The quarter got into its full swing this week. I had a full load of reading and writing. As I noted in the first post of the quarter, my reading load is really quite a bit lighter this quarter. This will give me the opportunity to provide a greater diversity of posts. Last week, I wrote that I would use this extra space and time to talk about pedagogy, my research, and other things. These kinds of things will be forthcoming, and some will be incorporated into my weekly roll calls.

Without further ado, readings from Week 2:

Middle East in the Twentieth Century

This week’s readings focused on the two World Wars, the interwar period, and the establishment of the mandatory administrations in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine. I’ll provide a post on the Mandate in the Middle East for more information about this period this week.

Scholarship of the Modern Middle East, Post-Colonial

Longrigg, Stephen Hemsley. Syria and Lebanon under French Mandate. London: Oxford University Press, 1958.

We’re doing something a bit unique at the beginning of the quarter where each student picks a different book to read each week (not sure if this will continue beyond these first two weeks). The authors of these books were, in some way, involved in European occupation of the Middle East from the late 19th century to the interwar period. An interesting variety were presented last week, from a British Zionist to Lord Cromer, and the book I selected by Longrigg.

Though Longrigg’s first relationship with the Middle East was through his service in Iraq during the First World War and then as a British mandatory official there, and later worked for the Iraq Petroleum Company, he wrote this book as a 15-year retrospective on the French mandate in Syria and Lebanon, examining the legacy of the mandate generally. His purpose is manifold: he wants to counter the notion that the British had any acquisitive interests in the region during the period (this was, apparently, a great issue based on the vehemence with which he denies it throughout the work); he wants to show the possibilities and problems of mandatory administration; and he wants to support the notion of the mandate at a time where historical perspective has perhaps painted it with a rather bad brush. These purposes are weaved throughout the work and are part of the overarching thesis that, in spite of the many and positive contributions of the French to the mandatory and post-mandatory state (most of which have been overlooked by detractors of the mandate and of people in the region), the project was ultimately a failure due to the implementation of an administration that refused to acknowledge and adapt to local political and societal circumstances.

Works such as Longrigg’s provide the historian with first-hand accounts of the intentions, beliefs, and worldviews of those involved in the Mandatory system implemented in the Middle East in the aftermath of World War I in the former Ottoman Empire.

French Revolution, 1789-1815

Week 2 offered a continuation of the discussion on the social, ideological, political, and economic realities of France in the years immediately preceding the Revolution in 1789. To drive this point home, the class was assigned several primary documents that revealed the various currents of thought proliferating at the time, and we watched the 1988 film, Dangerous Liaisons, based on the novel Les liaisons dangereuses, written by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos in 1782.