Advanced

"Ett Barbariskt Röfwar-släkte" - Synen på främmande folkslag, samt bevisföringsmetoder i Carl Reftelius Historisk och Politisk Beskrifning Öfwer Riket och Staden Algier Ifrån år 1516 til och med år 1732

Ahlstedt Åberg, Måns LU (2017) HISK01 20171
History
Abstract
Following the peace treaty between Sweden and the regency of Algiers in 1729, the first Swedish consulate was established in this city. One of the first employees at the consulate was a man named Carl Reftelius (d. 1758), who, after approximately two years of service, returned home and wrote the very first Swedish account of the city and its inhabitants: Historisk och Politisk Beskrifning Öfwer Riket och Staden Algier Ifrån år 1516 til och med år 1732 (Historical and Political Description of the Regency and City of Algiers from the year of 1516 until the year of 1732). The aim of this paper is to analyze how the four most prominent ethnic groups in Algiers – Moors, Arabs, Jews, and Turks – were portrayed by Reftelius in his account, as... (More)
Following the peace treaty between Sweden and the regency of Algiers in 1729, the first Swedish consulate was established in this city. One of the first employees at the consulate was a man named Carl Reftelius (d. 1758), who, after approximately two years of service, returned home and wrote the very first Swedish account of the city and its inhabitants: Historisk och Politisk Beskrifning Öfwer Riket och Staden Algier Ifrån år 1516 til och med år 1732 (Historical and Political Description of the Regency and City of Algiers from the year of 1516 until the year of 1732). The aim of this paper is to analyze how the four most prominent ethnic groups in Algiers – Moors, Arabs, Jews, and Turks – were portrayed by Reftelius in his account, as well as how he describes the status of women in these four groups. Another aim is to examine his sources of knowledge and methods of proving his statements in these ethnographic accounts. The analysis will be related to the post-colonial theory, as formulated by Edward Said in his book Orientalism, and later criticized by Ann Thomson, Linda Colley, and Natalie Rothman.
The conclusion of the paper is that the Moors, Arabs, and Turks are all portrayed in a fairly critical manner – for example accused of being idle, self-satisfied, and ignorant –, with a few notable exceptions: Turks being portrayed as sincere, honest, and pious, and Arab women of nomadic tribes as beautiful, healthy, and industrious. The portrayal of the Jews is more complicated, due to the fact that this ethnic group really consisted of two different subgroups: European (or so-called “Christian”) Jews on the one hand, and those native to North Africa (so-called “African or Moorish Jews”) on the other. While the former, according to Reftelius, usually were well-to-do, dressed in a European manner and could live wherever they liked in Algiers, the latter were poor, and forced to both dress in a certain manner and live in certain parts of the city. Interestingly enough, Reftelius is only critical towards the former – accuses them of being greedy and deceitful –, while the latter are the object of his sympathy, because of the oppression they live under.
The status of women is, according to Reftelius, low: they are overall portrayed as oppressed by the men and being forced to live in seclusion. This is especially the case with Moorish and Turkish women, who are portrayed as either pitiful or contemptible, but less so concerning Arab women (he makes no mention of Jewish women). These are usually portrayed in a positive manner: having to work much harder than the men, but because of this being strong, healthy, and industrious. In this context, Reftelius compares them with European women, and concludes that these are both weaker and less beautiful than the aforementioned. He further compares the status and qualities of European women with those of Turkish and Moorish, and points out that the secluded life of the latter makes them more lustful and susceptible to infidelity – the former should, due to their freer life, have higher morals and better self-control. In this particular case, his value-laden comparison between European and North African women shows the applicability of Said´s theory on material that was produced almost seventy years before the latter´s chronological starting-point in the year 1798.
In his methods of proving his statements about the current state of the ethnic groups of Barbary, Reftelius shows a remarkable tendency towards referring to both ancient authors and empirical observations. For the most part, these different sources of knowledge are being kept apart, except for one notable case, in which empirical evidence is used to determine which one of two textual accounts of the Moors that is the most credible. Reftelius thus places himself in between two different paradigms: the Enlightenment, with its focus on empirical evidence, and the great confidence in ancient texts of previous centuries. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Ahlstedt Åberg, Måns LU
supervisor
organization
course
HISK01 20171
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
Turks, Carl Reftelius, Swedish, Sweden, Algiers, North Africa, Barbary, eighteenth century, Enlightenment, ethnography, Moors, Arabs, Jews, status of women, evidence, empiricism, Edward Said, Orientalism
language
Swedish
id
8922912
date added to LUP
2017-10-17 08:06:36
date last changed
2017-10-17 08:06:36
@misc{8922912,
  abstract     = {Following the peace treaty between Sweden and the regency of Algiers in 1729, the first Swedish consulate was established in this city. One of the first employees at the consulate was a man named Carl Reftelius (d. 1758), who, after approximately two years of service, returned home and wrote the very first Swedish account of the city and its inhabitants: Historisk och Politisk Beskrifning Öfwer Riket och Staden Algier Ifrån år 1516 til och med år 1732 (Historical and Political Description of the Regency and City of Algiers from the year of 1516 until the year of 1732). The aim of this paper is to analyze how the four most prominent ethnic groups in Algiers – Moors, Arabs, Jews, and Turks – were portrayed by Reftelius in his account, as well as how he describes the status of women in these four groups. Another aim is to examine his sources of knowledge and methods of proving his statements in these ethnographic accounts. The analysis will be related to the post-colonial theory, as formulated by Edward Said in his book Orientalism, and later criticized by Ann Thomson, Linda Colley, and Natalie Rothman. 
The conclusion of the paper is that the Moors, Arabs, and Turks are all portrayed in a fairly critical manner – for example accused of being idle, self-satisfied, and ignorant –, with a few notable exceptions: Turks being portrayed as sincere, honest, and pious, and Arab women of nomadic tribes as beautiful, healthy, and industrious. The portrayal of the Jews is more complicated, due to the fact that this ethnic group really consisted of two different subgroups: European (or so-called “Christian”) Jews on the one hand, and those native to North Africa (so-called “African or Moorish Jews”) on the other. While the former, according to Reftelius, usually were well-to-do, dressed in a European manner and could live wherever they liked in Algiers, the latter were poor, and forced to both dress in a certain manner and live in certain parts of the city. Interestingly enough, Reftelius is only critical towards the former – accuses them of being greedy and deceitful –, while the latter are the object of his sympathy, because of the oppression they live under. 
The status of women is, according to Reftelius, low: they are overall portrayed as oppressed by the men and being forced to live in seclusion. This is especially the case with Moorish and Turkish women, who are portrayed as either pitiful or contemptible, but less so concerning Arab women (he makes no mention of Jewish women). These are usually portrayed in a positive manner: having to work much harder than the men, but because of this being strong, healthy, and industrious. In this context, Reftelius compares them with European women, and concludes that these are both weaker and less beautiful than the aforementioned. He further compares the status and qualities of European women with those of Turkish and Moorish, and points out that the secluded life of the latter makes them more lustful and susceptible to infidelity – the former should, due to their freer life, have higher morals and better self-control. In this particular case, his value-laden comparison between European and North African women shows the applicability of Said´s theory on material that was produced almost seventy years before the latter´s chronological starting-point in the year 1798. 
In his methods of proving his statements about the current state of the ethnic groups of Barbary, Reftelius shows a remarkable tendency towards referring to both ancient authors and empirical observations. For the most part, these different sources of knowledge are being kept apart, except for one notable case, in which empirical evidence is used to determine which one of two textual accounts of the Moors that is the most credible. Reftelius thus places himself in between two different paradigms: the Enlightenment, with its focus on empirical evidence, and the great confidence in ancient texts of previous centuries.},
  author       = {Ahlstedt Åberg, Måns},
  keyword      = {Turks,Carl Reftelius,Swedish,Sweden,Algiers,North Africa,Barbary,eighteenth century,Enlightenment,ethnography,Moors,Arabs,Jews,status of women,evidence,empiricism,Edward Said,Orientalism},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {"Ett Barbariskt Röfwar-släkte" - Synen på främmande folkslag, samt bevisföringsmetoder i Carl Reftelius Historisk och Politisk Beskrifning Öfwer Riket och Staden Algier Ifrån år 1516 til och med år 1732},
  year         = {2017},
}