An International and Collaborative Research Programme

Seminar Session: July 11, 2022: Ulrike Freitag

“Consultative mechanisms and institutions in late Ottoman Jeddah and their afterlife”

July 11, 2022. 16h00-18h00 (Berlin Time). Registration:


This presentation reflects on different types of consultation in late Ottoman Jeddah, the major port of the province of the Hijaz. The presentation will not only engage with the question of how Ottoman reforms at the urban, provincial and imperial levels were implemented and who were the beneficiaries of these reforms, which provided for particular portions of elected members in various bodies. It will also point to less conspicuous forms of consultative and elective mechanisms, namely when it came to the organisation of the urban quarters, but also within bodies such as the guilds. An interesting issue is the afterlife, and temporary revivals, of some of these practices in Saudi Arabia.

Given the scarcity of accessible sources, as well as their variety, the presentation will stress the types of materials consulted, as these point to the necessity for historians to cast their nets very widely.

Ulrike Freitag is the director of Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin and Professor at Freie Universität Berlin. She is director of Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient and professor for Middle Eastern History at Freie Universität Berlin since 2002. After finishing her PhD on Historiography in Syria in the 20th century, she has held lecturerships at FernUniversität Hagen and SOAS. Her more recent work has engaged with translocal connections in the Indian Ocean world (Indian Ocean Migrants and State Formation in Hadhramaut, Leiden 2003) and urban history with a focus on the Arabian Peninsula (A History of Jeddah, Cambridge 2020).

Full 2020-2021-2022 programme of the HISDEMAB seminar

Next Session: Fall 2022

An International and Collaborative Research Programme

17-19 June 2022: International Workshop in Amman

The Workshop, part of the HISDEMAB resarch project of the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft collaborative excellence programme, takes place at the Institut Français du Proche Orient (IFPO) Amman.

Friday June 17, 2022

Excursion to Petra (optional).

Group dinner (19:30 – 22:00).

Saturday June 18, 2022

09:00 – 15:00

Welcoming words by Julie Bonnéric, Abdul Hameed El Kayyali, Falestin Naili and Nora Lafi

Discussion and Reflection on the concept of Historicity and on Democracy“, chaired by Nora Lafi (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin and Hisdemab Project Leader). Contributions by Abdel Qader Amer, Falestin Naili, Abdul Hameed El Kayyali, Khaled Bashir, Frank Bösch, Elisabeth Kimmerle, Robin Schmahl, Simon Baumann, Habib Khazdaghli, Ahlem Hajaji, Matthieu Rey and Manfred Sing.

Sunday June 19, 2022

09:00 – 15:00

Approaches to political participation in the early 20th century” Chaired by Abdul Hameed El Kayyali (Institut français du Proche-Orient, Amman, IFPO Amman)

Abdul Majeed Al-Shunnaq (Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Jordan), “Political participation in Jordan in the early 20th century”.

Muhammad Muthaffar Al-Adhami (Professor of modern and contemporary history), “The Parliamentary Experience in Iraq in the early 20th century: The Ottoman Era and the British Mandate”.

Habib Kazdaghli (Director of the Laboratoire Régions et Ressources Patrimoniales de Tunisie and Professor at Université de la Manouba in Tunis), “Political participation in the early 20th century in Tunisia. The Tunisian Youth Movement 1907-1914”.

Mohammed Arna’ut (Professor at the Institute for Oriental Studies, Prishtina- Kosovo), “Concept and practice of democracy in Syria in the early 20th century”.

Ahlem Hajaji, “Elections within the deliberative bodies of the Jewish community in Tunis during the colonial period

Nora Lafi (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient), “Ottoman legacies of participative and deliberative decision making processes in 1925 Irak and Syria”

1925 was a year of intense and violent repression in the regions of the Middle East under French and British colonial occupation. In the wake of the establishment of Mandates of the League of Nations and of their immediate interpretation in a colonial way, populations protested against the violence, injustice and illegality of colonization, and in some occasions, revolted. The object of this article is to analyse such protests and revolts under the light of their civic and organisational link with previously existing practices of participation, deliberation, negotiation and protest during the Ottoman era. While such forms of participation were being minimized, cancelled or intrumentalized by colonial powers, they continued to express and channel deliberations, opinions, protests and calls for help by local populations. As Ottoman administrative, territorial, legal and political structures had been dismantled, petitions, the usual channel of institutionalized negotiation in an Ottoman context, were sent to Geneva, the seat of the League of Nations. Such petitions, found in the archives of the League of Nations, illustrate how the legacy of Ottoman deliberative practices, made of petitions, but also local elections, systems of institutionalized mediation and defence of recognized rights, continued to fuel civic activism under colonial occupation. Petitioning to Geneva in 1925 against colonial violence in Irak and Syria however, was vain: under pressure by France and the United Kingdom, no office was created in order to treat the petitions, and local voices expressing deliberations, participation, the civic sphere and maybe a form of local early democracy, were never heard. In that sense, the paper is also a reflection on how colonial occupation destroyed possible early democratic practices and violently cancelled existing forms of deliberation, negotiation, protest and conflict resolution. Such European violent influences had huge consequences later in the 20th century and maybe continue today to shape debate on the roots and nature of democracy in the region.

الإرث العثماني لعمليات صنع القرار التشاركية والتداولية في العراق وسوريا عام 1925 نورا لافي (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient، برلين)

كان عام 1925 عامًا من القمع الشديد والعنيف في مناطق الشرق الأوسط الواقعة تحت الاحتلال الاستعماري الفرنسي والبريطاني. في أعقاب إنشاء انتداب عصبة الأمم وتفسيره الفوري بطريقة استعمارية، احتج السكان على العنف والظلم وعدم شرعية الاستعمار، وفي بعض المناسبات، ثاروا. الهدف من هذا المقال هو تحليل مثل هذه الاحتجاجات والثورات في ضوء ارتباطها المدني والتنظيمي بالممارسات السابقة للمشاركة والتداول والتفاوض والاحتجاج خلال العهد العثماني، فبينما كانت السلطات الاستعمارية تقوم بتقليص هذه الأشكال من المشاركة أو إلغائها أو تفنيدها، استمرت في التعبير عن المداولات والآراء والاحتجاجات ودعوات المساعدة من قبل السكان المحليين وتوجيهها. ومع تفكيك الهياكل العثمانية الإدارية والإقليمية والقانونية والسياسية، تم إرسال الالتماسات، وهي القناة المعتادة للمفاوضات المؤسسية في السياق العثماني، إلى جنيف، مقر عصبة الأمم. توضح مثل هذه الالتماسات، الموجودة في أرشيفات عصبة الأمم، كيف أنّ إرث الممارسات التداولية العثمانية، المتمثل في الالتماسات، وكذلك الانتخابات المحلية وأنظمة الوساطة المؤسسية والدفاع عن الحقوق المعترف بها، استمرت في تغذية النشاط المدني في ظل الاحتلال الاستعماري. ومع ذلك، فإن تقديم التماس إلى جنيف في عام 1925 ضدّ العنف الاستعماري في العراق وسوريا كان عبثًا؛ فلم يتمّ إنشاء مكتب للتعامل مع الالتماسات بسبب ضغوط فرنسا والمملكة المتحدة، ولم يُسمع قطّ للأصوات المحلية التي تعبّر عن المداولات والمشاركة والمجال المدني، وربما شكل من أشكال الديمقراطية المحلية المبكرة. وبهذا المعنى، تمثّل الورقة أيضًا تأمّلاً في الكيفية التي دمّر بها الاحتلال الاستعماري الممارسات الديمقراطية المبكرة المحتملة، وألغى بعنف الأشكال الحالية للتداول والتفاوض والاحتجاج وحل النزاعات، وقد كان لمثل هذه التأثيرات الأوروبية العنيفة عواقبُ وخيمة في وقت لاحق من القرن العشرين، وربما يستمر تأثيرها اليوم في تشكيل الجدل حول جذور وطبيعة الديمقراطية في المنطقة

Group dinner :19:30 – 22:00

Monday June 20, 2022

09:30 – 11:30

Visits of the Museum of Parliamentary Life, and visit of The Center for Documents and Manuscripts in The University of Jordan in Amman established in 1972 to promote the study of Arabic and Islamic heritage, and to provide researchers with original and primary sources. The CDM library boasts 31,000 manuscripts.

11:30 – 19:30

Visit of the cities of Salt and Irbid. Tours of sites dating back to the late Ottoman period and the Mandate era.

Group dinner (19:30 – 22:00)

Organised by HISDEMAB members based at IFPO Amman: Abdel Qader Amer (IFPO Amman / University of Jordan), Khaled Bashir (HISDEMAB Student Assitant in Amman / University of Jordan), Abdul Hameed El Kayyali (IFPO Amman) and Falestin Naili (Universität Basel).

An International and Collaborative Research Programme

Seminar Session: June 13, 2022: Erol Ulker

“‘Authoritarian Democracy’ and the late Ottoman Empire: State, Power, and Civil Society in the Second Constitutional Period”

June 13, 2022. 16h00-18h00 (Berlin Time).



My paper aims to discuss the political and ideological character of the single-party rule that prevailed in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. I address this topic by focusing on the formation of a corporatist movement in the Second Constitutional Period (1908-1918). The foundations of this movement were laid after the Constitutional Revolution of 1908, when a large number of associations, trade unions, and cooperatives were established in the Empire. A political circle associated with the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), the driving force of the Revolution of 1908, benefited from this unprecedented expansion in Ottoman civil society. This circle developed strong political and economic ties with artisan and labor organizations, and formulated a corporatist political programme, Representation of Professions (Temsil-i Meslekî), which proposed the restructuring of political and economic life based on corporations representing major occupational groups. After briefly referring to the conditions that led to the rise of the corporatist movement within the CUP, I discuss how it was integrated into the Unionist single-party rule. Drawing on a comparative perspective and the existing literature on the subject, I suggest to characterize this regime as an authoritarian democracy. I argue that in the Ottoman Empire the corporatist movement in question grew strong enough to control key political and economic sectors of the state during much of the First World War period, but was never strong enough to seize absolute power. It coexisted and competed with different power blocs under formal democratic procedures.

Erol Ülker is assistant professor of international relations at the faculty of Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences of Işik University in Istanbul and a former EUME fellow 2015/2016 at Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin. He published extensively on the question of power, representation and political organisations during the late-Ottoman and early republican periods. Among his latest articles: “Anti-Imperialism and Kemalism in Turkey’s Long Sixties“and “The Political Incorporation of Labor in Turkey” (with F. Apaydin).

Next session: July 11, 2022: Ulrike Freitag, (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient / Freie Universität Berlin), “Consultative mechanisms and institutions in late Ottoman Jeddah

An International and Collaborative Research Programme

25 May 2022: International Workshop on Archives, Democracy and Civil Society

The Workshop takes place in Berlin, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient

The conservation of the archives of all decision-making processes is part of the core duties of the exercize of power. It’s function is both internal, as administrations always need to keep a trace of their own actions and external, as other eyes might wish to consult traces of decisions. This function also has various temporalities: immediate for the coordination of services and future under the form of archives for reference, documentation, contestation, recourse or historical research. The possibility for people to have access to such resources is one of the main pillars of democracy and is the object of strong debates as for its modalities, practicalities and legitimate limitations.

The object of this workhop is to reflect on such issues from the combined points of views of historical research, archives conservation and debates on the nature of democracy. Archives and the functioning of conservation apparatuses, from medieval Islam, the Ottoman Empire, colonial powers to independent States, but also various European contexts in a comparative perspective, are taken into consideration and interpreted according to questionings pertaining to accessibility, transparency, openess, or sometimes the organized lack thereof. The aim is to reflect on the link between archival conservation and civil society.

In order to reflect on the complex interaction between various temporalities, the concept of historicity is proposed as a tool for decyphering what was at stake around the archives, their degree of openess, their state of conservation and the conditions of their critical interpretation in each cultural and temporal configuration examined, as well as in present times. As for present times, the question of digitalisation, open-source and open-access will also be examined.


9h00: Welcoming Words by Prof. Ulrike Freitag, Director of the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient

9h15: Introduction by Nora Lafi (HISDEMAB project leader): “Archives and the Question of Democracy: Between Historical Research and Civil Society”

9h30-12h00, Session 2: Digital Heritage between Conservation and Democracy. Chair: Canay Șahin ( Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin )

Erol Ülker ( Işık University and Türkiye Sosyal Tarih Araştırma Vakfı, Istanbul)

Sibel Servet Sular (Kadın Eserleri Kütüphanesi ve Bilgi Merkezi Vakfı, Istanbul), translation by Elisabeth Kimmerle (Leibniz-IEG Potsdam, HISDEMAB)

Stefania Piersanti (Director of the Archivio di Stato di Venezia)

Alisher Karabaev (Librarian and Archivist at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin) and Thomas Ripper (Chief Librarian and Archivist, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin)

12h00-13h00 Lunch at ZMO

13h00-14h00, Session 1: European Archival Resources and the study of the Orient. Chair: Abdul Hameed Al-Kayyali (Institut français du Proche-Orient, Amman)

Feras Kremsti (Curator of the Oriental Manuscript Collection, Gotha Research Library, Gotha)

Dima Dayoub (Coordinator of the Syrian Heritage Archive Project; Documenting the built Heritage catalogue of Aleppo at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

14h-15h00Session 3: Archives and the Question of Democratic Transitions. Chair: Robin Schmahl (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, HISDEMAB)

Hedi Jallab (Director of the Archives nationales de Tunisie)

Sophia Hoffmann (Universität Erfurt and leader of the research programme Learning Intelligence: The Exchange of Secret Service Knowledge between Germany and the Arab Middle East 1960 – 2010 at Leibniz-ZMO)

15h00-15h30: Final Roundtable

16:30: visit of Stasi Archives in Berlin

An International and Collaborative Research Programme

23 & 24 May, 2022: International Workshop in Berlin

The Historicity of Democracy in the Arab and Muslim worlds

The workshop takes place at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient. It is organised around the presentation of draft-chapters following a public call for papers, in the framework of the preparation of a collective book. For attendance, please contact Simon Baumann <>

23 May


Welcoming words by Prof. Ulrike Freitag, Director of the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient

Lafi (Nora) (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, HISDEMAB project leader and editor of the book project), “Introduction: Deliberation, Representation, Elections: Questioning the Historicity of Democracy in the Arab and Muslim Worlds”

Reflections on historicity and the quest of possible roots

Al-Kayyali (Abdul-Hameed), “The Question of Power in Classical Islam: Searching for the roots of deliberative processes

The late-Ottoman period

Akcasu (Ebru), “Reconsidering the Constituency: Immigrant Inclusivity in the late Empire’s Political Arena

Zborowski (Antje), “Yet the words State and Nation are not always synonymous: a Negotiation of Ottoman identity in the year 1911

Sever (Nurkan), “Allegations of Misconduct, Irregularity, and Intimidation in the 1912 Ottoman General Elections Held Within the Baghdad Province“ (online)

Guéchi (Fatima Zohra),Composition,  délibération et prise de décision  dans le diwan de Haj Ahmed, (dernier) Bey de Constantine” (online)

El Guabli (Brahim), “Debating ‘Amazigh Deliberative Democracy’ in Morocco” (online)


The Colonial Context

Schmahl (Robin F.C.), “Treading a Fine Line: Deliberation, Mediation and Colonial Propaganda within the Diwan of Cairo, July-October 1798

Dhenin (Marianne), “Rearing Modern Egypt: Women-Led Child Welfare Programs as Sites of Political Participation and Transformation in the Early 20th Century

Amer (Abdel Qader), “Political and Administrative Decision-Making Processes Under Colonization: The National Governance Experiment During the British Mandate Over Iraq 1920-1932

Bösch (Frank), “Fighting for Democracy Abroad: Iranian Protest in West Germany, 1955-1973

Discussant: Florian Riedler, “Discussing the chapters, discussing the general book project: addressing the historicity of democracy”

24 May


Sing (Manfred), “The Concept of Citizenship in Formally (Not So) Independent Egypt

Hajaji (Ahlem), “Elections within the deliberative bodies of the Jewish community in Tunis during the colonial period

Naili (Falestin), “Colonial Contingencies: the Political Marginalisation of the Municipality of Jerusalem under the British Mandate

Reflections on post-1945 situations, chair Ülker (Erol)

Kimmerle (Elisabeth), “Demanding Democracy from Abroad – Transnational Socialist Movements in the 1970s between Turkey and West Germany

Evren (Can), “Debt of the City, Debts to the City: Professional Men’s Football, City Teams, and the Aristocracy-Democracy Dialectic in Turkey (1960-2020)


Limam (Jinene), “The democratic transition in Tunisia: from leadership to crisis

Ben Khalifa (Riadh), “Decision-Making Processes within the local cells in East-Southern France of the Algerian National Liberation Front during the War of Liberation

DiscussantGuirguis (Laure), “Discussing the chapters, discussing the general book project: addressing the historicity of democracy in the Arab world”

Nora Lafi: General Conclusion and Planning of the Future Steps

19:00: Visit of the exhibition on Parliamentary History in the dome of the Reichstag building.

An International and Collaborative Research Programme

New Publication

Naïli (Falestin), La Palestine entre patrimoine et providence, Paris, Karthala, 2022, 400p.

An International and Collaborative Research Programme

New Publication

Lafi (Nora), “La globalisation ottomane et ses régimes d’historicité. Une approche par l’urbain” in Un moyen-Orient ordinaire (edited by Thierry Boissière and Yoann Morvan), Marseille, Diacritiques, 2022, p.8-27.

An International and Collaborative Research Programme

Seminar Session: April 25, 2022: Zehra F. Kabasakal Arat

“Human Rights and Democracy in Class and Identity Politics”

April 25, 2022. 16h00-18h00 (Berlin Time). Registration:

Abstract: Liberal democracies are continuously challenged and increasingly in danger. Instability of democracy has been typically associated with developing countries, since many democratic systems established in the 1950s and 1960s in newly independent states gave way to military coups and other authoritarian take overs. The 1990s’ euphoria about Eastern Bloc countries’ transition to democracy progressively turned into disappointments. Now, we see democratic principles and institutions are threatened even in “established democracies.” This talk examines the decline of democracies in the Cold War and post-Cold War periods, which can be considered as dominated by class and identity politics, respectively. Noting the close relationship between human rights and democracy, it presents a human rights theory of democracy that explains the decline of democracy by the gap between different types of human rights. On the deterioration or stagnation of social and economic rights, it draws attention to the problems with classical and neoliberal economics.

Zehra F. Kabasakal Arat is Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut. She studies human rights, with an emphasis on women’s rights, as well as processes of democratization, globalization, and development. Her publications include numerous journal articles and book chapters, as well as books: Democracy and Human Rights in Developing Countries (1991); Deconstructing Images of ‘The Turkish Woman’ (1998); Non-State Actors in the Human Rights Universe (Co-ed, 2006); Human Rights Worldwide (2006); Human Rights in Turkey (2007); The Uses and Misuses of Human Rights (Co-ed with George Andreopoulos, 2014). In addition to participating in professional organizations in various capacities (e.g., Founding President, Human Rights Section of APSA), she has served on the editorial boards of several journals. She is also the editor of the book series “Power and Human Rights” by the Lynne Rienner Publishers. She is recognized by several awards, including the APSA Award of Distinguished Scholar in Human Rights (2010), SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities (2006), and the title of Juanita and Joseph Leff Distinguished Professor (Purchase College, 2006). She has been engaged in human rights activism, as well, and is a founding member of the Women’s Platform for Equality (EŞİK) in Turkey.

Next session: May 30, 2022: Mohamed Gamal-Eldin, “Water, Land and Early Nationalism: Protest and Popular Resistance in the Suez Canal Cities, 1859-1919

Full 2020-2021-2022 programme of the HISDEMAB seminar

An International and Collaborative Research Programme

New Publication

Habib Kazdaghli just published, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the colonialist coup of 1952 in Tunisia: “26 Mars 1952: Coup de force colonialiste en Tunisie“, L’Humanité Magazine, 26 mars 2022, p.77-81.

An International and Collaborative Research Programme

New Publication

Nora Lafi just published (Open Access): “Conceptualising Urbanity, Reinterpreting Coexistence: A ḥisba Manuscript of the Late Ottoman Era in Tunis”, in Religion and Urbanity Online, edited by Susanne Rau and Jörg Rüpke, Berlin-Boston, De Gruyter, 2022.

This work was prepared during her stay at Max Weber Kolleg (Universität Erfurt) as a Senior Research Fellow in 2020.

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search