From the eighteenth century until the present, the multitude of French-Arab relationships, positive or negative, constitute what one can call, according to the famous expression of Jacques Berque, "la chose franco-arabe" ("the French-Arab thing"). This seminar will define its history and consequently its nature—and what its future might be.

Henry Laurens is a professor and chair of history of the contemporary Arab world at the Collège de France, Paris. Laurens is one of France's foremost experts on the Middle East specializing in several related areas of research: European-Ottoman contacts in the 19th century, Franco-Arab relations, Middle-Eastern politics, European thought in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the history of modern Palestine, about which he has written a three-volume work covering the period from 1799 to the present day.

Since 1999, Laurens has served on the Administrative Council of the French Institute of Oriental Archeology in Cairo, is a member of the High Council of the Institute of the Arab World (IMA) in Paris, and serves on the editorial board of the journal Maghreb-Machrek.

Laurens has published more than twenty books on the history of the Middle East, imperialism, terrorism, and the Mediterranean including La Question de Palestine, volumes 1 and 2; L'accomplissement des prophéties, and L'empire et ses ennemis. In 2004, Laurens was the recipient of the Joseph du Theil prize of the French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.

Laurens earned his degree and doctorate, specializing in Arabic literature, at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris and at the Sorbonne–Paris IV.



  • Henry Laurens

    Professor and Chair of History of the Contemporary Arab World, Collège de France, Paris