M’hamed Oualdi is Assistant Professor of the History of Modern North Africa at Princeton University. He has held a teaching position at Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (Paris) and research fellowships at the European University Institute (Florence), l’Ecole française de Rome and the Institut de Recherche sur le Maghreb contemporain in Tunis. In his first book, Esclaves et maîtres (Publications de la Sorbonne, 2011), he studied the slave servants who governed the Ottoman province of Tunis. His new book focuses on the social and cultural effects of transitioning from an Ottoman rule to French colonial domination in the central Mediterranean.
Early modern and modern social history of North Africa, in particular the issue of slavery and the relations between North African and European societies throughout the 19th century; imperial and connected history: literacy, self narratives and the production of historical documents in a North African context.
Slave Narratives in the Abolition Era: White Captives, Black Slaves and Ottoman Servants in 19th-century North Africa
This project deals with the abolition of slavery in 19th-century North Africa through narratives written or conceived by slaves and servants originating from Western Europe, Anatolia, Caucasus, Western and Eastern Africa and their offspring. It seeks first to contribute to a connected and global history of slavery by studying groups of slaves in relation with each other and by linking North Africa to other parts of Africa, Europe, Asia and America. By analyzing slave narratives in a North African context and the various slaves’ abilities to speak for themselves in various languages, this project aims as well at revealing how slaves considered the demise of slavery, how they saw and experienced this legal and social phenomenon. At a methodological and a theoretical level, the final goal of this research project is to understand how and why subalterns were able, forced or even sometimes forbidden to write about their own lives; in other words, to understand how the primary sources that we are using as historians are the outcomes of social interactions including social domination and social conflicts.