Conditions of Knowledge Production in and about Arab and Muslim Societies

Although IREMAM has often been considered to be an “area studies laboratory”, priority has always been given to thinking about the conditions of knowledge production in the social sciences, in and about Arab and Muslim societies. In this respect, this multi- and cross-disciplinary axis is common to the laboratory’s three poles; its objective is to encourage the emergence of new research leads, and innovative practices. Three principal themes are explored here: literary history, how fields of knowledge are structured, how archives are compiled, and conceptions of heritage.

By giving special focus to the different “renaissances” that have marked the contemporary era in the ex-Ottoman space, starting in the 19th century, this axis endeavours to take stock of critical rereadings of national literary histories, from a comparative perspective. These rereadings have accompanied the formation of national literatures, already affected by relationships of imperial domination, by regional rivalries, by universalist or national ideologies. The transformations that have been underway since the 1990s (diminishing universalist ideologies, the reshaping of national spaces, the spread of a liberal economic model, the migratory movements or voluntary exiles that have reconfigured political spaces in crisis) have resulted, almost everywhere, in a critical rereading of the history of these national “renaissances”, both in the creative domain (with new generations of writers and artists), and in academic fields (with literary and cultural critics and historians).

This axis also questions the role of political, economic, social and cultural factors, notably in conflict situations, in structuring the domains of knowledge and culture in the societies under study. This question is all the more relevant today in the Middle East and the Maghreb, a space pregnant with conflict. However, this work does not simply limit itself to the contemporary reporting of events; part of a longer-term exploration, it endeavours to understand how war has imposed itself as a structural element in the political, social, cultural and economic history of societies. Particular attention is also given to memorial practices (autobiographies and memoirs), and to private practices of archiving documents of all kinds. What preservation strategies are developed for endangered private archives in a crisis context? How are archival collections, and the archiving of private documents, affected by it? The distance that their owners take with the state institutions of their birth-countries, and requests for aid from foreign institutions for their conservation, are vital elements for understanding this issue.

Research Programs and Seminars

- Mediterranean Literary Renaissances, Coordination: R. Jacquemond and S. Baquey.
- Social Sciences and Conflicts. Coordination: M. Catusse, C. Raymond et F. Siino
- Land, Terrains and Disciplines: Generational changes and permanence in the humanities and social sciences in Algeria (19th-21st centuries). Coordination : K. Chachoua
- Non-State Archives, Personal Accounts and Social Sciences. Coordination : J. Honvault et N. Michel. Partenariat IFPO/IREMAM.
An IFPO/IREMAM partnership.
- Documents in Oriental Languages and the Campaign in Egypt according to the Defence History Service (SHD) (Vincennes). Coordination : M. Tuchscherer
- Seminar Did you say the Maghreb? Coordination: K. Boissevain, A. Dusserre, S. Mazzella.