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.

Is Islamic Art a Western invention? I open with this article a series of articles I’ve published this year on the invention of Islamic Art. It comes in line with the reopening of departments of Islamic Art a the Metropolitan  in November 2011 and at the Louvre expected in 2012. It leads to a reflection on the Orientalist tradition and the political meaning of exhibiting Islamic Art.

Poster & Matiss

Poster of "Meisterwerke muhammedanischer Kunst" exhibition, Munich, 1910, photo:DR. // Matisse and friends at the Oktoberfest, Munich 1910, DR.

Are contemporary exhibitions/museums of Islamic Art embedded in a century old Orientalist tradition?
Here’s a book review – published on Studia Islamica, 2011, 2 – of Avinoam Shalem & Andrea Lermer’s After One Hundred Years that celebrated the 100 years of the exhibition ‘Meisterwerk muhammedanischer Kunst’held in Munich in 1910. The aim of the organisers the Munich 1910 exhibition was to break up with Orientalism by linking Oriental Art to Modernism. The exhibition entered history that way with Matisse among other avant-garde artists visiting it. This book examines the heritage of this amazing exhibition considered as a major landmark in Islamic Art studies. This book review offers a chance to reflect on the history of exhibitions as a research topic. It also raises questions on the contemporary exhibitions of Islamic Art in the public space and their political discontent. Is exhibiting Islamic Art political? As more museums are being opened, the orientalist tradition raises under the cover of a so-called  Islamophilia supposed the counter post 9/11 islamophobia.

After one hundred years: the 1910 exhibition ‘Meisterwerk muhammedanischer Kunst’ reconsidered’, Andrea Lermer and Avinoam Shalem, Leyde, Brill, 2010, 401 p. Read the rest of this entry »

Tripolitania, un via de Tripoli

Commemorative Postcard, Italy or Libya, ca. 1915, DR.

In the midst of the last developments of liberated Libya, we’ve ‘forgotten’ to remember October 5th 1911*: the day the Italian army invaded Libya and started its colonisation. What’s the (political) meaning of commemorating history in Libya? This short article examines the political role of rewriting history in the context of Qaddafi’s regime and questions its future in the reconstruction of Libya.

On October 5 1911, Italian troops invaded Tripoli of Libya. After months of rising tensions between Italian and Turkish (Ottoman) governments, the Italian Navy had started to bomb the port of Tripoli leading to the invasion of Tripoli and Tripolitania. It took few years to the Italian Republican and Fascist troops to conquer what was to become Libya in 1934 after Cyrenaica was conquered and united with Fezzan and Tripolitania. Ironically, the centennial coincides with the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy. 1861, 1911, 2011: history seems to defy common sense in mixing dates. One wonders how the former regime would have orchestrated commemorations… No doubt it would have been a great post-colonial show as the resistance of Libyans to the Italian colonisation had been erected as a fundament of the ideology of Qaddafi’s ‘revolutionary’ regime. This short article – these are personal notes and reflections- examines the political role of rewriting history in the Libyan context and its future in the reconstruction of Libya.

Rewriting History

Historical studies were leaded and controlled by the Markaz al-Jihad (Research and Documentation Centre on the Historical Jihad [in this case resistance]). Created in 1978, that research center have been for more than 30 years a pillar of  Qaddafism. As explained by Clémence Weulersse (click here to read the article), its first role was to “liberate” the history of Libya that had been written by imperialist hands; in this pseudo-Marxist doxa, liberating history aimed at liberating minds. Second, the Markaz al-Jihad aimed at proving the possibility of the (Gadhafist) revolution in rewriting the history of Libya: Read the rest of this entry »

Amingo, ex. Nuer war child in Gambella, jan. 2008

New Sudan: Peace and Unity

Southern Sudan is the 193rd State recognised by the UN on the 14th of July 2011. Happy Birthday Southern Sudan: I wish you peace and unity. With a special thought to my friend Amingo I met in Gambella, the Ethiopian border town back in 2008. Here’s an excerpt of my 2008 Gambella Stories, a history of violence, multiculturalism, failed dreams of modernisation in a remote place:*

Amingo is a Sudanese Nuer. He was a war child and one of the refugees who arrived in the 1980’s when the Sudanese civil war opposing the Northern Sudanese government to the Southern Sudanese guerilla resumed. The leadership of the Guerrilla was based in a refugee camp near Gambella city, and almost ruled on the region. It is a long story. Read the rest of this entry »

Here is the very beginning of a (short) article (in French) that has just been published in Qantara, Magazine des cultures arabes et méditerranéennes of the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris.

Cet article fait partie d’un dossier spécial “Patrimoine antique, le regard des Arabes“. Coordonné par François Zabbal, ce dossier analyse le transformation du regard porté sur les antiquités gréco-romaines dans le monde arabe. Observée depuis une décennie, cette transformation semble s’accélérer avec le “printemps arabe”. Loin des considérations politiques du moment? Peut-être pas, car il s’agit d’observer comment les identités collectives se font et se défont.

The Arch of Marcus Aurelius as a cinema, 1911

The Arch of Marcus Aurelius as a cinema, 1911

Un arc aux objets encombrants

Elevé au IIe siècle, l’arc de triomphe de Marc Aurèle règne au coeur de la médina de Tripoli de Libye. Ranimé voici un siècle par le colonisatur italien, qui en fit le symbole de la romanité glorieuse, il est à l’inverse tout juste toléré depuis l’instauration du régime de Khadafi, victime de la décolonisation de l’histoire nationale entreprise par le colonel. Mais peut-on occulter l’Histoire en la passant sous silence?

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Negative picture of Nuer boys relaxing (Evans-Prtichard, ca. 1930)

How to disentangle the conflictive logics of cultural and ethnic diversity? How to understand the complexity of cultural diversity? These questions lead my research (and projects) in Sudan and Ethiopian borderlands. I have studied diversity through the angle of heritage-making policies. Heritage is  a byproduct of modernity.  Studying heritage-making, i.e. understanding the value and the role actors as well as local population assert to heritage while  institutionalising it, enables the researcher to apprehend  narratives of culture, identity and diversity developed by local insiders and outsiders. Thus, one can understand how the diverse and ofter opposed groups perceive each other and how their mutual reflective perception defines the limits of identity.  However, drawing on this reflection,  identities appear to be caught in dynamic and moveable nexus rather than tight clusters.

Influenced by Alfredo Gonzalez-Ruibal research on failures of modernity in extreme borderlands and Fredrik Barth‘s work on boundaries of ethnicity, I carried out fieldwork research in Gambella region, on the  border with Ethiopia and Sudan in January-February 2008. Below is presented one of the first outcomes of this research as proposed to the AEGIS-ECAS conference in Leipzig, 2009 in the panel Writing the Oral: the building of history and the notions of ‘past’ and ‘present’ convened by Manuela Palmeirim and Manuel João Ramos.

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Forthcoming…

July 18, 2009

What’s on the shelf right now?

Cairo july 2009
Cairo july 2009

I got busy lately and disapeared from the outside world. I canceled all my spring conferences but in my underground office, it’s sprouting!
I’m finishing my PhD dissertation (still): I wrote the parts on the Unesco/Egypt/Sudan Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia. I took a move from the official catechism of International (generous) cooperation… it’s all about politics, business and diplomacy… at the very end, it’s about culture. It rocks! More will be published here, soon.

I’m following Farouk Hosni‘s Campaign for the Unesco’s head job. It’s more interesting than a Ramadan musalsal (telenovela, feuilleton). This campaign is much about talking (normalisation, no normalisation with Israel, etc.),  much about diplomacy, so few on Unesco, on culture, science and education… I’m planning to publish something before the election round in September 2009.

I’m also finishing the editing process of next issue of the Cedej Journal Egypte/Monde Arabe on heritage-making policies in Egypt and Sudan. To be released after Ramadan in October (insha’Allah), we are planning to publish simultaneously a paper and a digital edition!  Keep updated!

I’m looking for a job: my plans to get a research position in Sudan are postponed. I don’t give up with working on heritage, identity and violence. I’m already dreaming  of a postdoc somewhere else. I will have to explain all this here, soon.

What else?

You can still email me (leturcq[at]ehess.fr): I love to reply emails! Or send me a postcard from your holidays… I wish a nice summer to all! Don’t forget to visit museums, sites and ask for more exhibitions all over the world !!*