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The Middle East and the Making of the Modern World

The Middle East and the Making of the Modern World

Cyrus Schayegh

ISBN 9780674088337

Publication date: 08/28/2017

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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.

    —Nezar AlSayyad, author of Cairo: Histories of a City


  • Cyrus Schayegh is Associate Professor of International History at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva.

Book Details

  • 496 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press