Contributors: Ghislaine Alleaume, Malika Assam, Juliette Dumas, Aurélia Dusserre, Vanessa Guéno, Didier Guignard, Juliette Honvault, Brigitte Marino, Nicolas Michel, Christine Mussard, Norig Neveu, Mehdi Sakatni, Iris Seri-Hersch, et Michel Tuchscherer
The members of the History team at IREMAM study the social, political, economic, legal and even religious dynamics that have crossed the societies and governments of the Maghreb and the Near East in the early Modern and Modern periods: Mamluk, Ottoman, early Nations or authoritarian regimes. These projects gravitate around three principal themes:
3.1. Arabic-Muslim Ruralisms
In Europe, rural history has seen a marked revival since the 1990s. If until recently, it had not reached the margins of the Arabic-Muslim world, this is no longer the case. The IREMAM history team participates actively in this newly growing field. Rural history lies at the intersection between the histories of law, economics, social practices and the environment. A group of specialists of Maghreb and Near-Eastern history, from the Middle Ages to the modern day, have invested in this field. Their research is based on a variety of sources:
-Personal accounts and field interviews
-Private archives (manuscripts, photographs)
-Land registry, notary and banking archives
-Legal and administrative archives, in particular those preserved in Aix-en-Provence (ANOM), as well as in the countries under study.
In a classical approach that combines historical geography and anthropology, the research team’s aim is twofold. Firstly, to understand the social, legal and institutional aspects of rural societies’ relationship with natural resources: forms of appropriation and recognition of rights, contracts, inferred social relations, demographic effects, geographic implantation (toponymy, buildings, boundary markers, etc.). And secondly, to study the interactions between man and its environment: techniques, skills, agrarian structures, landscapes.
Benefiting from access to a variety of terrains (Anatolia, Bilād al-Shām, Egypt, Algeria), and from an expertise for archival research and digital humanities (SIG), the researchers in this team bring together several different levels of observation and analysis: the agricultural exploitation, the village, the local area or “land”, the region, the natural setting. They focus on long-term change, in particular to measure the effects of political developments and upheaval: changes in regime, integration into larger political and economic entities, colonisation, industrialisation, socialist or liberal policies.
Program: EGYLandscape : Land and Landscapes in Mamluk and Ottoman Egypt, XIIIth-XVIIIth centuries, ANR-DFG project, Coordinated by Nicolas Michel et Albrecht Fuess (Marburg University), 2019-2022.
3.2. Disposing of Property, Transmitting Inheritance
Based on the comparison of the diverse archival documents from Muslim and Christian religious institutions (testaments, pious foundations, etc.), the research of this group explores the means and transmission of goods, inheritance and their revenue between the 16th and 20th centuries in Bilād al-Shām, Ottoman Egypt and Algeria as well as Istanbul. It pursues a number of epistemological objectives: the creation of corpora, codicological and paleography questions, cartographic practices, the materiality of research objects. The study of inheritance practices has made it possible to constitute a legal, social and economic history of the cities and families of the Ottoman Near East. It has also broadened our understanding of the complexity and functioning of the waqf and the role of the Treasury (bayt al-māl) in the financial management of succession. Thus, systems of redistribution and the social categories of beneficiaries can be ascertained, especially those of the poor. How did the founders of waqf execute works of charity? What charitable models were developed in the Near East from the 16th century by Christian missionaries as part of their proselyting mission? Finally, throughout the Ottoman era, administrators and pious foundations resorted to specific strategies when it came to inheritance. The study of these two groups raises questions about reforms, their relationships to the different legal systems and modes of governance.
Programs and Seminar
- “Ottoman and early-modern Alexandria”. Coordinated since 2001 by the Alexandria Research Centre (CEAlex) in collaboration with IREMAM, this is an ongoing program to catalogue, analyse and share the enormous collection of legal acts, specifically waqf acts, compiled on the city of Alexandria.
- Law, Sources, Practices and Habits: Pious foundations (waqf) in Alexandria in the Ottoman era (critical translations): Ghislaine Alleaume, Brigitte Marino, Michel Tuchscherer
- “MisSMO – Christian Missions and Societies in the Middle East: organisations, identities, the creation of heritage (XIX-XXI centuries)”.
- MMSH inter-laboratory seminar, “On the making of religious authorities: qualification, legitimation and integration of the Islamic “clerics”, on Christianism and Judaism in the Mediterranean”.
3.3. Knowledge, Memories, Power in the Imperial, Colonial and post-Colonial Arab and Muslim World
By opening a dialogue about the production of knowledge – including historical knowledge – its transmission – especially via schools and teaching – and its past and present implications, the researchers in this group aim to write a cultural and intellectual history of the Arab and Muslim world, without distancing it from other factors, especially political and social. The regions under study (Africa, from the Maghreb to Sudan, the Near East and Turkey), are studied over the longue durée, and some of this research participates in the dynamic field of imperial and colonial studies. This group reflects on the changes brought about by diverse forms of domination (Ottoman Empire, European powers), and their implications or continuation after decolonisation.
At the crossroads between cultural, intellectual and epistemological history and historical anthropology, this research is based on the study of a corpora of textual, iconographic and oral sources, and gravitates around three main research questions:
- The history of teaching and education: taking “the school” as an object of study in itself, this research aims to go beyond the well-documented history of institutions and structures, the better to take account of the school at a local level, as well as the social and political implications of the school for a broad array of actors: schoolchildren and their families, teachers and childcare staff, but also all those involved in the running of the school. “Crises and ordeals” is one of the favoured means of approach. Applied to the context of the school, to its daily life and objectives – always smoothed out by rhythms and discourse – they can be read as “moments” that open up a precious breach in the archives for the historian, but also serve as an ideal entry-point for apprehending the key issues of the school.
- Production and circulation of knowledge, and specifically the knowledge produced, in the broader sense, during the colonial era. Thanks to the sizable corpus of the “colonial library”, a cultural and social history can be written that takes account of the diverse actors and institutions at work, their practices and networks, while remaining attentive to abilities to resist and the thickness of the subjects under study. The study of the circulation of actors, practices, knowledge and skills between the colonial powers and their colonies, but also on an intra-imperial level, implies taking diverse levels and complex relations into account.
- Heritage/memories/representations: seen through the lens of state and identity structures, but also in light of current events (revolts) in the Maghreb and the Middle East, the processes by which material goods are preserved and given official or private heritage recognition contribute to the creation of historical narratives. By taking a plurality of memorial narratives into account, this research focusses on relationships to history, representations, forms of resistance and the social, intellectual and cultural demands of contemporary actors, as well as the social, political and cultural implications of heritage practices.
Program: MAGYC (Migration Governance and asYlum Crises), H2020, sponsored by Liège University.