CERMOM research axes


Since 2006, the Centre d'Etudes et de Recherche Moyen-Orient, Méditerranée, CERMOM (EA 4091), has brought together some fifty tenured research professors (Inalco, Sorbonne Université and Paris 8) specializing in the Middle East and Mediterranean cultural area (Arab world, Mediterranean and Muslim societies, Jewish societies (Israel and diaspora), Turco-Persian, Greek and Kurdish worlds).

CERMOM's teacher-researchers are involved in several Groupements d'Intérêt Scientifique:

In addition to the fifty or so doctoral students it trains, the team welcomes many young researchers from all over the world, bearers of innovative projects and holders of international, French and European grants (Marie-Curie-Klodowska).

Specific research is presented on the personal pages of research professors and doctoral students. CERMOM's 4 new research axes, with their associated research operations and doctoral seminars, are listed here.

Axe 1: Concepts & Representations

1.1. Translations, Transfers, Adaptations

Gathered in this Axis are collective research operations around translations and cultural transfers. Translation in the literal sense, from one language to another, and broadly, as adaptations of literary corpora between different linguistic and conceptual paradigms. All the negotiations involved in the transmission of cultural productions within differentiated groups (by language, religion, social organization) are dealt with, analyzed and mapped in these different works. The presence within CERMOM of researchers specializing in different cultural areas is particularly conducive to this kind of operation.

Cultural worlds differing in space and time have shared similar contents but transformed them according to their own requirements: this is the common denominator of a series of works in progress, some of which have been recognized and funded by national and international bodies. Philology, social and literary history, the history of religion and philosophy, and the digital humanities are the disciplines mobilized for these fields of research.

Research Operations

  • The ANR-18-CE27-0014 LJTRAD Translation as a survival issue for Jewish languages (A. Bikard, V. Fedchenko).
  • Rieti The 2020 ANR Franco-German Social Sciences Laureate: A Hebrew Dante: The "Miqdash Me'at", its cultural background and reception. (A. Guetta, S. Negri & E. Hollender).
  • Words of desire. La langue de l'érotisme arabe et sa traduction (F. Lagrange)
  • Aliento Transferts sapientiels au Moyen-Age en Méditerranée - Sources et Postérité (M.-Ch. Bornes Varol, S. Gimenez)
  • The translation of grammatical terms (and concepts) from Arabic into medieval Hebrew and modern languages (J. Sibileau)
  • Spinozist biblical criticism in Neapolitan academies (XVII-XVIII centuries) (A. Lissa)
  • Translating Jewish Cultures: An interdisciplinary study of the intersection between "Translation studies" and Jewish studies: from the Septuagint to Israeli poetry (A. Guetta/University of Michigan)

Doctoral seminars

  • Readings of the Arabic classical heritage (G. Ayoub, M. Hoorelbeke)
  • Translations of Jewish languages (A. Bikard, V. Fedchenko)

1.2. Norms, standards, models

This axis focuses on social categorizations - between groups, including through the religious/secular dichotomy or gender differences - and categorizations of species in literature, discourse and language practices. It questions the porosity of boundaries between categories - for example, between human and animal - as well as the limits of the body, caught up in its environment.

Invoking this question of categorizations in its dynamic dimension, it looks at the transformations that affect their objects, in terms of metamorphoses and evolutions, including bodily ones, as well as at the transformations and re-negations of these categorizations themselves, through, for example, contestations or rewritings.

Research Operations

1.2.1. Categories and categorizations
  • Animal Studies, Posthumanism and Modern Hebrew Literature(A. Lissa)
  • Accommodation (J. Haslé, N. Van Kampen)
  • Cartography of sixteenth-eighteenth-century adab literature: permanences and renewals (G. Saitta, M. Hoorelbeke)
1.2.2. The gender prism
  • Maternal Sacrifice in Jewish Culture: Rethinking Sacrifice from a Maternal Perspective in Religion, Art, and Culture (Gender Studies) (E. Carandina)
  • Gender Studies in the Thousand and One Nights (A. Chraïbi, V. Van Renterghem)

Doctoral Seminar

  • Linguistics of Semitic Languages and Language Contacts in the Mediterranean (G. Ayoub)

1.3. Islam: plural approaches

With a view to the creation of an Institut Français d'Islamologie (IFI), which aims to renew the research themes of Islamology, several research projects are envisaged to be developed on the following themes ( which are in addition to ongoing projects): Islam: religion and languages; Contemporary rereadings of Islamic religious heritage texts; The Prophet Muhammad in early Islam; Development of digital humanities, (Huma-Num, Digital Areal, BULAC) BDD of Arabic manuscripts in Maghrebi script.

Research Operations

  • DISCORDIA Winner of the Ministry of the Interior's call for projects: Des dissensions sur le statut du Coran aux XIIème et XIIIème siècles entre hanbalites à la doctrine wahhabite-salafiste actuelle (J.J. Thibon, Y. Gobran - CERMOM, I. Amharar - IREMAN) 
  • Literature and mysticism
  • Global Islam / local Islam
  • Religion and language

Doctoral seminars

  • Hermeneutics and poetics in Eastern and Western mystical expressions(J.-J. Thibon - CERMOM, A. Petit, J.P. Dubost - Université Clermont Auvergne).
  • Islam: plural approaches - Temps de l'Islam, temps de l'histoire: périodisations et temporalités (H. Benkheira, F. Chiabotti, J.-J. Thibon - EPHE / Inalco)
  • Aljamiado La voix d'un Islam clandestin (M.-Ch. Bornes Varol - CERMOM, J.C. Villaverde Amieva - SEAR Oviedo)

Axe 2 : Ecritures & Histoire(s)

2.1. Writing, culture and (geo)politics (Arab world, Mediterranean, Middle East)

Research operations

  • Writing and geopolitics in the Arab world and the Mediterranean in the 21st century (L. Deheuvels, R. Sleiman, S. Boustani)
  • The production Underground in Muslim and Mediterranean societies and its historical developments (T. Muhidine)

Doctoral seminars

  • Turkish-Arab relations from 1920 to the present (A.-Cl. Bonneville, A. Toumarkine, T. Muhidine)
  • L'orientalisme en train de se faire (A. Jomier - CERMOM, M. Bossaert, E. Szurek - EHESS)

2.2. Histoire(s) partagée(s), mémoires croisées et écriture de soi

The new forms of writing in the first person, known as intimate (autobiography, autofiction, testimony, memoirs...), express both an individual/singular and plural/collective dimension. The various research operations explore this double (multiple?) articulation by looking for the collective in the different expressions of the "I". The different approaches are situated in a multidisciplinary perspective (historical, literary, linguistic, stylistic, sociological, anthropological or ethnological... )

Research operations

  • Mémoires croisées de l'Empire ottoman (Avec Orient Institut Istanbul & CREE) (M.-Ch. Bornes Varol, R. Witman, E. Boisserie) Historiography and the use of biographies and biographical dictionaries - Memoirs and diaries of politicians- Autobiography as a versatile source - A wider view of self-expression documents
  • Autobiographies and self-writing in the Arab world (K. Ghosn) focuses on the links between the personal "I" and the human and socio-political dimensions it conceals, as well as on the role of intimate writing as political commitment. It also explores the boundaries between the narrator's I and that of the author-referent.
  • Writing competitions and life stories in the Yiddish world (S. Perego in collaboration with M. Chinski - EHESS and C. Pâris de Bollardière - AUP)
  • Collectes documentaires dans le monde juif: origines, pratiques, circulations et héritages, XIXe-XXe siècles(S. Perego) looks at testimonial practices in the Yiddish world from the second half of the 20th century onwards, particularly the practices of life stories and testimonies about the genocide of the Jews, linking them to experiences of testimonial and documentary collecting (corpus: 50 short stories)
  • Oral archives of Judeo-Spanish (P. Mavrogiannis)
  • Migrenab - Circulation of Judeo-Spanish sung texts: genre, language, function (V. P. Duncan Elbaz) explores the collections of Judeo-Spanish chansonniers written in different languages (English, Arabic, Italian, Hebrew, Turkish...), by both men and women, from the late 18th century to the present day (a corpus of 350 texts). These documents of popular and oral origin represent a vast repertoire that reveals family and community intimacy, as well as the intimate relationship with the text. The research perspective questions the multiple belonging of these texts (linguistic, geographical and gender) and analyzes the transmission of cultural heritages.

2.3. Writing the body

An exploration from a gender studies perspective of artistic forms that engage the body as performative instrument, on the one hand, and as speech that becomes body, on the other.
The first perspective develops as a reflection on the artist's body and its staging as well as on other forms of representation and their socio-cultural stakes. It explores the self-representation of female creators, with particular attention to artistic forms that stimulate renewed reflection on notions of body representation, and women's bodies in particular, but also of self-writing, such as, for example, the graphic memoir. 
The second research perspective is structured around the artistic word as body, approaching the body not as an instrument of artistic performance, but as a performance in itself that takes shape in the word. This perspective is approached either from a linguistic point of view (with particular attention to translation practices), or as a socio-literary analysis, as well as within the framework of a broader reflection concerning the practices of female creators in several artistic contexts.

Research operations

  • Writing the body and politics in the contemporary Arab novel (R. Sleiman, A. Abou Fakher)
  • Let the words do to you: Writing the Body in Contemporary Hebrew Literature and Israeli Art (E. Carandina)
  • Les mots du désir. The language of Arabic eroticism and its translation (F. Lagrange)
  • Forms of self-writing in the Hebrew graphic novelGraphic Memoirs(E. Carandina)

PhD seminars

Let the words do to you: Writing the Body in Contemporary Hebrew Literature and Israeli Art (E. Carandina - CERMOM / University of Turin) https://asiaeafrica.campusnet.unito.it/do/corsi.pl/Show?_id=r3n5

Axe 3: Dynamics of societies

3.1. Migrations, mobilities and the construction of societies

Research operations

  • Cosmopolitanism and segregation in the Gulf(D. Pagès-El Karoui)
  • The integration of a minority in France: Yezidi refugees (Action research) (S. Aydogan)
  • Atlas of medieval Islam in the East and Mediterranean - Cities and territories (CNRS). This atlas, a project led by a large multidisciplinary team, aims to present the dynamics of plural Muslim worlds, from the emergence of Islam in the context of Late Antiquity to the rise of the Ottoman and Safavid empires (7th-16th c.). (V. Van Renterghem)
  • 1055 Fatimid Baghdad and the end of Bouyid power in Iraq. Research project for unpublished HDR dissertation. (V. Van Renterghem)
  • Baghdad under Buyid and Saljuq rule: urban and social history (V. Van Renterghem, N. Neggaz).
  • MigrEnAb ID: 846205: Encoding, Absorption and Abandonment of Cultural Material during Migration: : The Case of Judeo-Spanish Songbooks (V. P. Duncan Elbaz) [EU Horizon 2020 Laureate]
  • Migrations and Constructions of Societies (M. Anastassiadou)

3.2. Conflicts, war's end and processes of reparation

The study of conflictuality considers both the different forms taken by conflicts in the region (conventional, asymmetrical wars, but also states of "no war no peace"...) and the different types of threats as well as the social, political and territorial implications linked to it. War brings about changes in societies - constraints imposed, necessary accommodations, acclimatization to the state of war or transgressions when the conflict is prolonged, perceptions of the stakes and adaptation to them - and influences the political choices of a state or nation. The evolution of conflicts and forms of political violence in the region has also led to a change in the nature of the victims, who are no longer predominantly military personnel. The post-war period is also important to take into account. The aim is to examine how the end of the exceptional situation into which the war had plunged the inhabitants is organized, the prospects offered to societies after the upheaval suffered, the reactions that the end of a period of crisis can provoke, and to take into account the processes of reparation for civilians, victims and their descendants.

Research operations

  • States of war / States at war (A.-Cl. Bonneville)
  • Israel, the great reversal (1973 - 1977) (R. Cohen)

Doctoral seminar

  • Genocides and mass massacres in the Middle East (A. Toumarkine - CERMOM & Ch. Drieu, Cl. Mouradian - CETOBAC)

Focus 4: Digital humanities

4.1. Didactics and digital pedagogies

The projects carried out are the result of innovative research applied to the teaching of SHS and modern foreign languages in the Middle East-Mediterranean area. It articulates reflection on language didactics with pedagogical innovation, leading to achievements in the field of diploma courses or courses adapted to specific audiences (enriched teaching, blended learning, bi-modal and co-modal distance learning, synchronous & a-synchronous distance learning).

Research operations

  • Didactics of Arabic (L. Deheuvels, M. Hoorelbeke, R. Sleiman)
  • Diplôme d'initiation à distance; Licence d'arabe à distance, in progress (A. Adwan, J. Sibileau, F. Chakroun)
  • Digital pedagogies(L. Deheuvels)
  • MOOC Arabic - Hebrew - Turkish (L. Deheuvels, R. Sleiman, I.I. Malibert, M. Bozdémir) + Spoc

Doctoral seminar

Reflections on the didactics of MOM languages and cultures and the transition to digital - Work in Progress (2022).

4.2 Renewal of knowledge

The languages and cultures studied at CERMOM share the fact of being poorly computerized (non-Latin spellings; "rare" languages), a generally rather limited digital presence on the Internet and few adapted open-access tools.
The main aim of this axis is to reflect on the specificities of digital processing of these languages/cultures, in particular:

  • on archiving and the creation of digital libraries;
  • on the unification of databases and tools for their processing emphasizing interoperability (transferability of data and conditions for their exploitation by several disciplines);
  • on the adaptation of existing digital tools to the specificities of CERMOM's language databases;
  • on the construction of metadata and their unification / consideration of their reuse ;
  • on the use of part-of-speech tagging, morphosyntactic tagging in linguistics and other types of tagging in the service of disciplines such as history, literary and cultural studies
  • on the development of tools for data extraction, lemmatization, alignment, adapted search engines, visualization tools ;
  • on copyright issues for texts, included in databases and digital archives, and on ethical issues for oral corpora
  • on specific editing difficulties for oral corpora and the labeling of orality marks;

Research operations

  • BDD Thousand and One Nights: Arabic manuscripts of the Thousand and One Nights, by text and tale, critical editions, directory of variants (A. Chraïbi, I. Akel - CERMOM, CNRS-IRHT)
  • BDD ALIENTO Analyse Linguistique et Interculturelle des ENoncés sapientiels brefs et de leur Transmission Orient/occident et occident/orient www.aliento.eu (M.-C. Bornes Varol - CERMOM, M.S. Ortola - Université de Lorraine & E. Petitjean - Atilf)
  • Oral Hebrew in Cortypo - https://cortypo.huma-num.fr/index_fr.html and CorpAfroAs - https://corpafroas.huma-num.fr/Archives/corpus.php (I.-I. Malibert)
  • Judeo-Spanish in France Archive https://cocoon.huma-num.fr/exist/crdo/meta2/cocoon-426d7f65-64d4-3bb4-a5c8-a53bc92c4d0b (P. Mavrogiannis - CERMOM, BNF, Cocoon - Huma - Num)
  • L'ANR-18-CE27-0014 LJTRAD La traduction comme enjeu de survie pour les langues juives en tant que langues post-vernaculaires (A. Bikard, V. Fedchenko).
  • BDD DIGI#MAGH / Maghreb Digital : French digital resources on the Maghreb a priority action of GIS-MOMM aimed at improving online reporting of documentary holdings in France on the Maghreb from the 16th c. à nos jours (A. Jomier - CERMOM, B. Guichard - BULAC, E. Vallet - GIS MOMM, M. Volait - in Visu)
  • Transliteration, transcription and editing. Methods, Choices & Issues (I.-I. Malibert, J. Leibiusky, N. Van Kampen, M.-Ch. Bornes Varol, S. Gimenez, J. Haslé, P. Mavrogiannis, B. Arrivé, M.-A. Germanos, B. Hérin)

PhD seminar

  • From field to database (I.-I. Malibert, M.-Ch. Bornes Varol, B. Hérin)