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By Jens Hanssen

Postwar Beirut evokes contradictory pictures of outstanding openness and unattainable violence, of significant antiquity and a vivid destiny. The Lebanese capital stands for Arab cosmopolitanism and cultural effervescence but in addition for its tragedies of destruction. This publication examines the ancient formation of Beirut as a multiply contested Mediterranean city.Fin de Si?cle Beirut is a landmark contribution to the turning out to be literature in Ottoman reports, in Arab cultural historical past and on Mediterranean towns. Combining city concept, quite Henri Lefebvre's paintings on towns and capitalism, with postcolonial method, the relevant thesis of this booklet is that glossy Beirut is the result of continual social and highbrow struggles over the creation of area. town of Beirut was once right away the product, the article, and the venture of imperial and concrete politics of distinction: overlapping ecu, Ottoman, and municipal civilising missions competed within the political fields of management, infrastructure, city making plans, public future health, schooling, public morality, journalism, and architecture.Jens Hanssen deals a entire, unique account of the emergence of recent Beirut out of an financial shift clear of Acre within the wake of the Napoleonic wars. He argues that the Ottoman government's determination to heed demands the construction of a brand new province round Beirut and supply it provincial capital prestige in 1888 cleared the path for basic city and local reconfigurations lengthy earlier than colonial regulations in the course of the French Mandate interval. This new Ottoman province got here to represent the territorial embodiment of nearby self-determination for Arab nationalists in Beirut till the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after international warfare I.Drawing on released and unpublished Ottoman govt files, Arabic resources, and ecu archival fabric, Hanssen's ebook lines the city event of modernity within the Ottoman Empire. The transformation of daily life in overdue nineteenth-century Beirut and the concomitant guidelines of city administration is vividly set opposed to the devastating civil conflict in Mount Lebanon and Damascus in 1860.

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As a consequence of this annexation, Beirut lost its privileged status as provincial seat of government of Sidon. Administrative offices were dismantled, staff were required to move to Damascus, and the city’s new secondary administrators were left without initiative and authority. arrifiyyas (subprovinces, or sancak. s) reporting to the capital Damascus. In his reform proposal to the imperial government dated 21 July 1865, Rushdı¯ Pasha justified his division of Bilad al-Sham at great length. He insisted with no small satisfaction that his reorganization of local councils and tribunals reflected the ⁷² Findley (1986: 4).

Feti Aga [H . ama¯da] had filled the office under successive Pashas from the times of the Egyptians. ⁴³ ‘Emasculating Damascus’? ⁴⁴ However, there was nothing about this process that guaranteed Beirut’s lasting economic and political primacy. Why did Beirut maintain and expand its strategic economic position even against the odds of extensive warfare and destruction in its hinterland? After the civil war of 1860, a passionate battle of petitions between Damascenes and Beirutis erupted which was driven by the general perception that prosperity proved elusive.

Quoted in Philipp (2002: 129). ¹⁶ Immigration shaped the first phase of Beirut’s regional ascendancy as a mercantile enclave in a region of monopoly rule. As a ‘merchant republic’, Beirut thrived against the odds of the regional urban hierarchy and, I argue, against the adverse structure of its own urban layout. So far, Beirut’s ascendancy was not the outcome of a deliberate government planning effort. On the contrary, the city distinguished itself as an urban asylum for immigrants from embattled regions in Bilad al-Sham.

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