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A New Historiography on the Ottoman Arab and Eastern Provinces

Beginning in the early 1980s, a number of works were published on the Arab provinces. These works criticized nationalistic approaches that treated the Ottomans similarly to Western colonial powers and blamed them for much of the violence that took place in the 19th and 20th century. The main accomplishment of these writings was the reintegration of the Ottoman past into the history of the modern Middle East. Nationalist historiography of Middle Eastern countries places the end of the Ottoman period with the arrival of Napoleon in Egypt in 1798. According to this historiography, the local elites played a dominant role in the modern period, as founders of the modern Middle East nations such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Tunus, and Algeria, operating solely within a local “proto-nationalist” environment with no indication of influence from other events taking place within the Ottoman Empire as a whole.

A New Historiography on the Ottoman Arab and Eastern Provinces
 

The Arabs of the Ottoman Empire, 1516-1918: 
A Social and Cultural History

By Bruce Alan Masters

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013, 271 pages, $31.48, ISBN: 9781107619036.


Ottoman-Iranian Borderlands: 
Making a Boundary, 1843-1914

By Sabri Ateş

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013, 366 pages, $99.00, ISBN: 9781107033658.


War and State Formation in Syria: Cemal Pasha’s Governorate During World War I, 1914-1917

By M. Talha Çiçek

New York: Routledge, 2014, 294 pages, $121.40, ISBN: 9780415728188.


Beginning in the early 1980s, a number of works were published on the Arab provinces. These works criticized nationalistic approaches that treated the Ottomans similarly to Western colonial powers and blamed them for much of the violence that took place in the 19th and 20th century. The main accomplishment of these writings was the reintegration of the Ottoman past into the history of the modern Middle East. Nationalist historiography of Middle Eastern countries places the end of the Ottoman period with the arrival of Napoleon in Egypt in 1798. According to this historiography, the local elites played a dominant role in the modern period, as founders of the modern Middle East nations such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Tunus, and Algeria, operating solely within a local “proto-nationalist” environment with no indication of influence from other events taking place within the Ottoman Empire as a whole.1

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