“L’islam des musées" : sociohistoire des (re)présentations l’islam dans les politiques culturelles françaises. Les cas du Louvre et de l’Institut du monde arabe. 

Diletta Guidi



In recent years, there has been a kind of museum "islamania". More and more cultural institutions are investing in this cultural sector: in France alone, 37 museums hold objects of Islamic art. However, despite this numerically important presence and despite the wealth of studies on Islam in the social sciences, work on Islam at the museum is rare. By examining the way in which Islam is exhibited in French museums, this study reveals the epistemological richness of this object. It shows that it is at the same time a tool of the State to manage the Islamic otherness and the reflection of the public policies with regard to the Muslim religion. The museum treatment of Islam allows us to think more about the regulation of religion and, by extension, secularism; it is also a place of observation, and an illustrative case, of the political and social tensions that the presence of Islam in France entails. Finally, since the state is caught up in a complex set of logics that are at once local, national and supranational, the analysis of the staging of Islam in museum politics is one way to explore these. Among the many French cultural institutions devoted to Islam, this study focuses in particular on the Department of Islamic Arts at the Louvre and the Institut du monde arabe. These two museums are "visited" through a mixed methodology, which combines the history of art, the sociology of religions and political science. The staging of Islam in these institutions and its changes over time illustrate the complexity of the relationship between oneself and the other in France, as well as the specificity of this other that is Islam.