ACME Lecture Series: Syrian Migration and Transnationalism during the Interwar Period

Presented by Professor Reem Bailony 

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Date: Thursday, March 21, 2019 

Time: 1:00 p.m - 1:50 p.m

Evans Dining Hall, Terrace Level

This talk explores the centrality of mobility to history by considering the role of Syrian acme-presentation-pictures---professor-reem-bailony---credit---archives-and-special-collections-of-the-american-university-of-beirut,-shakib-arlsan-collection.-1.jpgmigrants during the interwar period. In the summer of 1925, the Druze of the southern Syria revolted against French Mandatory rule. Lasting two years, the rebellion would soon involve various cross sections of Syrian society. Scholars have pointed to the revolt as a watershed moment in anticolonial and Syrian nationalist history. This history has largely been confined to national borders, however. In an era characterized by large-scale movement, the talk makes the case for employing migration as an analytical lens to reevaluate the 1925 revolt.

Using a global historical approach “from below,” this presentation unearths the role of Syrian émigrés in transnationalizing the 1925 revolt. Using sources from various European and Middle Eastern archives, it highlights the engagement of Syrian migrants in Europe and the Americas with the League of Nations and the postwar international order more broadly. Syrian migrants acted as sounding boards to their compatriots back home as well as channels of communication to the outside world. In addressing a global audience, Syrians tested the waters of the new nation-state model, poking holes in Eurocentric liberal internationalism. This presentation will demonstrate how focusing on migration allows us to move away from historical narratives overly defined by colonial and nationalist frameworks.