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Beyond Nationality: Belonging and Empire in Ottoman North Africa, Youssef Ben Ismail, Harvard CMES Sohbet-i Osmani Lecture Series, November 29, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:30pm

November 29, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Beyond Nationality: Belonging and Empire in Ottoman North Africa


Tuesday, November 29, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


CMES, Room 102, 38 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138

The CMES Sohbet-i Osmani Lecture Series is pleased to present

Youssef Ben Ismail
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Columbia Society of Fellows

In September 1874, the Tunisian government issued a decree stating that, from then on, all Algerians living under its jurisdiction would be considered local subjects. In practice, this meant that Algerians residing in Ottoman Tunis would no longer benefit from the broad array of extraterritorial rights they previously enjoyed as protected subjects of a French colony. But if Algerians in Tunis were no longer France’s protégés then what were they? What did it mean to be a “local” in nineteenth-century Tunis? The lecture takes up this question as way to explore the layered nature of legal subjecthood in Ottoman North Africa. Focusing on the category of ḥimāya, it suggests that we look beyond the European legal repertoire in order to understand Ottoman conceptions of imperial belonging.

Youssef Ben Ismail received his PhD in the Histories and Cultures of Muslim Societies from Harvard University in 2021. He is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows for the Humanities at Columbia University, where he is also a lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) and in the Department of History. Youssef is a historian of the Ottoman Mediterranean with a focus on North Africa from 1700 to 1900. His research deals with law and empire in the nineteenth-century Mediterranean with particular attention to the connected histories of sovereignty in Europe and the Ottoman Empire. He is currently at work on a book that examines the longstanding imperial dispute that opposed France and the Ottoman Empire over the sovereign status of Tunis.

Contact: Liz Flanagan