Past Event

Ottoman Algiers Beyond 1830

November 4, 2022
2:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Buell Hall, 515 W. 116 St., New York, NY 10027 East Gallery


Friday, November 4, 2022, 2:00-6:00 PM EST / Buell Hall (Maison Française), Columbia University

Organized by Youssef Ben Ismail, Zeynep Çelik, Emmanuelle Saada

In 1830, French troops conquered Ottoman Algiers. In the following 130 years, the occupation –and subsequent annexation– of Algeria became perhaps the most significant example of European colonialism. Abdelkader’s anticolonial resistance, the development of the French mission civilisatrice and the extensive infrastructure surrounding it, the rise of the F.L.N. and the Algerian war of independence, to name but a few examples, all became well-documented, well-studied episodes in modern colonialism’s most emblematic story. What does this all-colonial telling of Algeria’s modern history obscure?

Our workshop seeks to address this question by considering the history of the conquest from the point of view of the conquered: the Ottoman province of Algiers. That the Algiers of 1830 had been a province of the Ottoman Empire for over three centuries has been largely ignored by historians of modern Algeria. The speakers of this workshop take as a point of departure the idea that Algeria’s colonial history cannot be understood without considering its profound Ottoman entanglements. Looking beyond 1830, we trace the deep continuities that tied colonial Algeria to its “precolonial” past and reveal the myriad ways Algiers remained Ottoman well after the French conquest. We explore several themes, including the discursive invention of ‘1830’ and the construction of the precolonial/colonial opposition; local petitions as sites of negotiation for old and new imperial identities; as well as mapping, archive-making, and other technologies of appropriation and re-signification of Algiers’ Ottoman past.

This event is open to public. No registration is needed.


Conference Program

First Panel: 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Zeynep Çelik (Columbia University), “Appropriations, Losses, Erasures, and Continuities”

Isabelle Grangaud (CNRS Research Professor, Norbert Elias Center, Marseille), “Investigating the Algerian Ottoman Collection: Archives, Conflicts, Colonization”

Discussant: Emmanuelle Saada (Columbia University)


Coffee Break: 3:30 - 4:00 PM


Second Panel: 4:00 - 5:30 PM

Noureddine Amara (Independent Scholar), “Blurred Empires: ‘We Do Not Know Well Ourselves What the Algerians Are’”

Youssef Ben Ismail (Columbia University), “Colonial Theft and Historical Erasure: Itineraries of a Stolen Manuscript From Ottoman Algeria”

Discussant: Emmanuelle Saada (Columbia University)


Closing Session: 5:30 - 6:00 PM

All presenters and discussants


Sponsors: Sakıp Sabancı Center for Turkish Studies, The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia Maison Française.

Co-Sponsors: Department of French, Department of History/ISERP, Middle East Institute (MEI), Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies Department (MESAAS).


Recording of Panel 1:

Recording of Panel 2:

Contact Information

Sakip Sabanci Center for Turkish Studies