Between the Ottomans and the Entente
The First World War in the Syrian and Lebanese Diaspora, 1908-1925
Oxford University Press 2019
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Middle Eastern StudiesNew Books in Military HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network June 19, 2019 Joshua Donovan
In her debut book, Between the Ottomans and the Entente: The First World War in the Syrian and Lebanese Diaspora, 1908-1925 (Oxford University Press, 2019), Stacy Fahrenthold sheds a timely light on Syrian and Lebanese immigrants who established vibrant diaspora communities in the Americas during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Drawing on an impressive array of innovative and transnational sources, including a burgeoning migrant press, police records, passports, forged travel documents, memoirs, and diplomatic cables, Fahrenthold uncovers ethnic associations and transnational networks of migrants who sought to contribute to the betterment of their homeland. Between the Ottomans and the Entente shows how mahjar (diaspora) communities grappled with a series of enormous changes to their homeland from the Young Turk Revolution (1908), to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, and the imposition of the French Mandate in 1920. The book vividly illustrates the precarious position Syrians and Lebanese found themselves in as they occupied a fraught liminal space in Ottoman, French, and American law. Even so, Fahrenthold stresses the agency of the Syrian and Lebanese diaspora, which organized, petitioned, recruited soldiers for the Entente, and engaged in contentious debates over what a post-Ottoman Middle East should look like. Written in the midst of the horrific Syrian refugee crisis, as well as a rising tide of xenophobia and trenchant nationalism around the globe, Fahrenthold’s exploration of migration, citizenship, repatriation, and an early American “Muslim ban” invite the reader to reflect on both past and present.
Stacy Fahrenthold is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of California-Davis, where she teaches courses on global migration and modern Middle East history. She earned her PhD in History from Northeastern University and previously taught at the University of California-Stanislaus.
Joshua Donovan is a PhD candidate at Columbia University’s Department of History. His dissertation examines national and sectarian identity formation within the Greek Orthodox Christian community in Syria, Lebanon, and the diaspora.