Daniele Cantini

Daniele CantiniNetwork Member

Daniele Cantini is currently senior research fellow and academic coordinator at the Research Cluster and Graduate School “Society and Culture in Motion”, University of Halle. 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 March 2017 he obtained the Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale in Social Anthropology in Italy. Daniele taught a variety of courses at the University of Modena (2008–2015) and at MLU (2012–2016) on the anthropology of the Middle East, social and political anthropology and the ethnology of 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


I. Discourses and Practices of Crisis in the Egyptian Higher Education – an anthropological analysis

This ongoing research project looks at the configurations of society, legitimacy, knowledge and power in Egypt, from the vantage point of the higher education sector, which Daniele Cantini has been researching since 2007. According to both local and international sources, the educational sector in Egypt has been in deep crisis for decades, and this is usually traced back to an even deeper crisis of citizenship. The main interest here is to look at this overarching discourse of crisis, how it is constructed and with which evidence, and which practices does it enable. From a theoretical point of view, the starting point is the focus on the university as a fundamental institution in the contemporary configuration of knowledge and power, in combination with the recent anthropological interest in global assemblages, in this case higher education as a ‘glocal’ technology of governance. The goal of this research is to discuss how significance is made by resorting to the crisis narrative – how different modes of organisation and reforms are introduced and how social actors adapt their evaluations to the changing context. In this sense, the project has a significance that goes beyond Egypt and the higher education sector, since similar processes are at play elsewhere. Ultimately, the project investigates the changes in the conception of what the state is and should be, between social and economic considerations, both locally and internationally oriented, through the lens of the higher education sector.

II. Locating Trust in Cairo: Security, State, and Neighbourhood Politics (SNF Project)  


  • Cantini, Daniele (in print) (2018) "Reforming universities in the Middle East – trends and contestations from Egypt and Jordan." in LATISS (Learning & Teaching).
  • Cantini, Daniele (2018) "Romantic versus Acceptable Love: 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. Frankfurt: Peter Lang (Middle East, Social and Cultural Studies Series)
  • Cantini, Daniele (ed.) (2018) "al-Intag al-Ma’rifa fi al-Jami’at al-Masriyya [Knowledge Production at Egyptian Universities]." in Idafat: Al - Majalla al Arabiya Lel' Oloum al-Siyassiya [Idafat: the Arab Journal of Sociology] (special issue) 41-42, 140 pp. → http://www.caus.org.lb/Home/publication_popup.php?ID=5520&MediaID=2
  • Cantini, Daniele (in print) (2018) "Knowledge Production at the postgraduate level in Egyptian public universities." Cairo/New York: American University in Cairo Press.
  • 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 - Majalla al Arabiya Lel' Oloum al-Siyassiya 41-42: 13-30. → http://www.caus.org.lb/Home/publication_popup.php?ID=5520&MediaID=2
  • Cantini, Daniele (2017) "Book review: Rigas Arvanitis and Sari Hanafi. Knowledge Production in the Arab World – the impossible promise. London: Routledge. 2016. Revue d’Etudes sur le Monde Musulman et la Méditerranée."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 (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. Studies in Critical Social Sciences. Leiden: Brill
  • Cantini, Daniele (2016) "Università e cambiamento politico e sociale in Egitto (2011-2016)." in Stato, Pluralità, Cambiamento in Africa , edited by Fabio Viti Modena: Il Fiorino
  • Cantini, Daniele (2016) "Rethinking private higher education – a collection of ethnographies." in Rethinking politics of higher education , edited by Daniele Cantini. Studies in Critical Social Sciences. 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