In these times of presents, I feel like offering a short reflection on the late historian of islamic art Oleg Grabar (1929-2011) and his legacy.  Grabar started his career when Orientalism was beyond critics and participated in reevaluating and transforming the field of Islamic studies. He managed to define the undefinable of the mixed influences and melting pot of islamic art. His studies on ornament also influenced contemporary art in Middle East and beyond. Respect.

This paper was published in the Dictionnaire des Orientalistes de langue française, 2d revised and enlarged edition, december 2012.

Block Carved with a Fan Pattern, ca. 720–724. Limestone, carved. Department of Antiquities, Qasr al-Qastal Archaeological Site, Jordan

Block Carved with a Fan Pattern, ca. 720–724. Limestone, carved. Department of Antiquities, Qasr al-Qastal Archaeological Site, Jordan

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Dictionnaire des Orientalistes de langue française, édition revue et augmentée

The Dictionnaire des Orientalistes is living a third life: the 2nd revised and enlarged edition has been released last week! It’s a new version of the Dictionnary I already talked about (see here). New entries were added, mistakes were corrected. In all, the 2d edition is about 100 pages thicker than the previous one. In the meanwhile, the team (I should write network) worked hard and published that book: Après l’orientalisme, l’Orient créé par l’Orient.  These are perfect christmas presents, aren’t they?

I was honoured to write new entries and correct old ones. I was specially honoured to write an entry for Oleg Grabar which inspired a lot my approach and still remain a model.

Osama Esid, The fantastic Jawa (Cairo Street workers series), 2006 (DR)

Following the life of the Dictionnaire des Orientalistes (we talked about it already), I’ll be participating on the 3rd conference that prepares the new edition of the Dictionnaire with another analytical volume. It’s a three days conference with 60 speakers from both sides of the Mediterranean aiming at shedding light on the old orientalist practices and renewing perspectives. The ultimate goal is to evaluate the dialogue of Orientalism with and within the Orient.

I’ll talk in the F. Pouillon’s round table #2 “inventing the  Tradition” : Cairo’s Museum of Arab Art: Anatomy* of an Orientalist institution in the Orient (1881-2010).

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Kimiko Yoshida - Japon -Les mariées intangibles - Autoportrait, 2005

Few news after a long silence: I moved to Libya where I am working on the creation of the Digital Center for the Conservation of National Archives ( مركز التوثيق الإلكتروني للأرشيف الوطني ).
More about this in a few weeks.






Meanwhile, I will participate to that conference “L’Orient créé par l’Orient” on the 10th of November at the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris.  I will talk in the second panel: Nouveaux chantiers: archéologie, ethnologie, droit musulman.

Here is the complete program:  click, click

Le mercredi 10 novembre 2010, de 9h30 à 18h30

Institut du Monde Arabe / Institut d’études de l’Islam et des Sociétés du Monde Musulman

Coordinateurs : François POUILLON, EHESS & François ZABBAL, IMA

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How does a book live after its publication?

Last year, I announced  the release of the Dictionnaire des orientalistes de langue française (F. Pouillon ed., Paris, Karthala, 2008).   One year later, the book is almost outsold and received  a deserved (almost unexpected) audience. Therefore the critical work on evaluating orientalism is going on!

– A website has just been launched by the editors:
It features the life of the book after its publication (reviews, conferences, etc.) and the ongoing continuation of the work started in 2000: exploring new paths, intending reequilibration of the diverse geographical and cultural spaces of orientalism, forgotten names… Still in the making.

– A conference on orientalism 50 years after the Independances, 30 years after Edward Said’s book and polemics is being planned for June 2011 in Paris: “L’orientalisme, et après ? Médiations, appropriations, contestations“. It sounds as a promise for heated debates.
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Nouvelle publication!

January 3, 2009


J’ai participé à cet ouvrage impressionnant et passionnant, à consulter et à acheter de toute urgence!

Dictionnaire biographique des orientalistes de langue française:

Du Maroc à la Chine, l’Orient n’a pas cessé de fasciner un Occident partagé à son égard entre la convoitise et la peur, l’enchantement et la répulsion, le désir de connaître et la volonté de conquête. De la Renaissance à nos jours, des hommes le plus souvent, des femmes quelquefois, ont parcouru les routes lointaines, appris des langues inouïes, observé des mœurs étranges et rapporté de leurs voyages des images, des manuscrits, des objets, des récits et des fables. D’autres en ont rêvé, parlé, sans jamais s’y rendre. Si le terme d’« orientaliste » nous reste surtout pour qualifier des productions largement fantasmatiques (peinture, romans), il est d’abord attaché à une discipline savante qui s’est inscrite dans des cadres institutionnels solides. Il y eut aussi des cohortes de voyageurs, de missionnaires, d’informateurs, des collectionneurs, des prédateurs parfois, qui ont parcouru l’Orient sous toutes ses latitudes et en ont rapporté quelque chose. Artistes et savants, hommes célèbres et modestes médiateurs, éminents professeurs et aventuriers ambitieux, auteurs de chefs-d’oeuvre reconnus ou de travaux obscurs : Read the rest of this entry »