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Academic Interests

My current research interests are in the following fields:

- history and fiction and their mutual links; 

- cultural productions connected with the recent Arab revolutions;

- crime, gender and public morality "narratives" in 2016 Egypt (in the broader field of "In 2016" project)

After a M.A. in Arabic and Hebrew at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, in Italy, I started working as a first reader and translator of Arab literature, written both in Arabic and French, for Italian publishers. For my PhD, carried out in France at IREMAM/Aix-Marseille University, I switched from literature to history, without abandoning literary texts. As a cultural historian, I wanted to consider them as mere historical sources, without taking into account aesthetic values and taking artistic reputations as a research object and not as a starting point. My PhD dissertation – “Writing in Alexandria (1879-1940). Social capital, categories of belonging, memory” – deals with a multilingual set of fictional texts in this way. Combining them with non-fictional sources, it analyzes them as the markers of literary milieus and cultural networks and then read them as the testimonies of a cultural atmosphere, to see how Alexandrians defined themselves in a period of conflicting horizons (Ottoman belonging, British occupation and European influence, Egyptian nationalism, communities).

Higher education and employment history

2015 French Qualification for Assistant Professor in Arabic and History

2014 Research associate at LARHRA (Lyon) and IREMAM (Aix-en-Provence)

2013 Ph.D. in History of the Middle East, IREMAM-Aix Marseille Université (with a codirection at Ca’ Foscari Univerity of Venice, Italy). Dissertation (in French): « Écrire à Alexandrie (1879-1940). Capital social, appartenances, mémoire » (“Writing in Alexandria (1879-1940). Social capital, categories of belonging, memory”). Committee: Ghislaine Alleaume, Emanuela Trevisan, Frédéric Abécassis, Madiha Doss, Richard Jacquemond, Robin Ostle, Samah Selim. 

2008-present Literary translator from Arabic and French into Italian.  

2004 Italian M.A. in Oriental languages and civilizations, Arabic and Hebrew.

2003 Certificate of advanced knowledge of Arabic, University of Jordan, Amman.

2000 Arabic courses, Birzeit University, Palestinian West Bank (semester not completed due to the beginning of the Second Intifada).  


  • Finalist at «Achille Marazza - Opera Prima» Poetry Translation Prize for the translation of Dunya Mikhail’s book La guerra lavora duro (Al-Harb ta‘mal bi-jidd). 



Tags: Middle East, Cultural history, Arabic, Arabic Literature, Arab revolutions, Egypt, CIMS




« Invisibiliser le visible et visualiser l’invisible : les Alexandries d’Evaristo Breccia, entre ville barbare et ville idéale» (Hiding the Visible and Visualizing the Invisible: Evaristo Breccia’s two Alexandrias, from the Barbarian City to the Ideal City), in CHONÉ A. et alii, (In)visibles cités coloniales. Stratégies de domination et de résistance de la fin du XIXe siècle à nos jours, Orizons, Paris, p. 171-183.  


« La littérature comme ‘simple objet d’histoire’. Éléments pour un débat historien » (Literature as a ‘Mere Historical Object’. Some Elements for a Historians’ Debate), in KEDZIA-KLEBEKO B. et alii, Croyance, Vérité, Mensonge, Presses de l’Université de Szczecin, p. 303-313.  


« Incontournable Durrell. Ou d’une saturation de l’espace-temps littéraire alexandrin » (Inescapable Durrell, or a Saturation of the Alexandrian Literary Spacetime), in MADOEUF A. et CATTEDRA R. (dir.), Lire les villes, Presses universitaires François Rabelais de Tours, p. 109-118.   


« Entre ambiguïté de la littérature et ambiguïté de l’histoire. Quelques réflexions sur les romans semi-historiques de Matteo Marchi » (Between Ambiguity of Literature and Ambiguity of History. Some Reflections on Matteo Marchi’s Semi-Historical Novels), in KĘDZIA-KLEBEKO B. et alii, Ambiguïté et ses contraires, Presses de l’Université de Szczecin, p. 34-45.  


Edited books

2015 (forthcoming)

With Touriya Fili-Tullon and Blandine Valfort, Ecrire l'inattendu. Les "Printemps arabes" entre fictions et histoire (Writing the Unexpected. The "Arab Spring" between Fiction and History), Academia-L'Harmattan.


Libano. Frammenti di storia, società, cultura (Lebanon. Fragments of History, Society,  Culture), Mesogea. Contributions by: Roger Assaf, Hoda Barakat, Ahmad Beydoun, Melhem Chaoul, Karam Karam, Elias Khoury, Joseph Maila, Ziad Majed, Daniel Meier,  Mohammed Soueid.  


With E. Trevisan Semi. Mediterraneo e migrazioni oggi (Mediterranean and  Migrations Nowadays), Il Ponte.  


Translated books 


MIKHAIL Dunya, La guerra lavora duro, San Marco dei Giustiniani (poetry collection translated from the Arabic). Original title: Al-harb ta‘mal bi-jidd.  

YAZBEK Samar, Lo specchio del mio segreto, Castelvecchi (novel translated from the Arabic). Original title: Lahâ marâyâ.  


MAJDALANI Charif, La casa nel giardino degli aranci, Giunti (novel translated from the French). Original title: Histoire de la Grande Maison.  


MAHFUZ Nagib, Miramar, Feltrinelli (novel translated from the Arabic). Original title: Mîrâmâr.  


MERNISSI Fatema, Le 51 parole dell’amore, Giunti (essay translated from the French). Original title: L’Amour dans les pays musulmans. 

View all works in Cristin

  • Chiti, Elena; Fili-Tullon, Touriya & Valfort, Blandine (red.) (2015). Ecrire l`inattendu.. Academia L`Harmattan.  ISBN 978-2-8061-0245-4.  340 s.

View all works in Cristin

  • Chiti, Elena (2017). Due storie per una città? Dal Museo greco-romano (1892) al Museo Nazionale di Alessandria d’Egitto (2003).
  • Chiti, Elena (2017). Rendez-vous de l’Histoire du Monde Arabe.
  • Chiti, Elena (2017). Specchi dell'assenza.
  • Chiti, Elena (2016). Il luogo stretto.
  • Chiti, Elena (2016). "Ink and blood: crime and popular culture in 2016 Egypt".
  • Chiti, Elena (2016). "Lack of collective resources = individual resourcefulness (ibtikar): an Egyptian broken code?".
  • Chiti, Elena (2016). Mobilité et mixité à Alexandrie, I: Leyla Dakhli (red.),  Le Moyen-Orient (fin XIXe-XXe siècle).  Éditions du Seuil.  ISBN 2757861972.  Chapter.  s 202 - 216
  • Chiti, Elena (2016). The Crisis as an Institutional Tool? Challenging Anti-Institutional Challenges in the Egyptian Cultural Field.
  • Guth, Stephan & Chiti, Elena (2016). Living 2016: Cultural Codes and Arrays in Arab Everyday Worlds Five Years After the “Arab Spring” = Proceedings of a workshop, held at the Department for Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS), University of Oslo, Norway, May 29-30, 2016.. Journal of Arabic and Islamic studies.  ISSN 0806-198X.  16, s 221- 388 . doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5617/jais.4761
  • Chiti, Elena (2015). Cosmopolitanism, an Alexandrian Francophone Cliché? Towards a Cultural History of the Concept (1879-1940).
  • Chiti, Elena (2015). Récits d`une ville oubliée. Lectures arabes d`Alexandrie de 1882 à nos jours.

View all works in Cristin

Published Oct. 7, 2015 10:59 AM - Last modified June 21, 2019 10:30 AM


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