Introduction to Part IV

Authored by: Cyrus Schayegh

The Routledge Handbook of the History of the Middle East Mandates

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  June  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138800588
eBook ISBN: 9781315713120
Adobe ISBN: 9781317497066


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The concluding part of this edited volume includes two chapters. The principal one, by James Gelvin, is a tour de force. Drawing on various chapters, Gelvin discusses key themes including questions of, and historiographic problems with, nationalism and the notion of sovereignty and rights. He also addresses concerns specific to the Mandates as well as their wider international and global settings. And throughout, he asks questions about continuity and change: about periodization. Imperial rule was “nothing new,” he argues, but “the field upon which imperial competition played itself out had changed.” Post-colonial sovereignty was incomplete. And most centrally, the Mandate period can be shown to form not so much one discrete era, but part of a longer “epochal time” defined mainly in sociocultural and economic terms and rooted in the Ottoman nineteenth century, and part of a “historical time” defined politically and starting with the post-Ottoman creation of five new states. Cyrus Schayegh’s chapter is concerned with that historical time, but does not focus on state creation, in 1918–1923, but on subsequent political practice. By taking seriously the quest for independence and its effects on the political game across all five A Mandates, he comes up with a new periodization – one in which the years around 1930 form a turning point – and shows why the Mandates may be of interest to historians of decolonization.

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