduate education abroad, mostly in the ‘global north’. Combining biographical ‘tracer’ studies of individual academics with institutional ethnographies, the project develops comparative insights into research career pathways and the practice of social science in the Middle East.

This analysis has the aim of discussing not only the effects of mobility on the knowledge being produced – issues currently discussed inside the academia, the contents of legitimate PhD theses and appropriate topics of research for young scholars – but also to the institutional context within which it is produced. From a theoretical point of view, the project proposes a new way of understanding knowledge as being intertwined with movement, co-constituted through it.


  • Cantini, Daniele (ed.) (2021) "Bounded Knowledge: Doctoral Studies in Egypt." Cairo/New York: American University in Cairo Press. → https://aucpress.com/product/bounded-knowledge/
  • Cantini, Daniele (2021) "Doctoral studies in Egypt: An introduction." in Bounded Knowledge: Doctoral Studies in Egypt , edited by Daniele Cantini, 1-31. Cairo/New York: American University in Cairo Press.
  • Cantini, Daniele (2021) "Doctoral studies in Egypt: A brief sketch of its political history." in Bounded Knowledge: Doctoral Studies in Egypt , edited by Daniele Cantini, 33-50. Cairo/New York: American University in Cairo Press.
  • Cantini, Daniele (2021) "Seeing Social Change Through the Institutional Lens: Universities in Egypt, 2011–2018." in Methodological Approaches to Societies in Transformation: How to Make Sense of Change , edited by Yasmine Berriane, Annuska Derks, Aymon Kreil, Dorothea Lüddeckens. London: Palgrave MacMillan. → https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2F978-3-030-65067-4_3.pdf
  • Cantini, Daniele (2019) "Reforming universities in the Middle East: Trends and contestations from Egypt and Jordan." in LATISS (Learning & Teaching) 12 (1): 74-92. → https://www.berghahnjournals.com/view/journals/latiss/12/1/latiss120105.xml
  • Cantini, Daniele (ed.) (2018) "Al-Intag al-Ma’rifa fi al-Jami’at al-Masriyya [Knowledge Production at Egyptian Universities]." in Idafat: Al-majallah al-arabiyya li-l-Ulum al-Ijtima’iyya [Idafat: The Arab Journal of Sociology], Special Issue 41-42: 13-150.
  • Cantini, Daniele (2018) "Intag al-Ma’rifa fi mustawa al-Doktorah fi al-Ulum al-Insaniyya wa al-Ijtima’iyya fi al-Jami’at al-Masriyya [Knowledge Production at the Doctoral Level in Humanities and Social Sciences at Egyptian Universities]." in Idafat: Al-majallah al-arabiyya li-l-Ulum al-Ijtima’iyya 41-42: 13-30.
  • Cantini, Daniele (2018) "Romantic Love and Finding a Place in Life: Jordanian university students and their loving subjectivities." in Reinventing Love? Gender, Intimacy and Romance in the Arab World , edited by Irene Maffi, Aymon Kreil and Corinne Fortier, 141-163. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
  • Cantini, Daniele (2017) "Book Review. Rigas Arvanitis and Sari Hanafi: 'Knowledge Production in the Arab World. The impossible promise.' London: Routledge."https://remmm.revues.org/9779
  • Cantini, Daniele (2017) "We take care of our students: Private universities and politics of care in Egypt." in Ethics and Social Welfare 11 (3): 261-276.
  • Cantini, Daniele (2016) "Youth and Education in the Middle East: Shaping Identity and Politics in Jordan." London: I. B. Tauris (Library of Modern Middle East Studies, 177).
  • Cantini, Daniele (ed.) (2016) "Rethinking politics of higher education." Leiden: Brill.
  • Cantini, Daniele (2016) "Private universities in Egypt facing social and political change." in Rethinking politics of higher education , edited by Daniele Cantini, 131-157. Leiden: Brill.
  • Cantini, Daniele (2016) "Università e cambiamento politico e sociale in Egitto (2011-2016)." in Variazioni Africane , edited by Fabio Viti, 45-66. Modena: Il Fiorino.
  • Cantini, Daniele (2016) "Introduction: Rethinking private higher education – Ethnographic perspectives." in Rethinking politics of higher education , edited by Daniele Cantini, 1-26. Leiden: Brill.
  • Abenante, Paola, and Daniele Cantini (eds.) (2014) "Religious belonging and life-worlds: Ethnographies on subjectivity and Islam (Special issue)." in La Ricera Folklorica 69.
  • Cantini, Daniele (2014) "The university and the formation of subjectivity and of religious belonging: A case study from Amman, Jordan." in La Ricerca Folklorica 69: 105-116.
  • Cantini, Daniele (2014) "Une université privée égyptienne dans le nouveau marché international de l’enseignement supérieur." in Cahiers de la Recherce sur l'Education et les Savoirs 13: 167-179.
  • Cantini, Daniele, and Paola Abenante (2014) "Life-worlds and religious commitment: Ethnographic perspectives on subjectivity and Islam." in La Ricerca Folklorica 69: 3-19.