Utopia and Civilization in the Arab Nahda

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Authors

Departments

Details

Original languageEnglish
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781108666602
ISBN (Print)9781108491662
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication type

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

Exploring the ‘Nahda’, a cultural renaissance in the Arab world responding to massive social change, this study presents a crucial and often overlooked part of the Arab world’s encounter with global capitalist modernity, an interaction which reshaped the Middle East over the course of the long nineteenth century.

Seeing themselves as part of an expanding capitalist civilization, Arab intellectuals approached the changing world of the mid-nineteenth century with confidence and optimism, imagining utopian futures for their own civilizing projects. By analysing the works of crucial writers of the period, including Butrus al-Bustani and Rifa‘a al-Tahtawi, alongside lesser-known figures such as the prolific journalist Khalil al-Khuri and the utopian visionary Fransis Marrash of Aleppo, Peter Hill places these visions within the context of their local class- and state-building projects in Ottoman Syria and Egypt, which themselves formed part of a global age of capital. By illuminating this little-studied early period of the Arab Nahda movement, Hill places the transformation of the Arab region within the context of world history, inviting us to look beyond the well-worn categories of ‘traditional’ versus ‘modern’.