The second Ottoman period in the writing of Libyan history | العهد العثماني الثاني في كتابة التاريخ الليبي

هنا نقدّم مقالةً عربيةً للمرة الاولى و هي مقالة “العهد العثمان الثاني في كتابة التاريخ الليبي” من الباحث الالماني ياكوب كرايس.

في مجال تاريخ الولايات العربية تحت السيطرة العثمانية تحتل ليبيا مكانة خاصة بالماقرنة مع البلدان الاخرى في شمال افريقيا لأنه كان ارتباطاً وثيقاً بين اعادة الاحتلال العثماني لليبيا و اعادة التنظيم للامبراطورية الشاملة. اذا من الممكن، في مشاريع التحديث العثمانية في ليبيا، اكتشاف التناقد بين التطور الاضطهاد. و لذلك يعتبر تيار من البحث التاريخي الدولة العثمانية كقوة استعمارية كغيرها، بينما يشير بعض العلماء الى اهمية التراث العثماني في العالم العربي. اما المؤمرخون الليبيون المعاصرون فلهم ايضاً وجهات نظر مختلفة: هناك باحثون مهتومون بالتأثيرات السلبية للاصلاحات العثمانية، من جهة اخرى ينوه مؤرخون اخرون بنتائجها اليجابية و في نفس الوقت هناك اتفاق بين التيارين بالنسبة الى التضامن الاسلامي ضد الغزو الاستعماري الايطالي.

Abstract: “In the history of the Ottoman Empire’s Arab provinces Libya occupies a special place, compared to the other North African countries, insofar as the Ottoman reoccupation of Libya went hand in hand with the reorganization of the empire as a whole. It is thus possible to trace, in the Ottoman reform projects, an opposition between development and repression. That is why one strand in historical research considers the Ottoman Empire as a regular colonial power, while some scholars, on the other hand, emphasize the importance of the Ottoman heritage in the Arab world. The contemporary Libyan historians, for their part, have also different points of view: there are those researchers who are interested, above all, in the negative influences of Ottoman reforms, whereas others stress the positive outcomes. At the same time, there exists a consensus as far as the Islamic solidarity against the Italian colonial aggression is concerned.”

Libya between Ottomanism and Nationalism | ليبيا بين العثمانية و الوطنية

simon-libya-ottomanism-nationalismRachel Simon, Libya between Ottomanism and Nationalism: The Ottoman involvement in Libya during the War with Italy (1911–1919). Klaus Schwarz: Berlin (Islamkundliche Untersuchungen, vol. 105), 1987.

Libya between Ottomanism and Nationalism is a historical study dedicated to a period which saw the Ottoman empire’s control of North Africa wane while Italy attempted to establish a colony in Tripoli and Cyrenaica. It surveys the political makeup of the late Ottoman provinces that became Libya, the Ottoman involvement in Italy’s conquest of those territories, and chronicles the resistance against colonization in Libya, looking at both Tripoli and Cyrenaica as well as Libyan resistance movements and the Ottoman support thereof.

Since this title has been out of print for many years, the publisher (Klaus Schwarz Verlag in Berlin) has kindly given permission to put a PDF of the entire book on this blog. You can find it here.

A review of the book by Lisa Anderson can be found at this link.

The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830-1980

Lisa Anderson, The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830-1980. Princeton University Press (1986).

Publisher’s blurb: The book traces growing state intervention in the rural areas of Tunisia and Libya in the middle 1800s and the diverging development of the two countries during the period of European rule. State formation accelerated in Tunisia under the French with the result that, with independence, interest-based policy brokerage became the principal form of political organization. For Libya, where the Italians dismantled the pre-colonial administration, independence brought with it the revival of kinship as the basis for politics.

This is one of the few books (along with this one) about Libyan history to be based on extensive research with primary sources in Libyan, Ottoman, and European archives.

The Arab city and municipal administrative modernity: Tripoli (Libya)

For those who read French, here is another essay by Nora Lafi about the history of Tripoli. It is freely available online.

Nora Lafi, “Ville arabe et modernité administrative municipale : Tripoli (Libye actuelle), 1795-1911.” [The Arab city and municipal administrative modernity: Tripoli (Libya), 1795-1911] Histoire urbaine 1, no. 3 (2001), pp. 149-167.

Abstract: This paper aims both at presenting a short bibliographical essay on Arab towns and, from the case of Tripoli (Libya), at examining the matter of the administrative modernity of such towns. The role in this process of modernization of the various traditional institutions of urban government is studied with the help of new archives, mostly local. A presentation of the machîkha al-bilâd – the cheikh albilâd (chief of the town) and its jamâ’a al-bilâd (town council) – as an organization of municipal kind is proposed in this paper, and the forms of a possible comparatism with Ancien Régime European towns are explored. The 1867 Ottoman municipal reforms (tanzimât) are then studied in the context of the inheritance of traditional forms of urban government.

Complaints from Libya at the Turn of the 20th Century

With apologies for a series of posts of articles that are not easily accessible, though worth reading if you have access, I present the following:

Henning Sievert, “Intermediaries and Local Knowledge in a Changing Political Environment: Complaints from Libya at the Turn of the 20th Century”. Die Welt des Islams 54, 3-4 (2014), pp. 322–362. [Online behind paywall]

Abstract: As historiography on Ottoman Tripolitania and Benghazi focuses mainly on the Italian invasion and on the Sanūsiyya and pays little attention to Ottoman records, studies on political practice and change in that period are rare. However, the special circumstances of that remote and sparsely populated part of the empire enable us to focus on the role of intermediaries and complaints within the imperial framework. Complaints and related correspondence were crucial in the negotiation of order, both from the government’s and from the subjects’ point of view. With the 19th-century reforms, new notions of order emerged, and old notions were modified. The new mode of politics did not, however, consist of immutable prescriptions but could acquire new layers of meaning in a process of translation into the vernacular politics of the Libyan provinces and vice versa. Imperial notions of order were thus read and utilised in various ways. The key interpreters and translators in this process were intermediaries between imperial, provincial and local levels. This contribution suggests to study political communication within the imperial framework by focusing on these intermediaries.

Shakīb Arslān’s Libyan Dilemma

The essay “Shakīb Arslān’s Libyan Dilemma: Pro-fascism through anti-colonialism in La Nation Arabe” by Jakob Krais on the Ottoman administrator Shakīb Arslān’s writings about the Italian colonization of Libya is available online as part of the online publication Rethinking Totalitarianism and its Arab Readings. Proceedings of the Conference “European Totalitarianism in the Mirrors of Contemporary Arab Thought”, Beirut, October 6-8, 2010. Here is the introduction:

“Shakīb Arslān is considered one of the Arab world ‘s most important anti-colonial propagandists of the inter-war period. At the same time, he belongs to the few activists from the Middle East who actually tried to gain support from the fascist powers in the years preceding World War II. Apart from al-Ḥājj Amīn al-Ḥusaynī, the mufti of Jerusalem, with whom he collaborated, and the Iraqi Arab nationalist Rashīd ʿAlī al-Kaylānī, Arslān perhaps came closest to proclaiming unequivocal sympathy towards Italy and Germany. In this essay I will examine his views of Mussolini ‘s regime as expressed in the French-language journal La Nation Arabe which Arslān published in Geneva from 1930 to 1938. Italy represents a particularly interesting case insofar as it could be seen as an ally against the colonialist western powers Britain and France in the Middle East, but was itself an imperialist regime that ruled an Arab country, Libya. I will shed light on how Arslān dealt with this dilemma in his articles. Although a comprehensive account of Arslān ‘s assessment of fascism certainly would have to include other works of this prolific writer, as well as his correspondence with politicians in Europe and the Islamic world, here I shall concentrate on La Nation Arabe where he publicized his views for a larger audience, both western and Muslim. It is possible to distinguish two phases in his journalistic writings on Italy and Libya, one critical from 1930 to 1933 and one conciliatory, stretching from 1933 up to 1938.”

Read the rest of the piece here.

A report on the 1874 plague in Benghazi

pesteI recently came across a small, old pamphlet entitled, in French, “Essai sur la peste de Benghazi en 1874” (Essay on the 1874 plague of Benghazi) written by a certain Dr. Léonard Arnaud (a “médécin sanitaire au service Ottomane”) and published by the Ottoman Health Administration in Constantinople in 1875.

The report deals with an interesting and practically unknown episode of eastern Libyan history: an outbreak of the plague in ‘Benghazi’—then used to indicate the eastern part of modern-day Libya in general—which followed an earlier outbreak in the same region in 1858. This particular outbreak occurred in the encampments of several groups of nomadic Bedouin in the plateaus between Benghazi and al-Merj. Of concern to the Ottoman officials, no doubt, was that Dr. Arnaud identified the disease as the same as the plague which had been occurring in the Levant (according to a report made in London, the Ottoman health service was apparently dealing with a number of plague outbreaks in their Middle Eastern provinces). A quick search for the author reveals that he seems to have been a specialist in dealing with the plague and other epidemics in various territories of the Ottoman empire.

Are there any other sources for this episode of history, Ottoman, Arabic, or European?