Tag Archives: tripoli

Article: Italian colonial rule and Muslim elites in Libya

Here, an article analyzing Muslim elites in Libya during the colonial period:

Baldinetti, Anna, “Italian colonial rule and Muslim elites in Libya: a relationship of antagonism and collaboration”, in ‘Ulama’ in the Middle East, edited by M. Hatina (Brill, 2009).

Abstract: “In Libya, under Italian rule, ‘ulama’ (علماء), Sufi shaykhs and other religious dignitaries played an important role, as Islam not only legitimated the resistance but also became a fundamental element in colonial policies. However, the relationships between the colonial authorities and the religious elites, beyond what the colonial laws prescribed, have as yet not been examined, except for the Sanusiyya order. This paper aims to fill this research gap, focusing mainly on the region of Tripolitania.”

The conclusion reads: “Islam constituted an important element in Italian colonial policy in Libya, and the colonial authorities always paid particular attention to indigenous Muslim elites. However, the “politics of chiefs,” which was based mainly on an exaggerated patronage polìcy, did not help to overcome sectarian, tribal and regional divisions.

The Italian colonial authorities did not develop a well-defined educational policy aimed at modernizing the traditional elites or forming a new “evolués” elite useful for meeting administrative and economic needs. As noted, the —the institution charged with reforming the local elite—was established only in the mid-1930s, in the closing phase of colonial rule. Even then, its impact on the emergence of new elites was negligible, due to the small number of students admitted each year. Moreover, the Institute of Islamic Studies in Tripoli (المدرسة الاسلامية العليا) was not very popular among native circles because its educational program was perceived as too “Westernized.” Hence the Italian administration did not significantly alter or influence the structure of the Muslim elites in Libya, nor did it contribute to the emergence of new ones.”

As always, those who are interested in reading the piece can drop me a line.

Book: The Arabic dialect of Tripoli | لهجة طرابلس العربية

pereira-parler-arabePereira, Christophe. 2010. Le parler arabe de Tripoli (Libye) | لهجة طرابلس العربية. Estudios de Dialectología Árabe 4. Zaragoza.

This book is the most recent linguistic description of the Arabic dialect spoken in Libya’s capital, Tripoli. Based on fieldwork over the course of several years, it provides a detailed look at the dialect of Tripoli from the viewpoint of Arabic dialectology, but goes beyond the usual approaches in including a thorough description of syntax. Furthermore, it is the only book to be written on a variety of Arabic in Libya since the early 1980s. Christophe Pereira is a Maître de Conférences at INALCO in Paris.

 

PhD thesis: Najah Benmoftah on Tripoli Arabic

Warmest congratulations to Najah Benmoftah, who has just completed her Ph.D. at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris with the following thesis:

Benmoftah, Najah. Des ligateurs de cause: étude contrastive entre le français parlé à Paris et l’arabe parlé à Tripoli (Libye). Propriétés syntaxiques et fonctionnements pragmatico-discursifs. Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 (2016).

Abstract: This contrastive linguistic thesis describes and contrasts the syntactic properties and the pragmatic-discursive function of parce que in spoken French in the seventh district of Paris and some of its Arabic equivalents in spoken Arabic of Tripoli (Libya) : liʔǝnna, ʕlēxāṭǝṛ , māhu and biḥkum.

Regarding the spoken Arabic of Tripoli, these ligators may belong to two different grammatical classes : they may be conjunctional ligators and / or prepositional ligatorrs. It depends on their degree of grammaticalization. While liʔanna and māhu are conjunctional ligators that introduce causal clauses organized around verbal or non-verbal predicates, ʕlēxāṭǝṛ and biḥkum can be used as prepositional ligators and introduce circumstantial complements or be grammaticalized as conjunctional ligators and introduce causal clause.

In addition, these ligators can occupy a canonical position when the ligator follows a main clause and introduces a causal clause, or a non-canonical position for which there are two cases : either the utterance begins with the causal which is introduced by the ligator of cause and is followed by the main clause, or the utterance begins with the main clause which is followed by the causal not introduced by a ligator of cause ; the latter is found at the end of the causal and closing the utterance. From a pragmatic point of view, changing the order of the constituents when ligators and causal clauses are not in canonical position allows the focalization of the causal clause.

Unlike the spoken Arabic of Tripoli, the examination of the Corpus “Français Parlé Parisien des années 2000 (CFPP2000)” shows that parce que is conjunctional ligator. It introduces a causal clause organized around verbal predicate, rarely non-verbal. parce que can occupy a canonical position when the ligator follows a main clause and introduces a causal clause, and a non-canonical position when parce que follows “c’est” and introduces a causal clause. However, it can not be postponed and it does not accept either suffix. When parce que introduces several causal clauses, it may be taken but in reduced form “que”, giving a series of “que”. In addition, from a pragmatic point of view, when the utterance begins with “c’est parce que” this structure allows to focalisation of the causal clause.

Article: 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.

Article: 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.

Book: Les annales tripolitaines

“The Tripolitanian Annals” is a work written by Laurent-Charles Féraud, a French Arabist and statesman, while he was consul general in Tripoli from 1879 to 1884. The work contains extremely important historical information about the region of Tripolitania, pertaining not just to the 19th century, but to the region’s history since the Arab conquest. Originally published posthumously in 1927, then largely forgotten, the manuscript was recently re-edited and published by Nora Lafi with a useful introduction.

Les annales tripolitaines de Charles Féraud, with an introduction by Nora Lafi, Paris: Bouchène, 2005.

Article: Late Ottoman Notables in Libya

In the edited book Être notable au Maghreb: dynamiques des configurations notabiliaires published by the Institut de recherche sur le Maghreb contemporain in 2006, there are two essays on notables in Libya during the late Ottoman period and just after the Italian conquest. Fortunately, the entire volume is available for free online, over at OpenEditions.org (of course, if you can read French). Both are highly recommended, as much for their unique views into lesser-studied subjects as well as for their very useful notes and references that are otherwise difficult to come across.

Lahmar, Mouldi. “Libyens et Italiens en Tripolitaine (1911-1928): Quels territoires d’allégeance politique?” [Libyans and Italians in Tripolitania: what grounds for political allegiance? | ليبيون و اطاليون في طرابلس: ما هو اساس الولاء السياسي؟] pp.  121–138.

Lafi, Nora. “L’affaire ‘Alî al-Qarqânî (Tripoli, 1872)” [The affair of Ali al-Qarqani in Tripoli, 1872 | قضية علي القرقاني في طرابلس ١٨٧٢] pp. 204–217. (Many of Nora Lafi’s articles can be read online, at her academia.edu page).

Book: A historical work on Ottoman Tripoli | دراسة تاريخية في مدينة طرابلس العثمانية

A landmark contribution to the study of North African urban history, the history of Tripoli, and the history of Ottoman Libya is “A North African City between ancien regime and Ottoman reforms: the birth of municipal institutions in Tripoli 1795-1911” [مدينة في المغرب بين العهد القديم و التنظيمات العثمانية: تكوين المؤسسات البلدية في طرابلس الغرب] by Nora Lafi (academia page), a scholar now based at the Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin:

Lafi, Nora. 2002. Une ville du Maghreb entre ancien régime et réformes ottomanes: genèse des institutions municipales à Tripoli de Barbarie (1795-1911). Paris: L’Harmattan, Tunis: Institut de recherche sur le Maghreb contemporain (IRMC), 305p.

From a review on H-Net: “Lafi’s … is the first work of western scholarship to be thoroughly grounded in documents held in Tripoli’s Municipal Archives. (Studies on Tripoli usually make use of Italian, French, and British archives and published sources in many languages, including Arabic.) These are supplemented by sources in the Ottoman archives and diplomatic papers in both France and Italy… At the heart of the book is its demonstration that the city was managed by an assembly (the jama’a(t) al-bilad), headed by the mayor-like “chief of the city” (shaykh al-bilad), a notable elected by the other members of the jama’a. This contradicts the impression conveyed by many historical works, that Arab cities did not generate stable civic institutions of this sort, and have instead followed amorphous, enigmatic, and/or disordered civic trajectories under their reign from above by Ottoman delegates or puppets. In Lafi’s analysis, instead, we find urban and civic self-management at the middle levels. As early as the eighteenth century, long before the Ottoman reforms (tanzimat) of the following century, or subsequent European incursions, Tripoli’s municipal organization operated on a well-functioning, autonomous system of its own making.”