An Interconfessional History of Missions in the Middle East and North Africa

With Norig Neveu, Karène Sanchez Summerer, and Annalaura Turiano

hosted by Andreas Guidi for a joint release with Ottoman History Podcast


Since the 19th century, different forms of missionary activities and preaching have been shaping the role of religion within the societies of the Middle East and North Africa. Not only Christian congregations, but also Muslim and Jewish institutions participated in this phenomenon. Emulation but also competition existed across confessional boundaries and intersected with colonialism, wars, emancipation projects, and state authority. In this episode, we approach the galaxy of missions and preaching in the longue durée with the three editors of a recently published edited volume, Missions and Preaching: Connected and Decompartmentalised Perspectives from the Middle East and North Africa (19th-21st Century).


Norig Neveu is a research fellow at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)/ Iremam. Her present research focuses on the reconfiguration of Chistian and Muslim religious authorities in Jordan and Palestine from the end of the 19th century. From 2017 to 2021, she was co-PI and coordinator of the MisSMO research program about Christian missions in the Middle East since the late 19th century ( Her last publication includes the Special Issue: “Gender and Mission”, Social Sciences and Missions, 34:1–2 (2021) with Séverine Gabry-Thienpont.



Karène Sanchez Summerer is Professor and Chair of the Middle Eastern Studies Programme at Groningen University (The Netherlands). Her current research considers the interactions between European linguistic and cultural policies, missionaries’ modalities and impact and the Arab Catholic communities in Palestine (1860–1948). She is the PI of the research project (2017–2022), ‘CrossRoads—A connected history between Europeans’ cultural diplomacy and Arab Christians in Mandate Palestine’ (project funded by The Dutch Research Council NWO), and was co-PI of MisSMO. Her last publications include Sanchez Summerer, K. and Zananiri, S., Imaging and Imagining Palestine- Photography, Modernity and the Biblical Lens (1918–1948) (Leiden/ Boston: Brill, 2021); Irving, S., Nassif, C. and Sanchez Summerer, K., The House of the Priest. A Palestinian life (1885–1954) (Leiden/ Boston: Brill, 2022).


Annalaura Turiano is a postdoctoral researcher within the Archival City Project at the University Gustave Eiffel (Marne-la-Vallée). Her research interests span missionary education, trans-Mediterranean migrations, and philanthropy in modern Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean. Her last publications include “Masculinity, Industrial Education and Fascism in Egypt. The construction of gender in the schools of the Salesian mission in Egypt (1900–1939)”, Social Sciences and Missions, 24/2021: 1–32. She is currently finishing a monograph entitled Missionnaires italiens en Égypte. De la pastorale migratoire à la coopération technique 1897-1970, EFR/ IFAO, forthcoming 2023.


To cite this episode: Norig Neveu, Karène Sanchez Summerer, Annalaura Turiano, Andreas Guidi (2023): An Interconfessional History of Missions in the Middle East and North Africa. The Southeast Passage and Ottoman History Podcast #042,



Epouro (Choeur de l’Institut d’études coptes)

Traditional Song from Syria (Yanina Chouft); Oshamnu Mikol Om (Cantor Josef Rosenblatt);

Sufi chant (Moslem Sect [sic!] Sulamiya of Beja)., (Creative Commons)


Further reading:

Neveu Norig, Sanchez Summerer Karène And Turiano Annalaura, Missions and Preaching. Connected and decompartmentalised perspectives from the Middle East and North Africa (19th-21st century) (Brill: Leiden/ Boston, 2022). Available open access:

Bourmaud, Philippe and Karène Sanchez Summerer, Social Sciences and Mission, Special Issue: Missions, Powers and Arabization, Vol. 32, no 3-4, 2019.

Gabry-Thienpont, Séverine and Norig Neveu, Social Sciences and Mission, Special Issue: Missions and the Construction of Gender in the Middle East, Volume 34, no 1-2, 2021.

Levant, Marie, Philippe Bourmaud, Séverine Gabry, Norig Neveu and Karène Sanchez Summerer, “In partibus Fidelium”. Missions du Levant et connaissance de l’Orient chrétien (XIXe-XXIe s.), Rome, EFR Press, 2022. Available open access:

Neveu, Norig and Sanchez Summerer Karène, “The Dominican Photographic Library in Jerusalem: Beyond a Catholic perception of the Holy Land?”, in Sanchez Summerer, K. and S. Zananiri, Imaging and Imagining Palestine- Photography, Modernity and the Biblical Lens (1918-1948) (Brill OJ series 3), 2021, p. 98-158.

Okkenhaug, Inger Marie and Summerer Sanchez Karène, Christian Missions and Humanitarianism in The Middle East, 1850-1950. Ideologies, Rhetoric, and Practices, Brill: Leiden/ Boston, 2020). Available open access:

Viscomi, Joseph and Turiano Annalaura, ‘From immigrants to emigrants: Salesian education and the failed integration of Italians in Egypt, 1937-1960’, Modern Italy , ISSN 1353-2944.

Group portrait at the Small Novitiate in Bethlehem (Archives of the frères des in Bethlehem, undated)


Christian Quarter, Old City of Jerusalem, 1921-23 (Franck Scholten Collection)


Bookbinding apprentices at the Don Bosco School in Alexandria, 1908 (Archives of the Associazione nazionale per soccorrere i missionari italiani all’estero, ANSMI).


The Southeast Passage
The Southeast Passage
An Interconfessional History of Missions in the Middle East and North Africa