Civilization and the Making of the State in Lebanon and Syria

Hosted by the Middle East Centre

Zoom (Online)


Andrew Delatolla

Andrew Delatolla

LSE Middle East Centre

Shourideh C. Molavi

Shourideh C. Molavi

University of Basel

Mai Taha

Mai Taha

Goldsmiths, University of London

 book cover 800x600

This event will be a book launch for Civilization and the Making of the State in Lebanon and Syria by Dr. Andrew Delatolla

This book argues that the modern state, from the nineteenth century to the contemporary period, has consistently been used as a means to measure civilizational engagement and attainment. This volume historicizes this dynamic, examining how it impacted state-making in Lebanon and Syria. By putting social, political, and economic pressure on the Ottoman Empire to replicate the modern state in Europe, the book examines processes of racialization, nationalist development, continued imperial expansion, and resistance that became embedded in the state as it was assembled. By historicizing post-imperial and post-colonial state formation in Lebanon and Syria, it is possible to engage in a conceptual separation from the modern state, abandoning the ongoing reproduction of the state as a standard, or benchmark, of civilization and progress.

Andrew Delatolla is a Lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Leeds, and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Middle East Centre. After finishing his PhD in 2018 in the LSE Department of International Relations, he was employed as an Assistant Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science at the American University in Cairo. His research interests centre on issues of race, gender, and sexuality in relation to statehood and state formation. His research tends to focus on issues of violence and exclusion from an international historical political sociological lens, examining the international relations of the Middle East and North Africa (Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and the Ottoman Empire).

Shourideh C. Molavi is a writer and scholar specializing in critical state theory, migration and border studies, and trained with a background in International Humanitarian Law. She has over 15 years of academic and fieldwork experience in the Middle East—focusing on Israel/Palestine—on the topics of border practices, citizenship and statelessness, and human and minority rights, with an emphasis on the relationship between the law, violence and power. She has taught on the above topics in liberal-arts schools across the Middle East region, including at Bard College in Al-Quds University in Palestine (2013-2015), at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies in Qatar (2016-2018), and at the American University in Cairo, Egypt (2018-2020). Since 2014, she has worked as a Lead Researcher on Israel-Palestine and fieldworker with Forensic Architecture, an interdisciplinary research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London. The spatial analyses and human-rights oriented investigations on the Middle East that Shourideh oversees at Forensic Architecture examine how mapping and visualization of physical environments undergoing political violence may enhance the data and scholarship produced—and complement the anti-oppression struggles of communities. Her publications include Stateless Citizenship: The Palestinian-Arab Citizens of Israel (Brill, 2013); Contemporary Israel/Palestine (Oxford University Press, 2018); and Environmental Warfare in Gaza: Contemporary Practices of Israeli Settler-Colonialism (Pluto Press, 2021 forthcoming). 

Mai Taha is a Lecturer in Law at Goldsmiths, University of London. Previously, she taught at the American University in Cairo and York University. Grounded in anti-racist socialist-feminism, her research focuses on how the organization of race, class and gender is a fundamental way of forming social hierarchies through law. She has written on international law and empire, labour movements, gender relations, care work and social reproduction in the interwar and postcolonial Middle East. She is also interested in the areas of law and literature, and law and film, exploring alternative archives, artefacts and literary narratives. She is currently working on the legal politics of refusal in Mandate Palestine, focusing on labour and gender relations during the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt. She is also working on a project that explores the relationship between human rights and communist thought and activism in the Middle East.

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Image: ©Palgrave Macmillan