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This University Seminar focuses on the transnational material, intellectual and symbolic exchanges that have characterized the regions that once composed successive French empires since the seventeenth century.  The seminar will not be an exercise in colonial or imperial history, organized around the opposition between « center » and « periphery », but rather an exploration of connections and lines of fragmentation within that space. The goal of the seminar will be to explore not only France’s global expansion and retraction in the modern period, but, no less significantly, the after-lives of the French empire in various post-colonies, networks, and institutions. Our goal is to map a distinct—but not isolated—world within the “globe,” one conditioned but not defined by France, its empires, its language, and its ecumene. Inherently interdisciplinary, the seminar will bring together scholars in the humanities and the social sciences from Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa in order to understand these complex exchanges that reach « Beyond France ».

Professor Ralph Ghoche

Professor Samia Henni

Nadrah Mohammed

Meeting Schedule

09/30/2022 Maison Française, Columbia University and Zoom
12:30 PM

Ziad Jamaleddine, Columbia University

Avinoam Shalem, Columbia University

10/21/2022 Maison Française, Columbia University and Zoom
12:30 PM

Youssef Ben Ismail, Columbia University


This paper examines the language of French imperialism in North Africa through a study of the ambiguous notion of protection. Throughout the nineteenth century, France never ceased to claim the status of “protector” over the Ottoman province of Tunis. Taking this observation as its starting point, the paper examines how this ubiquitous –if evasive– concept of protection provided grounds for French imperial meddling in Tunisia before and after the onset of French colonialism. It traces the evolution of French protection claims, their concrete political implications in Tunis, and their reception by the Ottomans in Istanbul.

Emmanuelle Saada, Columbia University

11/18/2022 Zoom
12:30 PM

Dalila Senhadji, University of Science and Technology of Oran Mohamed-Boudiaf

Ralph Ghoche, Barnard College