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Fellow Seminar

20 February 2020

Dr. Gavin Murray-Miller will present his research proposal on the topic: "Europe, Islam and Trans-Imperial Networks, 1850-1924" on 20 February 2020 (Thursday) at 16:30h at CAS conference hall.


Current debates regarding imperial and global history have helped contextualize the connected histories of empire in the modern period. Many of these arguments have, however, overlooked the broader implications that global imperial histories possess for the Ottoman Empire and North Africa, and how these connections often played out in Europe. During the nineteenth century, the Muslim Mediterranean became a locus of competing imperial projects led by the Ottomans and European colonial powers. While this space was a "contact zone" between cultures, the dynamics and practices of empire frequently extended beyond a strict colonizer-colonized relationship. This presentation examines how Ottoman and Arab exiles and European intellectuals in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century contributed to the formation of new dialogues that would have consequences for Islamic modernism and imperial politics at the turn of the century. In European capitals, Muslims reformers ran newspapers that addressed themes of Islamic sovereignty and modernization relevant to Ottoman and Arab society. They equally liaised with prominent French intellectuals of the day, many of whom were engaged in debates regarding the status of imperial reform and governance. In a peculiar way, empire and migration transformed Paris into a nexus of new ideas concerning Islamic modernism, cosmopolitan universalism and critiques of Occidentalism as imperial and Muslim politics became mapped onto European political life.

A focus on the ways in which political debate and intercultural sociability influenced both European and Muslim politics in the early twentieth century has the potential to reconceptualize our understanding of the connected histories of empire. By noting how trans-imperial currents came to mutually influence Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, this paper argues for a closer look at the links binding Europe to political events across the wider Muslim world. It equally seeks to assess the transmission of ideas across frontiers, noting how discourses and symbols elaborated in one empire could be transferred and adapted in another, producing a cross-pollination that demonstrated the trans-local origins of modernity.

Gavin Murray-Miller is a senior lecturer at Cardiff University and is currently serving as a senior research fellow with the State Academic University for the Humanities (Moscow) on the project "Liberalism and Traditional Societies in Comparative Context." In the past, he has held fellowships at the Ecole Normale Superieur in Paris and the Leibniz Institut für Europäische Geschichte in Mainz, Germany. His work has been featured in such journals as French Historical Studies, French History, and The Historical Journal. He is also the author of two books: The Cult of the Modern: Trans-Mediterranean France and the Construction of French Modernity (published in 2017) and, most recently, Revolutionary Europe: Politics, Culture and Community in Transnational Context (which just came out this month with Bloomsbury, February 2020).


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