East In The West: A Cultural History of Arab Presence in Europe (Postponed)

13 April '19 at 10:00 am - 14 April '19 at 5:00 pm

Did you know that Abdelwahed ben Messaoud, Moroccan ambassador to Elizabeth I, was rumoured to have inspired the Shakespearean character of Othello?

That Antic Egyptian-inspired architecture can be found as far as Cornwall and Lincolnshire?

That in 1983, the first national anti-racist movement in France, led by North African immigrants and their children, grew in just a couple of months from 17 people marching in Marseilles, to more than 100,000 people in Paris?

Culture echoes the sometimes tumultuous but always passionate relationship between Europe and the Arab World. Join us as we delve into their fascinating history through film, music, and other cultural objects in our brand new course East In The West: A Cultural History of Arab Presence in Europe.


Header image: La marche pour l’égalité et contre le racisme from Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration

Time: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Dates: 13 April '19 | 14 April '19

This intensive two-day course traces back the arrival and integration of populations from the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean in Europe from Antiquity to the present day. It will look at the diversity and complexity of Arab influence over Europe throughout the centuries, from a cultural point of view deeply intertwined with economic and political dynamics. As such, this continuous dialogue between Europe and the Arab world lies very far from the asserted vision of two homogenous and irreconcilable civilizational blocks.

You can expect to learn about the birth of Arabic faculties and the Renaissance’s first cafés in Italy; Orientalist architecture in the 19th century; the development of anti-colonial thinking in Paris and London in the early 20th century; the rise of a Euro-Arab musical scene fuelled by mass migration from former colonies after WWII; and much more.

This course is essential for those wanting to understand Europe’s unique oriental background, whether political, economic or cultural. Going back and forth between past and present, arts and politics, micro-history and international politics, it will take the participants through a little-known side of Euro-Arab relations, whilst also shedding new light on questions of integration and identity in Brexit Britain and Europe today.

Please note: lunch and refreshments will be provided on both days


Course Outline

Session 1 (Saturday April 13, 10am-1pm, 3 hours) – From Antiquity to French Revolution

Key words (short): Political unity through empires and trade, Reciprocal relations between East and West.

Key words (long): the time of empires (Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Persian, Byzantine, Umayyad, Abbasid), trade relations, Al-Andalus and Arab military conquest south western Europe, Charles Martel, Averroes, travellers, scientists and intellectuals, the romantic figure of Saladin in popular medieval imagery at the time of the Crusades. Reciprocal relations, trade, piracy, embassies, Ottoman Empire, galley slaves, ransom kidnapping, forced and voluntary conversion, military cooperation, Suleiman the Magnificent, Ottoman-French and Moroccan-British alliances, Habsburg Empire, Prince Djem.

Lunch Break: Lunch is provided

Session 2 (Saturday April 13, 2pm-5pm, 3 hours) – From Napoleon’s campaign of Egypt to WWII

Key words (short): Orientalism, Nation-building in Europe and the making of the “Arab”, Colonisation, State Racism and Prejudice-making.

Key words (long): Orientalism as cultural appropriation. Edward Saïd, Ernest Renan, Lord Byron, Ingres. Expanding France’s revolutionary ideals. A parallel reading of colonisation: Napoleon III and the Arab world, Abd El Kader, development of Arab speaking press, intensification of colonization, Universal Exhibitions, Colonial Exhibitions, scientific racism and Darwinism, Muslim and Arab reformists, 3rd French Republic and Paris, City of Lights. Colonial participation in WWI and WWII, war graves, call for independence. First waves of organised economic migration to France. The building of the Great Mosque of Paris.

Session 3 (Sunday April 14, 10am-1pm, 3 hours) – Arab presence in France after WWII

Key words (short): Political claims, right equality and mass migration, Permanent settlement, mixed identities and French-Arab culture

Key words (long): Demographics of migration, integration policies and alien control system, France as the backroom of Algeria’s fight for independence, repatriation of “pieds-noirs” and arrival of Northern African Jews and Harkis in France after 1962.“cultural boomerang”, pre-independence, Aimée Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Habib Bourguiba, Sorbonne. Development of a migrant or exiled cultural production. Mazouni, scopitones, migrant workers entertainment, “Moorish” cabarets, Latin Quartier, development of an Arab-French cultural production in the 1990s. Rai music, 1998 World Cup, MTV, 1, 2, 3 Soleils, “Marche des Beurs”, normalisation, claims for better integration, intolerance, suburbs culture.

Lunch Break: Lunch is provided

Session 4 (Sunday April 14, 2pm-5pm, 3 hours) – Contemporary Arab migration to the UK

Key words (short): Looking to the other side of the Channel: Arab culture in Britain, Demographics, history and sociology of Arab migration in other Western countries.

Key words (long): comparison, history, post-colonial relations between the United Kingdom and its Arab former mandates/possessions, different integration model, multiculturalism, demographics and sociological features, public cultural policies. Sudanese, Iraqi, Palestinian, Libyan and Lebanese cultural production, architecture, learned societies, Arab-speaking press, Arab contemporary art market, exile literature, cultural institutions and initiatives, Yemeni sailors and dockers, brain drain.

Coline Houssais is a researcher, curator and writer, specialising in Arab contemporary cultures and societies. A graduate from Sciences Po, the French Institute in the Near East (IFPO) and the London School of Economics, Coline currently teaches History of Arab Politics and Culture in Europe, as well as Music and Politics in Contemporary MENA and A Reflection on Heritage and Museums at Sciences Po. In addition to regular contributions in “Wahed”, a French-Arabic magazine on culture and current affairs, Coline is currently co-authoring an anthology of Arab music to be released next year. She is also the creator of  “The Lovebirds of Baghdad,” a live video and storytelling performance about the golden age of Iraqi music. Her TEDx talk on her photography project “This is not a veil” on the history of female headwear in France is available on Youtube.

This course is conceived as a series of lectures illustrated by a number of audio, visual and film archives that help bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and popular culture. Participants to the course are highly encouraged to bring any material that might be relevant to the course and regular question breaks will be scheduled throughout the sessions for more interactivity.

What is included in the course price?

Lunch will be included on both days of the course. All texts and materials will also be provided, but please bring a notebook and pen to make notes.

How many students will be in each class?

There will be a maximum of 12 students in each class.

Can I book a place and pay later?

No, your place on the course will only be confirmed on receipt of the course fee in full.

How can I sign up to a class?

To sign up to a course, you need to book online on the website section ‘COURSES’.

What methods of payment do you accept?

Please use our online booking system (Go to ‘COURSES’ on the main menu of our website, select the course you are interested in and click ‘BOOK NOW’) to secure a seat on a course. You will need a debit or credit card to make a payment. Seats are reserved on a first come first serve basis.

What is your refund policy?

Our courses are often over-subscribed so the sooner you let us know you’ve changed your mind the better. We can then open your place up to someone else. Our rules on refunds are:

  • 75% of the course fee will be refunded if you let us know more than 30 days before the course start date.
  • 50% of the course fee will be refunded if you let us know within 10 – 30 days before the course start date.
  • No refund will be given if you let us know fewer than 10 days before the course start date.

What happens if you cancel the course?

We will endeavour to ensure courses are not cancelled but if this does happen we will contact you as quickly as we can to let you know and to arrange a full refund.

Please contact us if you have any further questions on 020 78321310 or info@arabbritishcentre.org.uk


The Arab British Centre

1 Gough Square


Arab British Centre