Dangerous Gifts: Imperialism, Security, and Civil Wars in the Levant, 1798-1864

ISBN : 9780198852964

Ozan Ozavci
416 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jul 2021
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From Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Egypt in 1798 to the foreign interventions in the ongoing civil wars in Syria, Yemen, and Libya today, global empires or the so-called Great Powers have long assumed the responsibility to bring security in the Middle East. The past two centuries have witnessed their numerous military occupations to 'liberate', 'secure' and 'educate' local populations. They staged first 'humanitarian' interventions in history and established hitherto unseen international and local security institutions. Consulting fresh primary sources collected from some thirty archives in the Middle East, Russia, the United States, and Western Europe, Dangerous Gifts revisits the late eighteenth and nineteenth century origins of these imperial security practices. It explicates how it all began. Why did Great Power interventions in the Ottoman Levant tend to result in further turmoil and civil wars? Why has the region been embroiled in a paradox-an ever-increasing demand despite the increasing supply of security-ever since? It embeds this highly pertinent genealogical history into an innovative and captivating narrative around the Eastern Question, emancipating the latter from the monopoly of Great Power politics, and foregrounding the experience of the Levantine actors. It explores the gradual yet still forceful opening up of the latter's economies to global free trade, the asymmetrical implementation of international law in their perspective, and the secondary importance attached to their threat perceptions in a world where political and economic decisions were ultimately made through the filter of global imperial interests.


Part I: Avant le mot
1 Crossing the Mediterranean
2 The Circle of Justice and the Napoleonic Wars
3 The Chase in the Desert: Empire and Civil War in Egypt, 1801-1812
Part II: The Invention of the Eastern Question
4 A New Era? The Vienna Order and the Ottoman World
5 Old Enemies: Cairo, Istanbul and the Civil War of 1832-3
6 The Russian Peace in the Levant
7 An Unusual Quest for Revenge: Civilisation, Commerce, and Reform
8 Return of the Ashes: The Concert of Europe and the 1840 Intervention
Part III: The Mountain
9 Beginnings: Mount Lebanon before 1840
10 The Age of the Eastern Question
11 The Two Wars: Crimea and Mount Lebanon
12 An Untimely Return of the Eastern Question?
13 Returning the Sense of Security: The International Commission on Syria

About the author: 

Ozan Ozavci is Assistant Professor of Transimperial History at Utrecht University, and associate member at the Centre d'Etudes Turques, Ottomanes, Balkaniques et Centrasiatiques in Paris.

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