A “Chain” of Affective Architecture: the case of the Church Missionary Society hospitals in a Muslim World

Sara Ebrahimi, UCD, Humanity Institute

A “Chain” of Affective Architecture: the case of the Church Missionary Society hospitals in a Muslim World

Despite the growing number of publications on the history of emotions and Christian missions[1], little work has explored how the missionaries used the built environment to create an affective connection with potential converts. Furthermore, former histories of British missionary architecture have mainly focused on ecclesiastical buildings.[2] The architecture of the mission hospitals has largely been overlooked. The only study that has examined the architecture of mission hospitals is Michelle Renshaw’s volume on the American hospitals in China between 1880 and 1902.[3]

The monograph I am currently working on weaves together studies of the colonial built environment with the history of emotions, Christian missions and medicine. It is a development of my IRC-funded doctoral research which I completed at University College Dublin under the supervision of Dr. Samantha Martin-McAuliffe. Focusing on the Church Missionary Society (CMS) hospitals, I contemplate the issue of gaining the trust of local communities. As the biggest British missionary society in terms of medical work abroad, the CMS built more than 70 hospitals in Asia and Africa between 1865 and 1939. The issue of gaining trust was frequently discussed in written accounts of the CMS’s medical work, as an essential first step for a given mission.[4] My monograph interrogates this issue, investigating how we may employ this aspect to analyse the architecture of the CMS hospitals.

As it is clear from the title, the focus of my monograph is on the so-called “Muslim world”. I particularly examine a chain of 12 hospitals that were built in an area stretching from southern Iran to Pakistan and Kashmir.

In this blogpost, I want to first touch upon the issue of gaining trust and my monograph’s approach. I then go into more details about the relationship between architecture and gaining trust.

Ploughing before Sowing

In the process of evangelization, gaining the trust of local population was regarded as a prerequisite for introducing Christian beliefs. As Dr. F. O Lasbery, a medical missionary of the Society in Egypt, put it in 1905, gaining trust was “the ploughing time before the sowing.”[5] Former histories of Christian missions have referred to the issue of gaining trust, but only breifly. Michael Jennings has stated in the context of missionary medicine in colonial Tanganyika that the “issue of building up trust within a community over a long period of time was critical to the success or otherwise of that mission.”[6] Karen Vallgårda has commented on the matter as well. Vallgårda does not talk about trust per se, she uses the word “persusion”. Writing in the context of Danish missionaries in South India, Vallgårda argues that due to their lack of resources, missionaries “had to rely on persuasion rather than force” to make any impact.[7] These studies make clear that gaining trust was in fact an issue. However, the meaning of gaining trust has been taken for granted. We also do not know how gaining trust (or persuasion) worked, in particular, how it influenced architecture or architectural decisions.

To discuss the issue of gaining trust, I engage with literature on the history of emotions. Firstly, I pay close attention to an understanding of gaining trust that is internal to the CMS sources. The letters and reports of the missionaries show that the term trust referred primarily to evoking the interest of the people.[8] The idea was that the larger the numbers of people a hospital attracted, the more the missionaries had the chance to gain trust. What is significant to my monograph is the ways by which the missionaries endeavored to increase the number of visitors. I should mention that hospital buildings possibly created different emotional feelings other than trust. However, my monograph does not discuss what the local communities felt about the missionaries when confronted with the buildings. It is difficult to predict how the emotional practise of the missionaries affected the local communities. As Claire McLisky has stated, this depended not only on the type of colonialism but also on the specific nature of colonial people’s own emotional culture.[9] Moreover, what medical reports of the missionaries reveal concerning the viewpoint of the patients is indeed very limited. The focus of my monograph is on missionaries themselves and how they viewed and employed architecture as a medium for attracting the greatest possible number of people.

In seeing architecture as medium for gaining trust, my monograph uses the Monique Scheer’s concept of emotional practice.[10] According to Scheer, emotional practices are the means – such as buildings – that aid the subject to achieve an emotional state. We either implement these means on our own, or sometimes simply be confronted with an emotional setting. In accordance with this approach, I view the architecture of missionary hospitals as a kind of emotional practice served to instil feelings of trust.

How did architecture and building trust work?

One of the reoccuring themes in scholarship on colonial built environment is the adoptation to local conditions. Scholars typically talk about the interface between indignous and imported ways of building and their views fall on a continuum between two poles: at one end, the accommodation to local conditions is appraised as an attempt to reinforce political power.[11] At the other, the incorporation of indigenous style is viewed as an indication of respect and sympathy.[12] My monograph introduces another argument which sits somewhere between these two debates. It appraises the adoptation to local conditions as a practice aimed at developing an emotional connection with communities. The CMS missionaries incorporated local architecture in a different way than their counterparts. They used local elements that were mostly related to the daily lives of the people. Moreover, instead of importing, the missionaries shelved the time-established principles of hospital design in Britain. The architecture of the Peshawar hospital in north-west India (now Pakistan) illustrates this approach quite well.

Built between 1904 and 1906, the Peshawar hospital is where the CMS invented a type of hospital architecture which became known as the “serai system”. Besides out-patient and in-patient blocks, the hospital had a building called the “James serai”. The James serai was designed in a similar manner to a caravanserai (an inn for travellers built along routes in the Middle East and Central Asia), consisted of a set of identical rooms designed around a central courtyard. It accommodated families who visited the hospital from some far off districts, brining a sick relative (I will refer to these group as travellers or traveller families hereinafter). Instead of just accepting the patient, the missionaries would place one of the rooms of the serai at the disposal of the “whole family”.

The James serai was not a form of “architectural diplomacy” where certain local groups made special provisions for themsleves through negotiation with colonial authorities. As a study by Preeti Chopra shows, in “native hospitals” in British Bombay, certain elite groups secured separate spaces for their own communities.[13] In Peshawar, the story was different; the James serai was a planned scheme. Located close to the boarder of Afghanistan, Peshawar was largly chosen as a medical mission station to reach travellers from Afghanistan. For reasons that are beyond the scope of this blogpost, the missionaries were not allowed to enter Afghanistan. By providing a separate facility, the missionaries hoped to encourage the Afghan travellers to visit or more so to stay in the hospital. That is, providing a separate facility for traveller patients was an emotional practice in and of itself. The architecture of the James serai is more telling.

The missionaries had first-hand knowledge of caravanserai architecture. Prior to the construction of the hospital, the work was carried out in three rented caravanserais for eight years. One of these caravanserai was set aside for traveller families. The missionaries simply repeated this arrangment in the new hospiral. The reason was straightforward: “it [this arrangement] disarms his suspicions, whilst at the same time it brings very many more indivituals under the influence of our teaching.”[1][14] This qoute clearly shows that the missionaries deliberatly designed a caravanserai. The number of the people was the prime concern, to an extend that the missionaries drew on a type of architecture that had been associated with travellers for centuries.

We should not forget that the James serai was designed when the movement and interaction of goods and people in the hospitals were increasingly controlled in Britain.[15] However, a 1908’s report of the hospital demonstrates that the missionaries were in fact concious about how the hospital architecture would be perceived by the patients. Because of this they were careful to not carry their ““foreign ideas” too far.”[16] The report stated that “in the Serai portion of our hospital especially, our rough trans-frontier patients, with their families, can come and live under conditions not remotely different from those at their homes.”[17] The James serai was designed to allow the traveller families to preserve their own way of living while in the hospital, because, there were fears that they would not come otherwise.

My analysis shares some similarities with Michelle Renshaw’s study of missionary hospitals in China. Renshaw argues that the missionaries in China (mainly American missionaries) were concerned with the affective capacities of the hospital buildings. She demonstrates that, “to use the building to make them [the patients] receptive of Western medicine and, ultimately, the Chritisan message,” the missionaries paid attention to Chinese sensibilities when sitting the hospital, incorporated Chinese design principles or/and used local and familiar materials.[18] However, she maintains that attention to good health and sanitary remained a concern – especially when it came to ward design – and does not show if concerns with feelings of the patients resulted in the invention of a specific type of hospital architecture.

The idea of serai block was transferred to other parts of the north-west India. For example, a building was added to Quetta hospital in 1909. In describing the building, it was stated that it was designed based on the “serai system”.[19] This clearly shows that the designing a hospital similar to a caravanserai became a system of hospital architecture.

The serai system has been overlooked in scholarship on British hospital architecture. One of the chapters of my monograph is dedicated to the analysis of the serai system. Besides drawing on the architecture of caravanserai, the CMS also looked at the architecture of Iranian courtyard houses and the Purdah architecture.


[1] Rebecca Swartz, Educating Emotions in Natal and Western Australia, 1854-65,” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 18, no. 2 (2017); Tony Ballantyne, “Moving Texts and “Humane Sentiment”: Materiality, mobility and the emotions of imperial humanitarianism,” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 17, no. 1 (2016).

[2] Emily Turner, “Claiming the Land, The Church Missionary Society and Architecture in the Arctic,” Studies in Church History 54 (2018): 296-313.

[3] Michelle Renshaw, The American Hospital in China, 1880-1920 (London and New York: Routledge, 2005).

[4] For example, see “The Near East,” The Mission Hospital 42, no. 488 (September 1938): 213; “Egypt and Sudan Mission,” Mercy and Truth 17, no. 199 (July 1913): 206.

[5] “A Visit to the Old Cairo Hospital,” Mercy and Truth 9, no. 104 (August 1905): 249.

[6] Michael Jennings, “A Matter of Vital Importance: The Place of the Medical Mission in Material and Child Healthcare in Tanganyika, 1919-39,” in Healing Bodies, Saving Souls: Medical Missions in Asia and Africa, ed., David Hardiman (Amsterdam-New York: Rodopi, 2006), 245.

[7] Karen Vallgårda, “Were Christian Missionaries Colonizers?” Interventions 18, no. 6 (2016): 874.

[8] The words “interest” and “affection” were widely used by the missionaries in their statements about trust. For interest, see M. Mackenzie, “Fuh-Ning Hospital,” Mercy and Truth 8, no. 87 (March 1904): 77; for affection, see “The Annual Meeting,” Preaching and Healing: The Report of the CMS Medical Mission Auxiliary for 1902-03 (1903): 12.

[9] Claire McLisky, Daniel Midena and Karen Vallgårda, “Introduction”, in Emotions and Christian Missions: Historical Perspectives, ed., Claire McLisky, Daniel Midena and Karen Vallgårda, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

[10] Monique Scheer, “Are Emotions a Kind of Practice (and is that what makes them have a history)? A Bourdieuian Approach to Understand Emotions,” History and Theory 51 (May 2012): 209.

[11] Thomas Metcalf, “Architecture and the Representation of Empire: India, 1860-1910,” Representations, no. 6 (1984): 54.

[12] Alex Bremner, “The Architecture of Universities’ Mission to Central Africa: Developing a Vernacular Tradition in the Anglican Field, 1861-1909,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 68 (2009): 514-39.

[13] Preeti Chopra, A Joint Enterprise: Indian Elites and the Making of British Bombay (Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press, 2011), 133-48.

[14] Peshawar Medical Missions, 1904, CMS/M/FL 1/I 7, Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham.

[15] Jeanne Kisacky, “Germs are in the details: Aseptic Design and General Constructors at the Lying-In Hospital of the City of New York, 1897-1901,” Construction History 28, no. 1 (2013): 83-7.

[16] A Frontier Hospital, 1908, p. 6, CMS/ ACC7 O10, CRL.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Renshaw, The American Hospital, 61.

[19] “Items: Home and Foreign,” Mercy and Truth 13, no. 146 (February 1909): 38.

École d’été – Sources et méthodes pour l’étude du phénomène missionnaire au Moyen- Orient de la fin du XIXe siècle à nos jours

(English version below)

Responsables : Philippe Bourmaud (Université Lyon III, LAHRHA),Séverine Gabry-Thienpont (CREM-LESC), Marie Levant (LabEx EHNE,Sorbonne Université), Norig Neveu (CNRS, IREMAM), Karène Sanchez-Summerer (Université deLeiden)

Cimetière copte-orthodoxe du Dayr al-Muḥārib, Al-Baʿīrat (Upper-Egypt), February 2018,
©S. Gabry

Le programme MisSMO analyse les missions chrétiennes au regard des évolutions culturelles et sociales qui ont traversé le Moyen-Orient depuis la fin du XIXe siècle[1]. L’un des objectifs de ce programme consiste à renouveler l’approche du fait missionnaire en combinant les méthodes historique et ethnologique, de sorte à analyser de manière concommitente tant les définitions et les modalités de l’action missionnaire, que leur réception sur le plan local, ainsi que leurs déploiements sur le terrain. Une telle démarche implique la mobilisation de sources originales, dans des langues diverses, mais aussi des méthodologies innovantes (enquêtes orales, enregistrement sonores,archives photographiques, captations vidéo, etc.). Afin de sensibiliser et de former les doctorants à ces méthodologies et de les encourager à adopter une approche pluridisciplinaire, une école d’été est organisée en 2019 par l’équipe coordinatrice de MisSMO en collaboration avec des spécialistes internationaux du fait missionnaire.

Cette école d’été sera divisée en deux temps : une session romaine, centrée sur la question des sources écrites,des enjeux de leurs préservation et de leur lecture, puis une session cairote, qui permettra de travailler à partir d’outils relevant des méthodes d’investigation ethnologique.

Session 1 : 3-7 juin 2019, Écrire l’histoire des missions orientales à partir des archives romaines. Centralisation,classification, conservation ? – Rome, EFR.

Référents principaux : M. Levant, K. Sanchez-Summerer

Session 2 : 8-12 septembre 2019, Ethnographies,reportage scientifique et études des sources missionnaires : vers une pluralité des méthodes – Le Caire, IFAO.

Référents principaux : S. Gabry-Thienpont, N. Neveu

Session 1

Écrire l’histoire des missions orientales à partir des archives romaines.Centralisation, classification, conservation ?

3-7 juin 2019, École française de Rome

Cette première session a pour but de sensibiliser les doctorants à la fabrique de l’histoire missionnaire.Dans une perspective comparatiste avec les missions protestantes et les archives locales, elle se penchera sur l’histoire des missions catholiques orientales à partir des archives romaines, ainsi que sur les logiques de classification, de centralisation et de conservation qui sont à l’œuvre dans cette écriture. Cette première session de l’École d’été se consacrera plus particulièrement à la période allant de la fin du XIXe siècle (nous prendrons ici pour point de départ la signature en 1894 de l’encyclique papale Orientalium Dignitas) à nos jours, en explicitant le contexte de la création en 1917 de deux institutions tournées vers les chrétientés orientales :la Congrégation pour les Églises orientales et l’Institut Pontifical Oriental.

Les objectifs de cette session romaine seront multiples. D’un point de vue épistémologique, ils questionneront d’abord :

– la classification des archives, ainsi que les enjeux de détérioration/conservation dans des contextes politiques changeants et fortement marqués par les conflits tout au long du XXe siècle.

– la préservation des fonds d’archives de certaines Églises et congrégations au Moyen-Orient – de nombreux chercheurs sont en effet sollicités pour participer au catalogage, à la préservation et à la conservation de fonds d’archives.

– le contexte de production des sources écrites (intransigeance catholique du XIXe siècle,centralisation romaine, politiques de reconquête chrétienne de l’entre-deux-guerres, aggiornamento de Vatican II, etc.).

Ces pistes d’investigation permettront d’aborder des débats théoriques et historiographiques qui s’inscriront dans le renouveau des études sur les missions du et au Moyen-Orient. Nous insisterons sur l’impératif des jeux d’échelles géographiques afin de :

1. Comprendre et questionner la complémentarité Rome/Moyen-Orient et des réseaux qui en découlent (liés aux institutions, aux parcours de formation, etc.).

2. Souligner l’hétérogénéité des acteurs en présence, de leurs profils et de leur évolution sur le long XXe siècle (uniatisme, apparition de congrégations locales, arabisation des prêtres,etc.).

3. Revenir sur l’impact des nationalisations à partir des années 1950 et sur celui du développement de politiques différentes à l’encontre des congrégations et Églises au Moyen-Orient selon les contextes coloniaux et les États indépendants.

4. Interroger l’évolution des formes de missionnariat et la reconfiguration du rôle des congrégations au Moyen-Orient depuis le Concile Vatican II.

Les ateliers s’appuieront sur des cas d’étude (communautés et archives), qui envisageront par exemple les réseaux d’anciens séminaristes : ceux partant de Sainte Anne (Pères Blancs, Jérusalem) ou ceux, plus diplomatiques, de hauts dignitaires religieux ou de prêtres locaux allant de la Custodie de Terre Sainte jusqu’aux archives vaticanes. Elle mettra en perspectives les sources romaines avec des sources conservées uniquement dans des instituts missionnaires. À travers ces cas d’étude, ce sont également les ‘silences’ des archives missionnaires qui seront abordés.

Les ateliers et sessions de formations seront organisés autour de l’étude de différents types d’archives :

                        – les archives des ordres et congrégations religieuses ;

                        – les archives des dicastères ;

– les archives des institutions académiques tournées vers l’Orient (IPO, CEO) ;

– les archives visuelles de différents ordres, congrégation, et institutions missionnaires.

Cette première session proposera aux participants une série d’ateliers avec des historiens et archivistes italiens, libanais et palestiniens, ainsi que des visites dans différents lieux d’archives. Des exposés magistraux seront prolongés par des séances de discussion, et couplés à des ateliers de travail autour des recherches de chacun.

Session 2

Ethnographies, reportage scientifique et sources missionnaires cairotes : vers une pluralité des méthodes

8-12 septembre 2019, Institut français d’archéologie orientale (Le Caire)

Le pluralisme des christianismes moyen-orientaux et les multiples formes de contact interreligieux sont des thématiques et des notions complexes pour les sciences sociales. Ceci tient d’abord au fait que les travaux sur les christianismes orientaux, tant dans une optique historique qu’ethnographique, ont longtemps été l’apanage des ecclésiastiques,incluant des missionnaires. Ensuite, les classifications proposées à l’époque coloniale, établissant l’existence d’appartenance ethnoconfessionnelle, ont biaisé les approches par la création d’effets de partition communautaire.Depuis les années 1990, un tournant s’opère et des travaux portant sur la sainteté, les miracles et les diverses formes de piété ont renouvelé l’approche du fait religieux par les sciences sociales à travers des méthodes croisant histoire et anthropologie, en insistant sur les ponts entre confessions au sein des pratiques piétistes.

 À ces différents égards, la présence missionnaire au Moyen-Orient de l’époque moderne à nos jours témoigne de cette histoire du fait religieux, et des manières diverses dont il a été pensé. Cette présence privilégiée impose donc de considérer les missionnaires comme des acteurs, passifs ou actifs, de l’évolution du fait religieux au Moyen-Orient,aussi bien chrétien que musulman. Parfois promoteurs de l’interreligieux, et parfois prosélytes, parfois formateurs et souvent archivistes, les différents rôles – social, sanitaire, intellectuel et bien sûr religieux -occupés par les missionnaires jusqu’à aujourd’hui peuvent être abordés à partir des méthodes offertes par l’anthropologie et l’ethnographie, ce qui sera l’un des objectifs de cette deuxième session de l’école d’été.

Pour saisir la complexité de la place missionnaire dans la région, l’équipe coordinatrice de MisSMO propose de rythmer cette école doctorale par une double approche :

  1. Initiation aux méthodes d’investigation au sein du milieu missionnaire, de ses actions et de son rôle (approche ethnographique et reportage scientifique, tant en interne qu’au sein des milieux d’action couverts par le champ missionnaire au Caire) ;
  2. Travail au sein des archives missionnaires (réflexion autour des choix bibliographiques et archivistiques, travail missionnaire savant,champ d’expertise couvert, etc.).

Ces quatre jours seront encadrés par des anthropologues, des historiens et des spécialistes de la région, ainsi que par des chercheurs spécialistes du reportage scientifique. Les sessions alterneront formation magistrale, atelier de prise de son, d’image et de montage,et réflexion épistémologique sur l’emploi de nouveaux outils dans le cadre académique.

*    *    *

Disciplines : anthropologie – histoire – sciences religieuses

Procédure de sélection des doctorants

Cette école d’été s’adresse aux masterisants, doctorants et dans la mesure des places disponibles des post-doctorants s’intéressant d’abord aux missions chrétiennes au Moyen-Orient mais aussi, plus largement, aux spécialistes des Églises orientales. La majorité des formations et des discussions se feront en français et en anglais. Notez toutefois que certaines visites à Rome seront en italien. Enfin, une connaissance d’un dialecte arabe et/ou de l’arabe classique est attendue.

 Pour candidater, les candidats doivent envoyer aux membres du jury de sélection :

  • Une lettre de motivation (2 pages maximum)
  • Un curriculum vitae (2 pages maximum)
  • Un résumé de leur projet de recherche (2 pages maximum)
  • Une lettre de recommandation de leur directeur/directrice de thèse.

Les candidats retenus s’engagent à assister à la totalité des deux sessions. Leurs frais de mission étant pris en charge (repas, hébergement, transport),ils s’engagent également à respecter les dates de départ et de retour qu’impliquent les sessions.

Les dossiers de candidature doivent être envoyés avant le 30 janvier (minuit heure de Paris à l’adresse suivante :



Les candidats recevront une réponse en février.

1e session : 3-7 juin 2019, École française de Rome (EFR), Rome, Italie

2e session : 8-12 septembre 2019, Institut français d’archéologie orientale (IFAO), Le Caire, Égypte

[1] https://missmo.hypotheses.org

Summer school – Sources and methods for a study of the mission phenomenon in the Middle East from the end of the 19th century to the present day

Organizing committee: Philippe Bourmaud (University Lyon III, LAHRHA),Séverine Gabry-Thienpont (CREM-LESC), Marie Levant (LabEx EHNE, Sorbonne University), Norig Neveu (CNRS, IREMAM), Karène Sanchez-Summerer (University of Leiden)

Copt-Orthodox cimetry of Dayr al-Muḥārib, Al-Baʿīrat (Upper-Egypt), February 2018,
©S. Gabry

 The MisSMO programme analyses the Christian missions in terms of the social and cultural evolutions that have passed through the Middle East since the end of the 19th century.[1]One of the aims of this programme consists in renewing our approach to the fait missionnaire combining both historical and ethnological methods, so as to analyse concurrently both the definitions and the modes of missionary activity, and their reception locally as well as their actual deployment. Such an undertaking implies the mobilisation of original sources in the different languages, but also innovative methods (oral surveys, sound recordings, photographic archives,video recordings, etc.)

In order to raise the awareness and guide doctoral students in the use of these methods and encourage them to use a pluri-disciplinary approach, a summer school has been organized for 2019 by the coordinating team of MisSMO in collaboration with international specialists of the fait missionnaire.

This summer school will be in two parts: a Roman session, centred on thequestion of written sources, the issues of their conservation and study, then asession in Cairo to allow participants to work on the tools used in ethnological investigation.

Session 1: 3-7 June 2019, Writing a history of the Eastern missions using the Roman archives. Centralisation, classification,conservation? – Rome, EFR.

Principal referees: M. Levant, K. Sanchez Summerer

Session 2: 8-12 September 2019, Ethnographies, scientific reporting and studies of missionary sources: towards a plurality of methods –Cairo, IFAO.

Principal referees: S. Gabry-Thienpont, N. Neveu

*     *     *

Session 1

Writing a history of the Eastern missions using the Roman archives. Centralisation, classification, conservation?

3-7 June 2019, École française de Rome

This first session aims to give the doctoral students an awareness of how missionary history is produced. In a comparative approach with the Protestant missions and local archives, it will highlight the history of the Catholic missions in the East using the Roman archives, as well as considering the logic behind the classification, centralisation and conservation currently used for writing this history. This first session of the summer school will be devoted more particularly to the period from the end of the 19th century (starting with the signature of the papal encyclical Orientalium Dignitas in 1894) to our time, clarifying the context of the creation in1917 of two institutions concerned with Eastern Christianity: the Congregationfor the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. 

This Roman session has multiple objectives. From an epistemological point of view, they will question chiefly:

– the classification of the archives, as well as issues of deterioration/conservation in changing political contexts, considerably affected by conflicts throughout the 20th century

– the conservation of the archival collections of certain Churches and congregations in the Middle East – indeed, many researchers are solicited to take part in the cataloguing and conservationof the collections

– the context of the production of the written sources (Catholic intransigence in the 19th century, Roman centralisation, policies of Christian re-conquest between the wars, the aggiornamento of Vatican II, etc.).

These working tracks will address the theoretical and historiographical debates which are an integral part of the renewal of studies of the missions inthe Middle East. We will pay particular attention to geographical elements in order to:

1. Understand and query the complementarity Rome/Middle East and the relevant networks (linkedto institutions, training courses, etc.)

2. Highlight the heterogeneity of the agents on the spot, their profiles and their evolution throughout the 20th century (Uniatism, the appearance of local congregations, the arabization of priests, etc.)

3. Rethink the impact of nationalisations after the1950s and that of the development of different policies experienced by the congregations and the Churches in the Middle East according to the context, colonial or that of independent states

4. Investigate the evolution of the different forms of missionary activity and the reconfiguring of the role of the congregations in the Middle East after Vatican II

The workshops will be based on case studies (communities and archives), which will for example consider the network of old seminarians from Saint Anne (White Fathers, Jerusalem). Other networks will also be considered as, for example, those, more diplomatic, of eminent religious dignitaries, or local priests, from the Custody of the Holy Land to the secret archives of the Vatican. It will put into perspective the Roman sources with the sources kept only in the local mission institutes. Through these case studies, the “silences” of missionary archives will also be considered.

The workshops and training sessions will be organised around the study of different types of archive:

                        – the archives of the religious congregations and orders;

                        – the archives of the dicasteries;

                        -the archives of the academic institutions concerned with the  East (POI, COC)

– the visual archives of the different missionary orders, congregations and institutions

This firstsession will offer students a series of workshops with Italian, Lebanese and Palestinian historians and archivists, as well as visits to various archives. Lectures will be prolonged by discussion sessions, and linked to workshops around the research of the students taking part in the session.

Session 2

Ethnographies, scientific reporting and missionary sources in Cairo: towards a plurality of methods

8-12 September 2019, French Institute for Oriental Archaeology (Cairo)

The plurality of Middle-Eastern Christianity and the multiple forms of inter-religious contact are complicated themes and notions for the social sciences. This is due firstly to the fact that the studies of Eastern Christianity, both from a historical and ethnographical point of view, were for a long time the preserve of the clergy, including the missionaries. Then, the classification suggested during the colonial period, establishing the existenceof ethno-confessional membership, biased the approach by creating partitions at the community level. Since the 1990s, a turning point has been reached andstudies of sainthood, miracles and the various forms of piety have renewed theapproach by the social sciences to the fait religieux using methods that were a crossover between history and anthropology, pointing out the links between denominations within pious practices.

In theserespects, the missionary presence in the Middle East from the modern period toour time testifies to the history of the fait religieux, and the different ways it has been thought about. This special presence also means one has to consider the missionaries as agents, active or passive,of the evolution of the fait religieux in the Middle East, whether Christian or Moslem. Sometimes promoters ofinter-religious activity, sometimes converts, sometimes teachers and often archivists, the different roles – social, medical, intellectual and of coursereligious – played by the missionaries until the present day can be reviewed using the methods offered by anthropology and ethnography, and this will be oneof the aims of this second session of the summer school.

In order to grasp the complexity of the mission’s place in the region, the team of coordinators of the MisSMO proposes to punctuate this doctoral school using a dual approach:

  1. Initiation into the methods of investigation within missionary circles, their action and their role (an ethnographical approach and scientific reporting, both internally and within the milieus covered by missionary activity in Cairo);
  2. Work within the missionary archives (reflexions around bibliographical and archival choices, expert missionary work, the field of expertise covered, etc.).

These fourdays will be overseen by anthropologists, historians and specialists of theregion, as well as by researchers specialised in scientific reporting. Thesessions will alternate between lectures, workshops on sound and image recording, editing, and epistemological reflexion on the use of the new tools available to academics.

*    *    *

Subjects: anthropology – history – religious sciences

 Selection procedure

This summerschool is primarily for PhD candidates and post-docs working on the Christianmissions in the Middle East and more largely, for specialists of Oriental Churches. The debates, the contributions and the visits to archives will be in French and in English. Notice that Italian could be used during some visits in Roma. An understanding of local Arabic dialect and/or classical Arabic is also expected.

To apply, candidates must send the selection committee:

  • a letter outlining motivation (2 pages maximum)
  • a CV/résumé (2pages maximum)
  • A summary of their research project (2 pages maximum)
  • A recommendation letter from their thesis supervisor

Successful applicants are committed to attending the whole of both sessions. Their expenses (food, accommodation, transport) will be taken care of, so they also are committed to respecting the start and end dates of the sessions.

Applications must be sent before midnight (CET) on 30 January 2019 to the following address:



Candidates will receive an answer by mid-February

1st session: 3-7 June 2019, École française de Rome (EFR), Rome, Italy

2nd session: 8-12 September 2019, French Institute for Oriental Archaeology (IFAO), Cairo, Egypt

[1] https://missmo.hypotheses.org

Workshop- Missionaries as Experts

Religious networks, knowledge of the fiels and public action

Friday, 26 October 2018

IFEA (Institut français d’études anatoliennes)

9.30-9.45       Welcome and Introduction

9:45-10:30     Keynote Speech, Dr. Claudio Monge, St. Pierre Convent

PANEL I       Missionary expertise, orientalism, and colonization

Chairman     Dr. Philippe Bourmaud, Université Jean Moulin – Lyon 3

Discussant   PD Dr. Robert Langer, Orient-Institut Istanbul

10.30-11.10  “Missionaries as/and Orientalists : Protestant Mission, Oriental Studies, and the Quest for Ethiopian Orthodox Manuscripts in the 19th Century”| Stanislau Paulau, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen  

11.10-11.30  Coffee break

11.30-12.10  “Paul Salman, an Expert on the In-Between in the Emirate of Transjordan (1932-1948)” | Dr. Norig Neveu, CNRS, IREMAM

12.10-13.00   Panel discussion

13.00-14.30   Lunch Break

PANEL II      Missionaries, nationalist states, and development  

Chairwoman Dr. Aude Aylin de Tapia, Aix Marseille Université, IDEMEC

Discussant   Dr. Heinrich Harmann, hab., Universität Basel

14.30-15.10   “Expertise et technique dans l’Egypte nassérienne. Le cas des missionnaires salésiens ” | Dr. Annalaura Turiano, Ecole Française de Rome  

15.10-15.50  “The function of expertise, from colonialism to nationalism : the Jesuits as informers of the state ? (1941-1975)” | Dr. Philippe Bourmaud, Université Jean Moulin – Lyon 3

15.50-16.40   Panel Discussion

16.40-17.00  Coffee break

17.00-18.30  Roundtable and general discussion : “Missionary declinations and contexts of the power-knowledge nexus” | Philippe Bourmaud & Norig Neveu

18.30            Buffet (IFEA)

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Orient-Institut Istanbul

9.30-9.45       Welcome

9.45-10.30     Keynote Speech, Dr. Carine Dujardin, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, KADOC

PANEL III      Missionaries as experts of Islamic societies

Chairman      Armand Aupiais, IFEA & Université Paris Diderot, Urmis

Discussant    Dr. Aude Aylin de Tapia, Aix Marseille Université, IDEMEC

10.30-11.10   “Apostolic delegates in Ottoman Syrian in the early 19th century : knowledge production and power dynamics among Greek Catholics” | Anaïs Massot, Universiteit Leiden & EHESS, Césor

11.10-11.30  Coffee break

11.30-12.10   “L’usage des infirmières missionnaires dans les hôpitaux d’Istanbul à la fin de l’époque ottomane : entre mobilité et expertise” |Gabriel Doyle, EHESS, CETOBaC

12.10-13.00   Panel Discussion

13.00-14.00  Lunch Break

PANEL IV     Islamic ‘missions’: a reappropriation of missionary know-how

Chairwoman  Vanessa de Obaldia, Aix Marseille Université, TELEMME

Discussant    Dr. Bayram Balcı, IFEA  

14.00-14.40   “Prosélytisme et salafisme pendant la Nahda : le Dar al-da’wa wa-l-irshad de Rashid Rida” | Dr. Dyala Hamzah, Université de Montréal

14.40-15.20  “The Late Ottoman Sunni Missionary Project” | Dr. Necati Alkan, Universität Bamberg

15.20-16.10   Panel Discussion

16.10-16.30  Coffee Break

16.30-17.00  General discussion

‘Crossroads. European cultural diplomacy and Arab Christians in Palestine. A connected history during the formative years of the Middle East (1918-1948)’

International conference

25-27 March 2019

Vossius Room, Leiden University Library

Project funded by

The last decade has seen a rise in the number of studies on the Christians of the Middle East. The Mandate was a special form of colonialism that challenged the indigenous Christian communities, especially their overlapping cultural identities, cultural dynamism, and their cultural networks relating to Europe, the diaspora(s) and transnational organisations. These aspects and their broader ramifications have not yet been explored, which is in part due to the inaccessibility of the local archives.

Our research project ‘Crossroads’ aims to define and analyze how ‘cultural diplomacy’ was employed by European Powers in order to enhance their influence in Mandate Palestine and how these policies impacted the cultural identity of the local Christians. Much of the research on cultural diplomacy has focused on the US, where cultural diplomacy was viewed as a key instrument of foreign policy and especially the containment of the USSR. Joseph Nye had a fundamental influence with his definition of ‘soft power’. Akira Iriye, in his seminal study on cultural internationalism, argued that after WWI, international relations gained a cultural dimension. Jessica Gienow-Hecht has shown the importance of non-governmental organizations, regions, cities, and actors of different kinds pursuing similar ends as States with a cultural agenda (Gienow-Hecht 2009, 2010). New interest for what would be called ‘soft power’ (Nye 2004, Melissen 2005) justified studies about cultural and linguistic policies in the history of international relations (Trimbur 2002; Chaubet, 2006; Van Kessel 2016). Yet, research on the contemporary history of cultural foreign policy remains scarce for the Levant (Trimbur 2002 & 2008; Dueck 2010; Sanchez 2009 & 2016). European cultural policies and their appropriation by the Arabs of Palestine have not been thoroughly studied in the case of Palestine. None of the historical studies of institutions like the British Council (Donaldson 1984, Smith 2017) and the Alliance Française (Chaubet 2013), addressed how these organizations functioned alongside each other, their conception of culture and the goals they promoted, in a comparative perspective. Research of the German influence concentrated on the pre-Mandate period (Goren 2009, 2011). Recently, the ‘national culture’ being defined through an international context has been questioned (van Kessel 2016).

European cultural conceptions, agendas, their appropriation, the resistance they induced and their regional impact are fundamental in order to understand the challenges of the Arabisation process (and the multi facets of Arab identification processes; Murre-van den Berg & Goldstein 2016), the instrumentalisation of the protection of minorities, and to reassess conflicts through culture.

Practices and perceptions of culture of both Orthodox Christians and Melkites changed drastically during the Mandate. Many local and regional cultural clubs appeared at the beginning of the 1920s (literary, athletic, political committees), shifting towards more communal cultural associations in the 1930s. At the same time, different European countries used culture as a tool of influence in the Arab world.

Our research group would also like to question the role that missionaries have historically played by revisiting the missionaries’ discourses and practices of culture. These processes should, as some scholars have argued, be seen as multilayered (Tejirian 2002, Trimbur 2002 & 2004, Dueck 2010, Sanchez 2016, McLisky & Close Berry 2017). In the cultural arena, missionaries were solicited as mediators and sometimes even experts by some of the European States, partly due to their plurilingualism, their role of intermediaries, their capacity to discuss with the different groups in the population. Based on these assumptions we would like to question whether the enterprises of missionaries could be viewed as the forerunners of the governmental/non-governmental cultural actions in the region. Did missions to Muslim populations elaborate an earlier cultural diplomacy due to the strong resistance to all attempts at conversion? Their actions were not monolithic as they offered potential for negotiation and even contestation of colonial norms. Unpublished archives reveal ambiguous positions in relation to the European states’ cultural and linguistic influence in Palestine. Missionaries’ cultural actions also turned out to be congruent to the motivations of the Palestinian associations.  Therefore, one could ask which role they played in the cultural resistance/contestation to European States’ cultural policies.

The hypothesis of the organizers are:

  1. Mandate authorities addressed Muslim and Jewish communities (via legal frameworks, proto-national agenda, sectarian policies) but not Christian communities, leaving them somewhat apart. One result was that they over-proportionally invested in culture as a cornerstone of their identity.
  2. Palestine was a nexus of cultural milieus (European actors and Jewish immigrants). Their culture played a major role in the construction of the Jewish nation and this process impacted the Arab Christian communities’ sense of ‘cultural promotion’.
  3. Following WWI, international relations were becoming inexorably linked to political ideology and rivalry between European states took on a cultural component.
  4. Supranational religious actors (Vatican, Orthodox Patriarchates) promoted diverse linguistic and cultural agendas by investing in cultural associations.

These hypotheses will be answered via a close study of the three main actors: the two most numerous indigenous Christian populations, the Orthodox and the Melkite (Greek Catholic), and the European cultural actors. Practices and perceptions of culture of both Orthodox Christians and Melkites changed drastically during the Mandate. Many cultural clubs appeared at the beginning of the 1920s (literary, athletic, political committees), shifting towards more communal cultural associations in the 1930s. At the same time, different European countries used culture as a tool of influence in the Arab world.


  • What role did culture play in the policies of European agents (both governmental and non-governmental) regarding the Arabs of Palestine?
  • How did Arab Christian communities in Palestine use cultural enterprises to define their place in the proto-national and religion configuration between 1920 and 1950?
  • What was the cultural and ideological framework that European representatives used when they promoted their cultural and linguistic practices in Palestine?
  • How did European representatives contribute to the initiation or opposition to sectarianism in Palestine via a cultural agenda?
  • How did Arab Christian communities use the European cultural agenda(s) in order to promote and safeguard their national and communal affiliations and interests?

To understand the contested role of culture during the interwar period in Palestine, the project intends to analyse the cultural practices and ideas of both local communities and their communal and religious leaders (foreign and local), and their interactions with European cultural actors (cultural, regional and global perspective).

It intends to shed light on modes of interaction, first between Arab Christians and other social groups in Palestine and with the European actors, but also between the local, regional, and transnational spheres, instead of studying a mere aggregation of communal and institutional histories. It will consider the polycentric processes for both Christian communities and the various ways in which Arab Christians located themselves in these broader cultural processes.

These can be traced in the archives of associations, private archives, the programs of educational institutes, local/regional journals, pamphlets and books, and in church archives, governmental educational establishments and private cultural institutions, nuanced by the comparative analysis of British and Zionist archives. The dynamics of personal and institutional interactions will be complemented via a comparative analysis of the cultural agenda of their Jewish and Muslim compatriots.

For information, please contact K.Sanchez@hum.leidenuniv.nl

MisSMO panel at WOCMES 2018 – Seville

Cultural diplomacy, aesthetics and missions in the Middle East, 19th-20th centuries

Friday, 20th of July, 11.30-1.30

Room 106

Organized by Norig Neveu (CNRS)

Chair: Philippe Bourmaud (Université Lyon III, LARHRA)

Starting from the second half of the 19th century, Protestant, Catholic and later Orthodox missions spread in the Middle East. Education was one of the central aspect of their implementation strategies. In this framework, different fields of study were tackled including literature, theater and music. What aesthetic conceptions have been conveyed by missions to the Muslim and Christian populations of the Middle East? How did the students of the missionary schools receive this cultural contribution as individuals? What were the result of these interactions, and how were they received by the public? Did transfer of skills occur between local artists or intellectuals and missionaries? Moreover, did the appropriation of foreign techniques, knowledge and inspirations lead to the establishment of so-called local “artistic” traditions? In this panel, we will question identity and (re)definitions that arose from these cultural expressions connected with missionary action. We will, furthermore, investigate how aesthetic approaches have sometimes been reinvested either by states, by specific social groups or by denominational communities, in order to support a nationalist or narrative on the «origins» of certain social groups.

At the same time, missionaries were often attached to international religious orders, congregations or scientific societies. They had a particular interest in archeology, epigraphy or oriental languages. This knowledge had been compiled in several publications (books, journals), photographic collections, copies of manuscripts. They constituted a base for building a knowledge on the societies and the history of the Middle East being often marked by Orientalism or the scientific tropisms of the time. Archeology is one example of these tropisms. If the Ottoman Empire, the discipline developed during the second half of the 19th century, in the Near East, Western travellers and missionaries were deeply involved in making photographs, plans and surveys. Then the Mandate authorities imposed the legal framework for archaeological and patrimonial policies, most often re-appropriated by independent States. Thus, the second axis of this panel questions the role played by the missions within the cultural diplomacy policies developed by the Western States or the churches they are attached to. Who are the actors and what are the tools of these cultural policies? What consequences did they have at a local scale: protest, reappropriation, etc?

Karène Sanchez, Leiden University, “Cultural diplomacy of European States and Arab Christians in Palestine (1920-1940)”

Séverine Gabry, IFAO, Missionnaires jésuites et stratégies musicales en Égypte au tournant du XXe siècle

Aude Aylin de Tapia, Aix-Marseille Université, “Publishing for childrens : the ABCFM’s Angeliaforos Çocuklar içün youth magazine for native-Turkish-speaking Greek-Orthodox and its conception of aesthetics”

Annalaura Turiano, “Ordre, exactitude et goût artistique”. L’enseignement des arts et métiers dans les écoles de la mission salésienne en Égypte (1920 -1970)

Announcement “Missionaries as experts: religious networks, knowledge of the field and public action in the Middle East (19th – 21 st century)”

Venue : Istanbul

Date : 26-27 October 2018

Format : Workshop

Object : Special issue (possible journals : Monde(s), A Contrario, Arsiv Orientalni, BJMES or Brill volume)

Coordinators : Philippe Bourmaud (U Lyon 3, IFEA), Armand Aupiais (IFEA), Aylin de Tapia (LABEX-MED)


The workshop aims to explore the figure of the missionary as a producer of expertise, in a Middle East where missionary activity was particularly intense, widespread, and capable of contributing in a significant fashion to the transformation of society far beyond the religious sphere. If expertise can be envisaged in an abstract manner as the capacity to give informed opinions, this normative definition is a black box of public action: the authority of the expert is a hypothetical element with contradictory dimensions. The notion is, however, an undeniable social fact, the expert providing an appearance of rationality in decision-making. It is therefore enlightening to ask who solicits the expertise, for what purpose, who is solicited and why; the call made upon the missionaries in a context of conflict such as that of the Middle East, is puzzling.

It seems somewhat hasty to consider the expert work carried out by the missionaries as a recycling of their experience in the field: that would imply that the missionaries only had an understanding of their own domain, which would mean ignoring the fact that their action was constructed by common religious aims and a superstructure that sent them to a mission territory. Why was the missionaries’ expertise solicited? What were their motivations in accepting these requests? What inherent means did the missions have for centralising expertise? What effect did the fact that the recommendations came from a missionary expert have on public action?


Studies of the missions show an increasing interest in the expert work performed by the missionaries (Taithe, 2012 ; Dujardin and Prudhomme, 2015). This research orientation can be explained in part by the interest created by the studies on expertise as an extension of the social studies of science. The missionaries were then considered as just another source of experts, sometimes notable for their lack of formal initial qualifications. From this point of view, we need to make a link between the expertise attributed to the missionaries and the process of academic and administrative certification of experts that was developing throughout our period, and thence to envisage the missionaries as an exception in this process, or to question the forms of certification within the missionary organisation.

The perspective changes, however, if we look at the phenomenon from the point of view of the history of missionary movements. The salient point is the secularization of the motivations of public action which, in the Middle East, took the form of an institutionalization of denominational communities and equality before the law, independent of religious affiliation. This legal framework strengthened the hostility towards the Christian missions, commonly seen as harbingers of colonization, pitting them against the strengthened community institutions. Was acting as experts a way for the missionaries to rid themselves of the image of conquerors or causers of conflict? Did the production of expertise represent an element of secularization of the modus operandi of the missionaries? In what context can missionaries also embody a second opinion?

From the point of view of the history of the Middle East, the interest in expertise is part of a broader questioning on the methods of mentoring and of penetration in middle-eastern societies, by state institutions and international organizations since the 19th century. Emphasis was put on the way public policies and whole administrative organisations were imposed on middle-eastern societies. Experts were then associated with the epistemological distinction between observer and object, with the neglecting of the context of projects, with excessive growth and a lack of participation by the inhabitants in the conception of big national and international projects (Mitchell, 2002). How can one situate the missionaries in relation to the extension of the state’s influence? If they were generally considered as instruments of European colonial penetration, the social purposes of their operations often turned out to be congruent to the motivations of the States, and even modelled on the latter as well as on those of international organisations. Both options tend to consider the missions as always fundamentally external to the mission territories, ignoring their respective evolutions throughout the 20th century. If the missionaries were solicited as experts, it was perhaps rather for their plurilingualism, their capacity to speak to the mission populations, to their own hierarchy, to the different levels of the administration and to international instances.

Internal expertise and the network of missionary organisation

We propose firstly to analyse the missionaries’ work as experts by examining the way the mission network functioned, the circulation of knowledge throughout it and the effects of this grid-like organisation on missionary methods. The missionaries were first solicited by their own supervising organizations to think about the techniques and perspectives for their initiatives, or to transmit information formatted for potential donors: missiology in this sense was the mother of expertise.

Like the latter, missiology was founded not only on the work of agents on the spot, but also on that of partners and informers. The knowledge that resulted was pre-formatted and “co-produced” by the appeal and the special intentions of these different agents (Jasanoff, 2004).  Knowing that missionary organisations theorise the relations of their agents with the missioned societies, what incidence did the missiological concepts such as inculturation have on the expertise produced internally? Did these concepts give a specificity to the expertise produced by the missionaries?

Missions in Islam have for long been a special case within missionary structures, on account of the strong resistance to all attempts at conversion. The apologetics were therefore accompanied by social activities making it possible to approach societies differently, and led the missionaries to acquire a certain knowledge of these societies, often as a prelude to any operation, apologetic or social. What do the exchanges between the missionaries and their hierarchy and missiological literature teach us about the way that the gathering of information from the mission lands and the decision-making on the general orientations of the mission were articulated internally? Who were the “experts” making the link between these two phases for the Middle East? On what criteria – special training, bureaucratic functioning or something else – were they chosen? Were they dependent on privileged informers in mission lands? Did the orientation of missionary policy give rise on the contrary to conflicts of expertise between these different groups? What was the protocol presented by the missionaries to produce their expertise?

Knowledge of the field, certification and expertise

For what reason did people seek the missionaries’ help as experts, outside the sphere of the mission? It appears that it was firstly as men of the field, especially in the colonial period. They intervened in relations between the European powers and the missions, whether for purposes of information or to ensure, at a lower cost, both a presence and permanent operational links in the outlying regions, where it was more difficult to maintain a military presence or to attract civil servants and qualified personnel. Like for the military personnel, a mastery of the local language was the basis of the missionaries’ expertise. This tended therefore, at the same time, to give a special importance to the Christian communities and the congregations served by the missionaries, which made up the first circle of mediation in local social activity. Did the expertise of the missionaries lead the colonial powers to give increased importance to the constitution of communities in the colonised societies, or are the consideration of minorities and segmental theory the phenomenon most commonly shared between the colonisers and the missionaries? Did the missionaries, both European and local, walk hand in hand with the colonial powers, or was expertise a way for them to maintain their distance from the latter? How did the missionaries develop this knowledge of languages themselves? Did the missionary expertise affect language policies or debates on the constitution of the nation? Did the tendency to recruit middle-eastern missionaries, during the 20th century, affect their recruitment as experts by the colonial and post-colonial powers?

Faced with the image of the legitimate and professional expert that was spreading in the 20th century, the missionaries appear increasingly as a foil for others. Because of the conversion history of the missions and the opaque agendas attributed to them, they were considered too involved to be legitimate, whether in the eyes of the hostile nationalist powers, the experts in development immersed in scientism, or the secularised and critical humanitarian organisations such as the French doctors, or the anthropologists. On what base did the missionaries rely to assume the authority of experts, faced with this discourse?

To raise the question of the legitimacy of missionaries as experts, is also to raise the question of their relations with international institutions, which enhance recommendations of all sorts and international comparisons between public policies, but which also need someone on the spot to take over. Faced with the expansion of the international sphere, did missionary organisations turn towards the development of their expertise in the field, or did they change, faced with the requirements of personnel, of the definition of public policies and criteria for expertise within the arena of experts?  Cyrus Schayegh, at the American University in Beirut, observed at the time of the French Mandate, a premature evolution towards this second option, with the constitution of what he called a « complex university-foundation-development-missionary » (Schayegh, 2015). Can this evolution be generalized and if so, with what time sequence? To this complex should be added a humanitarian dimension, which supposes a reactivity founded not only on human and financial means, but on an intimate knowledge of the populations concerned; all of which the missionaries boasted. What role was played in the internationalised treatment of the great crises of the Middle East, beginning with the end of the First World War and then the war of 1948, in the evolution of the missionary organisations?

While professional environments of national experts and pools of expatriated all-round experts were being formed, how relevant was the missionary-expert in the field? Beyond the general principle of founding public action on the informed opinions of specialists, the notion of expertise also covered varying demands for both abstraction and a knowledge of the context, and in this “conflict”, the expert was often the person who was recognised as such. If the missionaries could be solicited because of their presence on the spot or because of the margin between the theoretical criteria for the recruitment of experts and the availability of personnel, it seems somewhat naïve to see in the appeal to missionaries a temporary last resort in a period of standardisation of the criteria of certification and the development of a university for all. Considering the reticular capacity of the missions and the fact that many of them also laid down conditions of qualification and diplomas for the recruitment of their agents, the appeal to missionaries as experts was also, for the missionary organisations, a question of placing themselves and thus of exercising political influence. To what end did this orientation of public action correspond after the secularisation of the justifications of the latter? Did the job of expert occupy a place in missiology? Beyond the missionary institutions as such, was this work done not by the missionaries themselves, but by milieux federated by missionary affinities, and what were these milieux?

Connections between institutions and secularised public action

The solicitations of the missionaries as experts coming from institutions outside the mission correspond however to a context that can be situated from the setting-up of constitutional governments, a context in which public action, now justified by the general interest, became secularised, as did humanitarian actions. These processes had repercussions, with a chronology to be defined, on the missionary modus operandi.

The fact that the missionaries were solicited as experts was counter-intuitive, considering the hostility manifested by the missioned societies towards the missions. Thus the Ottoman Empire sometimes had recourse to the services of the missionaries to compensate for their own scarce services, but the internal correspondence of the administrations generally assimilated them with foreign agents whom it was impossible to trust. The nationalist powers in the Middle-East often demonized the missionaries denouncing the proselytising ulterior motives behind missionary action. The end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries however witnessed a reorientation of the forms of action of the most important missionary organisations, towards a development of social actions and the transmission of values to the detriment of conversion as sole aim. Were the missionaries solicited despite the persistent mistrust of the old missiology which aimed at conversion, or were such solicitations a reflection of an awareness of the changes in methods and finalities of the missionary action among public agents? A first approach makes it appear that familiarity with the missionaries was a determining factor, and that in order to answer the question we need to identify those who solicited the missionaries within the institutions of civil society, and ask ourselves whether they were not already familiar with the missionaries.

In the modern and contemporary Middle East, the solicitation of the missionaries as experts came first from the colonial powers, international organisations, large foundations and certain NGOs. The solicitations from the independent States are less well known and were probably less frequent. To explain the call on the missionaries’ expertise, we need to invoke the fact that they were present in the field, even if that is not enough: they were only one of the possible relays, alongside the civil servants, soldiers, and doctors, among others. We are forced to fall back on the existence of previous links and the functioning of the network of missionary organisations: was it then the links created individually by missionaries that qualified them as experts, or rather the interaction between institutions? Did the importance of missionary educational institutions in the formation of the local political classes encourage the soliciting of the missionaries after independence, at a time when the political and administrative structures often had but the form and the name of a state?

To answer these various questions, we will, among other aspects, approach the careers of experts in missionary circles, the qualification of the people concerned, the nature of the expertise claimed by the missionaries and their methods of observation. We should also ask ourselves about the agendas of the missionary institutions and their translation into forms of expertise. Did the latter occupy an important place in missiological debates, and if so from what perspective? Missionary work and internationalised expertise had in common problems of method, of relations with otherness: how could otherness and distancing oneself, or on the contrary the inculturation and indigenisation of expertise, be envisaged in missionary circles? Moreover, it would be useful to pinpoint and chart the networks which were woven around the missionaries to communicate their expertise. We need also to ask ourselves about the re-appropriation of the missionaries’ approach concerning the missioned societies, in particular the part of missionary movements which were emerging within other religions (missions and proselytizing, Moslems, Bahaï, Buddhists, Jews, etc) : did they borrow a certain savoir faire from the Christian missions, or did they build their knowledge of the societies where they operated differently, on the basis of different relations ?

The proposals (250-300 words)  are to be sent to missmo@ifporient.org , accompanied by five key-words and a short biography including academic affiliation.


Carine DUJARDIN & Claude PRUDHOMME, Science & Mission: Missiology revisited / Missiologie revisitée 1850-1940, Louvain, Leuven University Press, 2015.

Sheila JASANOFF, States of Knowledge: The Co-Production of Science and the Social Order, London, Routledge, 2004.

Timothy MITCHELL, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2002.

Cyrus SCHAYEGH, « The Interwar Germination of Development and Modernization Theory and Practice : Politics, Institution Building, and Knowledge, Production between the Rockefeller Foundation and the American University of Beirut », Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 41 (2015), pp. 649–684.

Bertrand TAITHE, « Pyrrhic Victories? French Catholic Missionaries, Modern Expertise and Secularizing Technologies », in: Michael Barnett & Janice Gross Stein (eds), Sacred Aid. Faith and humanitarianism, Oxford, 2012, pp. 166-182.

Annonce : « Missionnaires en qualité d’experts : réseaux religieux, connaissance du terrain et action publique au Moyen-Orient (XIXe-XXIe siècle)

Lieu : Istanbul

Date : 26-27 octobre 2018

Format : Atelier

Object : Dossier thématique (Monde(s), A Contrario, Arsiv Orientalni ou BJMES ; alternativement, volume collectif chez Brill)

Coordinateurs : Philippe Bourmaud (U. Lyon 3, IFEA), Armand Aupiais (IFEA), Aylin de Tapia (LABEX-MED)

L’atelier vise à explorer la figure du missionnaire comme producteur d’expertise, dans un Moyen-Orient où l’activité missionnaire a été particulièrement intense, disséminée, et susceptible de contribuer de manière significative aux transformations des sociétés de mission bien au-delà du religieux. Si l’expertise peut être envisagée de manière abstraite comme la capacité à émettre des avis informés, cette définition normative est une boîte noire de l’action publique : l’autorité de l’expert est une construction sociale aux dimensions contradictoires. La notion constitue cependant un fait social indéniable, l’expert fournissant un prétexte de rationalité dans la prise de décision. Il est alors éclairant de demander qui sollicite une expertise, dans quel but, qui est sollicité et à quel titre ; et l’appel fait aux missionnaires en la matière, dans un contexte d’opération aussi conflictuel pour eux que le Moyen-Orient, est énigmatique.

Il semble un peu court de considérer le travail d’expert opéré par les missionnaires comme un recyclage de leur expérience de terrain : cela reviendrait à supposer que les missionnaires n’ont d’intelligence que de leur terrain propre, au prix de l’oubli que leur action est structurée à la fois par des finalités religieuses communes et une superstructure qui les a envoyés en terre de mission. Pour quelles raisons sollicite-t-on l’expertise des missionnaires ? Quelles sont leurs motivations à accepter ces sollicitations ? Quels sont les moyens inhérents aux missions de centraliser l’expertise ? Quelle est l’incidence de l’origine missionnaire des recommandations d’expert sur l’action publique ?

Historiographie :

Les études sur les missions manifestent un intérêt croissant pour le travail d’expertise effectué par des missionnaires (Taithe, 2012 ; Dujardin et Prudhomme, 2015). Cette orientation de recherche s’explique en partie par l’intérêt suscité par les études sur l’expertise comme prolongement des social studies of science. Les missionnaires sont alors considérés comme un vivier d’experts parmi d’autres, notable parfois pour son manque de qualification formelle initiale. Dans cette perspective, on est amené à rapporter l’expertise attribuée aux missionnaires aux processus de certification académique et bureaucratique des experts qui se développent tout au long de notre période, et de là à envisager les missionnaires comme une exception à ces processus, ou à interroger les formes de certification interne à l’organisation missionnaire.

La perspective change cependant si l’on aborde le phénomène du point de vue de l’histoire des mouvements missionnaires. Le fait saillant est alors la sécularisation des ressorts de l’action publique qui prend, au Moyen-Orient, la forme de l’institutionnalisation des communautés confessionnelles et du principe d’égalité en droit, indépendamment de l’appartenance religieuse. Ce cadre juridique renforce les hostilités aux missions chrétiennes, communément perçues comme les fourriers de la colonisation, en les opposant à des institutions communautaires renforcées. Faire fonction d’expert, est-ce alors pour les missionnaires un moyen de se débarrasser d’une image de conquérants ou de faiseurs de conflits ? La production d’expertise représente-t-elle un élément de sécularisation des modes opératoires missionnaires ?

Du point de vue de l’historiographie du Moyen-Orient, l’intérêt pour l’expertise s’inscrit dans un questionnement plus large sur les modes d’encadrement et de pénétration des sociétés moyen-orientales par les institutions étatiques et les organisations internationales depuis le XIXe siècle. On a pu souligner le placage de politiques publiques et d’organisations administratives entières sur les sociétés moyen-orientales. Les experts ont alors été associés à la distinction épistémologique entre observateur et objet, à l’oubli du contexte des projets, au gigantisme et à l’absence de participation des habitants à la conception des grands projets étatiques et internationaux (Mitchell, 2002). Comment situer les missionnaires par rapport à l’extension de l’emprise étatique ? S’ils ont été généralement considérés comme des instruments de la pénétration coloniale européenne, les finalités mondaines de leurs opérations se sont souvent révélées congrues aux finalités des États, voire se sont modelées sur ces dernières et celles des organisations internationales, ou ont été modelées par elles. L’une et l’autre option tendent à considérer les missions comme toujours fondamentalement extérieures aux sociétés missionnées, au mépris de leurs évolutions respectives tout au long du XXe siècle. Si les missionnaires sont sollicités comme experts, c’est peut-être plutôt pour leur polyglossie, leur capacité à tenir discours aux populations missionnées, à leur propre hiérarchie, aux différents échelons de pouvoir administratif et aux instances internationales.

Expertise interne et organisation missionnaire en réseau :

Nous proposons tout d’abord d’analyser le travail d’expert des missionnaires en interrogeant le fonctionnement en réseau des missions, la circulation des savoirs à travers elles et les effets de cette organisation réticulaire sur les méthodes missionnaires. Les missionnaires ont d’abord été sollicités par leurs organisations de tutelle pour réfléchir aux techniques et aux perspectives de leurs entreprises, ou pour transmettre une information formatée à destination des donateurs potentiels : la missiologie est en ce sens parente de l’expertise.

Comme cette dernière, la missiologie se fonde sur non seulement sur le travail d’agents sur place, mais sur les interlocuteurs et informateurs de ces derniers. Les savoirs qui en résultent sont pré-formatés et « co-produits » par les tropismes et les intentions particulières de ces différents acteurs (Jasanoff, 2004). Sachant que les organisations missionnaires théorisent les relations de leurs agents avec les sociétés missionnées, quelle incidence des concepts missiologiques tels que l’inculturation ont-ils sur l’expertise produite en interne ? Ces concepts donnent-ils une spécificité à l’expertise produite par les missionnaires ?

Les missions en terre d’Islam ont de longue date constitué un cas d’espèce à l’intérieur des structures missionnaires, en raison des fortes résistances opposées aux entreprises de conversion. Le travail apologétique s’est alors doublé d’activités mondaines permettant d’approcher autrement les sociétés, et a conduit les missionnaires à produire des savoirs sur ces sociétés, souvent comme préalable à toute opération, apologétique ou mondaine. Que nous apprennent les échanges entre les missionnaires et leur hiérarchie et la littérature missiologique sur la manière dont étaient articulées en interne la collecte d’information à partir des terrains missionnaires et la prise de décision sur les orientations générales de la mission ? Qui étaient les « experts » qui faisaient le lien entre ces deux étapes pour le Moyen-Orient ? Sur quels critères – formation spécialisée, fonctionnement bureaucratique ou autre – étaient-ils choisis ? Étaient-ils tributaires d’informateurs privilégiés dans les terres de mission ? L’orientation de la politique missionnaire donnait-elle au contraire lieu à des conflits d’expertise entre ces différents échelons ?

Connaissance du terrain, certification et expertise

A quelle enseigne a-t-on recours aux missionnaires comme experts en dehors de la sphère missionnaire ? C’est, semble-t-il, d’abord comme hommes de terrain, notablement à l’époque coloniale, dans les relations entre les pouvoirs européens et les missions, que ce soit à des fins de renseignement ou pour assurer à moindre coût une présence et des liens opérationnels permanents dans des régions excentrées, où il est plus difficile de maintenir une présence militaire ou d’attirer fonctionnaires et diplômés. Comme pour les militaires, la maîtrise de la langue locale est le corollaire de l’expertise des missionnaires. Ce fonctionnement tend à donner du même coup une importance particulière aux communautés chrétiennes et aux congrégations desservies par les missionnaires, qui constituent le premier cercle de médiation de la réalité sociale locale autour de ces derniers. L’expertise des missionnaires conduit-elle les pouvoirs coloniaux à donner une importance accrue à la constitution communautaire des sociétés colonisées, ou bien le communautarisme et la théorie segmentaire sont-elles la chose du monde la mieux partagée entre coloniaux et missionnaires ? Les missionnaires, européens ou locaux, marchent-ils main dans la main avec les pouvoirs coloniaux, ou bien l’expertise est-elle pour eux un moyen de maintenir une distance avec ces derniers ? L’expertise des missionnaires affecte-t-elle les politiques de la langue, ou les débats sur la constitution de la nation ? Est-ce que la tendance au recrutement moyen-oriental des missionnaires, au fil du vingtième siècle, affecte leur recrutement comme experts par les pouvoirs coloniaux et post-coloniaux ?

En face de l’image de l’expert légitime et professionnel qui se répand au XXe siècle, les missionnaires font de plus en plus souvent figure de repoussoir. Du fait de l’histoire prosélyte des missions et des agendas opaques communément prêtés à celles-ci, ils sont réputés trop intéressés pour être légitimes, que ce soit aux yeux des pouvoirs nationalistes hostiles, des experts en développement pénétrés de scientisme, des organisations humanitaires sécularisées et critiques telles que les French doctors, ou des anthropologues. Face à ces discours, et sur quels fondements s’appuient désormais les missionnaires pour assumer une autorité d’expert ?

Soulever la question de la légitimité des missionnaires en tant qu’experts, c’est aussi soulever la question de leur rapport aux institutions internationales, qui valorisent les recommandations tout-terrain et les comparaisons internationales entre politiques publiques, mais ont également besoin de relais sur place. Face à l’expansion de la sphère internationale, les organisations missionnaires s’orientent-elles vers le développement de leur expertise de terrain, ou bien se transforment-elles face aux exigences de personnel, de définition des politiques publiques et des critères d’expertise au sein des arènes d’experts ?  Cyrus Schayegh observe à l’Université Américaine de Beyrouth, à l’époque du mandat français, une évolution précoce vers cette deuxième option, avec la constitution de ce qu’il nomme « complexe université-fondation-développement-missionnaire » (Schayegh, 2015). Cette évolution est-elle généralisable, et si oui, avec quelles chronologies ? A ce complexe, il semble pertinent d’ajouter une dimension d’action humanitaire, qui suppose une réactivité fondée non seulement sur des moyens humains et financiers, mais sur une connaissance intime des populations concernées ; toutes choses dont les missionnaires se prévalent. Quelles rôles le traitement internationalisé des grandes crises du Moyen-Orient, à commencer par la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale puis la guerre de 1948, a-t-il joué dans l’évolution du rôle des organisations missionnaires ?

A mesure que se forment des milieux professionnels d’experts nationaux et des viviers d’experts expatriés tout-terrain, quelle pertinence conserve le missionnaire-expert de terrain ? Au-delà du principe général de fonder l’action publique sur des avis informés obtenus auprès de spécialistes, la notion d’expertise recouvre aussi des exigences très variables d’abstraction et de connaissance du contexte, et dans ce tiraillement, l’expert est souvent celui qu’on reconnaît comme tel. Si les missionnaires ont pu être sollicités en raison de leur présence sur place ou de l’écart entre les critères théoriques de recrutement d’experts et les disponibilités de personnel, il paraît tout de même naïf de voir dans le recours aux missionnaires un pis-aller temporaire dans une phase de standardisation des critères de certification et de développement de l’université de masse. Eu égard à la capacité réticulaire des missions et au fait que nombre d’entre elles posent aussi des conditions de qualification et de diplôme au recrutement de leurs agents, le recours aux missionnaires comme experts est aussi pour les organisations missionnaires histoire de se placer et par là, d’exercer une influence politique. A quelles finalités répond ce travail d’orientation de l’action publique après la sécularisation des justifications de celle-ci ? Le travail d’expert en vient-il à occuper une place dans la missiologie ? Au-delà des institutions missionnaires proprement dites, ce travail est-il opéré désormais non plus par des missionnaires eux-mêmes, mais par des milieux fédérés par des affinités missionnaires, et quels sont alors ces milieux ?

Connexions inter-institutionnelles et action publique sécularisée :

Les sollicitations des missionnaires comme experts venant d’institutions au dehors de la mission correspondent cependant à un contexte qu’on peut situer à partir de la mise en place de gouvernements constitutionnels, contexte dans lequel l’action publique, désormais justifiée par l’intérêt général, se sécularise, tout comme l’action caritative. Ces processus se sont répercutés, avec une chronologie à préciser, sur les modes opératoires missionnaires.

Que les missionnaires aient alors été sollicités comme experts est contre-intuitif, eu égard à l’hostilité manifeste des sociétés missionnées à l’égard des missions. Ainsi l’Empire ottoman a parfois eu recours aux services des missionnaires pour suppléer ses services défaillants, mais la correspondance interne des administrations les assimilait généralement à des agents de l’étranger à qui il était impossible de se fier. Les pouvoirs nationalistes au Moyen-Orient ont souvent diabolisé les missionnaires en dénonçant les arrière-pensées prosélytes motivant l’action missionnaire. La fin du XIXe et le début du XXe ont pourtant connu une réorientation des modes d’action des plus importantes organisations missionnaires, vers la valorisation des actions mondaines et de la transmission de valeurs au détriment de l’objectif de conversion. Les missionnaires étaient-ils sollicités en dépit de la défiance persistante à l’égard d’une missiologie ancienne visant à la conversion, ou bien de telles sollicitations reflétaient-elles une prise de conscience des changements de méthode et de finalité de l’action missionnaire parmi les acteurs publics ? En première approche, il semble que la familiarité avec les missionnaires soient un déterminant important, et qu’il faille pour répondre identifier ceux qui sollicitent les missionnaires au sein des institutions et de la société civile, et nous demander s’ils n’étaient pas d’ores et déjà familiers des missionnaires.

Dans le Moyen-Orient contemporain, la sollicitation des missionnaires comme experts est venue d’abord des pouvoirs coloniaux, des organisations internationales et des grandes fondations et de certaines ONG. Les sollicitations de la part des États indépendants sont moins connues, et probablement ont-elles été moins fréquentes. Pour expliquer l’appel fait à l’expertise des missionnaires, invoquer le fait qu’ils se trouvaient sur le terrain est pertinent mais ne suffit pas : ils ne constituaient qu’une catégorie de relais possibles, à côté des fonctionnaires, des militaires, des médecins entre autres. Nous sommes renvoyés à l’existence préalable de liens et au fonctionnement en réseau des organisations missionnaires : est-ce que ce sont alors les liens noués individuellement par les missionnaires qui les qualifiaient comme experts, ou plutôt les interactions entre institutions ? Est-ce que l’importance des institutions éducatives missionnaires dans la formation des classes politiques locales a encouragé la sollicitation des missionnaires après les indépendances, alors que les structures politiques et administratives n’avaient souvent d’Etat que la forme et le nom ?

Pour répondre à ces diverses questions, nous aborderons, entre autres aspects, les carrières d’expert dans les milieux missionnaires, la qualification des personnes concernées, la nature de l’expertise revendiquée par les missionnaires et leurs méthodes d’observation. Il conviendrait également de nous interroger sur les agendas des institutions missionnaires et de leur traduction sous forme d’expertises. L’expertise occupe-t-elle une place notable dans les débats missiologiques, et si oui, dans quelle perspective ? Le travail missionnaire et l’expertise internationalisée ont en commun des problèmes de méthode, de rapport à l’altérité : comment l’altérité et la mise à distance, ou au contraire l’inculturation et l’indigénisation de l’expertise, sont-elles envisagées dans les milieux missionnaires ? Il serait en outre utile de repérer et cartographier les réseaux qui se tissent autour des missionnaires pour la communication de leur expertise. Il faudrait nous interroger sur les réappropriations des approches des missionnaires à l’égard des sociétés missionnées, en particulier de la part des mouvements missionnaires qui émergent à l’intérieur d’autres religions (missions musulmanes, bahaïes, bouddhistes, juives, etc.) : ceux-ci empruntent-ils des savoir-faire aux missions chrétiennes, ou bien construisent-ils autrement un savoir sur les sociétés où ils opèrent, sur la base de relations différentes ?

Les propositions de communication (250-300 mots) sont à renvoyer à missmo@ifporient.org , accompagnés de cinq mots-clés et d’une courte biographie incluant l’affiliation académique.


Carine DUJARDIN & Claude PRUDHOMME, Science & Mission : Missiology revisited / Missiologie revisitée 1850-1940, Louvain, Leuven University Press, 2015.

Sheila JASANOFF, States of Knowledge : The Co-Production of Science and the Social Order, Londres, Routledge, 2004.

Timothy MITCHELL, Rule of Experts : Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity, Berkerley, University of California Press, 2002.

Cyrus SCHAYEGH, « The Interwar Germination of Development and Modernization Theory and Practice : Politics, Institution Building, and Knowledge Production between the Rockefeller Foundation and theAmerican University of Beirut », Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 41 (2015), p. 649–684.

Bertrand TAITHE, « Pyrrhic Victories? French Catholic Missionaries, Modern Expertise and Secularizing Technologies », in: Michael Barnett & Janice Gross Stein (éds), Sacred Aid. Faith and humanitarianism, Oxford, 2012, p. 166-182.

Calendrier prévisionnel du programme MisSMO, 2017-2021


  • 18-22 juin 2017 , « European projects about Modern History of Eastern Christianity », panel organisé au sein du 1e congrès de la European Academy of Religion, FSCIRE, Bologne
  • 6 juillet 2017, « Le phénomène missionnaire au prisme du genre dans le Moyen-Orient contemporain », panel organisé au sein du 2e congrès du GIS Moyen-Orient et Mondes Musulmans, INALCO, Paris
  • 27-29 novembre 2017, « In partibus fidelium. Missions du Levant et connaissance de l’Orient chrétien (XIXe-XXIe siècles) », Colloque international, École française de Rome, Rome


  • 16-22 juillet 2018: « Diplomatie culturelle, esthétique et missions au Moyen-Orient, XIXe-XXe siècles », WOCMES, Séville
  • 26-27 octobre 2018 : « Missionnaires en qualité d’experts : réseaux religieux, connaissance de terrain et action publique au Moyen-Orient (19e-21e siècle), IFEA, Istanbul


  • Mars : ‘European cultural diplomacy and Arab Christians in Palestine. A connected history during the formative years
    of the Middle East (1918-1948)’, Leiden University, 27-29/03/2019
  • Juin/septembre : École doctorale « Renouveaux des sources et méthodes pour l’étude du phénomène missionnaire », (2 volets), 15 doctorants
    • 3-6 juin 2019, « Sources romaines et études des textes », École française de Rome, Rome
    • 8-12 septembre 2019, « Méthodes ethnographiques et reportage scientifique », IFAO, Le Caire


  • Colloque international de clôture du programme, École française de Rome, Rome

Bernard Heyberger’s newest book, Les Chrétiens d’Orient, reviewed by Heather Sharkey

Heather Sharkey reviews Bernard Heyberger’s newest book, Les Chrétiens d’Orient (Paris 2017) in the journal Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations.  In 128 pages, Heyberger brilliantly presents the history of Middle Eastern Christians from Christianity’s origins, through the Islamic era, and until the present day.  Among the book’s major contributions is its attention, first, to how European powers – and especially France, Britain, and Russia – intervened on behalf of, Middle Eastern Christians in the modern era, while pursuing their own political agendas; and second, how Middle Eastern Christians sometimes resisted these efforts to represent, or misrepresent, their interests.

You can find the integral review on the website of Taylor and Francis .

Programme colloque: Missions du Levant et connaissance de l’Orient chrétien (XIXe-XXIe siècles)

In partibus fidelium.
Missions du Levant et connaissance de l’Orient chrétien (XIXe-XXIe siècles)

Colloque inaugural du programme MisSMO


École française de Rome, 27-29 novembre 2017

Ecole française de Rome (EfR), Fondazione per le scienze religiose Giovanni XXIII (Fscire), Institut français d’archéologie orientale (Ifao), Institut français d’études anatoliennes (IFEA), Institut français du Proche-Orient (Ifpo), Leiden University, Università di Padova.


9h Ouverture du colloque

Fabrice Jesné (EfR) : Accueil

Norig Neveu (Ifpo, Amman) : Présentation du programme MisSMO

Vittorio Berti (Università di Padova), Marie Levant (Fscire) : Introduction

9h45 Conférence inaugurale

Heather Sharkey (University of Pennsylvania)

10.50 Pause Café

11h15 I. La constitution de savoirs orientaux : livres, bibliothèques et imprimeries entre missions et sociétés locales.

Discutant : Philippe Bourmaud (IFEA/Université Jean Moulin-Lyon 3)
Carsten Walbiner (Birzeit University) : The Arabic manuscripts kept at the Library of the Franciscan custody in Jerusalem as a mirror of the society themissionaries were living in.

Maria Chiara Rioli (Université Paris-Est), Marion Blocquet (Ecole des Chartes) : I caratteri di Jerusalem. La tipografia francescana e la rivista Terra Santa.

Rafaël Herzstein (University of Haifa) : La Bibliothèque orientale de l’Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth : « phare culturel » de l’orientalisme ?

Charbel Nassif (Institut Catholique de Paris) : Le grand euchologue melkite de 1865 : circonstances d’impression et spécificités liturgiques.

12.40 Discussion

14h45 II. Acteurs et structures de la production culturelle des missions

Discutant :Norig Neveu (Ifpo, Amman)
Tangi Cavalin (EHESS): Prosopographie des dominicains des provinces de France au Moyen-Orient (XIXe-XXIe siècles).
Jean-Jacques Pérennès (EBAF) : L’imprimerie des dominicains de Mossoul, au service de la mémoire culturelle des chrétiens d’Orient.
Tijmen Baarda (Leiden University) : Dominican-Iraqi scholarship and the Syro-Chaldean Seminary: Creating and maintaining a shared space of scholarly activity (1878-1950).

15.50 Discussion

16.40 Pause café

17h III. Missions et savoirs linguistiques

Discutant : Karène Sanchez (Leiden University)
Hayk Martirosyan (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg) : The role of the German Aid Society for Armenian Relief in the Preservation and Dissemination of Armenian

Language in Marash (Cicilia), 1898-1919.
Alessandro Mengozzi (Università di Torino) : Modern Aramaic and the Catholicization of Christian Culture in Northern Iraq-

17.45 Discussion

9h00 IV. Transferts, circulations et reformulations des savoirs

Discutant :

Bernard Heyberger (EHESS/EPHE)

Emiliano Fiori (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) : Syriac studies for the Kaiser : Eduard Sachau’s scientific mission to Mesopotamia.

Ameer Jajé (IDEO, Le Caire) : La découverte de l’église de Kokhé : l’aube de la foi chrétienne en Mésopotamie.

Massimiliano Vaghi (Università di Milano) : Réceptions et reformulations de l’Orient chrétien dans les « Archives des missions scientifiques et littéraires » (finXIXe siècle.).

Riccardo Saccenti (Fscire) : Ecrire l’histoire de l’Orient avec les yeux de François d’Assise: origines, méthodes et contenues de la Biblioteca bio-bibliograficadella Terra Santa de Girolamo Golubovich

10.30 Discussion

11.30 Pause café

11h50 V. Patrimonialisation et mise en valeur des traditions culturelles locales

Discutant :

Séverine Gabry-Thienpont (Ifao, Le Caire)

Julien Auber de Lapierre (EPHE) : Marcus Simaika Pacha ou l’inventeur du patrimoine copte.

Hiroko Miyokawa (University of Oxford) : The Rediscovery of St. Menas the Miracle Maker.

Willy Jansen (Radboud University Nijmegen) : Showing the cultures of the East. Piet Gerrits and the Biblical Museum of the Holy Land Foundation.

12.50 Discussion

15.00 VI. Savoirs concurrentiels : les politiques missionnaires et leurs enjeux

Discutant :

Anthony O’Mahony (University of London)

Konstantinos Papastathis (Université du Luxembourg) : Missionary Politics in Late Ottoman Palestine : The Stance of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Paolo Maggiolini (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano) : Change, Transition, and Development in the Contemporary Holy Land : the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the British Mandate in Palestine.

Paolo Zanini (Università di Milano) : Cattolici e Protestanti in Terra Santa. Aspetti culturali di una rivalità secolare (1848-1948).

Edouard Coquet (Université Paris-Sorbonne) : Le Saint-Siège et les Églises orientales face à l’autorité française en Syrie et au Liban (1920-1930).

16.20 Discussion

17.30 Pause café

17.45 Conférence

Chantal Verdeil (INALCO)

8.45 VII. Chrétiens d’Orient et gouvernement romain au tournant de Vatican II : repenser la mission ?

Discutant :

Giuseppe Maria Croce (Rome)

Anthony O’Mahony (University of London) : Between Rome and Antioch: Cardinal-Patriarch Gabriel Tappouni and the Syriac Catholic Church in the modern Middle East – ecclesial identity, mission and Canon Law.

Claire Maligot (EPHE) : Se faire la voix de l’Orient au concile Vatican II. Médiations latines et protestations orientales dans le débat sur les rapports de l’Eglise catholique avec les autres religions.

Alberto Guasco (Link Campus University, Rome) : Paolo VI, i benedettini di Gerusalemme e la riconciliazione con i cristiani d’Oriente.

Isabelle Rousselin (Bethléem) : Le monastère de l’Emmanuel (Bethléem, 1963-2017) et son projet pour l’unité entre Orient et Occident : faire revivre le monachisme byzantin dans l’Eglise melkite.

10.15 Discussion

11.15 Pause café

11.30 Table ronde conclusive

Présidée par Alberto Melloni (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia).
Conclusions : Aurélien Girard (Université de Reims), Bernard Heyberger (EPHE/EHESS) Discussion finale et perspectives du programme MisSMO : équipe MisSMO.

Exposition : Chrétiens d’Orient, 2000 ans d’Histoire

En ce moment et jusqu’au 14 Janvier 2018 se tient l’exposition « Chrétiens d’Orient. 2000 ans d’Histoire » à l’Institut du Monde Arabe à Paris et en coproduction avec la ville et le musée des Beaux Arts de Tourcoing. L’IMA retrace à travers cette exposition l’histoire des chrétiens de la Terre Sainte (comprenant aujourd’hui l’Égypte, la Syrie, le Liban, la Jordanie, et l’Irak) depuis le premier siècle jusqu’à nos jours.

Ainsi, l’exposition est composée de quatre sections principales. La première traite de l’avènement et du développement du christianisme du Ier au IVe siècle. La seconde, allant du VIIe au XIVe siècle, se concentre sur la situation des Églises chrétiennes d’Orient après la conquête musulmane. La troisième décrit les relations et les échanges existant entre les Églises d’Orient et l’Occident entre le XVe et le XXe siècle. Enfin, la quatrième et dernière partie intitulée « Être chrétien dans le monde Arabe aujourd’hui » aborde les questions de l’exil, la culture, le renouveau religieux et l’héritage chrétiens dans cette région, du XXe siècle à nos jours.

Parmi la grande variété d’œuvres présentées, sont notamment à découvrir une fresque du IIIe siècle représentant le Christ ou encore les photographies de Roger Anis dénonçant la situation des chrétiens aujourd’hui au Caire.

L’IMA organisera également de nombreux événements autour de l’exposition dont une conférence hebdomadaire, plusieurs projections cinématographiques et des activités éducatives sur différentes problématiques se rapportant aux chrétiens d’Orients.

Pour en savoir plus, découvrez la page de l’exposition : Institut du Monde Arabe.

Colloque: In partibus fidelium – EFR – 27-29 nov. 2017

Version française

Ce colloque international se penchera sur l’assimilation en Europe de connaissances relatives aux cultures chrétiennes-orientales, à partir surtout du dernier tiers du XIXe siècle, et sur le rôle que les missions ont joué dans ce processus. Ces connaissances nouvelles sont fondées en grande partie sur les travaux menés sur le terrain, au Moyen-Orient, en particulier sur les manuscrits conservés dans les monastères et les patriarcats, et plus généralement sur le patrimoine littéraire, linguistique, archéologique, cartographique et musicologique, des communautés chrétiennes installées. Un savoir circule et se transforme de part et d’autre de la Méditerranée : recueilli et développé dans les grandes bibliothèques et universités européennes, il est aussi intégré par les structures de gouvernance des Églises, notamment à Rome, mais retourne encore bien souvent dans son espace d’origine, où il est ré- approprié et nourrit une prise de conscience patrimoniale interne. Les missions chrétiennes, naturellement situées à l’interface entre le “monde occidental” et le “monde oriental”, se retrouvent au cœur de cette dynamique. Dans le contexte d’un second XXe siècle marqué au Moyen-Orient par la décolonisation et les guerres, ainsi que par le nationalisme arabe puis l’islam politique, différents processus – affirmation identitaire des communautés chrétiennes, recrutement local accru des missions, révision des barrières confessionnelles – renouvellent les enjeux et les mécanismes de cette circulation des savoirs chrétien-orientaux.

Axe 1 : Les missions chrétiennes du Levant comme lieux de production d’un savoir “oriental”

On s’intéressera aux principaux centres missionnaires dans leur pratique d’un apostolat des textes et du savoir. Il s’agit par exemple des jésuites de l’Université Saint-Joseph, des dominicains de Mossoul, du Caire et de Jérusalem, des maronites d’Alep, ou encore des nombreuses implantations de la Church Missionary Society à Jérusalem et en Palestine (sans exclure le cas particulier du monastère des Arméniens à Venise).

Le colloque est centré sur les savoirs culturels et religieux : textes bibliques et liturgiques, productions musicologiques, découvertes archéologiques, littérature ethnographique, photographie et cartographie, etc. L’étude des ateliers d’imprimerie sera une clé d’entrée. En effet, ils permettent une large circulation des travaux érudits, ils aident considérablement à la diffusion de la presse dans le Moyen-Orient, et ils favorisent tout un travail philologique et scientifique sur les manuscrits anciens, qui sont transcrits, traduits et recopiés, avec un apparat considérable de notes et de commentaires. Les missions chrétiennes ont également joué un rôle particulier dans le maintien et la diffusion des langues et écritures des communautés locales (syriaque, copte, arménien, par exemple) comme dans l’enrichissement et la transmission de la langue arabe. On s’interrogera encore sur la manière dont les missionnaires ont informé sur la situation des communautés locales (mobilités, persécutions, pratiques sociales, etc).
On se penchera enfin sur le rôle des passeurs locaux. Quels sont les acteurs, et quels terrains géographiques, scientifiques et religieux, investissent-ils ? Quelle a pu être leur influence ? On étudiera le parcours et les travaux d’érudits locaux, qui, autour du premier XXe siècle, jouent un rôle fondamental dans la mise en lumière et la diffusion d’un nouveau savoir chrétien-oriental, tels, par exemple, un Addai Scher, un Louis Cheikho, un Ephrem Rahmani ou un Alphonse Mingana, demeurés célèbres pour leurs bibliothèques, leurs travaux volumineux, les revues et parfois les centres d’étude qu’ils ont contribué à fonder. On inclura la question de leur insertion au sein de communautés savantes et religieuses, et de leurs relations avec les autorités locales, politiques et ecclésiastiques.

Axe 2 : Passages, réceptions et reformulations

Il s’agit de comprendre comment circule cette nouvelle connaissance sur les réalités culturelles chrétiennes-orientales. Sans pour autant ignorer le rôle et les motivations étatiques, on s’intéressera en priorité aux canaux culturels et religieux : revues et collections d’érudition orientale fondées de part et d’autre de la Méditerranée (al-Machriq, Patrologia Syriaca, Patrologia Orientalis, Oriens Christianus), et sections spécifiques dans les congrès internationaux, les universités ou les grandes bibliothèques européennes et nord-américaines, sans oublier les organismes d’étude et de formation au sein des Églises, parmi lesquels l’Institut pontifical oriental. Ainsi, en Europe, mais aussi aux États-Unis et en Russie, des érudits, des scientifiques, et des universitaires, à la faveur de l’orientalisme ambiant, acquièrent ou s’approprient ces nouveaux travaux, et les étudient à leur tour, tels l’assyriologue de Louvain Chabot, les Allemands Sachau et Baumstark, l’historien de l’Église Duchesne et son collègue byzantiniste Janin, ainsi que le futur cardinal Tisserant, dont on observera les trajectoires. On examinera les interactions avec les cercles académiques mais aussi avec les courants de pensée qui les traversent. Comment ces savoirs sont-ils justement reçus, ré-interprétés, reformulés ? On questionnera un certain nombre d’interactions d’ordre stratégique et politico-culturel. Par exemple, la vision chrétienne- occidentale est longtemps imprégnée, jusque chez les missionnaires, de défiance et de mépris face à un christianisme oriental considéré comme décadent et que les missions ont pour vocation d’affermir. Mais comment cette perception intègre-t-elle les théories darwinistes et raciales face à un christianisme sémitique – de langue, de culture – en particulier dans l’entre-deux-guerres, au moment de l’essor de l’érudition orientale ? A contrario, on regardera de quelle manière le développement de ces nouveaux savoirs modifie les rapports d’altérité au sein du monde chrétien, jusqu’à parfois reconnaître chez les chrétientés orientales une force de rénovation au tournant de Vatican II. Dans l’analyse des formes de réception et d’usages institutionnels de ces savoirs, le cas romain s’impose par la proximité des sources, qu’il s’agisse de la constitution d’organismes spécifiques ou bien du développement d’expertises au sein des dicastères et des congrégations religieuses.

Axe 3 : Réappropriations locales et mutations

Parmi les mécanismes de réintégration des savoirs dans l’espace moyen-oriental, on abordera la question de la mise en valeur de traditions culturelles et cultuelles, en relation avec des processus d’affirmation identitaire des communautés chrétiennes locales. La musique liturgique, par exemple, a pu constituer un terrain privilégié de patrimonialisation d’une culture locale dans l’Église copte. D’autre part, comment ce savoir interfère-t-il avec la perception d’une sacralisation progressive des territoires moyen- orientaux ? On envisagera les phénomènes d’oubli, de réinvention et là aussi de patrimonialisation, qui conduisent à l’élaboration de topographies sacrées. De ce point de vue, le cas de la Terre Sainte est particulièrement révélateur.

Enfin, quelles inflexions au cours du temps ? On considèrera notamment les évolutions induites par la hausse des vocations locales au sein des missions et par les renouvellements des rapports interconfessionnels. On s’intéressera aux changements qui touchent la définition même de Proche et Moyen-Orient, de Terre Sainte, d’Églises et d’Orient chrétien. Dans le contexte du second vingtième siècle, c’est la mission chrétienne en “terre d’islam” qui se trouve elle-même repensée.

Informations pratiques

Modalités d’envoi des propositions

Les propositions de communication, de 500 mots maximum, sont à envoyer avant le 11 mars 2017, en français, italien ou anglais, à l’adresse suivante : missmo.inpartibus@gmail.com. Elles seront accompagnées d’une courte présentation de l’auteur, avec mention de son titre et de son affiliation institutionnelle.


11 mars 2017 : date limite de remise des propositions
Fin mars : notification des résultats
30 octobre : remise des textes (ils seront remis aux participants du colloque afin de faciliter la discussion et de préparer la publication finale)
27-29 novembre : colloque

Prise en charge des frais de transport (plafonnés) et d’hébergement (pour la durée du colloque uniquement).

Les langues du colloque sont le français, l’italien, et l’anglais.
Les actes du colloque seront publiés selon un processus d’évaluation par des experts.

Organisation de l’événement

Ce colloque international est le premier d’une série de manifestations scientifiques dans le cadre du programme quinquennal de recherche Missions chrétiennes et sociétés du Moyen-Orient : organisations, identités, patrimonialisation [MisSMO, 2017-2021]. Il vise à étudier le rôle et la place des missionnaires chrétiens dans les évolutions culturelles et sociales du Moyen-Orient contemporain, du XIXe siècle à nos jours. Il inclue l’École française de Rome (EfR), la Fondazione per le scienze religiose Giovanni XXIII (Fscire), I’Institut français d’archéologie orientale (Ifao), l’Institut français d’études anatoliennes (Iféa), l’Institut français du Proche-Orient (Ifpo), et l’Université de Leyde.

Coordinateurs du colloque : Vittorio Berti (vittorio.berti@unipd.it), Marie Levant (levant@fscire.it).

Comité d’organisation : Vittorio Berti (Università di Padova), Philippe Bourmaud (Iféa, Université Lyon 3), Séverine Gabry-Thienpont (Ifao), Fabrice Jesné (EfR), Marie Levant (Fscire), Norig Neveu (Ifpo), Karène Sanchez (Leiden University).

Comité scientifique : Dominique Avon (Université du Maine), Adam Becker (New York University), Vittorio Berti (Università di Padova), Philippe Bourmaud (Iféa, Université Lyon 3), Séverine Gabry- Thienpont (Ifao), Aurélien Girard (Université de Reims), Bernard Heyberger (EHESS/EPHE), Marie Levant (Fscire), Alberto Melloni (Fscire), Alessandro Mengozzi (Università di Torino), Heleen Murre- Van der Berg (Radboud University), Norig Neveu (Ifpo), Inger Marie Okkenhaug (Volda University College), Anthony O’Mahony (Heytrop College), Heather Sharkey (University of Pennslyvania), Karène Sanchez (Leiden University), Chantal Verdeil (Inalco).


Versione italiana 

Il colloquio internazionale rivolgerà la sua attenzione all’assimilazione da parte dell’Europa della conoscenza delle culture cristiano-orientali, prodottasi a partire soprattutto dall’ultimo terzo del XIX secolo, e al ruolo che le missioni hanno giocato in questo processo. Tale insieme di nuove conoscenze è fondato per lo più su lavori condotti sul terreno, nel vicino e medio-oriente, in particolare sui manoscritti conservati nei monasteri, negli episcopati e patriarcati, e più generalmente sul patrimonio letterario, linguistico, archeologico, cartografico e musicologico delle comunità cristiane installate. Un sapere circola e si trasforma da una parte all’altra del Mediterraneo: raccolto e sviluppato in grandi biblioteche e importanti università europee, viene anche integrato da strutture di governo della Chiesa, in specie a Roma, ma ritorna pure con una certa frequenza nel suo spazio d’origine, dove viene riappropriato e nutre una presa di coscienza patrimoniale interna. Le missioni cristiane, naturalmente situate all’incrocio, si licet, tra “mondo occidentale” e “mondo orientale”, si ritrovano al cuore di questa dinamica. Nel contesto della seconda metà del XX secolo, marcata nel Vicino e Medio Oriente dalla decolonizzazione e dalle guerre, così come dal nazionalismo arabo per finire con l’Islam politico, differenti processi – affermazione identitaria delle comunità cristiane, reclutamento locale accresciuto delle missioni, revisione delle barriere confessionali – rinnovano le sfide e i meccanismi di questa circolazione di saperi cristiano-orientali.

Asse 1: Le missioni cristiane del Levante come luoghi di produzione di un sapere “orientale”

Ci si interesserà dei principali centri missionari nella loro pratica di un apostolato dei testi e del sapere. Si tratta per esempio dei gesuiti dell’Università Saint-Joseph, dei domenicani di Mossul, del Cairo e di Gerusalemme, dei maroniti di Aleppo, o ancora dei numerosi insediamenti della Church Missionary Society a Gerusalemme e in Palestina (senza escludere casi particolari come quello del monastero mechitarista degli Armeni a Venezia, ad esempio).

Il colloquio sarà incentrato sui saperi culturali e religiosi: testi biblici e liturgici, produzioni musicologiche, scoperte archeologiche, letteratura etnografica, fotografia e cartografia, ecc. Lo studio delle tipografie sarà una chiave d’accesso. In effetti, esse permisero una larga circolazione di lavori eruditi, aiutando considerevolmente la diffusione della stampa nel Medio Oriente, e favorendo il lavoro

filologico e scientifico sui manoscritti antichi, che venivano al contempo trascritti, tradotti e copiati, necessitando lo sviluppo di considerevoli apparati di note e di commenti. Le missioni cristiane hanno ugualmente giocato un ruolo particolare nel mantenimento e nella diffusione delle lingue e delle scritture delle comunità locali (siriaco, copto, armeno, per esempio) come nell’arricchimento e nella trasmissione della conoscenza della lingua e cultura araba. Ci si interrogherà ancora sulla maniera in cui i missionari hanno informato sulla situazione delle comunità locali (trasferimenti, persecuzioni, pratiche sociali). Ci si concentrerà infine sul ruolo degli intellettuali locali. Quali sono gli attori, e quali terreni geografici, scientifici e religiosi coinvolgono? Quale ha potuto essere la loro influenza? Si studierà il percorso e i lavori degli eruditi locali, che, agli inizi del XX secolo, hanno giocato un ruolo fondamentale nel porre in evidenza e nel diffondere un nuovo sapere cristiano-orientale, quali, per esempio, un Addai Scher, un Louis Cheikho, un Ephrem Rahmani o un Alphonse Mingana, celebri per il loro contributo nell’accrescimento delle biblioteche, i loro lavori voluminosi, e talora per le riviste e i centri di studio che costoro hanno contribuito a fondare. Si includerà la questione della loro posizione all’interno delle comunità accademiche e religiose, delle loro relazioni con le autorità locali, politiche ed ecclesiastiche.

Asse 2 : Passaggi, ricezioni e riformulazioni

Si tratta di comprendere come circoli questa accresciuta conoscenza delle realtà culturali cristiane orientali. Senza tuttavia ignorare il ruolo e le motivazioni tattiche, ci si interesserà primariamente ai canali culturali e religiosi: riviste e collezioni di erudizione orientale fondate da una parte all’altra del Mediterraneo (al-Machriq, Patrologia Syriaca, Patrologia Orientalis, Oriens Christianus per citarne solo alcune), e sezioni specifiche nei congressi internazionali, l’articolazione di questi studi nelle università e la crescita delle sezioni dei manoscritti orientali nelle grandi biblioteche europee e nord- americane, senza dimenticare gli organismi di studio e di formazione al cuore della Chiesa cattolica, tra i quali il Pontificio Istituto Orientale. Così, in Europa come in Russia e negli Stati Uniti, eruditi, ricercatori e accademici, a favore dell’orientalismo locale, acquisiscono o si appropriano dei nuovi lavori, e li studiano a loro volta, come gli orientalisti Jean-Baptiste Chabot, Eduard Sachau, Anton Baumstark, o, per altro verso, lo storico della Chiesa Louis Duchesne. il suo collega bizantinista Raymond Janin, o il futuro cardinale Eugène Tisserant (per fare solo alcuni nomi), de quali si osserveranno le traiettorie. Si esaminerà le interazioni con i circuiti accademici così come le correnti di pensiero che le attraversano.

Come questi saperi sono recepiti, reinterpretati, riformulati? Si indagheranno un certo numero di interazioni d’ordine strategico e politico-culturale. Per esempio, la visione cristiana occidentale è stata per lungo tempo impregnata, anche presso i missionari, di diffidenza se non di ostilità nei confronti di un cristianesimo orientale considerato come decadente e che le missioni avevano per vocazione di consolidare. Ma in quale modo questa percezione integrava al proprio interno teorie darwiniste e razziali di fronte a un cristianesimo semitico – di lingua, di cultura – in particolare tra le due guerre, nel momento di maggiore slancio dell’erudizione orientale? A contrario, si presterà attenzione al modo in cui lo sviluppo di questi nuovi saperi modifichi i rapporti di alterità in seno al mondo cristiano, fino a volte a riconoscere presso le cristianità orientali una forza di rinnovamento al tornante del Vaticano II. Nell’analisi delle forme di ricezione e degli usi istituzionali di questi saperi, il caso romano si impone per la prossimità delle fonti, che si tratti della costituzione di organismi specifici oppure dello sviluppo di competenze al seno di dicasteri e di congregazioni religiose.

Asse 3 : Riappropriazioni locali e mutazioni

Tra i meccanismi di reintegrazione dei saperi nello spazio vicino e medio-orientale, si affronterà la questione della valorizzazione delle tradizioni culturali e cultuali, in relazione a processi di affermazione identitaria delle comunità cristiane locali. La musica liturgica, per esempio, ha potuto costituire un terreno privilegiato di patrimonializzazione di una cultura locale nell’ambito della Chiesa copta. D’altra parte, in che modo questo sapere interagisce con la percezione di una sacralizzazione progressiva dei territori medio-orientali? Si prenderanno in considerazione i fenomeni di oblio, reinvenzione e di patrimonializzazione, che conducono all’elaborazione di topografie sacre. Da questo punto di vista, il caso della Terra Santa è particolarmente rivelatore.

Infine, quali inflessioni nel corso del tempo? Si considereranno in particolare le evoluzioni indotte dall’aumento di vocazioni locali al cuore delle missioni et dai rinnovamenti dei rapporti interconfessionnali. Ci si interesserà ai cambiamenti che toccano la definizione stessa di vicino e medio-

oriente, di Terra Santa, di Chiese d’oriente e di Oriente cristiano. Nel contesto della seconda metà del XX secolo, è la missione cristiana in “terra d’Islam“ che verrà ripensata per se stessa.

Informazioni pratiche

Modalità di invio delle proposte di contributo

Le proposte, di un massimo di 500 parole, sono da inviare entro l’11 marzo 2017, in francese, italiano o inglese, all’indirizzo seguente: missmo.inpartibus@gmail.com.
Esse dovranno essere corredate da una breve presentazione dell’autore, in cui si faccia menzione del suo titolo e della sua affiliazione istituzionale.


11 marzo 2017: data limite dell’invio delle proposte di contributo
Fine marzo: notificazione dei risultati della selezione delle proposte
30 ottobre: invio dei testi deli contributi (saranno rimessi ai partecipanti al colloquio al fine di facilitare la discussione e di preparare la pubblicazione finale)
27-29 novembre: colloquio

Gli organizzatori del convegno provvederanno all’alloggio dei partecipanti (solo per la durata del colloquio) e a rimborsare le spese di viaggio (solo in caso di costi contenuti).

Le lingue del colloquio sono il francese, l’italiano e l’inglese.
Gli atti del colloquio saranno pubblicati tramite un processo di valutazione anonima condotta da esperti.

Organizzazione dell’evento

Questo colloquio internazionale è la prima di una serie di manifestazioni scientifiche nel quadro del programma quinquennale di ricerca Missions chrétiennes et sociétés du Moyen-Orient : organisations, identités, patrimonialisation [MisSMO, 2017-2021]. Esso ambisce a studiare il ruolo e lo collocazione dei missionari cristiani nelle evoluzioni culturali e sociali del vicino e medio-oriente contemporaneo, dal XIX secolo ai nostri giorni. Esso include l’École française de Rome (EfR), la Fondazione per le scienze religiose Giovanni XXIII (Fscire), I’Institut français d’archéologie orientale (Ifao), l’Institut français d’études anatoliennes (Iféa), l’Institut français du Proche-Orient (Ifpo), e l’Università di Leiden.

Coordinatori del colloquio: Vittorio Berti (vittorio.berti@unipd.it), Marie Levant (levant@fscire.it).

Comitato di organizzazione: Vittorio Berti (Università di Padova), Philippe Bourmaud (Iféa, Université Lyon 3), Séverine Gabry-Thienpont (Ifao), Fabrice Jesné (EfR), Marie Levant (Fscire), Norig Neveu (Ifpo), Karène Sanchez (Leiden University).

Comitato scientifico: Dominique Avon (Université du Maine), Adam Becker (New York University), Vittorio Berti (Università di Padova), Philippe Bourmaud (Iféa, Université Lyon 3), Séverine Gabry- Thienpont (Ifao), Aurélien Girard (Université de Reims), Bernard Heyberger (EHESS/EPHE), Marie Levant (Fscire), Alberto Melloni (Fscire), Alessandro Mengozzi (Università di Torino), Heleen Murre- Van der Berg (Radboud University), Norig Neveu (Ifpo), Inger Marie Okkenhaug (Volda University College), Anthony O’Mahony (Heytrop College), Heather Sharkey (University of Pennslyvania), Karène Sanchez (Leiden University), Chantal Verdeil (Inalco).


English version

This international conference will look at the assimilation in Europe of knowledge concerning Eastern Christian cultures, especially from the last third of the XIXth century, and the role the missions played in this process. This new understanding is largely founded on research conducted in the field in the Middle East, particularly on manuscripts kept in the monasteries and patriarchates, and more generally on the literary, linguistic, archaeological, cartographic and musicological heritage of the Christian communities in place there. Knowledge circulates and is transformed on both sides of the Mediterranean: collected and developed in the great libraries and universities of Europe, it is also absorbed by the governing structures of the Churches, notably in Rome, but it also often returns to its place of origin, where it is re-appropriated and nourishes a new awareness of heritage. The Christian missions, naturally situated between the Eastern and Western worlds, are at the heart of this dynamic. In the context of a second part of the XXth century marked in the Middle East by decolonisation and by wars, as well as by Arab nationalism and political Islam, different processes – identity affirmation by the Christian communities, increased local recruitment by the missions, a revision of denominational barriers – renew the challenges and mechanisms of this circulation of knowledge of Oriental Christians.

1 : The Christian missions in the Levant as places where knowledge of the East is generated

We will look at the principal missionary centres and their practice of teaching through texts and the transmission of knowledge. For example: the Jesuits of the Saint-Joseph University, the Dominicans of Mosul, of Cairo and Jerusalem; the Maronites of Aleppo, or even the many establishments of the Church Missionary Society in Jerusalem and in Palestine (not forgetting the particular case of the Armenian monastery in Venice).

The conference is focussed on cultural and religious knowledge: biblical and liturgical texts, musical productions, archaeological discoveries, ethnographic literature, photography, cartography etc. A study of the printing houses will be a point of entry. Indeed, they enable a broad circulation of learned texts; they considerably help the spread of the Press in the Middle East, and they favour a whole philological and scientific study of the ancient manuscripts, that are transcribed, translated and recopied, with a

considerable apparatus of notes and commentaries. The Christian missions also played a specific role in the preservation and spread of local languages (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, for example) as in the development and transmission of Arabic. We will also examine the way the missionaries gave information concerning the situation of local communities (moving, persecutions, social practices, etc. Finally, we shall look into the role of local agents. Who are they, and which geographical, scientific and religious fields do they occupy? What was their influence? We shall study the career and writings of local scholars, who, around the first part of the XXth century, played a fundamental role in shedding light on, and spreading new knowledge about, oriental Christianity; people such as Addai Scher, Louis Cheikho, Ephrem Rahmani or Alphonse Mingana for example, who have remained famous for their libraries, their voluminous works, the reviews and sometimes the study centres that they helped to found. We shall include the question of their involvement in the learned and the religious communities, and their relations with the local political and ecclesiastical authorities.

2 : Transitions, receptions and reformulation

We need to understand how this new knowledge of oriental Christian culture spreads. Without ignoring the role and motivations of the State, we shall interest ourselves first and foremost in the religious and cultural channels : learned oriental reviews founded on either side of the Mediterranean (al-Machriq, Patrologia Syriaca, Patrologia Orientalis, Oriens Christianus), and specific areas in international conferences, in universities or in the great university libraries of Europe and North America, not forgetting the research and training organizations within the Churches, one of which is the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Thus, in Europe, as in Russia and the United States, scholars, scientists, academics, influenced by the prevailing orientalism, acquire and appropriate these new works, and study them in their turn; people such as the Assyrian specialist from Louvain, Chabot, the Germans Sachau and Baumstark, the Church historian, Duchesne and his Byzantinist colleague, Janin, as well as the future Cardinal Tisserant, whose careers we will examine. We shall look carefully at the interactions with academic circles but also with the schools of thought that have left their mark on them.

How exactly is this knowledge received, reinterpreted, reformulated? We shall examine a certain number of interactions, both strategic and politico-cultural. For example, the Western Christian vision was, even among the missionaries, permeated for a long time with suspicion and contempt when confronted with an oriental Christianity considered as decadent and which the missions felt they had a vocation to strengthen. But how does this perception assimilate racial and Darwinist theories when faced with a Christianity which language and culture were Semitic, especially between the two wars, a time of fast-growing oriental scholarship? Conversely, we shall consider how the development of this new knowledge modified the sense of otherness within the Christian world, going as far sometimes as to recognise the oriental Christians as a force for change at the time of Vatican II. In the analysis of the reception and institutional use of this knowledge, the Roman case stands out by the nearness of the sources, whether it is with regard to the constitution of specific organizations or the development of expertise within the congregations and the religious orders.

3 : Local re-appropriations and transformations

Among the processes of assimilation of knowledge in the Middle East, we shall tackle the question of the development of cultural and religious traditions, in relation to the process of identity affirmation within the local Christian communities. Liturgical music, for example, was maybe a favoured field for the heritage-making of a local culture in the Coptic Church. On the other hand, how did this knowledge interfere with the perception of a progressive sanctfying of the Middle Eastern territories? We shall consider the phenomena of omission, or reinvention and also of heritage creation, which lead to the development of sacred localities. From this point of view, the case of the Holy Land is particularly revealing.

And finally, what changes over the course of time? We shall look especially at the evolution caused by the increase in local vocations within the missions and by the renewal of inter-denominational relations. We shall examine the changes that concern the very definition of Near and Middle East, of Holy Land, of Churches and of the Christian East. In the context of the second part of the twentieth century, it is the Christian mission in the world of Islam that is itself rethought.

Practical information

Submission of proposals

Proposals (500 words max.) are to be sent before 11 March 2017, in French, Italian or English, to the following address: missmo.inpartibus@gmail.com.
Please include a brief bio-bibliographical presentation, mentioning your title and institutional affiliation.


11 March 2017: deadline for proposals
End of March: notification of the results
30 October: conference paper submission deadline (they will be given to participants to facilitate discussion and prepare the final publication)
27-29 November 2017: conference

Financial contribution: transport and accommodation will be provided
Languages: French, Italian, English
Publication: the acts of the conference will be published following a peer-reviewed process.


This international conference is the first of a series of scientific events in the framework of the five-year research programme Missions chrétiennes et sociétés du Moyen-Orient: organisations, identités, patrimonialisation [MisSMO, 2017-2021]. Its aim is to study the role and place of missionaries in the cultural and social evolution of the contemporary Middle-East, from the XIXth century to today. It includes the École française de Rome (EfR), the Fondazione per le scienze religiose Giovanni XXIII (Fscire), the Institut français d’archéologie orientale (Ifao), the Institut français d’études anatoliennes (Iféa), th Institut français du Proche-Orient (Ifpo), and Leiden University.

Conference coordinated by: Vittorio Berti (vittorio.berti@unipd.it) Marie Levant (levant@fscire.it).

Organizing Commitee: Vittorio Berti (Università di Padova), Philippe Bourmaud (Iféa, Université Lyon 3), Séverine Gabry-Thienpont (Ifao), Fabrice Jesné (EfR), Marie Levant (Fscire), Norig Neveu (Ifpo), Karène Sanchez (Leiden University).

Scientific Board : Dominique Avon (Université du Maine), Adam Becker (New York University), Vittorio Berti (Università di Padova), Philippe Bourmaud (Iféa, Université Lyon 3), Séverine Gabry- Thienpont (Ifao), Aurélien Girard (Université de Reims), Bernard Heyberger (EHESS/EPHE), Marie Levant (Fscire), Alberto Melloni (Fscire), Alessandro Mengozzi (Università di Torino), Heleen Murre- Van der Berg (Radboud University), Norig Neveu (Ifpo), Inger Marie Okkenhaug (Volda University College), Anthony O’Mahony (Heytrop College), Heather Sharkey (University of Pennslyvania), Karène Sanchez (Leiden University), Chantal Verdeil (Inalco).