Chatelard, Géraldine: Briser la mosaïque…

April 1st, 2009

Géraldine Chatelard, Briser la mosaïque. Les tribus chrétiennes de Madaba, Jordanie (XIXe-XXe siècle)

Paris, CNRS Editions, 2004

ISBN 978-2-271-06206-2

Minority and community are concepts that have dominated the analysis of Christians in the Arab world, leading to a perception of Middle-Eastern societies as confessional or sectarian mosaics. The thesis this book defends is that it is time to ‘break the mosaic’ so as to cast light from the inside on the societies and polities within which Christians in the Arab world are inserted. Through the lenses of historical anthropology and political sociology, the book looks at identity formation and interaction across religious boundaries over a period that extends from the later decades of Ottoman rule in Transjordan (1870) to present Jordan (2000) more particularly in the town of Madaba however set within broader national and international contexts. Focuses are on the modalities of exchanges, transactions, cooperation and communication (looking at mariage patterns, the role of women, economic cooperation, and various aspects of local and national politics) between Christians and Moslems and between several Christian denominations. Broader contexts (that encompass the politics of states and of transnational Church actors over time) allow to bridge between the local and other levels to document how institutions regulate identity formation and cross-communal interactions. One important finding is that, over more than a century, kinship remains a central social form to express identities, regulate economic and political interactions, and manage conflict both between Christians and between Christians and Moslems. At another level, the book deals extensively with the institutional relations between the Greek Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches and the Jordanian state, bringing a new insight into a previously under-studied domain. Finally, the book interrogates the changing nature of the social pact between the Hashemite regime and local constituencies. The book combines oral and written sources, in particular so far unexploited parish and Vatican archives.

It has been reviewed in:
REMMM, Avril 2008 (Catherine Miller)
Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 60, 1,2005: 155-156 (Bernard Heyberger)

Submission: Géraldine Chatelard (author), 1.4.09

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