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Whatever Happened to Ottoman Autonomy? Imperial Confrontation, Archival Dissonance, Epistemic Erasure

Thursday Lecture Series

dateOctober 12, 2023 timeThursday, 12:15pm–2:00pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University locationVirtual Event
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Tied bundle of forms with Arabic writing

The Society of Fellows hosts the Thursday Lecture Series (TLS), which runs regularly throughout the academic year. The Fall Semester TLS, our Fellows present their own work, chaired by Columbia faculty.

"Whatever Happened to Ottoman Autonomy? Imperial Confrontation, Archival Dissonance, Epistemic Erasure"

Lecture by Youssef Ben Ismail
Chaired by Samuel K. Roberts

Around the nineteenth-century Mediterranean, recounting Tunisian history “the right way” acquired a great deal of political importance. In Paris and in Istanbul, diplomats, jurists, and historians seeking to legitimize their government’s policies in the Maghrib scrutinized the Tunisian past, looking for “evidence” that Tunis was, respectively, a sovereign polity or an Ottoman province. This lecture examines the French-Ottoman imperial rivalry over the sovereign status of Tunis as a historiographic confrontation. It shows how this confrontation produced modes of historical writing that erased certain Tunisian pasts and promoted others, resulting in a selective archive of sovereignty, provinciality, and statehood. Which conception(s) of sovereignty did this archive authorize, and which did it erase?

This event also will be recorded. By being electronically present, you consent to the SOF/Heyman using such video for promotional purposes.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.