In 2018, the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and the Hicham Alaoui Foundation created a research partnership to advance social scientific knowledge in the area of governance and local development in Middle East and North Africa. Prevailing academic as well as political discourse fixates on national issues, namely the struggle for democracy, and international dynamics, from refugee crises and terrorism to counterrevolutionary campaigns. This endeavor reminds its broad audience that individuals in this region live locally. Government authority does not broadcast uniformly within any country, and even the most centralized states will govern localities and regions differently based upon historical legacies, resource availability, and political considerations. Similarly, communities interact with, and push back against, governance in varying ways as they seek to secure public goods and equitable services that satisfy their well-being. By using a wide range of methodological and theoretical approaches to examine a diverse set of cases, this partnership will culminate in a set of international conferences – the first of which occurred in Sarajevo on 7-9 August – and a published academic volume drawing together original research by dozens of leading experts working in the MENA.