Thème : science des données et intelligence artificielle, photographie d'un robot jouant du piano.

The “narrowing of societies”: global circulations and local practices in the 19th century


Directors: Fabrice Bensimon, Jeanne Moisand, Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen

Participating members: Jacques-Olivier Boudon, Isabelle Dasque, Eric Fournier, Dominique Kalifa, Guillaume Mazeau.

The main approaches to 19th-century global history all agree on one point, namely the "growth of interdependencies" (Jürgen Osterhammel, Die Verwandlung der Welt, 2009), the "narrowing" between societies (Christopher Bayly, La naissance du monde moderne, 2007), the increase in connections on a worldwide scale, and contemporaries' consciousness of this global horizon. These convergences were made possible by greater ease of travel, increased migration, wider circulation of the printed word, the internationalization of social and intellectual practices (conferences; fairs; proletarian, scholarly or philanthropic internationalism, etc.), the rise of pilgrimages, political centralization and nation building, imperialist and colonial expansion, etc. Jürgen Osterhammel emphasizes the paradox between a century dominated by globalization and a historiography which, in the process of becoming institutionalized and professionalized, simultaneously failed to examine this process and contributed to the assertion of nationalities and nations.

In many regions of the world, overall, the key factors in this "narrowing" were undoubtedly the creation of modern States, the growing numbers of civil servants seeking a suitable education, the transformations of the family, and a radical redefinition of public and private spaces; new mores and customs raised the question of the place of women in the public sphere, in the Muslim world as elsewhere. The press and the printed word made it possible, for the first time at such a scale, to disseminate precepts that were increasingly impersonal while claiming to be expressly for the betterment of individuals. New types of schools and educators, an increasing variety of the types of training available, and the emergence of autodidacts ‒ freed by the printed word and the press from needing access to a teacher ‒ combined to encourage breaks with previous generations.

This research project seeks to analyze this "narrowing of societies" ‒ the homogenization of social and political practices and expectations, and the transnational dissemination of knowledge and cultural references ­‒ from a local point of view. In essence, the focus of this work is the concrete consequences of both transnational and intranational circulations. What impact did such circulations have on societies with a persistently traditional social order, or what is described as such in defense of these transformations? Conversely, could these transformations actually encourage the preservation of an existing order? How do new behavioral norms, divisions of labor, religious practices, and concepts of citizenship emerge and spread? How are they received and reformulated locally? We will thus examine the external links of a situation or subject, studied in their local context.


This will take us in three key directions:


"New civilizational and educational norms"


The 19th century gave rise to new civilizational norms for urban elites, and not long after, for society as a whole. In the Middle East or India, for example, it is precisely in the second half of the 19th century that we begin to see a gradual codification of mores into a norm that is invariable, or believed to be so. What part do legacies play when the turning point occurs? What are the decisive factors? The "civilizing process" described by Norbert Elias with respect to Europe can just as easily be applied to the Middle East in the grip of modernity. This issue of the civilizing process - implicit in most works on the Arab Renaissance (Nahda) or Muslim reformism - deserves to be considered in an entirely different way than it was just a few years ago, in light of recent research on literature, education and teaching, and legal reforms. The latest research reassesses the palpable formulation of a new code of conduct in the press and the printed word, as well as the role played by States, schools, and nationalistic movements; this research also emphasizes the changing and dynamic observance of other codes of conduct drawn from different sources, which it would be inaccurate to consider as vestiges or traditions since these educational norms themselves evolved at complex and variable rates. The phenomena of translation, personal encounters, correspondence, and the overlapping of different codes of conduct are at the heart of this redefinition of civilizational norms at work during the 19th century in the "rest of the world" coming face-to-face with Europe, but also in increasingly complex and fast-moving South-South exchanges.

The ideology of civilization, then synonymous with progress, would soon ‒ as early as the 1860s ‒ give rise to an etiquette and a code of conduct for which the Egyptian and Ottoman courts set the example. These new behavioral models also reflected a new cosmology - which neither eliminated nor supplanted the older cosmologies. Thus, in a "discordance of the times" typical of the 19th century, there were several coexisting codes of conduct and understandings of the world. The creation of so-called modern schools - by States but above all by Catholic and Protestant missionaries ­- the preservation of so-called traditional teaching methods, the changes in demographics and family structures, the evolution of educational concepts, and the continual recodification by new media of an adab (Islamic code of conduct) for children and young adults, and even for women, can all be approached through the study of school systems, their textbooks, and their educational content, as well as through the history of the family in the Middle East.

This new political, historical, and social configuration tended to exclude, at least on the face of it, the vast majority of popular culture - which had never disappeared - by denying its distinct historicity, reducing it to a backward and newly disparaged "tradition" surviving only in national folklore. For a majority of elites, educated in a traditional system to which they remained faithful while claiming to have left it behind, it was a matter of defining a hegemonic plan for modernity onto which the traditional educational norms and vocabulary would necessarily be superimposed. The 19th century was an era of translation, of the growing triumph of the written word over the oral, and by the end of the century, of the printed word over the hand-written. Little by little, an innovative and selective synthesis occurred. This was the guiding principle of the reformist movement, which placed educational norms at the center of its proposals, its critiques, and its definition of a secularized code of conduct.

As a follow-up to a first conference "Adab et modernité", held in May 2014 under the auspices of the Center for Research on the Mediterranean Middle East (CERMOM) of the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO) and with the support of the University Institute of France, other conferences may be held on the circulation of printed documents and texts, and on the circulation of educational norms.


Migration and the circulation of political ideas


Over the last few decades, the political history of the "age of revolutions" (from the end of the 18th to the middle of the 19th century) has been greatly reinvigorated by various transnational approaches, and more particularly by so-called Atlantic history. Atlantic historians generally consider the early 19th century to constitute a period of dissolution of the strongest links between Africa, Europe and America (particularly as a result of the abolition of the slave trade to the British colonies and the independence of emerging American nations). However, there are many things that encourage the expansion of historiographic research on the age of revolutions to the period beyond the 1830s, including the fact that migration increased ‒ albeit in different spaces and forms ‒ and the circulation of goods and ideas accelerated. In the Ottoman Empire, this period corresponds to the beginning of the Tanzimat, which is marked by an interest in European political ideas and an attempt to translate them ‒ sometimes in service of an ideal (the Saint-Simonists), sometimes with a lack of understanding, but often in a spirit of adaptation ‒ with a view to reconciling the European political concept with a traditional concept in Arab and Islamic culture. To what extent did the acceleration of human circulations encourage the integration of political cultures across national, racial, class, and gender boundaries? Increasingly, historiography is taking note of the importance of emigration, including in the writing of the history of Europe itself.[1] Thus, the Center will continue and expand its work in this field, which began in 2011 with the research area "Human circulations and trans-imperial political circulations in the 19th century" and resulted in the organization of two international conferences (the proceedings of which have been edited and are about to be published), the production of a special issue of the Revue d'histoire du XIXe siècle, and the recent addition of two members of the Center to the ANR (Agence National de la Recherche) project AsilEuropeXIX, coordinated by Delphine Diaz (University of Reims).

The main perspective consists of combining migration history with political history. Migration history is often lumped in with social history. In France, it is also strongly associated with the history of the State based on the work of Gérard Noiriel. However, it is rarely associated with political history, which is reserved for national subjects or certain very precise categories of migrants, such as deportees. Yet differentiating between political migrations and economic migrations is not only difficult but sometimes even counter-productive. Considering political history alongside migration history (in the general sense) involves looking at how subjects excluded from the 19th century political space (women, the poor, indigenous peoples, outlaws, and convicts) sometimes resisted this exclusion, and how their mobility may or may not have helped them. It also seems important to conceive of political history in as broad a manner as possible, encompassing not only conceptual history, the history of political ideas, and the history of cultural transfers, but also the history of representations, political practices, and attitudes with respect to the State of the other. These combined approaches should make it possible to avoid limiting the study of political circulations to transfers between elites and scholars.

It also consists of applying the methods of transnational labor history to the 19th century. For about twenty years, several historians, particularly in association with the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, have sought to lay the foundations for a labor history that is not contained within the borders of nation states. Pioneering studies have already been done on the circulation of technology (Headrick) in imperial spaces. But the research on transnational labor history is more specifically focused on the circulation of people (workers, activists, leaders), and of the related ideas, cultures, institutions, and mobilizations: the movement for an eight-hour work day, the celebration of International Workers Day, the rise of international workers' parties, etc. These themes have barely been addressed in France, due to the limited number of migrations out of France and the relative compartmentalization of historiographies. They can nevertheless be invaluable, including to those specializing in France, its colonial Empire and its émigrés, from the "Sociale en Amérique" (Michel Cordillot) to the exiled Communards.

In addition to the past workshops and conferences, ("Workers Migrations in 19th Century Europe," a workshop presented by Fabrice Bensimon at the 2nd European Labour History Network Conference, 2-4 November 2017, Paris; "A la recherche des connexions perdues. Atelier d'histoire transnationale du XIXe siècle," presented by Fabrice Bensimon and Jeanne Moisand in December 2017, at the Center for 19th-Century History, Paris; the international conference "Eloigner les étrangers: expulsions, relégations, déportations," 19 and 20 January 2018, Paris, in collaboration with the ANR-GEI/University of Reims/Colegio de España project AsilEuropeXIX), this team intends to produce, under the direction of Jeanne Moisand and Albert Garcia Balañà (UPF, Barcelona) a Dictionnaire Maitron du mouvement social espagnol (1840-1875), with support from the editors of the dictionaries (Claude Pennetier, Paul Boulland, CNRS).


The globalization of gender, and the gender of globalization


Two recent collective publications reveal the extent to which gender history now constitutes a fully recognized field of French historiography.[2] Despite the transnational nature of the issues it addresses, it is still often practiced and taught at a United Nations scale, especially in connection with the 19th century. There are nonetheless various works which ought to encourage approaches that are more attentive to the spatial dimension, and less focused on the national/metropolitan. In his Naissance du monde moderne, Christopher Bayly bases his analysis of 19th-century globalization on bodily practices. Although some of these practices became more homogeneous on a worldwide scale (like the wearing of suits for men), others became symbols of strong national identities (the folklorization of "traditional" costumes). This dialectic between uniformization and differentiation had a profound influence on sexual roles: while the masculine became global, the feminine seemed to bear the burden of expressing the resistance of the local. Gendered histories of colonialism draw on this same line of thought when they show how Europe, in its 19th-century imperial expansion, revived certain forms of sexual domination; gender issues are omnipresent in the "administration of difference" that characterized the new empires, with likely repercussions in the home countries.[3] Finally, the association of feminism with globalization theories raises questions about the antecedents of certain present-day contradictions. Saskia Sassen or Nancy Fraser, for example, reveal that behind the celebration of high technology and the networked world, there are "chains of care" which are also deployed on a worldwide scale: white women from privileged societies/countries delegate to women from dominated countries ‒ both those who migrate and those who remain in their own lands ‒ the care work they cannot or do not want to do.

In the Muslim world, the behavior of women and behavior toward women were among the central 19th-century issues raised by orientalists and shortly thereafter ‒ with the opposite intent ‒ by Muslim and nationalist reformists. All of the Arab feminist authors of the 1900s called for a new definition of the code of conduct for women and their male partners or interlocutors, essentially presupposing the notion of a couple, and of monogamous couples, as well as the notion of privacy, which was completely absent from classical education. In addition to the Anglo-Saxon model, there was a French model, propagated by the missionary schools: the art of conversation in polite society, the art of sitting properly or behaving at the table, etc. Turkish and Arab authors at the end of the Ottoman Empire were fully conscious of a civilizing process of manners, whereby one learned to use cutlery or sit in a drawing room, and to dress differently (both men's and women's clothing were the subject of heated debate during the interwar period). Etiquette manuals for young men and women appeared in Egypt and the Ottoman Empire in order to codify the new rules for civility, and for measuring up to Europe: speaking properly with no swearing or obscenities; knowing how to behave in public and in a drawing room, how to hold a knife and fork, sit in a chair, and display elegance and moral rectitude by controlling one's sexual desire; engaging in sports and being punctual. Politeness assumed a functional aspect linked to one's success in the world. An entirely Victorian sense of modesty was brought to bear over sexual matters, which came to be evaded or left out altogether - even though erotology had always been part of both traditional education and popular culture. We find in this promotion of a new code of conduct a penchant for order, the values of 19th-century bourgeois society, and an ignorance of or refusal to see the reality of social relations (i.e. the realities of the poorest, the peasants, and those on the margins of society).

The objective here is to take advantage of the enormous potential of the Center when it comes to gender history, particularly among the masters and doctoral candidates, in order to examine these issues. Regular collective workshops, for example, could encourage recognized researchers in gender studies to make comparisons and to study the circulation of behavioral and gender norms on a worldwide scale (with an emphasis on the empires studied at the Center: France, Spain, United Kingdom, Brazil). This would foster a transnational approach among the researchers in the group, and forge networks with researchers at foreign universities working in similar fields. There are several dimensions that may be explored:

. Migration (both intra- and international), gender, and care

. Globalization and the transformation of the family

. Circulation of bodily norms and practices


[1] See for example Richard J. Evans, The Pursuit of Power. Europe 1815-1914, London, Allen Lane, 2016.

[2] Christine Bard, Sylvie Chaperon, Dictionnaire des féministes. France XVIIIe-XXIe siècle, Paris, PUF, 2017; Juliette Rennes dir., Encyclopédie critique du genre, Paris, La Découverte, 2017.

[3] A.L Stoler; E.Saada; A.Hugon etc.