World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Intellectuals and Political Elites: Case Studies (454) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:

Chair: Abbas Zarei Mehrvarz (Bu- Ali Sina University)

Paper presenter: El Khili Abdelhay (PHD Student, University Mohammed V, Rabat, Morocco), “Examples of the intellectual elite reform projects in the Mediterranean: Comparative approach between the Ottoman Empire and Morocco during the 18th and the 19th centuries”
The second half of the sixteenth century was a period of political crisis for both of the Ottoman and the Moroccan states. Face to the crisis the intellectual elite introduced many reform projects to deal with different fields of the crisis: Military, administrative, economic…The Intellectuals’ conceptions to the crisis were diverse according to their fields of specialty: there was among them historians, ambassadors, military leaders, political thinkers and scientists (theologists). The most famous Ottoman intellectuals were: Katib çelebi, koçi Bey, Huseyin Hezarafeen, Ibrahim Muteferikka, Ahmed Rasmi efendi, Abou beker Ratib efenedi’. The Moroccan intellectuals during this historical period were: Abou Lkasim El Hajri, Abou Lkasim Zayani, Ibn Ottman el Meknasi, Ahmed Hoca tunusi, Idriss el Amrawi, El Arabi El Mcharafi. Through this paper, I will try to analyse some examples of the period’s intellectual products such as « Mirror of Princes » « Nasihat name », Reform Proposals, Memoranda, Socio-political treatises, Ambassador Reports. The purpose of my paper is to shed light on different ways through which the reform and modernity projects ideas had emerged in the Mediterranean area, and to know the impact of the Ottoman’s reform projects and ideas on the Moroccan intellectual elite and on the political power as well .Finally, I will proceed to call for the utmost benefit from the theoretical background of the Ottoman and the Moroccan reform projects as a means to strengthen the international relationships and links in the Mediterranean area.

Paper presenter: Abbas Zarei Mehrvarz (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Social Sciences, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Bu- Ali Sina University, Mahdiyyeh Ave., Hamedan, Iran), “A Comparative Review of the Iranian Intellectuals Performance in Two Revolutions: The Constitutionalism and the 1978 Revolution”
The author seeks to explain the performance of an important group of Iranian elites (intellectuals) in founding two revolutions, the constitutionalism (1905- 1908) and the 1978 Revolution, known as the Islamic Revolution. These revolutions have marked as two great events in the history of Iran. Intellectuals, in the constitutionalism movement settled their disagreements with clerics and merchants in Bazaar and united with each other against the Qajarid despotic government. Although their union was broken after the constitutionalism victory, it was a precious experience for intellectuals and Iranian people who repeated it in the 1978 Revolution again. In generals, a few intellectuals started their activities in the reign of Nassir-al-Din Shah (1848- 1896) generally, when the Iranian society was completely traditional. So, the influence area of the intellectuals was limited to some merchants and courtiers. Despite the traditional society, the intellectuals thought were based on the western modern society and they had no real attention to Shiites religion. They couldn't openly present their enlightening thoughts in Iran, so accepted the exile life style. Nevertheless, they had influence on the constitutionalism movement and tried to found a parliamentarian and legal government via their books and articles. After the constitutionalism movement, when despotic rulers and courtiers appeared under the guise of freedom, they were disappointed and diverged from the new government. After the Pahlavis took over (1926), the intellectuals had differing opinions on their cooperation with the new government. Some cooperated with the government and dissembled its despotic way, and some continued intellectual activities and marginally showed their caprice to cooperate with the government opposition. Intellectuals presented some theories, inspired by the West, to revise the Iranian society, in the pre-constitutionalism period; but they were not theoricians in the Pahlavi reign and often followed theories of the West or the Soviet Union intellectuals. The Pahlavi government created and supported the middle class to continue its constancy and expected intellectuals, who arisen from this Class, support the government too. But the middle class, beside the intellectuals, did not support the Pahlavi government in the 1978 Revolution. Meanwhile, there emerged an organized religious sentiment between some of the Pahlavi government oppositions, some of whom conflicted and punished by the government, such as the Mojahedin; but its traditional section, which had many supporters, remained invisible and was vindicated by the opposite intellectuals. Also, a new unprecedented kind of Iranian radical Shiite intellectualism, typically represented by Dr. Ali Shari’ati, assisted the traditional opposition. Finally, the intellectuals were followers of the religious leadership in the 1978 Revolution; whereas in the constitutional movement the clerics looked for founding the intellectuals savoury government. Also, unlike their noticeable act in the constitutional movement, they were the followers of people, traditional groups and guerrillas in the 1978 Revolution. Thereupon, they couldn’t perform really in the next developments. When won each two revolutions, the intellectuals disappointed, especially in the 1978 Revolution.

Paper presenter: Gulfishan Khan (Associate Professor , AMU Aligarh, India), “Indo-Persian Elites' Perceptions of the Islamic East during the Age of European Expansion”
My paper "Indo-Persian elites' perceptions of the Islamic East in the Age of European Expansion" would present a number of Indian observers views of the societies and states of the Islamic East also known as the Middle East, 'a region defined in terms of something other than itself, and specifically in the modern period by its relation with the growth and decline of European power.' Most of the commentators whose views would be presented could be categorised as the urban notables, a social class of important group common in all the Eastern societies. Incidentally, the writers whose views would be presented in the paper had their roots in the region they commented upon such was Ahamd Bihbihani and Abd a-Latif, while the other major commentator Abu Talib had visited these lands and offered first-hand comments on the socio-cultural life and political institutions of the Islamic East. The observers also sought to analyse such remote historical event as the Napoleonic wars in Egypt and Syria. An attempt would be made to correlate these events with Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore and his heroic struggle against the British aggression in India. Did the reflections of these writers, the members of Asian intelligentsia, provide any common factor for the decline of the Eastern polities represented by the Mughal, Ottoman, Safawid Empires and the Khanates of Central Asia, and the simultaneous phenomena known as 'Rise of the West'. In the conclusion an attempt would be made to provide a comparative perspective on the basis of later observations offered by a later visitor Karim Khan Jhajjar who visited the region, such as Egypt under modernising reforms of Muhammad Ali. The paper is largely descriptive based upon the travelogues and world histories mostly in manuscript forms and preserved in the British Library and also in the libraries of South Asia.

Paper presenter: Cecilia Vadesalici (Ph.D. Student, Ca' Foscari University, Venice), "Intellectuals in Politics and Societies: The Case of Egyptian Private Owned Dailies' Editors-In-Chief"
In his works, as in his life, J.P. Sartre (1948) described the intellectual as one who must be concerned by the reality and deeply engaged in its change. By this time, his representation seems outdated to many, having left the place to a new conceptualization of the intellectual as professional (Z. Bauman, 1987, et alii). The professional is neither trained nor required to be critic toward established powers or to influence the public sphere (J. Habermas, 1962) and the powers’ balance in it. Is there, however, a ‘border zone’, where intellectual role and intellectual function can still meet and foster their contribution to societies (E. Said, 1997)? And are societies still interested in this contribution? In the paper, these general questions are discussed in relation to a precise contest, and applied to it. In the last ten years, a new press, founded by private investors, has strongly developed in Egypt. This press has been able to express and foster a growing range of information and opinions, and it has often met the public’s favour, as well as the political powers’ wrath. In the framework of this ongoing phenomenon, the position covered by the first three dailies’ editors-in-chief is interesting, as one particularly visible and exposed. From 2004 to 2008, this role has been played by five relatively young professionals/intellectuals, who had so an uncommon chance of make themselves heard in the Egyptian public sphere. In order to examine their positions toward social and political powers, the paper present their work, which has been analyzed through personal interviews as well as the editorials’ contents and various documents collected during field work. Conversely, the paper examines also evidences about the public interest in the editors-in-chiefs’ activity as much as information about the major cases brought against them, as expressions of social and political powers’ reaction to their work.