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M'hamed Oualdi

  • History
  • Near Eastern Studies
Position: Core Faculty
Title: Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies and History.
  • Post-1500 North Africa
  • Slavery in North Africa, the Mediterranean and West Africa
  • •North African transitions from Ottoman rule to European colonization
Office: 108 Jones Hall
Phone: 609-258-8521
Office Hours: On leave Fall 2017

On leave Fall 2017

I am a historian of Early Modern and Modern North Africa or Maghrib. I received my training in Arabic (BA) at Inalco-Paris and pursued an education in history at the Sorbonne University (Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne) from which I obtained my PhD in 2008. I held a postdoctoral fellowship at European University Institute-Florence during the academic year 2009-2010. Prior to joining the faculty at Princeton, I was assistant professor of North African history at the French Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations (Inalco-Paris, 2010-2013).

Since 2013 at Princeton University, I have taught courses about colonial and postcolonial North Africa, Human Trafficking in the MENA, Muslims in Modern France. For these courses, I have worked with students on various materials: primary sources in various languages, pictures, movies.

My research has centered on two main topics: on slavery and its social impacts on Ottoman Tunisia and on the many effects of transitioning from the Ottoman rule to a French colonial domination in North African societies. For my research on these two issues, I work with primary sources, manuscripts and printed books written in Arabic, French, English, Italian and Spanish. In my forthcoming research project about slave narratives in 19th-century North Africa, I am planning to work on sources written in Ottoman Turkish and Turkish, which I started to learn at Princeton three years ago.

My  first bookEsclaves et maîtres. Les mamelouks au service des beys de Tunis du XVIIe siècle aux années 1880  (Publications de la Sorbonne,  2011) is a study of a specific group of slaves and servants, the  mamluks who served the governors of the Ottoman province of Tunis from the 1630s until the 1880s. Coming from various social and cultural backgrounds,  the  mamluks formed a flexible political and social category that helped their masters, the Tunisian governors, to interact with men from different social groups (from urban notables to peasants). With the enforcement of the Ottoman reforms (ṭanzīmāt) in the second half of the nineteenth century, they contributed to deep trannsformations of the Tunisian administration right before the French colonization of the country.

My second book A Slave between Empires: The Ottoman Legacy in Colonial North Africa (1860s–1930s) (working title) is centered around a case study: the life a former slave and Ottoman dignitary and the many conflicts over his inheritance from the 1880s to 1920. Building on this case study, it is the first book-length historical study to argue for a complete reinterpretation of the modern period and colonialism in North Africa by studying what preceded and moreover overlapped with European colonialism: namely the Ottoman provincial culture developed on these southern shores of the Mediterranean for more than three centuries, from the second half of the 16th century to the 1910s.

My third project will deal with the narratives written by European, African and Asian slaves and their offspring in nineteenth-century North Africa, when European and Ottoman states implemented the abolition of slavery around the Mediterranean.

Selected publications

“Les batailles d’archives autour de la succession Husayn. Les historicités multiples d’une société maghrébine aux temps ottomans et coloniaux (1860–1930).” Annales. Histoire et Sciences sociales (forthcoming).

“Slave to Modernity? General Ḥusayn’s journey from Tunis to Tuscany (1830s–1880s).” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient60/1-2 (2017): 50–82.

“L’âge du fez: du couvre-chef impérial au chapeau folklorique,” in P. Singaravélou and S. Venayre (eds), Histoire du monde au XIXe siècle (Paris: Fayard, 2017), 476–80.

“Mamluks in Ottoman Tunisia: A Category Connecting State and Social Forces.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 48 (2016): 473–90.

(with Isabelle Grangaud), “ Does Colonialism Explain Everything in North Africa? What Historians Can Bring to the Table? ”/“Tout est-il colonial dans le Maghreb? Ce que les travaux des historiens modernistes peuvent apporter” Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine 63-2 (2016): 133–56.

“Provincializing and Forgetting Ottoman Administrative Legacies. Sons and Grandsons of Beys’ Mamluks Facing French Administrators of Tunisia (1890s–1930s).” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 34-2 (2014): 418–31.

“D’Europe et d’Orient, les approches de l’esclavage des chrétiens en terres d’Islam.” Annales : Histoires et sciences sociales 4 (2008): 829–43.

Selected awards and fellowships
Institute of Advanced Studies (Paris) – fellowship (September–January 2017).

European University Institute – Fernand Braudel fellowship(September–December 2015, Florence, Italy).

Ecole française de Rome – Researcher in residence (September 2015–July 2016, Rome, Italy).