Deliberation in the Name of the People? Assessing the Role of the Diwan of Cairo, 1798-1801
Maydan: rivista sui mondi arabi, semitici e islamici, 2
Over the last two decades, deliberative theory has moved from its incipient stage to a ref lective phase, addressing the discipline’s hitherto unaddressed conceptual weaknesses. Although the field has to offer promising methodological outlooks, its focus was traditionally set on post-WWII democratic polities situated in the global North. Building on alternative approaches, this article intends to move deliberative theory away from its oftentimes Eurocentric perspective to analyze the role of institutionalized deliberation in a non-European historical context. As a case study, I focus on the Diwan of Cairo operating under French colonial rule in 1798-1801. While historical works on Napoleon Bonaparte’s so-called expedition into Egypt oftentimes allude to the Diwan, no proper institutional study of it has been put forward yet. Utilizing two Arabic manuscripts of the Diwan’s minutes held in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Mss. Arabe 2455 and 7272) as well as the chronicles of al-Ǧabartī, the paper intends to offer a first step for this endeavor. It will follow a tripartite structure adopting an analysis of the Diwan along three political dimensions: politics, policy, and polity. Ultimately, my research aims to show new ways for the application of deliberative theory within historical analyses of non-European societies and non-democratic state structures.