Call for Chapters: The Historicity of Democracy in the Arab and Muslim Worlds

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Call for Chapters: The Historicity of Democracy in the Arab and Muslim worlds


In the framework of the HISDEMAB research project on the historicity of democracy in the Arab and Muslim worlds, funded by the Leibniz-Association, original chapters are welcome for a collective book edited by Nora Lafi (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin). The volume will integrate work from historians of political systems, historians of ideas, historians focusing on social and cultural history, urban historians or specialists of the historical anthropology and anthropology of decision-making processes. The main objective of the volume is to deliver an up-to-date interpretation of the phenomena of negotiation, deliberation, representation, debate, consensus-building, election, designation, expression of ideas and opinions or construction of forms of public spheres in the Arab and Muslim worlds from the Middle-Ages to contemporary times. Within the historiographical context of studies having critically challenged the inertia of forms of orientalism and new-orientalism in debates on democracy in the region, the volume, in spite of only discussing the ability or not of societies to accomodate democratic institutions and practices, will deliberately focus on the study of such societies for themselves and of political forms that were inherent to them. The aim is to track, explore and interpret, on the basis of original sources (archives, manuscripts) practices that existed in the broader region without reducing them to only echoes or imports. Paradigms of circulation of ideas are of course important in this posture too but what will also be under study in this volume is the diversity of local societies and the complex solutions of governance they historically developed.

Chapters may cover the following themes. Alternative ideas are also welcome.

  1. Deliberation, representation, power and legitimacy in Medieval Islam (both theory and practice, with an attention to the inertia and transformation of previous practices)
  2. Systems of election, designation, negotiation and decision in the Medieval Islamic world as well as in the Ottoman Empire at the scale of confessional communities (Jewish, Christian and others), professional organisations, urban institutions, rural communities, nomadic or semi-nomadic communities
  3. Forms of female civic participation
  4. Expressions of civic life (debate, opinion, participation, opposition…) and practices of consensus-building
  5. Ottoman experiences of institutional reform of representation and of elective systems at both the local and imperial levels
  6. Representation, deliberation, decision-making and elections under colonial occupation
  7. The notion of democracy in the relationship with its various layers of historicity at the times of struggles for independence and during phases of national-building.
  8. Interpreting democratic oppositions and recent experiments, as well as their repression, in the framework of debates on the historicity of democracy in the region
  9. The question of the access to archival resources in relation to debates on and practices of democracy


The authors will be invited to present their chapter in a workshop in Berlin in March 2022 (travel and accommodation costs covered).

Nora Lafi is the editor or co-editor of 6 collective books: Municipalités méditerranéennes, K. Schwarz, 2005; The City in the Ottoman Empire, Routledge, 2011; Urban Governance under the Ottomans, Routledge, 2014; Silvestre de Sacy: le projet européen d’une science orientaliste, Le Cerf, 2015; Urban Violence in the Middle East, Berghahn, 2015; Understanding the City through its Margins, Routledge, 2018. She also guest edited several thematic issues of peer-reviewed journals and published extensively on the subject of the civic dimension of governance in the Ottoman empire. She presently serves as Senior Research Fellow with Leibniz-ZMO in Berlin and is HISDEMAB project-leader.

Abstract deadline: July 9, 2021. Notification of acceptance: July 16, 2021. Paper deadline: January 15, 2022. Workshop in Berlin: March 2022. Revised Paper Deadline: June 30, 2022.

Please note that due to the present pandemic and to the limited duration of the funding, deadlines must be respected.

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