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Muslim Missions to Early Modern France, c.1610-c.1780: Notes for a Social History of Cross-Cultural Diplomacy

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This essay challenges traditional views on cross-cultural diplomacy by making the case for a social history of “Muslim” missions to early modern France. Calling for both a deeper understanding of the historical phenomenon and a broad reassessment of the research strategies at stake, it points to some hitherto unexplored issues, such as the lengthy duration of these missions, the many social interactions between Muslim envoys and French people, and the rather unspectacular nature of the “Oriental” presence even in inland regions of Europe distant from royal courts and capital cities. The essay stresses the necessity of taking a longer view of the presence and reception of foreign envoys, while also arguing against traditional court-centric perspectives in order to challenge the monolithic picture of cross-cultural exchanges as happening between two discrete cultural entities. Finally, advocating for a more fluid approach to these contacts and relations, it calls for a better understanding of the role of French royal interpreters in articulating figures and motifs of otherness.

Affiliations: 1: Université ChampollionAlbi / umr 5136 framespa, Toulouse


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