Workshop | “Seeking refuge in the Arab world: New perspectives on European Refugees, Migrants and Exilees in the Middle East and North Africa, 19th-20th centuries”

Du 22 juin 2023 à 13:00 au 23 juin 2023 à 15:30
Campus de Paris
27 rue Saint-Guillaume, 75007, Paris
Organisé par
Sciences Po, CHSP / IISMM / Fritz Thyssen Stiftung für Wissenschaftsförderung

Workshop led by Esther Moeller.

The workshop „Seeking Refuge in the Arab World. New perspectives on European Refugees, Migrants and Exilees in the Middle East and North Africa, 19th-20th centuries” aims at investigating the societies of the Middle East and North Africa as spaces of arrival and transit for refugees from Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the light of current arrivals of Arab refugees in Europe, historiography of the last 20 years has started to highlight the presence of Arab migrants in European countries as well as their political and social engagement there since the 19th century. However, the fact that Europeans where themselves fleeing to Arab countries in this period has only recently attracted the interest of historians. It seems worthwhile to deepen this question further and to explore the arrival of refugees from Europe in the Middle East and North Africa and their interaction with the civil societies, but also the state institutions in these countries. A comparative perspective both in terms of space and of time seems particularly promising as it asks for the points in common and the differences between the different Arab countries as well as the evolution of their refugee and migration policies over time. In this regard, the respective role of the Ottoman, Arab national and colonial governmental structures will be of particular interest in order to understand the different political factors at stake for the interactions between refugees and the local societies.

(By exploring these research questions, the workshops seeks to contribute to different fields of research. First of all, it is conceived in dialogue with the historiography on European communities which had been present in the Middle East and North Africa often since some generations, such as the Greek, Italien or French communities in Egypt or Tunis. Adding refugees to this picture helps to differentiate the different categorgies at stake (migrants, refugees, diaspora) as well as the blurring boundaries between them. In addition, this research focus contributes to the historiography on humanitarian organizations in the Middle East, being from internaitonal, national or local origin. Integrating Euroepan refugees into their field of action shows that there were not only Western aid givers on the one side and Arab aid recievers on the other, but that there were humanitarian actors and beneficiaries on all sides. Finally, this research contributes to the historiography on migration in the Arab world and on Arab, in particular Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, by showing that Arab socieites and state structures had been confronted to other refugees earlier or at the same time and that the question of refugees or migration has never been an affair of inter-Arab relations only, but of European-Arab relations at large. It seems thus important to integrate refugees from Europe into the larger question of the transformation of refugee and migration policies in the Middle East and North Africa between colonialism, anti-colonial nationalism and internaitonal relations in the 19th and 20th centuries. As a result, this research promises new insights into European as well as modern Middle Eastern and North African history.)



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