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Nassima Neggaz

Assistant Professor
New College of Florida - (FIAS Program)
Sunni & Shi‘i Memories: Remembering 1258 after 2003
01 September 2021 -
30 June 2022

Nassima Neggaz is an Assistant Professor in Islamic Studies and Islamic History at New College of Florida. Dr. Neggaz is a social historian of the medieval Islamic world with a focus on Abbasid Baghdad and its micro-history. She is particularly interested in Baghdad’s urban landscape, its neighborhoods and the relations between its confessional groups up to the Mongol invasion of the city in 1258. Dr. Neggaz has also published on the modern Middle East, in particular Syria and Iraq and the factors behind the rise of sectarian discourses in the region. Dr. Neggaz received a Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Georgetown University, an M.A. in Arab Studies (Politics) from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, and an M.A. in Political Science from Sciences-Po Paris. Prior to moving to sunny Florida, Dr. Neggaz was Jameel Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cardiff University (2017-2018) and Early Career Fellow and Lecturer in Islamic History at the University of Oxford (2015-2017), where she taught Islamic History lectures, graduate seminars, and translation seminars of early and medieval Arabic sources. Dr. Neggaz was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the National University of Singapore (2014-2015). She is a Fulbright alumna.

In September 2021, she joined the Paris IAS as part of the French Institutes for Advanced Study fellowship program - FIAS - co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 945408. Her fellowship also benefits from the support of the RFIEA+ LABEX, with a national funding (Grant ANR-11-LABX-0027-01).

Research interests

Medieval: Social history of the medieval Islamic world; Baghdad (urban landscape, neighborhoods, mapping); Confessional relations between Sunnis and Shi‘a; Historiography and narrative strategies in medieval accounts; Identity construction; Heresy and orthodoxy discourses (Abbasid, Mongol, and Mamluk)
Modern: Contemporary Syria and Iraq; Sectarian polemics in the modern Middle East

Sunni & Shi‘i Memories: Remembering 1258 after 2003

"Just as Hulegu entered Baghdad, so did the criminal Bush enter Baghdad, with the help of 'Alqami – indeed, even more than one 'Alqami.” These words were uttered by late President of Iraq Saddam Hussein and addressed to the Iraqi people in April 2003. They symbolically drew a parallel between the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the Mongol conquest of 1258. Ibn al-‘Alqami, a Shi‘i minister under the ‘Abbasid Caliph al-Musta‘sim bi-llah (d. 1258), was accused of having plotted against the Caliphate by helping the Mongols capture the city. Saddam Hussein’s words led to an outpouring of sectarian narratives in Iraq and the Middle East, notably through social media. A series of analogies between 1258 and 2003 were made by politicians, intellectuals, and clerics throughout the region. A new derogatory term was coined to describe the Shi‘a: the ‘Alaqima.

Despite their predominance in the online sphere, these discourses and polemical memories of the past have not been addressed by academics. More importantly, there are no studies of the 1258 fall of the ‘Abbasid Caliphate and its historiographical and social ramifications. This book examines over 60 primary sources in Arabic, Persian, Syriac, and other languages using a double-edge methodology combining a socio-political approach with a literary-critical approach. On the one hand, it reconstructs the events of 1258 by placing them within the larger context of late Abbasid Baghdad, neighborhood violence, as well as Mongol ‘divide and rule’ strategy. On the other, it retraces the memory of this episode in both its medieval and modern contexts, emphasizing the role played by imperial propaganda (medieval) and ethno-sectarian entrepreneurs (modern).

Key publications

Neggaz Nassima, “The Many Deaths of the Last Abbasid Caliph al-Musta‘sim bi-llah (d. 1258)” in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 30, n°4, 2020, p. 585-612. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1356186320000267

Neggaz Nassima, “Sectarianization and Memory in the Post-Saddam Middle East: the ‘Alaqima,” in The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 2020, p. 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/13530194.2020.1772041

Neggaz Nassima, “Al-Karkh: the Development of an Imāmī-Shīʿī Stronghold in Early Abbasid and Būyid Baghdad (132-447/750-1055)” in Studia Islamica, vol 114, n°3, 2020, p. 265-315. https://doi.org/10.1163/19585705-12341402

07 Nov 2022 15:45 -
07 Nov 2022 15:45,
Nassima Neggaz, 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow, wins the 2022 SERMEISS Article/Book Chapter Award
Carte Blanche with Nassima Neggaz, social historian of the medieval Islamic world, and 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow
12 Jul 2022 19:00 -
12 Jul 2022 20:00,
Religious Life and Neighborhood Identity in Abbasid Baghdad: The Karkh Quarter (762-1055 CE)
Conference by Hugh Kennedy (SOAS, London) and Maaike van Berkel (Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands), as part of the colloquium Interdisciplinary Sources & Methods for the Study of Pre-Archival Societies: The Case of Baghdad
08 Jun 2022 18:00 -
08 Jun 2022 19:30,
Paris :
Sources of Life. Food and water sustainability in Abbasid Baghdad
International conference organized with Nassima Neggaz (IEA de Paris) and Vanessa Van Renterghem (Inalco, CERMOM) with the support of the Paris IAS
07 Jun 2022 09:00 -
08 Jun 2022 20:00,
Interdisciplinary Sources & Methods for the Study of Pre-Archival Societies: The Case of Baghdad
Conference followed by a buffet dinner organized by the Club des Chercheurs, with the support of Paris IAS
01 Jun 2022 19:00 -
01 Jun 2022 23:00,
Immigration and integration: key questions and socio-political issues
15 Mar 2022 10:00 -
15 Mar 2022 13:00,
Sunni & Shii Memories: Remembering 1258 after 2003

Contemporary period (1789-…)
North Africa, Middle East