Credit: Sharjah Art Foundation
Decolonizing Islam: Algerian Intellectuals and the French Social Sciences, 1954-1999
Summary of the research project
This project interrogates how French and Algerian intellectuals debated the dominant interpretations of Islam from the Algerian war of Independence to the Civil War. If we take seriously Arkoun’s claim that hegemonic discourses and socio-cultural factors have been central to the study of Islam, then it is especially necessary to engage with the geopolitical climate in which ideas these ideas circulated between the two shores of the Mediterranean. Following, my research foregrounds the Franco-Algerian relationship as a major axis for understanding the genealogy of a Mediterranean Islam, thus departing from purely theological or intellectual approaches. Instead, I will study the geopolitical and institutional dynamics that informed these debates in French and Arabic. My project asks three main questions. First, how did the geopolitical events in Algeria alter dominant understandings of history, identity, and modernity in the Mediterranean region, especially their relationship with Islam? Second, how did Algerian intellectual trends and political conflicts influence the dominant frameworks of French social sciences? Thirdly, what were the commonalities and differences in how this Mediterranean Islam was understood in Algeria and France?
I am a historian of post-colonial North Africa and France who specializes on Algeria. I defended my dissertation under the guidance of Dr. Frederick Cooper in 2015. Subsequently, I was a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. I am currently an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where I teach a wide range of classes on French and North African history. I have numerous peer reviewed articles and publications, and have recently co-edited a volume entitled “North Africa and the Making of Europe: Institutions, Governance, and Culture” that was published with Bloomsbury Academic Press in 2018. I also enjoy reaching a wider audience for my writings and am a co-editor of the Maghreb page at the online journal, Jadaliyya.