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The Journal of North African Studies

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France and the Classical Sociology of Islam, 1798-1962


Edmund Burke III

To cite this Article Burke III, Edmund(2007) 'France and the Classical Sociology of Islam, 1798-1962', The Journal of North

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The Journal of North African Studies Vol. 12, No. 4, December 2007

France and the Classical Sociology of Islam, 1798 1962


EDMUND BURKE III
ABSTRACT The classical French sociology of Islam was shaped by the arc of French imperialism in the long nineteenth century, beginning with the French expedition to Egypt in 1798 and ending in 1962 with the independence of Algeria. While its legacy can be understood as part of the discursive machinery best described by Edward Said, it was also part of the history of modern French social thought. The aim of this article is to explore the complex patterns of the unfolding of the French tradition of the sociology of Islam, both in its relations to the calculus of French knowledge/ power as well as to metropolitan social science. The genealogy begins with the Description de lEgypte and includes other major nineteenth-century projects that mapped the scientic and ethnographic terrain upon which French imperialism would operate, including the 37-volume ` letude Exploration scientique de lAlgerie (1844 67), the four-volume Documents pour servir a du nord-ouest africain (1892 4), the 33-volume Archives marocaines (1904 25), Paul Martys monographs on Islam noir, as well as numerous books and articles on Muslims in Africa and the Mediterranean. The Algerian experience was central to the development of the French sociology of Islam, shaping not only perceptions of Tunisia, Morocco and French West Africa, but also even Syria and Lebanon. In the 1890s the Durkheim school of sociology played a key role in linking the sociology of Islam to the larger discipline in France. After World War I, French intellectual institutions both in France and in the colonies were reshaped as a more professional but also more explicitly governmentally driven approach to research came to the fore. But the professionalisation of sociology in France failed to lead to an intellectual transformation of colonial forms of knowledge. The article concludes with a question: is the sociology of Islam to be thought of primarily as a colonial science, a kind of infra-discipline heavily marked by the eld of power? Or is it better understood as part of French sociology? It argues that in some complicated ways, it was both.

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In this essay, I trace the intellectual genealogy of what Ill call the classical sociology of Islam in France from its origins in the 1798 French expedition de lEgypte until Algerian independence in 1962. I argue that within the arc of these two dates, French orientalists, ethnologists and native policy ofcers elaborated a remarkably rich, detailed and coherent archive of the Islamic societies of Africa and the Mediterranean. In the pages that follow, I explore the main features of the French tradition of the sociology of Islam, and discuss some of its principle achievements as well as notable lacunae. In excavating its complex intellectual genealogy, I strive to link it to the changing character of the

Edmund Burke III is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he directs the Center for World History. He is the author of numerous books and articles on North Africa, the Arab world and world history including Genalogies of Orientalism, co-edited with David Prochaska (University of Nebraska Press, forthcoming in 2008), and The Ethnographic State: France, Islam and Morocco, 1890-1930 (under submission). ISSN 1362-9387 print/ISSN 1743-9345 online/07/04055111 DOI: 10.1080/13629380701633414 # 2007 Taylor & Francis

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French political and intellectual elds over the course of our period, 1798 1962. I leave until another occasion a discussion of the remarkable reinvention of French studies of Islam and Muslim societies since 1962, an important subject on its own right. I begin with an assertion: the sociology of Islam does not exist. And it has been a French monopoly. Indeed, most international scholars have long been aware that when it comes to studies of Islam in this period, France was a hyper-pouvoir. But what do I mean by the sociology of Islam? Despite the ourishing of studies of Islam in our times, I am not thinking of Islam as a subeld in the sociology of religion since this eld is primarily of postcolonial origin (Colonna, 1995). Nor do I mean the philologically grounded discipline known as orientalism, which in its hey-day claimed to provide a science of society (de Sacy) and an interpretative grid for the comprehension of Muslim societies. On this subject Edward Saids (1978) classic, Orientalism, has provided a powerful if not fully persuasive interpretation. Instead, my focus is on the broader topic of what I call (with deliberate blurriness) the sociology of Muslim societies. By naming our subject in this manner, I seek to link it not just to social statistics, the central strand of much of French sociology from its Enlightenment origins in political arithmetic to the nineteenth-century emergence of academic schools headed by Comte and Durkheim. But sociology of Islam derives also from a less commonly acknowledged strand in the development of sociology in France, the science of social observation, which employed direct observation to study individuals and groups. In this case, it includes the signicant body of work produced on Islamic societies by French native affairs ofcers, civilian amateurs and academics. As we will see, the French sociology of Islam provides an excellent vantage point from which to reassess both the history of French sociology, and the inuential theory of Edward Said. In my conclusion I will briey return to these two subjects, and explain why I see them as intertwined.

The French Sociology of Islam: A Genealogy Since the publication of Edward Saids Orientalism (1978), it has become conventional to begin the French tradition of the sociology of Islam with the 23-volume Description de lEgypte (1809 22), the major textual product of the 1798 Napoleonic expedition to Egypt. For Said, the Description is the perfect model of a Foucaultian knowledge/ power discursive machine, which in mapping the orient for French power also prepared it for European inspection and eventual dominance. The Description de lEgypte was strongly rooted in the intellectual culture of the French enlightenment, both in terms of its vaulting ambition of providing a complete inventory of Egypts resources, history and society, as well as in the fusing of knowledge and power under the auspices of the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt (1798). Although I agree with Said that the Description inaugurated the discourse called orientalism as a coherent system of binaries (East/ West, Traditional/Modern) linked to power, I nd his formulation to be otherwise inadequate. By failing to provide either a complete intellectual genealogy of orientalism, or a historical sociology of its authors, Saids approach inadequately historicises orientalism. It also fails to locate it within the changing political and intellectual contexts of France, Europe and the world. In my forthcoming book, France and the Sociology of Islam, 1798 1962, I address these concerns and explore in greater detail the consequences of their absence for Saids analysis (Burke, submitted b). Here I am only able to provide

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briey the elements of my argument. Elsewhere I have sought to provide a more developed critique of Saids Orientalism (Burke and Prochaska, 2008). If instead of commencing with the question of orientalism we begin with the problematic of the origins of the discipline of sociology in France, we are launched on different intellectual voyage. This move enables us to locate better the sociology of Islam not only in the context of incipient European imperialism, but also of the larger intellectual eld within which it emerged (an aspect which is occluded in Saids approach), that of Enlightenment social thought and the heritage of the French revolution. But to carry this out we must change theorists from Foucault/Gramsci to Bourdieu. For it is Bourdieus distinction (Bourdieu, 1976, 1984) between the political and intellectual elds that enables us more effectively to locate the producers of the sociology of Islam, and to track their changing relationship to both the eld of power and the eld of knowledge over the life of this intellectual tradition. In this way we can better see the complexity of the relations of orientalism (and the specic manifestation of it that I am here calling the sociology of Islam) and the Enlightenment, on the one hand, and with the legacy of the French revolution on the other hand. It also allows us to follow the specic intellectual determinants of this eld. The genealogy of the French sociology of Islam begins with the Voyage en Egypte et en Syrie (1787) by Constantin-Francois Volney Chasseboeuf (1787). Volney was connected to the group around Desttut de Tracy and Cabanis. He was also a founding member of the te des Observateurs de lhomme (SOH), and a strong proponent of social statistics (or Socie political arithmetic, as it was known at the time). Members of the SOH sought to develop a theoretically grounded approach to social observation. Volneys Voyages provided a model of travel as a scientic activity for the generation of scholars and intellectuals who wrote the Description. His commitment to scientic observation foreshadowed the development of the eldwork method in ethnology. Volney also played a well chronicled behind-the-scenes role in the planning of the Expedition de lEgypte, and a copy of his Voyages was presented to its participating ofcers by Napoleon. Less well known is his role during the French Revolution when he served as a leading member of the Directory. As a revolutionary and a social scientist, Volney emerges not just as an apologist for empire, but also as a leading exponent of a particular type of social observation, and a particular politics. The essays on contemporary Egyptian society published in the Etat moderne section were inspired by the ideals of the French revolution and a concern with social observation inspired by Volney. In this, as I argue elsewhere (submitted a), they differ in important ways from later colonial ethnography. The Description de lEgypte was only the rst of a series of large-scale nineteenthcentury French projects aimed at mapping out the geographic, geological, scientic and ethnographic terrain upon which French imperialism would operate. Research expeditions also accompanied French troops to Greece in 1829 31 and Algeria (1839 42) and published a vast quantity of scientic information. The cumulative result (as a recent international conference volume describes it) was the invention of the Mediterranean as an object of scientic study (Bourguet et al., 1998). Without quite intending it, it also led to the invention of Islam as an object of scientic research. Our genealogy thus begins with Volney and Description de lEgypte, but includes as well the 37-volume Exploration ` letude du scientique de lAlgerie (1844 67), the four-volume Documents pour servir a nord-ouest africain (1892 4), the 33-volume Archives marocaines (1904 25) and Paul Martys monographs on Islam noir (Broc, 1981). A more complete listing of the French colonial archive of the sociology of Islam would also reference important French colonial

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publications concerned with actually existing Muslim society including the Revue de lAfrique franc africaine, the Bulletin of the Comite aise, and a number of geographical reviews. Finally, we must mention the Revue du monde musulman (1904 24). Today little known except to specialists, it virtually invented the comparative sociological study of Islamic societies. In this way what might be called the French colonial archive on Islamic societies was assembled, starting in 1798 with the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt, and culminating with Algerian independence in 1962. The French sociology of Islam was supported by (and gave rise to) an impressively diverse series of institutional structures. In contrast to the more decentralised US eld, the French sociology of Islam was from the outset institutionally linked to the French state. Of the three main groups involved in the production of knowledge about Muslim societies (native affairs ofcers, academics and civilian amateurs), only the latter were not directly linked institutionally to the state. Ill have more to say about each of these groups in a moment. This connection is clearest in the case of the ofcers of the Arab Bureaux, who produced some of the best work on Algerian society in the nineteenth century. But much the same is true of the work done by academics, most of which was ` ge produced either under the auspices of leading metropolitan institutions (like the Colle de France, the Ecole des langues orientales, the Ecole pratique des hautes etudes and the Academic des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, among others) and from the end of the nineteenth century by the schools and universities of the colonial Maghrib. These es to universities ranged from local Franco-Arab medrasas (in Algeria) and lyce (Algiers, Tunis and Rabat). Also important as sites for the production of knowledge about Muslims were the institutes at Cairo, Damascus, Rabat and Dakar. A post-World War I initiative aimed at developing a systematic policy line on the administration of French colonies in the Middle East, North Africa and French West Africa was the Centre des hautes etudes sur ladministration musulmane (CHEAM). In general, these colonial institutions were always in the intellectual shadow of the much more important metropolitan institutions mentioned above. The French colonial archive on Muslim societies was notable both for its intellectual production as well as for its institutional diversity and strength. There is nothing remotely comparable to it in the annals of knowledge about Muslim colonial peoplesneither the British (whose domains embraced India, Africa and the Middle East) nor the Dutch (the other European power with a sizable colonial Muslim populations) come even close. For comparisons we must look to the British India Ofce Library (which held the Indian colonial archive). But it was primarily concerned with the Hindu populations of South Asia who comprised 80 per cent of the total South Asian population (Cohn, 1996). The British devoted far less attention to the Muslim populations of Indian (Hardy, 1972; Lelyveld, 1978). The conclusion seems clear: if we are concerned with the sociology of Islam, the French colonial archive on the Muslim peoples of Africa and the Middle East is by far the most signicant intellectual intervention. That Anglophones have been slow to recognise this fact does not in any way detract from its importance. A Sociology of the Sociologists If Egypt marks the beginning of the French sociology of Islam, it is the Algerian venture (1830 1962) that most shaped the development of the sociology of Islam in France. This

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is especially the case when we consider the shaping inuence of the colonial conquest, less so if ones focus is on the intellectual parameters of this emergent eld. If we examine the French tradition of the sociology of Islam in historical perspective, it can be seen to consist in three broad strands, the complex patterning of whose interactions over a century and a half constituted the eld. The Algerian experience was in many ways paradigmatic for what as to come later. These were the traditions of the Arab Bureaux, the civilian amateurs, and the academics. Attached to real social forces with real interests and perceptions of the society, these three groups are of primary importance in understanding not only the unfolding of the intellectual eld, but also much of the dynamics of French colonial politics. Most important in shaping the development of the sociology of Algeria was the legacy of the ofcers of the Bureaux Arabes. Despite their position in the political eld, the Arab Bureau ofcers were noticeably better informed and more alert to the impact of French policies on Algerian Muslims. Profoundly inuenced by the Saint-Simonians, they resisted the dominant binaries of muscular orientalism and instead sought to accommodate the realities of French power with the universal humanism of the Rights of Man. Saint-Simonians (Emerit, 1941) were also among the founders of the Bureaux Arabes ` re and Richard are leading examples). Today the Saint-Simonians are best (La Moricie nophile whose ideas helped identied with the gure of Ismail Urbain, a leading indige convince Napoleon III to declare Algeria to be an Arab Kingdom under his imperial protection against the land-grabbing settlers and their allies in the colonial bureaucracy (Levallois, 2001). s, as Jacques Berque has called them (Berque, 1962), From these Robinson galonne came a major share of the most important works on Algerian society, customs and religion. From the Arab Bureaus alliance with the tribes derived both the strengths and weaknesses of its understandings of Algerian society. The culture of tribal society, no less than its moral topography were rst outlined by the men of the Arab Bureaux. The model of tribal structure rst worked out by Daumas (1844, 1853), Pein (1893), Richard (1848, 1893) and Urbain (1847) was based on the genealogical structure of the patriarchal family. It continued to inspire work up to the thesis of Robert Montagne (1930). Techniques of oral investigation were developed which made possible Daumas study of the tribes of the Sahara (1845) and Ernest Carettes study of Kabylia on the basis of a careful cross-questioning of local informants (1848). The application of the same ` res methods was later to produce such works as Emile Laousts Mots et Choses Berbe ras study of the Rif (1902). (1920) and August Moulie The Arab Bureau ofcers also pioneered the study of popular Islam, especially the role of the su turuq. Charles Richards study (1846) of the popular religious roots of Algerian tude sur linsurrection du Dahra (1845 1846), was the rst attempt at explorresistance, E ing the history and content of popular Islamic millenarianism. While Richard viewed Islam through the spectacles of the religious struggles of the French revolution, he also saw popular religious beliefs as a source of spiritual strength and political resistance (Burke, 2002). A related theme that stimulated much research was the political role of the marabouts (popular saints). Franc ois de Neveus Les Khouan (1845) was the rst of a series of inquiries based on the systematisation of information on tariqa membership collected by means of an administrative questionnaire. Other major works include Louis Rinn, Marabouts et Khouan (1884) and Octave Depont and Xavier Coppolani (1897). Following the suppression of the last major revolt in 1871, French interest in

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the political power of Islam essentially disappeared. The subsequent incomprehension of French observers of the Abd el-Krim rebellion (1921 6) and twentieth-century nationalism only underscores this point. A striking feature of French ethnography is that the earliest ones are often the most complexly observed and the least obviously ideologically skewed. Why should this have been the case? A number of reasons come to mind. The rst generation had the advantage of being rst, and of everything thus being new, fresh, and interesting. Moreover, insofar as many of the early observers were military men, or directly tied to the colonial enterprise, they had a vested interest in understanding the society in all its specicity and in being able to distinguish its chief components. Put simply, lives might depend upon it. Later on, as bureaucratic routine took over, ofcers had only to update the reports of their predecessors. They became increasingly overwhelmed by paperwork and spent less time in the market place or on horseback frequenting their charges. Finally, as time went on, the military advantage shifted decisively toward the Europeans. The ability to deploy powerful new military technologies appeared to compensate for errors in political analysis (Adam, 1972). Confronted with the machine gun, tribal forces, however brave and resourceful, stood no chance. For all of these reasons, therefore, the early periods were formative. From this it was but a step to major atrocities (then excused in the name of the moral good that would accompany the expansion of the French empire). If we were to plot on a map the successive thrusts of French military advance in North Africa, we would nd a close correspondence with the advance of knowledge about the society. By the end of the Second Empire, the ethnographic inventory of Algeria was virtually complete; only the Sahara remained to be explored. For Tunisia, we have good ethnographies only for the southern regionsonly there was the Algerian system of military administration employed. The historical development of French knowledge about Morocco adhered to much the same outline: rst the populations of the coastal districts and the central plain, then the cities of the interior, and only later on the tribes of the Rif, Middle and High Atlas Mountains, the Sous valley, and the Saharan steppe. In Morocco, however, there was a division of labour between military ofcers and academics. The Berber populations of the Atlas and the Saharan zones were studied by the men of the Arab Bureaux, while French civilian academics worked on the cities and the plains. A second major strand of French sociology of Islam was the work of civilian amateurs and explorers, whose writings were coloured by their direct interest in the acquisition of land, and the well being of settler society. Their intellectual contribution to the eld was the weakest of the three. However, if that contribution is assessed in political terms, it emerges as fundamental. The intensication after 1871 of the debate in colonial Algeria between settler interests and the chief protectors of the Muslim populations, the Arab Bureaux, led to the growing politicisation of French ethnography. From a quasiautonomous intellectual by-product of the Arab Bureaux, the ethnography of Algeria became increasingly dominated by the discourse of French colonial politics. No longer a serious threat, Muslims did not have to be taken seriously. There was thus little incentive to study them. Between 1871 and 1919 the stereotypes of the colonial vulgate crystallised into a racialised image of Algerian society (Ageron, 1960). This found direct expression in the Algerian colonial gospela patterned set of stereotypes about the nature of Muslim Algerian society. Of greatest importance was the so-called Kabyle myth, a set of stereotypes on the supposed differences between Arabs and Berbers. The persistence of the

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Kabyle myth was one of the most enduring aspects of the French sociology of Islam (Lorcin, 1995). French academics, the third strand of the sociology of Islam, emerged as a distinct group only after 1871, in response to the modernisation of the French university and the emergence of the social science disciplines. The individual who more than any other endowed the academic study of Algerian society with prestige and legitimacy was Emile Masqueray. His Formation des cites chez les populations sedentaires de lAlgerie appeared in 1886 (reprint 1983). A graduate of the prestigious Ecole Normale superieure, Masqueray was at the centre of the intellectual currents of his time, rather than on the fringes as were the other French Algerian academics. Although he did much to establish the Ecole dAlger as a respectable provincial institution, and might have been the Durkheim of the sociology of Islam (he was not lacking in ambition: his thesis was a frontal attack on the work of Fustel de Coulanges, the leading historian of his time), he was nally unable to transcend the crippling effects of the politicisation of colonial sociology, and had no disciples (Colonna and Brahimi, 1976). Also strongly inuenced by the Algerian model was the sociology of Muslim societies of French West Africa (Afrique occidentale franc aise). The study of what would later be called Islam noir began in earnest in 1880s, when French native affairs specialists, both military and civilian, turned their attention to the role of the su turuq in the West African Sudanic belt from the Atlantic to Timbuctu (Triaud, 1987). In the super-heated ` cle France, AOF ofcials became atmosphere of racism and chauvinism of n de sie obsessed by the fear of pan-Islamic conspiracies, particularly that of the Sanusiya brotherhood. In spite of the fact that there was little or no evidence to support these concerns, they strongly marked French writing on Islam noir in the pre-1914 period (Triaud, 1995). The work of Paul Marty (1882 1938) on Islam noir substantially invented the study of West African Islam in the period 1913 25 (Marty, 1913, 1916, 1919, 1920 1a, 1920 1b, 1922, 1926). Marty was one of the last of the military ethnographers formed in the Algerian native affairs tradition. With more than a dozen monographs (most notably his 1913 Les mourides dAmadou Bamba), Martys extraordinary productivity (based upon the dissemination of questionnaires to local ofcials throughout French West Africa) stands alone in the annals of the French sociology of Islam. Under the leadership of Rene Basset, a group of French academics focused on Algerian Islam emerged at the Ecole dAlger at the end of the nineteenth century. The Ecole dAlger group was a manifestation of many of the same forces that were then transforming , they had an important intellectual leader, French higher education. In Edmond Doutte whose sociology was largely self-taught, but who was able to attach himself through some artful manoeuvring to the Durkheimians (Valensi, 1984). The intellectual production of the Ecole dAlger group focused upon the study of folklore, popular religion and dialectologythat is to say, subjects of lesser interest and intellectual ambition. It was also highly politicised, exacerbated especially by the atmosphere of chauvinism that dominated the period that led up to the Morocco Crisis of 1905. On the eve of its professionalisation, then, the sociology of Islam (and of Algerian society) had generated a discourse that was profoundly imbued with and shaped by the fact of the French colonial presence. The establishment of a chair of Muslim sociology (sociographie et sociologie ` ge de France in 1902 marks the emergence of the eld. The musulmane) at the Colle holder of the chair, Alfred Le Chatelier, was a politically connected ex-Bureau Arab ofcer committed to developing a self-conscious sociology of the Muslim populations

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of the French empire. Prior to his appointment he had produced numerous research studies on the Muslim populations of West Africa, the Hijaz, Egypt and Morocco for the Ministry of War (only a few of which were published). His appointment reected a governmental decision to take in hand research on Morocco and on Islamic societies generally. Le Chatelier established the Mission scientique du Maroc at Tangier in 1903, as well as what would become the leading scientic periodical on Morocco, the Archives marocaines (1906 26). Archives marocaines published studies ranging from authoritative ethnologies to translations of key texts on a variety of subjects, including dynastic chronicles, Su genealogies and property law. In particular, the A.M. published a number of inuential ethno-histories by Georges Salmon and Edouard Michaux-Bellaire. Also under Le Chateliers direction a second series was launched: Villes et tribus du Maroc. A collaboration between sociologists and native affairs ofcers, the Villes et Tribu series eventually published volumes on Casablanca, Rabat and Tangier. Other important missions were also sponsored by the leading geographical societies in this period. Edmond led four research missions that studied the populations of the Atlantic coast south Doutte of Casablanca. French knowledge of Morocco, minimal in 1890, had by 1925 become a jewel in the crown of the French sociology of Islam. An essential link between the sociology of Islam and the discipline of sociology in and Le Chatelier claimed France is the emergence of the Durkheim school. Both Doutte a Durkheimian genealogy (neither very credibly, it must be said). Although Durkheim and his followers were famously uninterested in the world outside the Hexagon, such was the prestige of the Durkheim model that sociology as a discipline in France was durably inected. Indeed, the Durkheimian preoccupation with statistical aggregates forwarded a preoccupation of French social scientists that goes back to the eighteenth century. Upon reection, a similar interest in social statistics can be seen to inform Volneys Voyages and colonial Algerian ches de tribu. In this sense, the sociology of Islam as it developed in nineteenth-century northern Africa can be said to have been pre-adapted to the twentieth-century disciplinary realities of the French academy. At the same time, we can trace the inuence of the second strand of French sociology, the politically more self-conscious science of social observation. Starting with the Description de lEgypte, we can trace its inuence upon the sociology of Islam in successive generations, from the Saint-Simonian native affairs ofcers in Algeria, to the Lyautey school of native affairs and the ethno-histories pioneered by Edouard Michaux-Bellaire. These later inuenced Robert Montagne (1930), Roger Le Tourneau (1949) and Jacques Berque (1956). The sociology of Islam thus incorporated both variants of sociology in Francesocial statistics and social observation. Le Chateliers importance goes beyond his contributions to the sociology of Morocco. Under his leadership the Revue du monde musulman (RMM) (1906 26) was launched. Ni orientaliste, ni colonialiste, the RMM sought instead to make Islam known as it is actually evolving, and to concentrate its attention on gathering social facts about Islamic societies while eschewing politics. Clearly linked to currents favouring a less stridently ideological approach to the study of Islamic societies (this was after all, the high point of European fantasies of pan-Islamic insurgencies) the RMM broke with the orientalist paradigm in numerous ways, most importantly in its embrace of contemporary Islamic societies from the Philippines to Morocco as its subject, rather than learned disquisitions on obscure points of Arabic grammar, or the ches du tribu dear to French colonial ethnographers. The composite portrait of Islamic society in the rst quarter of our century that

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emerges from a re-reading of the Revue is that of a living, vital community (indeed a whole series of communities sharing the same great tradition) caught in the rush of change, divided against itself and at odds over which road to takethe very opposite of the colonial vulgate, which depicted Islam weighing down like a leaden mantle on society, warping the lives of individuals and stiing the possibilities of change (Doutte, 1909). Not the least of its accomplishments was that in the breadth of its vision, it summoned into existence a new eldthe sociology of Islamand gave it a place at the centre of metropolitan institutions. World War I brought about the destruction of the Ottoman Empire and of the caliphate, the partition of the Middle East by the victorious allies, the collapse of pan-Islam and the rise of nationalism. But it also brought no less far-reaching changes at the discursive level. It foreclosed the possibility of more open attitudes toward Muslim societies such as those embodied in the Mission scientique du Maroc, as well as initiatives like the Revue du monde musulman, which published its last issue in 1926. The establishment of the Institut des hautes etudes marocaines in 1920 and the transformation of the Mission scientique du Maroc into the Section sociologique (a branch of the native policy military bureaucracy) marked the change to a more professional but also more explicitly governmentally driven approach to research. The French mandate governments in Syria and Lebanon also looked to the Arab Bureaux tradition. In the new division of labour, orientalists and historians populated the revived Institut franc ais de Damas. In Paris, a new policy-relevant sociology of Islam (also more closely linked to the Arab bureaux tradition, rather than to the Durkheim school) tudes began to emerge. Under the directorship of Robert Montagne, the Centre des hautes e musulmans (CHEAM) centralised research on Muslim societies under French colonial rule. Le Chateliers dream of a centralised bureau charged with co-ordinating research on Muslim societies died with the caliphate and pan-Islam. The rise of nationalism posed a major challenge to social observers. The professionalisation of the eld of sociology failed to lead to an intellectual transformation of colonial forms of knowledge. Here difculties in distinguishing the nature of the nationalist challenge appear to have reinforced an intellectually sclerotic clinging to orientalist paradigms. To the end of the French North Africa, studies alleging the political importance of the Su orders were still being produced long after they had ceased to be a political force. Apart a few belated studies on the bidonvilles of North African cities (Montagne, 1952; Adam, 1963), little was produced in the post-World War II period that engaged the realities of French colonialism. Even Jacques Berques much praised Structures sociales du Haut Atlas (1956) represents a shrinking back from the obvious (though Berque had earlier in his career been quite bold in critiquing colonial society). Why is this? Colonial sociology was directly involved from the outset in the process of domination. What the men of the Arab Bureaux sought nally was not sociological understanding of these societies, but the key to their operation, the secret or secrets which once known would permit their domination. That is to say that from the beginning, their quest was oriented by the very nature of their relationship to the tribes whose destinies they controlled. The men of the Arab Bureaux were of course not social scientists. It is thus anachronistic to tax them with not being what they could not have been. But what is true of the Arab Bureaux is also true of the Ecole dAlger, the Institut des Hautes Etudes marocaines, and the Institut francais de Damas. The very existence of the relationship between coloniser and colonised, like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, intervened to insure that in the very act of observing, the phenomena being observed are modied.

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What they observed, or what more tellingly they ignored, was a function of where and how they encountered it. That is to say, it derived from their relationship to the intellectual currents of their age, and to its political ideas and structures. It is only on this basis that a sociology of these sociologists, a sociology of knowledge of colonial sociology, can be erected. What they saw was rooted in the dense specicity of the tribe, its way of life, beliefs and practices, relations with political authority, and its ties to the land. But it was the tribe viewed through the grid of the stereotypes of the colonial vulgate, that is to say, nally an essentially unchanging tribe, one shorn moreover of its connections to a wider world and to the past. The transformations induced by the colonial presence, by the colonial observer, were largely ignored. Some few knew better, knew that the society was changing under their noses, that there were worlds that escaped them, and that what they were doing was increasingly anachronistic even in its own time. Even those observers whose ideological view threatens at times to distort totally were capable of insights that went beyond the paradigms of the tradition. All of them in the end were bound by the intellectual horizons and problematique of the colonial situation. But this resolves things too neatly. For if the hallmark of colonial sociology is its supposed deformation by the lens of power, then in ways more complicated than can be fully explained here, metropolitan sociology was no less powerfully shaped by power. Id like to conclude with a question: is the sociology of Islam to be thought of primarily as a colonial science, a kind of infra-discipline heavily marked by the eld of power? Or is it better understood as part of French sociology? In some complicated ways, perhaps it is both.

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