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.

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search