C – Mobilities, migrations, and transnational actors

European minorities in muslim communities in the 18th and 19th centuries: The case with the consular institutions along the coast of North Africa

Event Details

  • Date

    Sunday, 28 June - 9:00 – 11:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    C – Mobilities, migrations, and transnational actors
Convenor
  • Joachim Östlund (Lund University)
Chair
  • Joachim Östlund (Lund University)
Commentator
  • Mats Wickström (Åbo Akademi University)
Panelists
  • Joachim Östlund (Lund University)
  • Emil Kaukonen (Åbo Akademi University)

Papers

  • Joachim Östlund
    Cultural markers among European minorities in Ottoman Algiers. Examples from Swedish consular community, 1730–1830

    Cultural markers among European minorities in Ottoman Algiers. Examples from Swedish consular community, 1730–1830

    This presentation explores questions of identity and agency among members of the Swedish consular community in Ottoman Algiers 1729–1830. The European consulates in North Africa comprised of dense and complex spaces that shaped the relations between different political entities and actors. The staff at the consulate not only contained the consuls and his family or wider network, but also representatives of the most influential power groups in Algiers: an Ottoman janissary, a Algerian dragoman, and a Jewish merchant. The cultural diversity in Algiers, and other cities along the North African coast, produced a steady flow of texts among the consuls commenting on this experience. From the readings from the letters and journals produced by long-time residential consuls and their family members it is possible to uncover processes of the making of cultural markers among different groups of individuals in Algiers, and how this correspond the changes of the competing interests between the Muslim community and among the Europeans minorities.
  • Emil Kaukonen
    The consular community of Tangier through the lens of the Swedish consulate, 1787–1822

    The consular community of Tangier through the lens of the Swedish consulate, 1787–1822

    The presentation explores the consular community of pre-colonial Morocco at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. Through studying the Swedish consulate and the place of Swedish consuls in the consular corps, my ambition is to shed light on their social life and working practices as an expression of diplomatic history. To this end, attention must be given to the connections between the Swedish consular staff and other agents; the European and North African consular corps on one hand, and local intermediaries – such as interpreters – on the other. The work of the consuls included the safeguarding of national commercial interests and the gathering of information, but perhaps most importantly, they acted as high-level diplomats and representatives of their respective nations at the court of the Sultan of Morocco. How did the members of the consular community go about these tasks through patterns of cooperation and competition, to what degree were they integrated into – or isolated from – the Moroccan society surrounding them, and what can we say about the role they played from the point of view of the Moroccan rulers?

Abstract

This panel will present and discuss European diplomatic communities within Muslim communities during the 18th and 19th centuries, with a focus on North Africa and the Ottoman Empire. It explores the continuity of consular communities, the role consular dynasties, and the forms of integration and interaction that these minorities express. Previous consular studies have mainly discussed the European consular communities using concepts mainly drawn from political and economic history and from studies of colonial administrations. In these studies, Eurocentric perspectives have dominated in the sense that Muslim concepts of minorities and integration have largely been ignored. A view of European consuls and diplomats as minority groups within Muslim communities can be useful to remedy this imbalance. Further, this perspective allows us to better analyze these communities as social groups rather than seeing them solely as diplomatic agents. What were the political, social and cultural mechanisms behind the making of European communities in North Africa with the consular institutions as the main institution? How and to what degree was the presence of Europeans linked to processes of boundary-drawing between dominant Muslim groups and different European minorities? How are Europeans distinguished by cultural markers like clothing or other attributes and to what degree do visible markers correspond to the concept of ethnicity? How do Europeans express their identity as a group (with or without the umbrella of consular protection) and as representatives of different states in a Muslim society and how are identities transformed in the context of changing relations of power in the Mediterranean?