The Claims of Culture at Empire's End: Syria and Lebanon under French Rule (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs)

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9780197264478: The Claims of Culture at Empire's End: Syria and Lebanon under French Rule (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs)

This volume asks fundamental questions about the political impact of cultural institutions by exploring the power struggles for control over such institutions in Syria and Lebanon under French Mandate rule. Countering assertions of French imperial cultural ascendancy and self-confidence, the author demonstrates the diverse capacities of Arab and other local communities, to forge competing cultural identities that would, in later years, form the basis for rising political self-enfranchisement.

Drawing on a wide array of written sources and oral testimonies, the author illuminates how political and religious leaders fought to harness the force of culture through projects as diverse as schools, cinema, scouting, and tourism. These leaders were to be found not only in the French colonial administration or the burgeoning Syrian and Lebanese parliaments, but also in student societies, missionary congregations, and philanthropic organizations. The author pays particular attention to the last decade of French rule before Syrian and Lebanese independence as a critical time of transition and debate.

The rich individual histories of institutions such as the American University of Beirut, the secular French Mission laique, or the Jesuit missionaries come together in a broader narrative that speaks to the ongoing Syrian and Lebanese journeys toward national identity.

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About the Author:


Jennifer M. Deuck is British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University.

Review:

this is a significant piece of transnational historical scholarship * Ian Coller, French History * opens up intriguing questions about the relationship between cultural institutions and international relations. Cultural historians and specialists in Syrian, Lebanese, and French history will find the book to be a valuable contribution to their respective fields. * Samuel Dolbee, Arab Studies Journal *

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