Archiving in the Middle-East

A joint-seminar IFAS-Recherche | Wits University

Jihane Sfeir will present the book co-edited with Christine Jungen : Archiving in the Middle-East.

Friday 17 May 2019

12:00 | Humanities Graduate Seminar Room, Humanities Building, Wits University

What is an archival document in the Middle-East? How to shape it, and how to make it effective?

This book explores different forms of archives in the Middle East: oral archives of the nakba, the Palestinian “disaster”, photographic archives from the Arab Image Foundation, Ottoman bureaucrats trying to archive water. Moreover, it analyses the disappearance of Lebanese State archives during the civil war, a flamboyant National Archives building with almost no archives, in the Gulf, the making of fictitious Lebanese civil war archives in an art performance. Through an eclectic exploration of places in which historical documents are constituted, preserved or mobilized, this book examines ways of archiving in the contemporary Middle East. It examines the scholarly spaces in which the historical document becomes an object of interest, for the possession and conservation of which men and machines, institutions, techniques are mobilized. By shifting the examination of the archive to its practices and experiments, the book proposes to question the material formats of the past from which we seek, today, to tell and transmit history.

Jihane Sfeir is an associate professor in Modern History of the Arab world in the Faculty of Sociology and Philosophy at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Her research interests and teaching focus on the Middle East history and politics in general, in Palestine and Lebanon in particular. Her work deals with refugee issues, the manufacture, uses and practices of archives. She authored several articles in academic journals and edited books on Arab historiography and archiving in the Middle East. She is also the director of the Observatoire des Mondes Arabes et Musulmans at the Maison des Sciences Humaines at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.