M'hamed Oualdi

Full professor
Ottoman Tunisia, French Colonial Domination, Slavery, Early Modern And Modern North Africa

M’hamed Oualdi is full professor of history at Sciences Po-Paris. He is a historian of Early Modern and Modern North Africa trained in Arabic at Inalco-Paris and in history at the Sorbonne University (Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne) from which he obtained his PhD in 2008. Prior to joining the faculty at Sciences Po, he was associate professor at Princeton University (2013-2019) and maître de conferences at Inalco-Paris (2010-2013). 

His research has centered on two main topics: on slavery and its social impacts on Ottoman Tunisia and on the many effects of transitioning from the Ottoman rule to a French colonial domination in North African societies.

couverture ouvrageHis first book, Esclaves et maîtres. Les mamelouks au service des beys de Tunis du XVIIe siècle aux années 1880 (Publications de la Sorbonne, 2011) is a study of a specific group of slaves and servants, the mamluks who served the governors of the Ottoman province of Tunis from the 1630s until the 1880s. Coming from various social and cultural backgrounds, the mamluks formed a flexible political and social category that helped their masters, the Tunisian governors, to interact with men from different social groups (from urban notables to peasants). With the enforcement of the Ottoman reforms (Tanzîmât) in the second halfof the nineteenth century, they contributed to deep transformations of the Tunisian administration right before the French colonization of the country.

couverture ouvrageHis second book A Slave between Empires (published in 2020 by Columbia University Press) is centered around a case study: the life a former slave and Ottoman dignitary and the many conflicts over his inheritance from the 1880s to 1920. Building on this case study, it is the first book-length historical study to argue for a complete reinterpretation of the modern period and colonialism by studying what preceded and moreover overlapped with European colonialism: namely the Ottoman provincial culture developed on these southern shores of the Mediterranean for more than three centuries, from the second half of the 16th century to the 1910s.

His current project, funded by an ERC consolidator grant, will deal with the narratives and ego-documents written by European, African and Asian slaves and their offspring in 19th-century North Africa/Western Mediterranean, when European and Ottoman states implemented the abolition of slavery around the Mediterranean.

Selected publications 

  • Oualdi, M'hamed. 2020. "La longue fin de l'esclavage au Maghreb." Cogito, le magazine de la recherche., https://www.sciencespo.fr/research/cogito/home/la-longue-fin-de-lesclavage-au-maghreb/.
  • Oualdi, M'hamed. 2020. "Sources en langue arabe dans l'administration du Maghreb moderne." In Encyclopédie des historiographies : Afriques, Amériques, Asies, ed. Nathalie Kouamé, Eric Meyer and Anne Viguier, 1633-1644. Paris: Presses de l'Inalco.
  • “Les batailles d’archives autour de la succession Husayn. Les historicités multiples d’une société maghrébine aux temps ottomans et coloniaux (1860–1930).” Annales. Histoire et Sciences sociales (forthcoming). 
  • “Slave to Modernity? General Ḥusayn’s journey from Tunis to Tuscany (1830s–1880s).” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 60/1-2 (2017): 50–82.
  • “Mamluks in Ottoman Tunisia: A Category Connecting State and Social Forces.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 48 (2016): 473–90.
  •  “L’âge du fez: du couvre-chef impérial au chapeau folklorique,” in P. Singaravélou and S. Venayre (eds), Histoire du monde au XIXe siècle (Paris: Fayard, 2017), 476–80. 
  •  “Provincializing and Forgetting Ottoman Administrative Legacies. Sons and Grandsons of Beys’ Mamluks Facing French Administrators of Tunisia (1890s–1930s).” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 34-2 (2014): 418–31.
  • (with Isabelle Grangaud), “Does Colonialism Explain Everything in North Africa? What Historians Can Bring to the Table?”/“Tout est-il colonial dans le Maghreb? Ce que les travaux des historiens modernistes peuvent apporter” Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine 63-2 (2016): 133–56.
  • (2008) “D’Europe et d’Orient, les approches de l’esclavage des chrétiens en terres d’Islam.” Annales : Histoires et sciences sociales 4: 829–43.<

Selected awards and fellowships 

  • European Research Council – Consolidator Grant (2019-2024)
  • Institute of Advanced Studies (Paris) – fellowship (September–January 2017)
  • European University Institute – Fernand Braudel fellowship (September–December 2015, Florence, Italy)
  • Ecole française de Rome – Researcher in residence (September 2015–July 2016, Rome, Italy).

Research Projects

Last Publications

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