The question of how to write the history of the modern Middle East is a much contested one. Do we write national histories, focused...

The question of how to write the history of the modern Middle East is a much contested one. Do we write national histories, focused on modern-nation states? Do we treat the Middle East as an integrated unit? What even constitutes the Middle East? At that, how do we deal with the great changes that swept the region during the late 19th and early 20th centuries? Cyrus Schayegh in The Middle East and the Making of the Modern World (Harvard University Press, 2017) introduces the concept of transpatialization, which denotes simultaneous processes of globalization, urbanization and state formation, to present a vision of bilad al-sham, or the Levant transitioning from the rule of the Ottoman Empire to the mandatory system to independence.


NA Mansour is a graduate student at Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies working on the global intellectual history of the Arabic-language press. She tweets @NAMansour26 and produces another Middle-East and North Africa-related podcast: Reintroducing.

 

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