International Conference IFAO "Private Archives in Egypt and the Middle East, 16th to 21st Century."
Near Eastern public archives are by now well known and studied, whereas scholars still have little or no access to private and non-governmental archives. Our knowledge of the Near East societies from the Ottoman and modern period depends still largely from the State viewpoint. Why are private archives known by scholars so few?
This conference aims at answering the question by gathering various experiences from scholars, part of whom are also owners of private papers, collectors, or curators of academic collections. The exploration of family papers and libraries should enlighten the reasons of their preservation from generation to generation, and of their opening or closure to scholarly research. The fate of these private papers will be compared with the archives of non-governmental institutions like waqfs, religious communities or educational institutions. Their history will be replaced in the broader framework of law, teaching, and even market. The conference will question lastly the capacity of scholar institutions to meet the current issues of preserving and studying these invaluable documents.