A Taste for Home
The Modern Middle Class in Ottoman Beirut
Stanford University Press 2017
New Books in ArchitectureNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Middle Eastern StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network May 15, 2018 Nadirah Mansour
Toufoul Abou-Hodeib‘s A Taste for Home: The Modern Middle Class in Ottoman Beirut (Stanford University Press, 2017) is a welcome addition to the scholarship on the urban history of Beirut precisely because it exceeds the disciplinary boundaries of urban history: A Taste for Home tells the story of late Ottoman Beirut through the middle class and their sense of self. Abou-Hodeib uses domesticity as a category of analysis to look at how the middle class functioned and what it aspired to be in the midst of the late Ottoman period. However, the book also succeeds wildly because it treats a local context within the global setting, taking seriously the intersecting themes of global capitalism and consumer culture, themes of domesticity and taste. Over the course of the book, leisure and urban development are also shown to be key elements in the development of the middle class, defining the city for generations to come. A Taste for Home will be critical for conversations for many years to come on class, the economy, the city, and the home in the study of the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire.
Nadirah 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.