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The Factory of Antiquity in North Africa : Archealogies and Heritages in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco (XIX-XXI) – FABRICAMAG

Submission summary

In his Dictionnaire des idées reçues, Flaubert characterizes “Antiquity and all what is related to it” as “cliché, annoying”: the ambition of this project and of its summary is to proceed in such a way its readers will not subscribe to this definition!
“The Making of Antiquity in the Maghreb: Archeologies and Heritages in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco (19th-21st centuries)” (FABRICAMAG) is a project which combines, regarding this peculiar scientific discipline called archeology, the contributions of history, sociology, political sciences, anthropology and epistemology.
FABRICAMAG is not part of a disciplinary orthodoxy. On the contrary, it makes disciplines play with one another so as to proceed in an innovating direction. The journey is therefore full of hurdles, among which the reservations of the scientific community to be observed through the anthropologist’s lens is not the least. However, the taking of this intellectual risk is shared and accepted by the host institution, TRACES. In this sense, the association of an anthropologist and research institute specialized in archeology is in itself an experimental, original and creative institutional device.
FABRICAMAG’s first objective is to originally contribute to area, colonial and postcolonial studies, while renewing the study of the Maghreb. But this project goes much further and engages in the founding of a new way in studying the sciences of the past: the anthropology of archeology. It is thus part of a debate on the uses and functions of contemporary human and social sciences, a debate in which archeology occupies a privileged position. The inquiry is made of ethnographies and “prosopographies” of archeological sites, with a special care for differential and comparative analysis. For each of the cases selected, one will have to constitute a corpus made of interviews with actors of the archeological and patrimonial networks and with the populations inhabiting these places, of observations of archeologists at work and of experts in the various patrimonial arenas, and of archival and printed sources.
The possibility to join the TRACES team conducting excavations in Sijilmasa offers an exceptional field to conduct a pioneering ethnographical inquiry. As a site whose origins play with the time boundaries of Antiquity, as the cradle of the current Alaouite dynasty, as the locus of indigenous and patrimonializing re-appropriations, it looks like a “total archeological fact” from which one can ask the whole array of questionings supported by the project.
With its 150 members, TRACES is a major research institution in the domain of archeology. An open conception of archeology is promoted here. One will integrate this institution on three different levels: within a research orientation dealing with new approaches to historiography and epistemology; within the group working on African archeology; and within the reflexive workshop addressing the issue of archeological archives. TRACES offers excellent work conditions, with the provision of a special space for ongoing projects and with a substantial payroll contribution.
While TRACES’ contribution to the achievement of the project is essential, the radically innovative theme which it explores will make it a pioneering institute, which will grant the epistemology and the anthropology of the sciences of the past a central, structural and perennial status. The project will also offer the institution an extension of its attractiveness in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, via the attribution of scholarships and Ph.D.’s supervision. Other scientific networks will be mobilized in Europe and North America.
The project’s outcomes will consist of scientific meetings and publications, but also of the building of an archeological archives center of documentation, of the production of a MOOC and of an itinerating exhibition addressing a large audience. Finally, FABRICAMAG will serve as a platform for submitting international proposals.

Project coordination

Clémentine Gutron (Centre Alexandre Koyré CNRS DR02 UMR 8560)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


TRACES Travaux et Recherches Archéologiques sur les Cultures, les Espaces et les Sociétés
CAK Centre Alexandre Koyré CNRS DR02 UMR 8560

Help of the ANR 399,999 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: July 2016 - 42 Months

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