A Slave Between Empires: A Transimperial History of North Africa (Columbia University Press, 2020) by M’hamed Oualdi, a former member of the Near Eastern Studies faculty, won the 2021 Alf Andrew Heggoy Book Prize awarded by The French Colonial Historical Society for the “best volume published in the preceding year dealing with the French colonial experience from 1815 to the present.” The citation read: “M’hamed Oualdi’s A Slave Between Empires: A Transimperial History of North Africa, offers a deeply original reinterpretation of colonial North Africa from 1880 to 1920. Impressive in archival range and political reach, A Slave Between Empires explores the life and legacy of Husayn Ibn ‘Abdallah, a former slave who rose to prominence as a dignitary of the Ottoman Empire and died in the French Protectorate of Tunisia. Anchored in an intricate web of Arabic, French, Italian and Ottoman sources, A Slave Between Empires moves beyond Francophone archives and conventional records, combining perspectives “from below” with analysis of estate, family, legal claims, financial legacy to raise important questions about the creation of moral categories. Moving deftly between the life of Husayn and the entrepreneurial communities and intellectual networks linking France, the Ottoman Empire, and the Maghreb, Oualdi’s dazzling new book offers a fresh perspective and a new methodology, for French colonial history.”
M'hamed Oualdi is now full professor of history at Sciences Po-Paris.