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Christián H. Ricci

New Voices of Muslim North-African Migrants in Europe captures the experience in writing of a fast growing number of individuals belonging to migrant communities in Europe. The book follows attempts to transform postcolonial literary studies into a comparative, translingual, and supranational project. Cristián H. Ricci frames Moroccan literature written in European languages within the ampler context of borderland studies. The author addresses the realm of a literature that has been practically absent from the field of postcolonial literary studies (i.e. Neerlandophone or Gay Muslim literature). The book also converses with other minor literatures and theories from Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as Asians and Latino/as in the Americas that combine histories of colonization, labor migration, and enforced exile.

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David Bramoullé

The Fatimids (10th - 12th centuries C.E) are known to have been the first Shiite caliphal dynasty and to have founded Cairo, the city that became their capital in 973 when they left Tunisia for Egypt. During their reign, the Fatimids built an effective war fleet that inflicted several defeats on Christian navies. This is the first study on the Fatimid naval force and, more generally, on the role of the sea for the Fatimids whose territories touched both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. The documentation presented in this study demonstrates how, in the course of two centuries, this Ismaeli dynasty set up a maritime policy and developed a communication strategy in which their control of the sea helped legitimize their universalist claims against competing powers. Les Fatimides (10e -12e s. ap. J.-C) sont connus pour avoir été la première dynastie califale chiite et pour avoir fondé Le Caire qui devint leur capitale à partir de 973 lorsque la dynastie quitta la Tunisie actuelle pour s’installer en Egypte et prendre possession d’un empire qui s’étendait de l’Algérie orientale jusqu’à la Syrie en passant par la Sicile et certains territoires de la péninsule arabique. Durant leur règne, ils disposèrent d’une flotte de guerre efficace qui infligea plusieurs défaites aux marines chrétiennes. Au-delà de la chronologie des batailles navales, aucune étude n’existait sur le rôle de cette force navale et plus généralement sur le rôle de la mer pour les Fatimides dont les territoires touchaient à la fois la Méditerranée et la mer Rouge. La documentation met pourtant en évidence que sur durant plus de deux siècles, les Fatimides mirent en place une politique maritime qui dépassait largement les considérations militaires. Ils développèrent ainsi une stratégie de communication dans laquelle la mer jouait un rôle majeur pour à la fois légitimer les prétentions universalistes de cette dynastie ismaélienne face à des pouvoirs concurrents et pour lui permettre de survivre.

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Keren Zdafee

The Egyptian caricature is generally studied as part of Egyptian mass culture, and mainly discussed in the context of Egypt's anti-colonial resistance to British foreign rule, as part of the forging of a “national style". In Cartooning for a Modern Egypt, Keren Zdafee foregrounds the role that Egypt’s foreign-local entrepreneurs and caricaturists played in formulating and constructing the modern Egyptian caricature of the interwar years, that was designated for, and reflected, a colonial and cosmopolitan culture of a few. Keren Zdafee illustrates how Egyptian foreign-local caricaturists envisioned and evaluated the past, present, and future of Egyptian society, in the context of Cairo's colonial cosmopolitanism, by adopting a theoretical, semiotic, and historical approach.

Zayde Antrim

Abstract

Zayde Antrim’s study of Ibn al-Adim’s regional topography of Aleppo inscribes the author’s hometown into an established Syrian “discourse of place” but with a difference. In contrast to his Damascene predecessors, Ibn al-Adim’s Syria is oriented to the north and the marchland bordering the Christian Byzantine Empire. A host of historical and political contingencies shape this depiction of a land that defies easy delimitation.

Boris James

Abstract

The Kurdish lands that are the focus of Boris James’ study straddle contested territory between Mamluks and Mongols in northern Mesopotamia. James makes sense of countervailing internal tensions and external pressures that beset a tribal society on the fringes of strong centralized states. He employs a brand of social theory based on Ibn Khaldun’s historical sociology while problematizing the use of terms and allied concepts like “Kurd” and “Kurdistan” that defy easy categorization.

Mary Hoyt Halavais

Abstract

Mary Hoyt Halavais considers the meaning of “home” for the people of sixteenth-century Spain. Home, she argues, was not a political or territorial entity to which one was loyal; instead, it was a specific place, and the lived experience of the physical and the human in that place. The reaction of Moriscos (Muslims required by law to convert to Christianity) as well as their Christian neighbors to the exile of the Moriscos of Spain (1609-1614) demonstrates this. Christians within Spain—even those who are representatives of the government in Madrid—protect their Morisco neighbors with little regard for Madrid’s laws, refusing to surrender them to the authorities. In one case, the Council of Aragon, part of the King’s governing system, subverts an order of execution. Some of the Moriscos who are exiled, pirates who repeatedly raid Spain’s ships, attempt to negotiate a surrender of all of their goods and their ships, if only they are allowed to return to their home and their families. Home is a physical and communal space for these early modern Spaniards.

Steve Tamari

Abstract

Grounded Identities: Territory and Belonging in the Medieval and Early Modern Middle East and Mediterranean is a collection of essays on attachment to specific lands including Kurdistan, Andalusia and the Maghrib, and geographical Syria in the pre-modern Islamicate world. Together these essays put a premium on the affective and cultural dimensions of such attachments, fluctuations in the meaning and significance of lands in the face of historical transformations and, at the same time, the real and persistent qualities of lands and human attachments to them over long periods of time. These essays demonstrate that grounded identities are persistent and never static.

Steve Tamari

Abstract

Steve Tamari examines pre-modern antecedents for Syrian territorial integrity focusing on the sacredness of the land in the mind of the seventeenth-century scholar and traveler ʿAbd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi. Al-Nabulusi traveled back and forth between the cities and towns of geographical Syria with stops at hundreds of shrines and historical sites in between. His pilgrimage routes trace the contours of a distinct territory and accentuate the connections that tie countryside to city and one rural area to another.

Alexander Elinson

Abstract

Alexander Elinson’s study of the Andalusian scholar Ibn al-Khatib (d. 1374) is based on a host of literary sources including both fictional and expository modes of discource. His descriptions of place and shifting definitions of al-Andalus and the Maghrib problematize the separation between the two at a time when al-Andalus which was once at the center of the Muslim West is increasingly relegated to the periphery. Elinson concludes with a focus on the importance of Granada and Fez in the 14th century in terms of what would soon become “Europe” and “North Africa” and how these two cultural locales came to be essential in the definition of Spain and Morocco respectively.

Mediating Museums

Exhibiting Material Culture in Tunisia (1881-2016)

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Virginie Rey

This book documents and interprets the trajectory of ethnographic museums in Tunisia from the colonial to the post-revolutionary period, demonstrating changes and continuities in role, setting and architecture across shifting ideological landscapes. The display of everyday culture in museums is generally looked down upon as being kitsch and old-fashioned. This research shows that, in Tunisia, ethnographic museums have been highly significant sites in the definition of social identities. They have worked as sites that diffuse social, economic and political tensions through a vast array of means, such as the exhibition itself, architecture, activities, tourism, and consumerism. The book excavates the evolution of paradigms in which Tunisian popular identity has been expressed through the ethnographic museum, from the modernist notion of 'indigenous authenticity' under colonial time, to efforts at developing a Tunisian ethnography after Independence, and more recent conceptions of cultural diversity since the revolution. Based on a combination of archival research in Tunisia and in France, participant observation and interviews with past and present protagonists in the Tunisian museum field, this research brings to light new material on an understudied area.