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State and Society in Ottoman Syria: an Historiographical Overview with Chris Gratien

36. 400 Years of Ottoman Rule in Syria.

From 1516 to 1918, most of Greater Syria (also known as Bilad al-Sham, the Levant), which includes modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and Jordan, was under Ottoman rule. However, this rule took many forms throughout those four centuries as the Empire and its communities transformed and evolved. In this episode, Chris Gratien provides a historiographical overview of some of the major events, figures, topics and themes in the history of Ottoman Syria, which will serve as a backdrop for subsequent investigation.

Chris Gratien is a PhD candidate at Georgetown University studying the history of the modern Middle East (see

Citation: "State and Society in Ottoman Syria," Chris Gratien, Ottoman History Podcast, No. 36 (September 28, 2011)

Note for the listener: This podcast is not primarily a work of primary source research. It is a synthesis of publicly available information and draws extensively from the following works below, which are also mentioned during the course of the episode. For the purposes of academic citation, we encourage you to consult these works. 

Select Bibliography:

Owen, Roger. The Middle East in the World Economy, 1800-1914. London: Methuen, 1981.

Gerber, Haim. The Social Origins of the Modern Middle East. Boulder, Colo: L. Rienner, 1987.

Rafeq, Abdul-Karim, Peter Sluglett, and Stefan Weber.Syria and Bilad Al-Sham Under Ottoman Rule: Essays in Honour of Abdul Karim Rafeq. Leiden: Brill, 2010.

Kasaba, Reşat. A moveable empire : Ottoman nomads, migrants, and refugees. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009.

Barkey, Karen. Bandits and Bureaucrats: The Ottoman Route to State Centralization. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1994.

Watenpaugh, Keith David. Being Modern in the Middle East: Revolution, Nationalism, Colonialism, and the Arab Middle Class. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2006.

Sluglett, Peter. The Urban Social History of the Middle East, 1750-1950. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2008.

Rogan, Eugene L. Frontiers of the State in the Late Ottoman Empire: Transjordan, 1850-1921. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Watenpaugh, Heghnar Zeitlian. The Image of an Ottoman City: Imperial Architecture and Urban Experience in Aleppo in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Leiden: Brill, 2004.

Hanssen, Jens. Fin De Siècle Beirut: The Making of an Ottoman Provincial Capital. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005.

Mundy, Martha, and Richard Saumarez Smith. Governing Property: Making the Modern State Law Administration and Production in Ottoman Syria. London: I.B. Tauris, 2007.

Doumani, Beshara. Rediscovering Palestine: Merchants and Peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700-1900. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press, 1995.

Agmon, Iris. Family & court: legal culture and modernity in late Ottoman Palestine. Syracuse, NY : Syracuse University Press, 2006.

Peirce, Leslie. Morality Tales: Law and Gender in the Ottoman Court of Aintab. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2003.

Tucker, Judith E. In the House of the Law: Gender and Islamic Law in Ottoman Syria and Palestine. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Lewis, Bernard. 1979. "Ottoman Land Tenure and Taxation in Syria". Studia Islamica. 1979, no. 50: 109-124.

Sluglett, Peter, and Marion Farouk-Sluglett. "The Application of the 1858 Land Code in Greater Syria: Some Preliminary Observations." In Land tenure and social transformation in the Middle East, edited by Tarif Khalidi, 409-424. Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1984.

Shafir, Gershon. Land, Labor, and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1882-1914. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Makdisi, Ussama. The Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History, and Violence in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Lebanon. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press, 2000.

Avcı, Yasemin. "The application of Tanzimat in the desert: The Bedouins and the creation of a new town in Southern Palestine (1860-1914)." Middle East. Stud. Middle Eastern Studies 45, no. 6 (2009): 969-983.

Lewis, Norman N. Nomads and Settlers in Syria and Jordan, 1800-1980. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Wilkins, Charles L. Forging Urban Solidarities: Ottoman Aleppo 1640-1700. Leiden: Brill, 2010.

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