Rooting Development

in the Palestinian Context


About us Blog


The Project Rooting Development in the Palestinian Context integrates and builds on the developmental challenges, experiences, and popular strategies of various segments of the Palestinian population in the Westbank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan and Lebanon. It derives from the particularities of the Palestinian people and the specific challenges faced as a result of the fragmentation and territorial displacement from decades of Israeli rule.
Through bridging the divide between academic knowledge producers, community-based knowledge and development strategies, the project aims at building alternative knowledge and practices of development that move beyond Eurocentric, Western models.

CDC Zarqa

About us

Founded upon the previous APPEAR project, the Center for Development Studies (CDS) at Birzeit University (BZU) and the Department of Development Studies (DDS) at the University of Vienna continue to deepen and articulate an alternative vision for development.

The project integrates and builds on the developmental challenges, experiences, and popular strategies of various segments of the Palestinian population in their different locations, in order to bridge the divide between academic knowledge producers and community-based knowledge and development strategies.

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  1. To work out the Palestinian development agenda Rooting Development by establishing a community of critical knowledge producers (researchers, intellectuals, activists, political actors).
  2. To train new fieldworkers from Palestinian communities in Jordan and Lebanon.
  3. To establish an advanced training programme at CDS.
  4. To build an academic network for a young generation of researchers and fieldworkers from the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Austria.

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trainees Lebanon


Event summary: Tunisia in Transition

Hiba Tlili (left) and Research Cluster member Ines Mahmoud | © Georg Layr


Among the general attitude of pessimism and even remorse that a European audience cultivates towards the Arab Spring, Tunisia often stands out as the supposedly successful exception. The research cluster in Vienna invited activist Hiba Tlili to discuss the revolution in Tunisia seven years in and the discontents of this apparent triumph.


In her analysis, various social movements maintain an effort towards radical change in an otherwise restoratory and counter-revolutionary context. Tlili emphasized that the new Tunisian government, consisting of Nidaa Tounes and the Ennahda, have formed a political landscape that gave up on the radical demands of the revolutionary movement started in late 2010.


After a summary of the main events and political actors in the country, Tlili presented some of the key moments in recent protest and social movement history. Recurring examples were the anti-corruption movement “Manich Msamah | I don’t forgive!” and ” “Fech Nestanew | What are we waiting for?”, an anti-austerity movement against the implementation of IMF conditionalities. Both have been leading points of crystallization for youth’s desire for change and managed to push their way into a Tunisian public with innovative communication and protest tactics. Another important example was the experience of reclaiming land and establishing a cooperative in the town of Jemna as well as continuous protests, strikes and blockades against energy grabs of Western energy corporations in the South of Tunisia, such as the protests in Kamour 2017.


The event and the ensuing debate highlighted some of the core contradictions in the present political conjuncture. Despite continuing isolated, but numerous, protests and the ability of new social movements to include popular elements like football culture, a deepening of the revolution was not possible. Some of the analytical entry points offered to explain the limits of the revolutionary movements were the hesitance of the leadership of oppositional parties and unions, the class composition of the movements, and the relationship between secular or communist activists and Islam or Islamic elements of progressive movements.


Despite the ongoing celebration of Tunisian exceptionalism in Western publics, the stability of the counter-revolution is far from guaranteed and the government maintains a fear of popular mobilizations which it often meets with forms of repression familiar from the old regime.


For more information on recent developments in Tunisia, see Ines Mahmoud’s article in Jacobin Magazine.




New Publication: JEP – Food Sovereignty and Alternative Development in Palestine


After more than 20 years of the Oslo process and its dominant development model, the multiple crises in Palestine lend urgency to the exploration of alternatives to the status quo. This special issue contributes to current debates on alternative development and ‘resistance economy’ by discussing the significance agricultural cooperatives have in the occupied Palestinian territories and linking their experiences to the food sovereignty approach.
What kind of alternative development is envisaged by agricultural cooperatives in Palestine in response to neoliberal development models of economic growth and the Israeli occupation? How can community-based agricultural cooperatives initiate processes of alternative development in Palestine?
The authors of this issue contribute to a better understanding of the multiple (development) crises in Palestine and analyse cooperatives’ experiences and strategies from academic as well as activist perspectives.


Access it here


Editor | Helmut Krieger




Helmut Krieger
Nurturing Alternative Development: Agricultural Cooperatives in Palestine


Philipp Salzmann
A Food Regime Perspective on Palestine: Neoliberalism and the Question of Land and Food Sovereignty within the Context of Occupation


Ayman Abdul Majeed
Conceptual and Methodological Approaches to Reading the Realm of Cooperatives in Occupied Palestine


Eileen Kuttab
Alternative Development: A Response to Neo-Liberal De-Development in a Gender Perspective


Nur Arafeh
“Resistance Economy”: A New Buzzword?


Hiba Al-Jibeihi
“Protecting Our Lands and Supporting Our Farmers” (Interview with Philipp Salzmann)



Event: Tunisia in Transition // Tunesien im Umbruch

[Deutsch unten]


Seven years have passed since the Tunisian revolution. The dictatorship of Ben Ali has successfully been overthrown, the socio-economic demands of the revolution however remain unfulfilled. In the West often portrayed as a “successful revolution” – in contrast to the unfolding wars in Syria, Yemen, and Libya – Tunisians today see their revolution betrayed. The post-revolutionary government coalition consisting of islamist party Ennahda and neoliberal, counterrevolutionary Nidaa Tounes continues to follow the instructions of the Bretton Woods institutions. The economic governance is still characterized by austerity, privatizations of natural resources and public institutions, while the unemployment rate remains at the same level as it was before 2011 and the economic inequities the people rose up against are maintained.
What has changed since 2011 on a political level? How has the left transformed in the past years? Which roles do the main forces of the revolution such as the Tunisian general labour union UGTT play today? Which new forms of protest have developed in the past seven years? Which changes in feminist movements have happened after 2011? What are future perspectives?

These questions will be dealt with by Hiba Tlili, a young activist from Tunis who has been part of the Popular Front, the student union UGET and other social movements.


Moderation | Ines Mahmoud


The event is hosted by the Vienna based research cluster of the APPEAR project “Rooting Development in the Palestinian Context ” and will be held in English.


Date | 06.04.2018, 6.30pm
Venue | “Seminarraum IE”
Department of African Studies
University of Vienna
Spitalgasse 2, Court 5.1.
A-1090 Vienna, Austria


You can find this event also on Facebook.






Tunesien im Umbruch

Sieben Jahre sind seit der Tunesischen Revolution vergangen. Die Diktatur von Ben Ali wurde erfolgreich gestürzt, die sozio-ökonomischen Forderungen der Revolution jedoch bleiben weiterhin unerfüllt. Im Westen vorwiegend illustriert als eine „erfolgreiche Revolution” – im Gegensatz zu den fortschreitenden Kriegen in Syrien, Jemen und Libyen – fühlen sich Tunesier_innen jedoch ihrer Revolution betrogen. Die post-revolutionäre Regierungskoalition bestehend aus der islamistischen Partei Ennahda und der neoliberalen, konterrevolutionären Nidaa Tounes folgt weiterhin den Diktionen der Bretton-Woods-Institutione n. Die wirtschaftliche Gouvernance ist nach wie vor gekennzeichnet durch Austeritätsmaßnahmen, Privatisierungen von natürlichen Ressourcen und öffentliche Institutionen, während die Arbeitslosenquote von 2011 unverändert bleibt und die ökonomischen Ungleichheiten, gegen die die Bevölkerung revoltierte, aufrechterhalten bleiben.

Was hat sich seit 2011 auf politischer Ebene geändert? Wie hat sich die Linke in den vergangenen Jahren reorganisiert? Welche Rolle spielen heute die Hauptakteur_innen der Revolution wie etwa der Gewerkschaftdachverband UGTT? Welche neuen Formen des Protestes haben sich in den letzten sieben Jahren entwickelt? Welche Veränderungen hat es in feministischen Bewegungen nach 2011 gegeben? Welche Zukunftsperspektiven zeichnen sich ab?

Diese Fragen werden von Hiba Tlili, einer jungen Aktivistin aus Tunis, die in der „Front Populaire”, der linken Studentenunion UGET und verschiedenen sozialen Bewegungen aktiv war diskutiert.


Moderation | Ines Mahmoud


Die Veranstaltung wird durch den Wiener Forschungscluster des APPEAR Projekts “Rooting Development in the Palestinian Context” veranstaltet und findet auf Englisch statt.


Zeit | 06.04.2018, 18:30 Uhr
Ort | Seminarraum IE
Institut für Afrikawissenschaften
Universitätscampus AAKH
Spitalgasse 2, Hof 5
A-1090 Wien, Österreich


Sie finden unsere Veranstaltungen nun auch auf Facebook!




We are on Facebook!

Once more, our project is going against the grain. While people are fleeing Facebook’s appropriation of their data in numbers, we are swimming upstream and decided to join. If you are still holding out, follow us to stay updated on our events.

Event: Lebanon – on the brink of War

We warmly recommend the upcoming VIDC event “Lebanon – on the brink of War”.


Time and location
Monday, 12 March 2018, 19:00 – 21:00
Central Library Vienna – Am Gürtel, Urban-Loritz-Platz 2a, 1070 Vienna



Ghida Anani
founder of the feminist NGO Abaad, Beirut


Nikolas Kosmatopoulos 
American University Beirut


Helmut Krieger
Department of Development Studies at the University of Vienna/VIDC

Welcome: Magda Seewald, VIDC

Languages: English and German with simultaneous interpretation




While the war in Syria has disappeared from the headlines in Western media, its effects in Lebanon are omnipresent. With more than 1.5 million refugees from Syria and a major social, political and economic crisis, Lebanon has long been part of the conflict and war zones in the Arab world. In the face of this flight, social and social struggles in the country are exacerbated. They form part of what a comprehensive crisis in Lebanon means.At the political level, Saudi Arabia’s pressure on Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the end of last year was so great that he had to resign. Although Hariri is now back in office, this episode illustrates how unstable the political system in the country still is. Linked to this is the direct military involvement of the Lebanese Hezbollah in the war in Syria as an ally of the regime and its political weight in Lebanon. This has led to increased speculation in Israeli media over the recent months of an upcoming war Israel’s against Lebanon.At the same time, in the course of recent years, a diverse social movement in Lebanon has impressively demonstrated that political, social and economic crisis developments are not simply accepted. In view of these developments, what can mean social and political engagement in Lebanon under today’s conditions? How can the different lines of conflict be interpreted from a feminist perspective? In what ways are future military escalations inevitable?


For more info visit here.