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)