Transfaire in English

Trans-acting Matters: Areas and Eras of a (Post-)Ottoman Globalization

Research program funded through the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ref. ANR-12-GLOB-003)

As opposed to studies which analyze the diffusion and circulation of practices, instruments, norms, and forms of knowledge as a stage subsequent to their localized production, the Transfaire project aims to study symbolic and technical instruments that are produced and reproduced by circulation. Our goal is dual in nature: on the one hand, we propose a new approach to connections, concomitances, and interdependencies in which (post-)Ottoman spaces are to be considered an integral part, contrary to studies which limit themselves to considering exchange in terms of one-way diffusion and importation. On the other hand, we aim to draw up a revised chronology of the modalities of governance and extroversion of the Empire and the Republic, detached from the great rifts which have marked narratives of political history.

Instead of employing the notion of “transfer,” which assumes that there are elements which are allegedly “specific” to each of the regions concerned, our approach focuses on modalities of “trans-action” [transfaire], and pays close attention to processes of translation and co-production of normative vehicles and of the fabric out of which politics is made. Thinking in terms of interrelations is central to this endeavour, in order to avoid that the idea of incommensurable regions be reintroduced under the guise of “transfer.”

The project Transfaire builds upon the results and the scholarly work already yielded by the research group Transtur (“Order and Compromise: Patterns of government and administration in Turkey and the Ottoman Empire”), which was coordinated by Élise Massicard and funded through the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche in 2008–2012. Transfaire thus aims to build upon and reinforce an active research network already well in place, and to help promote the formulation of generalizable perspectives that may speak to globalization theory more broadly.

The team of Transfaire brings together 25 researchers and professors from the fields of history, political science, sociology, anthropology, and geography. Its priorities are organized along three main lines of inquiry: 1) The forms of materiality of political objectivization 2) The analysis of devolutions and normative (re)investment 3) The challenges and actors of translation. The general organization is structured around two geographical poles, one in Paris (at the Centre d’Études Turques, Ottomanes, Balkaniques et Centrasiatiques), the other in Istanbul (at the Institut Français d’Études Anatoliennes), around which the members of the team gravitate. At each one of the two sites a permanent correspondent, recruited as a post-graduate research assistant, sees to the organization of the team’s activities. The two permanent correspondents – currently Anouck Côrte-réal et Sümbül Kaya– work together with the project’s main coordinator – Marc Aymes – to ensure the pooling and sharing of activities amongst the team members. Bimonthly seminars enhance the cohesiveness of the project’s activities; yearly work meetings, held in executive session, allow individual difficulties to be addressed, completed work to be presented, and publishing projects to be discussed by the entire team.

Scientific dissemination and visibility will be carried out by multiple methods: academic workshops; an international conference presenting the results of completed research; public outreach activities; and the creation of a website aimed to publicize the project’s developments as they unfold.