Actors, practices, and themes of resistance in the history and memory of contemporary Libya (1835-2011)

Chiara Pagano's picture
Call for Papers
October 31, 2018
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Area Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Middle East History / Studies

The panel will examine the practices and themes of Libyan resistance, defined as the concrete expression of the dialectical tension between the political and institutional centers of power and the social movements, group actors, or individuals that opposed them, covering the chronological span from the Ottoman reconquest in 1835 to the Jamāhīriyya’s fall in 2011. With the advent of the second Ottoman domination (1835-1911), the process of political centralization, which was pursued through promotion of the Tanzimāt, had to deal with the political, social, and cultural requests of a number of interlocutors, which were often in competition with one another: from the Tripolitania hinterland’s tribal confederations, led by chiefs like Ghūma al-Mahmūdī and ‘Abd al-Jalīl Sayf al-Nasr, to the conservative notables from urban areas, the Sufi brotherhoods, and the local representatives of Salafi reformism. International historiography has demonstrated how the resistance’s multiple articulations remained a constant of the Libyan political scene throughout the colonial period (1911-1943). Not much attention has been paid, however, to the plurality of resistance experiences that characterized the pre-colonial state, as well as the different forms they took not only during the decolonization process (1943-1951), but also in the history of independent Libya, both in the monarchical period (1951-1969), and during the Qadhdhāfi regime (1969-2011). Back then, resistance movements did not emerge just on the initiative of urban notables and traditional rural chiefs, nor were they merely due to the activism of intellectual and religious elites. They were also the result of student movements and the unionization of workers, as well as the activism of professional associations and nascent political formations. In the aftermath of anti-Qadhdhāfi revolution, the resistance front’s internal political heterogeneity has constituted one of the main challenges of the transition inaugurated since August 2011. Tracing the historical precedents of this heterogeneity is thus essential to understanding the political complexity of today’s Libya. The panel, therefore, encourages contributions that analyze the different articulations of Libyan resistance movements for the period under consideration, either using a historical approach or other disciplinary approaches.

Contact Info: 

Convenors: Anna Baldinetti (University of Perugia):; Antonio M. Morone (University of Pavia):; Chiara Pagano (University of Pavia):

The deadline for submitting abstracts is October 31, 2018. SeSaMo is using an online paper submission process. Please note that all proposals must be made downloading the paper submission form from the conference website, and sending it as an email to For further details on the panel and submission: