The Team’s principal research object is language in all its forms; oral, written, popular, scholarly and literary. This includes Arabic principally, but also Berber (Tamazight), Hebrew, Farsi, Armenian and ancient Near Eastern languages (Aramean, Akkadian, Phoenician, Sumerian, etc.).
The approaches to this object of study—language—are extremely diverse, from data processing and analysis to textual and literary analysis, via epigraphy, linguistics, sociolinguistics or even translation theory and the sociology of culture. This combination of scholarly training and openness to the social sciences has contributed to renewing perceptions of these societies. The members of this center are all actively involved in research and training at the Department of Middle-Eastern Studies of Aix Marseille University, especially with linguistics and literature seminars. They also participate in the laboratory’s cross-disciplinary research axes
Team Leaders: Malika Assam and Stéphane Cermakian
Researchers, Professors, Emeritus and Temporarily Attached to Education and Research: Malika Assam (MCF), Mohammed Bakhouch (émérite), Moustapha Bassiouni (ATER), Annamaria Bianco (ATER), Philippe Cassuto † (PU), Stéphane Cermakian (MCF), Salem Chaker (émérite), Jairo Guerrero (MCF), Frédéric Imbert (PU), Richard Jacquemond (PU), Pierre Larcher (émérite), Homa Lessan Pechezki (PU), Catherine Miller (émérite), Remo Mugnaoni (MCF), Najla Nakhlé-Cerruti (CR), Hakan Özkan (PR), Manuel Sartori (PR)
Postdoctoral Fellow: Susanne Abou Ghaida
Associate Researchers: Maxime Adel, Claude Audebert, Abdallah El Mountassir, Jacopo Falchetta, Ammar Kandeel, Saïda Larej, Jean-Marie Lesage, Rosa Pennisi, Catharina Pinon, Sbeih Sbeih, Intissar Sfaxi
Contributors: Claude Audebert, Mohamed Bakhouch, Annamaria Bianco, Stéphane Cermakian, Richard Jacquemond, Pierre Larcher, Homa Lessan-Pezechki
PhD students: Chakib Ararou, Nedjma Atoui, Mohammad Mostafa
Associate Researchers: Maxime Adel, Rosa Pennisi
This research in this field covers classical Arabic literature (principally ancient poetry, its textual and anthropological aspects) as well as oral literature and poetry in the Arab peninsula (as part of the oral poetry research group CEFAS-CEFREPA/IREMAM). It also covers historical literature and chronicles in Farsi from the Seljuk period and early Ottoman history, from a Turkish-Persian comparative history approach.
In Modern Arab literature, the research takes a sociological approach to Arabic literary texts, examining the relationships between literature, politics and society, specifically in the post-2011 context (in partnership with the Center For Near And Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS), University of Marburg), as well as Arab children’s literature and narrative image codes.
Literary translation is paired with research into translation theory, for the field of Ancient Arabic poetry and for the translations and adaptations of this poetry in scholarly and literary Orientalism. This also applies to the circulation of contemporary translations from and into Arabic, as part of the wider context of the sociology of intercultural exchange (in partnership with the King Abdul Aziz Al Saoud Foundation in Casablanca and the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha). This in turn is tied to the network of comparative and translation theory researchers working in other linguistic fields in Aix.
Contributors: Philippe Cassuto †, Frédéric Imbert, Pierre Larcher, Remo Mugnaoni, Fanny Rauwel
The research carried out in the field of Semitology deals with the study of Ancient and Modern Semitic languages and their socio-cultural context. For Ancient languages, specific focus is given to the comparative linguistics of these languages and their writing systems. This is an opportunity to revisit Semitic language classification, thanks to recent discoveries, and to question some of the analytical criteria used in linguistics, such as roots and cases. As for modern languages, research in this field centers around the sociocultural and sociolinguistic aspects of Bible translations. This research is also carried out as part of projects in collaboration with the INALCO (HAAH project: Hebrew Arabic-Arabic Hebrew) and EA ALITHILA (Literary Analysis and the History of Language) at University of Lille 3.
In Arabic Epigraphy, the research is conducted alongside archaeology fieldwork that has led to some important discoveries, particularly in Saudi Arabia and in Jordan. This includes Graffitology (analysis of the corpus of Arabic graffiti, not only from a linguistic and paleographic standpoint, but also in terms of historical and religious anthropology), Paleography (the study of the appearance and development of diacritic symbols in Ancient Kufic Arabic and their use in late Ayyubid and Mamluk texts), monumental and funerary Epigraphy, and Onomastics.
Contributors: Claude Audebert, Jairo Guerrero, Pierre Larcher, Homa Lessan Pechezki, Catherine Miller, Manuel Sartori
PhD Students: Laalikhan Ali, Nassim Nekouie, May Rostom, Najla Salim
Associate Researchers: Jacopo Falchetta, Catharina Pinon
Research in descriptive and typological linguistics centers around recent evolutions in syntax and vocabulary, applied to Arabic, Arabic didactics, and Persian. One of its aims is to take these evolutions into account when compiling linguistic grammars of these languages for teaching purposes, in order to bridge the gap between conventional grammatical explanations and the reality of contemporary written use. This research focusses on the evolution of written modern Arabic, in collaboration with researchers at University Paris 3, the University of Cádiz, the University of Oslo, etc. Another dimension of this research is the critical reading of ancient grammars, taking the approach of a history of representations of the Arabic language and of the formation of knowledge pertaining to it. Research is also dedicated to building an online Egyptian Arabic contextual dictionary, which currently includes 8 letters and 2886 entries.
In sociolinguistics and dialectology, research principally centers around the contact between languages/dialects in an urban context, examining the interaction between social change and the evolving practices and representations of language : be it in daily practices, the media, cultural and artistic scenes, youth speech in the Maghreb and the Middle-East, in Egypt and in Sudan. This research also participates in an international partnership with Lacnad (INALCO), the University of Cádiz, the University of Saragossa, and the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of Vienna. Specific emphasis is given to artistic productions and to the process of vernacularisation and writing of Arabic vernaculars.
Spread out across a vast and diverse territory, splintered in both geographic and geopolitical terms, the Berber world is distinctive in that it is traversed by diverse and multiple dynamics. A multidisciplinary approach must be adopted for this rapidly reshaping and ever-moving object of study. The Berber Studies section is based around two principal sites of exchange :
The Berber Encyclopaedia: A multidisciplinary publication that receives the active collaboration of all Aix researchers working on Berber studies, the Berber Encyclopaedia is a space for mutual exchange and exploration, bringing together a broad, international network of collaborators (37 volumes published since 1984, 3 forthcoming).
The Research Seminar “Amazighs - Tamazight/Berber(s) (Mediterranean – Sahara – Sahel – Emigrations) Interdisciplinary Research” gives central importance to sociolinguistic questions, and attracts many PhD students and Berber studies researchers from Algeria (Universities of Tizi-Ouzou, Bejaia, Bouira, CNRPAH) and Morocco (IRCAM, University of Agadir) as well as advanced students from Aix-Marseille University and other French and European universities.
Around these two exchange sites, several more specialized projects have developed : exploiting and promoting the Arsène Roux Berber archive (with IRCAM and the INALCO) ; exploiting and promoting Marceau Gast’s photographic archive (Sahara-North Africa) ; developing The Berber Encyclopaedia website (OpenEditions Journals.org, formerly Revues.org) ; the Program “Berber Speech : Isolated, Endangered and/or Under-Documented” ; and translating reference, scientific, literary and historical documents to and from Tamazight. Through annual multidisciplinary workshops, the section also works closely with the Berber studies team at the INALCO (LACNAD, EA 4092), as well as Berber studies researchers at the University of Naples (L’Orientale), Leiden, Cádiz, Rabat (IRCAM), Agadir, Algiers, Tizi-Ouzou, Béjaïa, Bouira, Batna, Prague, and Gerona.