Ismail, Youssef Ben

Harvard University

Research Topic: Before Nationalism: The Regency of Tunis and the Ottoman Empire (1874-1924)

Mr. Ben Ismail is a PhD candidate in Histories and Cultures of Muslim Societies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. His ANAMED project forms part of his dissertation research on the relationship between the Ottoman Empire and the Regency of Tunis from the late-nineteenth to the early-twentieth century. Although the Regency of Tunis was nominally considered to be an Ottoman eyalet, the actions of the Bey of Tunis were largely unconstrained by the central Ottoman government. The establishment of a French protectorate over Tunis in 1881 presented an additional challenge to Ottoman claims over the distant North African province. Despite this, Ben Ismail’s dissertation demonstrates that crucial political and cultural links persisted between Tunis and Istanbul well into the twentieth century. Using archives in Arabic, French, and Ottoman Turkish, his work seeks to bring the Regency of Tunis into the fold of late Ottoman imperial history. Specifically, it aims to provide a new genealogy of Tunisian nationalism, tracing its roots back to the Ottoman Empire.