Pragmatic utopia and Romantic science: Colonial identities and Saint-Simonian influences in the writings of Thomas Ismaÿl Urbain (1812-1884) and Henri Duveyrier (1840-1892)
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In the nineteenth century, the Southern Mediterranean was a region of special significance for the Western imagination. This was particularly true for the French following the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt of 1798-1801 and, from 1830 France's establishment of its most significant colonial presence in Algeria. Moreover, it remains a crucial region for present-day global relations. This thesis examines the influence of the Saint-Simonian social utopian movement, which had developed in response to social and religious changes in post-Revolutionary France, on the writings of two little-known figures: Thomas Ismayl Urbain (1812-1884) and Henri Duveyrier (1840-1892). It directs special attention to the distinctive forms of Romantic Orientalist thought promoted by Saint-Simonian philosophy as they are reflected in these figures' writings. In a broader perspective, this study also examines their writings in terms of approaches to issues of colonial relations, subsumed under the term la question indigène, and seeks to assess these figures respectively as exemplars of arborescent and relational identities. To this end, it applies postcolonial theory to their writings, including the work of Said, Butler, Chamoiseau and Glissant on concepts of exile, performative identity, créolisation, hybridity, opacity, errance, empathy, occidentalism and mythic constructions of Western and colonised identities. Key themes variously addressed in the writings of Urbain and Duveyrier across a number of genres include the following: depictions of the colonial other, including nomadic Saharan tribes such as the Tuareg; attitudes toward Islam; the impact on the colony of events in metropolitan society such as revolution, war, and the rise of nationalism and the interactions of European settlers and indigenous populations on the development of colonial society in Algeria. This thesis thus seeks to produce an innovative analysis, elucidated through the adoption of a comparative methodology, which reflects the complexity of both figures' respective oeuvres and the issues which they address.
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