In The Middle East and the Making of the Modern World, Cyrus Schayegh takes up a fundamental problem historians face: how to make sense of the spatial layeredness of the past. He argues that the modern world’s ultimate socio-spatial feature was not the oft-studied processes of globalization or state formation or urbanization. Rather, it was fast-paced, mutually transformative intertwinements of cities, regions, states, and global circuits, a bundle of processes he calls transpatialization.
To make this case, Schayegh’s study pivots around Greater Syria (Bilad al-Sham in Arabic), which is roughly coextensive with present-day Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel/Palestine. From this region, Schayegh looks beyond, to imperial and global connections, diaspora communities, and neighboring Egypt, Iraq, and Turkey. And he peers deeply into Bilad al-Sham: at cities and their ties, and at global economic forces, the Ottoman and European empire-states, and the post-Ottoman nation-states at work within the region. He shows how diverse socio-spatial intertwinements unfolded in tandem during a transformative stretch of time, the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, and concludes with a postscript covering the 1940s to 2010s.
The Middle East and the Making of the Modern World is an innovative interpretation of the Middle East, especially the region known as Greater Syria, as both a history and a geography. Written from a non-western perspective, Cyrus Schayegh’s book offers a much-needed challenge to how we talk about the formation of the modern world. A must-read for Middle East specialists, as well as for all who are interested in international history.
Cyrus Schayegh has brought to life the interlocking imperial, national, local, urban, and regional layers of nineteenth and twentieth century Greater Syria. Using stories from interviews, memoirs, diaries, and photographs, he focuses on the many pathways that sustained connections across this territory and through one hundred years of history.
- 496 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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