• book

From the Publisher

In 1860 Damascus was a sleepy provincial capital of the weakening Ottoman Empire, a city defined in terms of its relationship to the holy places of Islam in the Arabian Hijaz and its legacy of Islamic knowledge. Yet, within a couple of generations the city changed from little more than a way-station on the Islamic pilgrimage routes that had defined the city's place for over a millennium, to become a seat of Arab nationalism and a would-be modern state capital. How can this metamorphosis be explained?
Here Leila Hudson chronicles the transformation of the classical city of Damascus between two episodes of violent upheaval- the massacres of 1860 and World War I. The process by which a society transforms itself is neither simple nor linear. Hudson examines the city’s metamorphosis by analyzing how the flows of monetary capital and cultural capital changed social structures and spaces. Data culled from the detailed inheritance records of the Islamic court archives are examined to track changes in the scale and direction of flows of money, goods, people, books, technology and political power The urban spaces and systems of Damascus spun on their axes. Its citizens and notables now seized the opportunities made available through transport technology on the eastern Mediterranean coast and in the European economy. Shifts in marriage patterns, class, education, and power practices ensued.
But, just when the city's destiny seemed linked irrevocably to the western world and economy, the Ottoman Empire was drawn into World War I. This watershed experience literally starved the urban centre of Damascus, empowering its Bedouin hinterland of southern Syria and the Arabian Hijaz-as witnessed by the Hashemite Arab revolt in 1915. This move away from European-centered systems at a time of crisis contributed to a dysfunctional and ambivalent base for future Arab nationalism, the consequences of which shaped Syria for the rest of the twentieth century and beyond.
‘Transforming Damascus’ is an important contribution to our historical and cultural understanding of Syria, a poorly understood country at the centre of the current Middle East maelstrom.
Published: I.B.Tauris on
ISBN: 9780857717467
List price: $14.95
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for Transforming Damascus by Leila Hudson
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.

Related Articles

The Atlantic
5 min read

When the Middle East Seemed Stable

Whatever one considers the “Arab world” to be, sometimes it all just seems to be falling apart. Bombs went off in Baghdad and the Sinai killing dozens, jihadis broke into a jail and freed hardline prisoners in Bahrain, ISIS shot down an Iraqi helicopter, and more than 10,000 refugees fled Mosul. And that was all just this week. What we should be seeing in the chaos, though, is not how much conditions are the same across the Arab world. We should be seeing instead just how different they are. Less than a decade ago, the 20-odd Arab states were converging, with their economics, politics, and soc
Global Voices
6 min read

On Aleppo: A Letter to a Historian in the Future

“To the girl who shared the siege with me: I love you”. Eastern Aleppo, December 15, 2016. Photo by Salih Abo Qusay. Used with Permission. By Samer Frangie You might receive an invitation to a conference exploring the root causes of the collapse of the Middle East. Or perhaps you are simply interested in studying this region, home to your people before the collapse that prompted their exile and migration. Or maybe you are just curious about events that took place half a century ago. I do not know, but in any case you will one day return to this pivotal year in order to understand your present
4 min read

Putting a Human Face on Syria’s Tragedy

Angela Merkel made “one very catastrophic mistake”—at least according to Donald Trump. Earlier this month, in an interview with The Times of London, Trump lambasted the German chancellor for admitting roughly a million refugees into her country—more than any other nation. While others praised Merkel’s move as humane and compassionate, the New York real estate mogul said she created a potential security disaster. Trump’s statement was galling, particularly because the war in Syria continues to rage and many Syrians remain imperiled. Those inside the country are desperate to escape, while many o