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Gouverner la langue arabe : Miguel Casiri et les arabisants du roi d’Espagne au siècle des Lumières

Abstract : Born in Tripoli (Mount Lebanon), Miguel Casiri (1708-1791) had a significant influence on Arabic studies in Spain during the second half of the eighteenth century. His legacy has traditionally been evaluated in light of an intellectual history focused on his writings, largely ignoring his activity as an agent of the Spanish Monarchy. Yet Casiri helped consolidate a pole of expertise in Arabic in Madrid just when the Crown intended to rationally refute certain urban privileges based on Arabic texts and inscriptions. By exhuming Casiri’s contribution to these reforms, this article traces the conflicting modalities of the formation of a specialized linguistic field attached to the royal jurisdiction. In doing so, it highlights two major dividing lines. The first concerns the selection of personnel employed as linguistic experts, and in particular the regulation of the Maronite diaspora’s networks—which were major suppliers of these workers. The second concerns the definition of expertise in Arabic, opposing the defenders of a specialized knowledge controlled by a community of scholars and those who advocated a practical knowledge subjected to the needs of the commissioners. Moving away from an intellectual history of the language, this article offers a political history of Arabists that reestablishes knowledge of Arabic as central to the constitution of state expertise.
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 24, 2022 - 11:15:15 AM
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Thomas Glesener. Gouverner la langue arabe : Miguel Casiri et les arabisants du roi d’Espagne au siècle des Lumières. Annales. Histoire, Sciences sociales, Armand Colin, 2021, Méditerranées - Antiquités du Nouveau Monde - Pouvoirs et justice, 76 (2), pp.227-267. ⟨10.1017/ahss.2021.91⟩. ⟨hal-03551233⟩

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