Tous les articles par Michèle Baussant

Reconstructing Loss: Jewish Spaces in the Middle East and Beyond

MESA 2021

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11/29/2021 | 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Most Jewish communities from the Middle East experienced a loss of their former homeland, the dissolution of community structures, and at times are even unable to return to their places of origin. This geographical and psychological separation lends memories and spaces of the past special significance. This panel proposes a framework for the experiences of remoteness that have shaped and are shaping Middle Eastern Jewish communities. While focusing on specific countries such as Egypt, Iran or the Italian diaspora, the panel will present how space–either its recollection or new formation–serves to constitute present identities and communities. Infrastructures that remained in the regions where Jews lived, that were built and inhabited by them, have not just material but also symbolic impact on how the former home is remembered. Spaces, buildings, and maps are representations of constantly morphing narratives of identity, in which different actors are involved with different objectives. Methodology The analysis is twofold: first, it focuses on former Jewish homes, graveyards or synagogues, and how they live on in the present. Secondly, it presents the discursive spaces that evolve when these spaces are visited from or recreated in the diaspora. Spatial structures formerly or newly assigned as “Jewish” are imbued with changing meanings over time. The discussion includes a historical background of the places under consideration, the circumstances of leaving and return, as well as interviews with individuals regarding their memories of and relation to particular spaces. The results point to multiple ways of how space is part of creating meaning from a distance, or a meaningful present in the diaspora. This will enable a better understanding of how communities of Middle Eastern Jews locate themselves in their new homelands, how and what they remember, including tensions arising from competing forms of remembrance and identification. The panel introduces a new approach to the historiography of Middle Eastern Jewish communities by looking at the strategies of dealing with loss as a form of agency in the process of coming to terms with the old and new homelands. In order to understand contemporary Middle Eastern Jewish identities, different sites should be included: besides the individuals who left, the socio-political dynamics in their former and new homelands are involved in inscribing different meanings to the sites under consideration, providing a bigger picture of the issues at stake in the process of identity and community formation across time and space.

Michele Baussant


Displaced memories without traces and traces of the past without memories: the legacies of Egyptian Jews in and out of Egypt We often assume that history begins with material traces and that these traces are the basis for asserting that something has happened. What occurs, however, when a population …Read More

Monica Mereu

University of Cagliari

Oudlājān Memories: from a Communitarian Neighbourhood to a Placeless City My contribution aspires to give a narrative form to the history of the internal migration of the Tehrani Jews, who used to live in the old Jewish quarter of Tehran (Oudlājān)  …Read More

Ariane Sadjed

Austrian Academy of Sciences

The Meaning of Space: Contested Histories of Jewish neighborhoods in Iran This paper deals with the meaning of space in constituting Iranian-Jewish history. I will approach it from two aspects: first, from the place of origin, that is where Jewish c …Read More

Piera Rossetto

University of Graz

Mind the Map: Locating Invisible Jewish Migrations

Staged Otherness

Late nineteenth century staging culture and the promise of thrilling strangeness.

The cultural phenomenon of exhibiting non-European people in front of European audiences in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries occurred mainly in the metropolises of the western part of the continent. Nevertheless, travelling ethnic troupes and temporary exhibitions of non-European people could also be seen in Central and Eastern Europe.

The exhibition offers a variety of representations related to the public practice of ethnographic shows within the Russian, German and Austro-Hungarian Empires – today’s Russia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Czechia, Slovenia – and presents the reactions of local audiences.

Dagnosław Demski @
Dominika Czarnecka

The exhibition is one of the results of the Inscenizowana inność. Ludzkie odmienności w Europie Środkowej, 1850–1939 (Staged Otherness: Human Oddities in Central Europe, 1850–1939) research project, funded by the National Science Centre, Grant No. UMO-2015/19/B/HS3/02143.

The project, led by Dagnosław Demski from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, was conducted between 2016 and 2021. In addition to the exhibition, the project also yielded a book—Demski Dagnosław, Dominika Czarnecka eds. 2021. Staged Otherness: Ethnic Shows in Central and Eastern Europe, 1850–1939. Budapest–Vienna–New York: CEU Press;more and two English-language special issues in academic periodicals, East Central Europe, vol.47/2020, nos. 2–3, thematic issue edited by Dagnosław Demski, Dominika Czarnecka, Kamila Baraniecka-Olszewska; more and Acta Ethnographica Hungarica, vol. 64/2019, no. 1, thematic issue edited by Izabela Kopania; more

© 2021
Copyright for use of the illustrations presented in the exhibition, which has been granted to the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences on the basis of single use for scientific and educational non-commercial use, belongs to the institutions from which the collections come.

+ Archive of the Naprstkovo museum, Prague
+ Archive of the Zoological Garden, Wrocław
+ Archive of the Zoological Garden, Poznań
+ Collection of the Russian State Library, Moscow
+ Collection of the Аleksey Shusev State Museum of Architecture, Moscow
+ Collection of the Leo Tolstoy State Museum, Moscow
+ Cyryl. The Virtual Museum of Poznań’s History. Roman Trojanowicz collection
+ Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books, University of Latvia Academic Library
+ Kraków Ethnographic Museum
+ Musée du quai Branly (picture modified by Ludomir Franczak)
+ National Archive of the Czech Republic
+ National Museum Prague
+ Private Collection of Natalya Germanova, Rostov-on-Don
+ Radauer Collection
+ The State Archive in Łódź

Contact details:  
Dagnosław Demski @
Dominika Czarnecka @

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology,
Polish Academy of Sciences link
Zespół Etnografii Relacyjnej
(Relational Ethnography Team) link

About the Proteus Project

Egyt, 2020 (Credits, Michèle Baussant)

This project stems from a longstanding dialogue between two researchers, Katja Hrobat Virloget and I, between research questions, which began several years ago. Since our discussion, in a Parisian café, during a research visit by Katja Hrobat Virloget, funded by the French Cultural Institute in Slovenia, we have been working together on an ongoing basis on silenced pasts and populations that have been displaced, replanted, replaced, or left behind. This collaboration led us to naturally embark on a program such as Proteus to pursue this work and imagine larger-scale projects with colleagues, permanent researchers, and young researchers.

The project deals with the effects of mass depopulations and repopulations following systemic changes – where the political, socio-economic system changes radically. Many studies are increasingly concerned with the massive displacement of populations due to wars and collapsing intra- and extra-European empires, traces and persistent effects of empires in nations in terms of domination, silences, or competing histories of separated nations and actors. However, few works studies have paid systematic attention to the crossed and parallel social constructions of the presence and absence of the other and, therefore, the self. Often translated into “spatial” terms, these constructions overlap several fields rarely grasped together, such as landscape, lived space, intimate one, history, objects, practices, and language. They challenge the binary identifications and home-making framed by nationalism.   

Based on in-depth qualitative research on various case studies, the project draws on anthropological, historical, and sociological work on the relationship between space and memory. On the one hand, it examines the effects of the national on intertwined, hybrid, and ambivalent histories, spaces, memories, identifications and borders, displacements, circulations, translations, and relationships shaped by and shared through the matrix of the space-time of empires, in their various forms. On the other hand, it questions how these social constructions disclose specific relations and effects between different actors.

Nowadays, Europe is trying to rebrand its image of a dark continent and claim the need to decolonize its history, heritage, and spaces while closing its borders to migrants. However, Europe is also advocating unity in diversity by purging its near past of empire-building, which is still echoing the national entities’ social structures.

These points raise at least two critical concerns for us:

1.How did the fragmentation of multicultural entities into nations produce a reduction of histories and cultures instead of diversity? How does it build the absence of whole segments of peoples, landscapes, languages, cultures, religions, histories, and relationships in a few decades? To what extent the constructed loss of home and homeland of those we are currently “absent” is inextricably linked to the gaining of home and homeland for those who stayed and/or replaced them?

2. Secondly, the research raises questions about nation-building and Europe’s very temporality today, which built itself on an “inverted” temporality of belonging, citizenship, and home for large segments of its populations. This inversion manifests in processes of “undoing” rights and “undoing” identity, relationship to places, and to live together.

Following this line of analysis, the cross-analysis of current spatial and social constructions of absence and presence of the displaced/remained/replaced in different European contexts offers not only an empirical arena but also a powerful analytical tool for exploring and rethinking the local version of processes of inclusion and exclusion, of presence and absence, adhesion and disaffiliation within Europe. It also leads us to explore the question of ‘historical traumas’, particularly when they are mobilized as ‘founders’, and to reflect on possible ways out of the painful alternative of ‘remembering everything’ and/or ‘forgetting everything’.

, « Matrices coloniales, diasporas inversées et constellations égyptiennes : une ethnographie multisituée des Juifs d’Egypte »

Séminaire Mobilités et Appartenances (EHESS-Marseille), organisé par Francesca Sirna et Melissa Blanchard

Jeudi 11 mars, 11h00-13h00

Pour cette séance nous accueillerons  :  Michèle Baussant, CNRS, CEFRES,  Institut des Sciences Sociales du Politique et Fellow ICM

La discussion sera introduite par : Isabelle Grangaud, CNRS, CNE.

En raison des conditions sanitaires actuelles, cette séance sera accessible au public uniquement en visioconférence via zoom (lien de connexion ci-dessous):

A suivre…séminaire “Approches contemporaines de la mémoire”, organisé par Saphia Doumenc et Thibault Ducloux

Séance inaugurale du séminaire « Approches contemporaines de la mémoire »

Vous pouvez réécouter en podcast la première séance du séminaire « ACM » lors de laquelle nous avons eu le plaisir d’entendre Vincent Veschambre, directeur du Rize et membre du laboratoire EVS ainsi que Marie-Claire Lavabre, directrice de recherche au CNRS et spécialiste des questions mémorielles.  

     Cycle I – Mémoires sociales : empreintes, formes et dimensions[1]

À l’amphithéâtre du Rize, de 14h à 17h.

22/01 – Séance d’ouverture : Présentation du séminaire et des enjeux scientifiques de l’objet mémoriel

Vincent Veschambre (directeur du Rize/EVS) et Marie-Claire Lavabre (CEE-Sciences Po)

16/02 – L’enfance des adultes : primes socialisations et mémoires sociales

Margot Delon (CENS) et Frédérique Giraud (CERLIS)

Discutant : Thibault Ducloux (CMH)

16/03 – Mémoires de (lutte de) classes : de l’héritage à la patrimonialisation

Michelle Zancarini-Fournel (LARHRA) et Thomas Zanetti (EVS)

Discutante : Morane Chavanon (Triangle)

13/04 – Espaces et mémoires : la douleur à l’épreuve de l’oubli 
Dominique Chevalier (EVS) et Anne Hertzog (MRTE)

Discutant : Vincent Veschambre (EVS)

18/05 – Dominations, discriminations et mémoires silencieuses 

Fanny Gallot (CRHEC) et Joanne Le Bars (ACP)

Discutante : Saphia Doumenc (Triangle)

Organisation du séminaire :

Saphia Doumenc (Triangle) :

Thibault Ducloux (Centre Maurice Halbwachs) :

Responsable scientifique du séminaire :

Vincent Veschambre (EVS, Rize)

Comité d’animation :

Mélodie Breton (CESSP)

Lina Cardenas (LATTS)

Lison Leneveler (CRJ)

Béatrice Zani (Triangle)

[1] Le compte rendu de chaque séance sera publié sur le carnet hypothèses du Rize :               

Tandem Launch

“Defeated Memories. De-imperial Europe: A Resentful Confederation of Vanquished Peoples?”, Prague, Friday 20 November 2020 — Authors of the project: Michèle Baussant (CEFRES, CNRS), Johana Wyss (Czech Academy of Sciences), Maria Kokkinou (CEFRES / Charles University) A project carried out within the framework of the TANDEM program, developed by the Czech Academy of Sciences, Charles University and CEFRES/CNRS united within the Platform for Cooperation and Excellence in Humanities and Social Sciences.…

With the participation of:

Sylvie Démurger, Deputy Scientific Director, Europe and International Affairs (CNRS) Jérôme Heurtaux, Director of CEFRES Tat̕ána Petrasová, member of the Academy Council and coordinator of Czech Academy of Sciences for the TANDEM program Catherine Perron, Research Fellow, CERI, Sciences Po Paris Valérie Rosoux, Director of Research-Professor, Université Catholique de Louvain Thomas Van de Putte, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Sociology, University of Trento

Katja Hrobat-Virloget

Katja Hrobat Virloget is an associate professor at the Primorska University in Koper (FH UP). Her research interests are silenced memories, contested pasts, alternative heritage discourses, appropriations and interruptions of histories, the turn of social positions after the population transfer of (mostly) Italians from Istria. She focuses in particular on remained Italians and the “newly” formed Yugoslavian society, which settled in the emptied spaces after “exodus”. She is the PI of the slovenian team on the PHC Proteus project “Pasts without history and displaced histories of people without traces”

Catherine Perron

Politologue, entrée au CERI en 2002, Catherine Perron est diplômée de Sciences Po et de l’Université libre de Berlin.
Lauréate du prix Stein Rokkan pour jeune chercheur en 1997 et du Prix Le Monde de la recherche universitaire en 2003, elle a publié Les Pionniers de la démocratie, ouvrage tiré de sa thèse, soutenue en 2002 au sein de l’Ecole doctorale de Sciences Po, sur le thème de la transformation des élites politiques locales tchèques et est-allemandes après 1989 : une comparaison de la construction démocratique dans deux sociétés post-communistes.

Entre 1999 et 2001 elle a été chargée de projet, responsable des Balkans pour l’association Transeuropéennes. Co-rédactrice en chef de la revue Critique internationale entre 2003 et 2008, elle reste membre de sa rédaction et co-anime le séminaire de lecture du CERI. Elle enseigne à la Hochschule für öffentliche Verwaltung und Finanzen (University of applied sciences) de Ludwigsburg en Allemagne et sur le campus européen de Nancy de Sciences Po.

Ses recherches actuelles portent sur les migrations forcées et les politiques de l’histoire et de la mémoire en Allemagne et dans les pays d’Europe centrale et orientale.