Extended deadline : Diasporas, charity and the construction of belonging: a connected history of practices of ‘goodwill’ in Egypt during the imperial age (19th–20th centuries)

Call for Papers
February 15, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Arabic History / Studies, Middle East History / Studies, Nationalism History / Studies, Social History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies


Organised by

Centre d’études alexandrines, École française d’Athènes, École française de Rome, Institut français d’archéologie orientale,

Call for papers

Place: Institut français d’archéologie orientale in Cairo

Date: 19-20 May 2020

TitleDiasporas, charity and the construction of belonging: a connected history of practices of ‘goodwill’ in Egypt during the imperial age (19th–20th centuries).



Egypt was a space of circulation in the 19th and 20th centuries; a pole of attraction for migrants from Europe and around the Mediterranean. Numerous individuals from Ottoman provinces choose it as a place of exile. Greeks, Italians, and Maltese, to name the most numerous groups, swelled the ranks of populations of European origin, which was chiefly concentrated in urban centers. Numerous institutions and charities were created to support these mobile populations. A space of rivalry between different actors (consulates, associations, missionaries, philanthropists, etc), charity in the context of diaspora/diasporic communities/groups has not been sufficiently studied.

By analyzing the way in which the different diasporic groups conceived and practiced ‘goodwill’, this two-day workshop aims to investigate the role of charity in the fabric of transnational belonging. The aim is to demonstrate, on the one hand, how approaching ‘charity’ can assist in the renewal of the social history of diasporic groups in contemporary Egypt and, on the other, to encourage reflection on the connections between diasporas and homelands, and on the diasporic perspectives? between imperial centers and peripheries.

More concretely, the workshop intends to answer the following questions: How did the devices and practices of ‘goodwill’ contribute to the fabric of belonging (for example, italianità in the case of the Italians of Egypt)? Did philanthropic models and charity practices of diasporic groups influence each other? Were the diaspora groups in the peripheries influenced or shaped by their respective homelands?

Inspired by recent works in connected history, this workshop aims to approach charity from a relational perspective, through a comparison of the discourses on and the practices of ‘goodwill’ implemented by different groups. The aim is to highlight competition as well as the circulation of philanthropic models across community boundaries, thereby reflecting on the forms and practices of charitable cosmopolitanism.

For this reason, the analytical framework is not limited to Cairo and Alexandria, but also includes the cities of Upper Egypt and the Suez Canal, also cosmopolitan and shaped by imperial rivalries. Finally, by extending the analysis to the postwar period, the aim is to account for both continuities and discontinuities in the practices of ‘goodwill’ at the age of imperial transitions.


Deadline for submission of proposals: 15 February 2020

Proposals should include the following:

- title and abstract of the proposal (maximum 500 words)

- CV with a list of works and publications

- full contact details (email address, postal address, telephone number)

They should be emailed to Annalaura Turiano (annalauraturiano@gmail.com) and Angelos Dalachanis (angelos.dalachanis@efa.gr).

Notification of acceptance of proposals: 29 February 2020

Workshop: 19–20 May 2020

Language of communications: English, French

Part of the travel and accommodation costs will be covered by the organizers.

SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE: Fréderic Abécassis, Tassos Anastassiadis, Angelos Dalachanis, Fabrice Jesné, Marie-Dominique Nenna, Annalaura Turiano

ORGANISING COMMITTEE: Frédéric Abécassis, Angelos Dalachanis, Annalaura Turiano 

Contact Info: 

Angelos Dalachanis