“How Can We Speak of Defeat? Archival Abysses in the History of the Naksa” – Lecture by Pascale Ghazaleh
On August 26th to September 6th, 2019, the Transregional Academy “Fragment – Power – Public: Narrative, Authority and Circulation in Archival Work” took place in Beirut, Lebanon. The Academy was organized by the Forum Transregionale Studien in the framework of its research program Europe in the Middle East — The Middle East in Europe (EUME), the Max Weber Stiftung and the Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages of the American University of Beirut (AUB).
Pascale Ghazaleh was part of the Academy’s Steering Committee and on September 3rd, 2019, she gave a lecture entitled “How Can We Speak of Defeat? Archival Abysses in the History of the Naksa”.
Attempts to write the history of the 1967 war between Egypt, Syria and Jordan, on one hand, and Israel, on the other, faces a series of narrative contradictions and archival dead ends. It is an open secret that the Egyptian military has collected thousands of testimonies from individuals who fought in the war, but that these will never be accessible to the public. Similarly, state archives are closed to researchers on grounds of national security considerations. If we are unable to use the records of the defeated regime in our efforts to document the history of a war that was, paradoxically, brief yet cataclysmic, where must we turn in our efforts to understand it?
Pascale Ghazaleh is an Associate Professor of History at the American University in Cairo. She specializes in Ottoman history and 19th-century Egypt. During the academic year 2017/18 and in summer 2019, she was a EUME Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. She has published research on the social organization of craft guilds in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Egypt, and on the material culture and social networks of merchants in Cairo during the same period. During her time as a EUME Fellow, she worked on a project about ownership practices and their relation to the constitution of national resources in late nineteenth-century Egypt.