The francophone press of Egypt and foreign language press in the Mediterranean

The project of collecting and exhibiting the francophone press of Egypt (PFE) was initiated by Jean-Yves Empereur, along with journalists, linguists and historians who were interested in cosmopolitan Alexandria. They were all keen to preserve what, in their eyes, constituted an exceptional documentary source, both on the city as the place of creation and consumption of this press, and on the history of modern Egypt. Since 2004, the CEAlex has been researching and making available, via its archives and by uploading online, a whole corpus of French-language periodicals published in Egypt over more than two centuries.

Through a network of back-and-forth donations with institutional partners and private individuals, we collect, record and upload issues of this press and maintain an evolving database of newspapers and journals. We have benefitted from studies already carried out on the subject, in particular that of J.-J. Luthi [1], as well as from the work – completed or in progress – of several academics, whether they relate to specific titles (feminist reviews, literary periodicals, political newspapers, etc.) or are cross-disciplinary, taking a historical, linguistic or sociological approach. Some of these studies were presented at the « Presses allophones en Méditerranée » conference organised by the CEAlex in partnership with the École française d’Athènes, on 11 and 12 March 2014 and subsequently published by the CEAlex2 in the proceedings of this meeting..

A wide range of research themes can be tackled through examination of the French-language press in Egypt: the history of print in the Middle East, cultural exchanges between East and West, the history of journalism in Egypt, Egyptian society, foreign community life in Egypt, the history of medicine and the medical press, feminism, the workings of large companies and corporations, law and the workings of the courts, literary creation and its reception, teaching in Egypt and the status of the French language, and even French Egyptomania3.

We also hope to set the PFE programme in a broader field, envisaging relevant comparative approaches, sharing of resources and the establishment of new funded programmes. With this in mind, in 2013 we joined TRANSFOPRESS (Transnational Network for the Study of Foreign Language Press, 18th-20th centuries) of the University of Versailles-Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines. We participate regularly in international meetings organised by this research group. We have also uploaded digital versions of hundreds of copies of PFE (L’Égyptienne, Images) onto the Gallica, platform, part of the Bibliothèques d’Orient heritage portal, managed by the French National Library.

This brief overview gives an idea of the areas of study within which the CEAlex PFE collection falls. It provides a different angle of approach to Egyptian history and, more broadly, to the Mediterranean and Near East.

1 J.-J. Luthi, Lire la presse d’expression française en Égypte, Paris, 2009.

2 J.-Y. Empereur, M.-D. Martellière (éd.), Presses allophones de Méditerranée, Études Alexandrines 41, Alexandrie, 2017.

3 Références bibliographiques afférentes dans M.-D. Martellière, « La presse francophone d’Égypte : sujet de collecte, sujet d’étude », in J. A. García Galindo, L. López Romero (éd.), Los medios en lengua extranjera. Diversidad cultural e integración, III Encuentro Internacional Transfopress, 5-6 de noviembre de 2015, Malaga, Grenade, 2018, p. 205-218.