The CNRS Scientific Interest Group (Groupement d’Intérêt Scientifique, GIS) on the Middle East and the Muslim World (Moyen-Orient et Mondes musulmans, MOMM) was created on 1 January 2013. Its objective is to bring together all French research teams working on this theme, regardless of their discipline (history, geography, political science, sociology, anthropology, history of art, literature, Islamology, philosophy).
The GIS Moyen-Orient et Mondes musulmans (GIS MOMM) focuses in particular on the Middle East and the Maghreb. It also covers the Muslim world which, with its shared history and culture, has spread from its heartland in the Middle East westwards to Morocco and eastwards through Central Asia to India and South-East Asia.
Thus, the GIS Moyen-Orient et Mondes musulmans works in partnership with the Institut d’études de l’Islam et des sociétés du monde musulman (IISMM, Institute for Muslim Studies and Societies) and two other GISs covering similar ‘cultural spaces’: GIS Asia and GIS African Studies.
The recent Arab revolutions and current conflicts and upheavals in the Middle East have demonstrated the importance of bringing together French research centres, which have a long tradition in this field, in order to reinforce existing research and teaching activities and giving a new dynamism to existing, but all too often dispersed, studies. It is now imperative that we step back from our national prism and take a broader approach to the Arab and Muslim worlds: with increasing globalization and the emergence of connected history, research must do more to bring local and global perspectives into a closer relationship. Yet this exceptional accumulation of French research on the Middle East and Muslim world could be seriously undermined by the possibility that research groups will not be continued, together with too many blind spots, neglected themes (Maghreb, Iran, Iraq), underrepresented disciplines (Islamology, philosophy) and difficulties in organizing collective activities.
In order to avoid such a detrimental situation, the GIS Moyen-Orient et Mondes Musulmans has formed a network connecting all the teams and isolated researchers working on the Middle East and the Muslim World in order to encourage the dissemination and visibility of research carried out in a Francophone environment, whether in French universities or abroad, and foster a dynamic policy on documentation and resources (libraries, academic journals, digitalization).
The current situation in the Middle East and the inclusion of Islam in social debates in France offers GIS MOMM an opportunity to become the interface between the academic world, civil society and public authorities.
The objectives of GIS MOMM are:
- To deconstruct divisions and subdivisions between Maghreb and the Near East and between the Arab, Turkish and Iranian worlds that were inherited from the colonial and post-colonial periods
- To encourage interdisciplinary research on themes that bring together historians with scholars focusing on the contemporary period
- To give priority to a multi-disciplinarily approach in human and social sciences (history, philosophy, literature, sociology, anthropology and political science)
- To foster studies on the history of modern and contemporary Islam
- To respond to the challenges resulting from today’s upheavals in the Maghreb and the Middle East by encouraging research on civil society, contentious politics and forms of mobilization.