Worldmaking in the Long Great War: How Local and Colonial Struggles Shaped the Modern Middle East

Historiography of the Middle East

Worldmaking in the Long Great War: How Local and Colonial Struggles Shaped the Modern Middle East

A lecture by Jonathan Wyrtzen (Yale University)

Tuesday, October 18, 2022
3:00 PM (Pacific Time)
Zoom

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Jonathan Wyrtzen will discuss the historiographical interventions and methodological framework of his new book that challenges the standard genesis narrative of the modern Middle East. Worldmaking offers a new account of how the Great War unmade and then remade the political order of the region. Ranging from Morocco to Iran and spanning the eve of the Great War into the 1930s, it demonstrates that the modern Middle East was shaped, not through secret deals among the British and French or by pen strokes at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919-20, but through complex and violent power struggles on the ground in the region among local and international actors. The discussion will demonstrate the importance of a Middle East-centric perspective on the Great War that first, widens the geographic scope beyond the typical "Mashriq myopia" focus on the Arab East to include North Africa, Iran, Anatolia, and Arabia, and second, moves beyond a Western-front dictated 1914-18 periodization to encompass a "long" war in the region from 1911-34. The talk will also argue for the importance of "war" (not "peace") as a methodologically and analytically central category for understanding the entwined processes of state, identity, and boundary (re)formation through this critical period of Middle East history.



Jonathan Wyrtzen is an Associate Professor of Sociology and History whose research engages a set of related thematic areas that include empire and colonialism, state formation and non-state forms of political organization, ethnicity and nationalism, and religion and socio-political action. His work focuses largely on society and politics in North Africa and the Middle East, particularly with regards to interactions catalyzed by the expansion of European empires into this region in the 19th and 20th centuries. His first book, Making Morocco: Colonial Intervention and the Politics of Identity (2015) won the 2016 Social Science History Association President’s Book Award. His second book Worldmaking in the Long Great War: How Local and Colonial Struggles Shaped the Modern Middle East (2022) has just been released by Columbia University Press.

Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies