Research Article


DOI :10.26650/jos.1422116   IUP :10.26650/jos.1422116    Full Text (PDF)

Criticizing Antonius: A Different Perspective On The Official Arab Nationalist Narrative

Mehmet Fahri Danış

George Antonius’s 1938 book Arab Awakening serves as a foundational text, methodically defining, restricting, and shaping the history of the Arab national movement. Antonius’ work established a sacred “origin” for Arab nationalism; he presented the activities of a literary-cultural circle (Nahda) and how they accelerated the political nationalist movement. The literature frequently criticizes the Arab Awakening, emphasizing its historical justifications or subjective perspective flaws. The goal of this research is to examine how the Arab Awakening has historically helped to develop Arab nationalism around two key concepts. The intellectual foundations of the concept of “national awakening” will be revealed in this regard, following a brief summary of Antonius’ historical sketch and an evaluation of the critical canon compared to the Arab Awakening. The issue of Antonius’ relationship to territorial nationalism, which he opposes to ethnic nationalism, will then be examined as a frequently overlooked aspect of his writing. It will be argued that the distinction between qawmiyya and wataniyya represents an important breaking point revealed by the Arab Awakening.

DOI :10.26650/jos.1422116   IUP :10.26650/jos.1422116    Full Text (PDF)

Antonius’u Eleştirmek: Arap Milliyetçiliğinin Resmî Anlatısına Alternatif Bir Bakış Denemesi

Mehmet Fahri Danış

George Antonius’un 1938 yılında yayımlanan Arap Uyanışı başlıklı çalışması, Arap ulusal hareketinin tarihini sistemli bir şekilde tanımlayan, sınırlayan ve bu vesileyle de şekillendiren bir kurucu metindir. Antonius’un Arap milliyetçiliğine mukaddes bir “köken” kazandırma niteliğine hizmet eden çalışma; 19. yüzyıl ortalarında Beyrut’ta temelleri atılan edebî-kültürel bir çevrenin faaliyetlerini (Nahda) ve bu faaliyetlerin siyasî bir milliyetçi hareketi ivmelediği tezlerini ileri sürer. Arap Uyanışı, literatürde çokça eleştirilir, muhteviyatındaki tarihsel argümanların yanlışlığı ya da objektif olmayan bakış açısı sıklıkla vurgulanır. Fakat tüm kritiklere rağmen Antonius’un metni, Arap milliyetçiliğinin öyküsünün resmî vesikası, ulusal hareketin izlediği tarihsel güzergâhın yegâne kaynağı ve daha da ötesinde modern Arap kimliğinin “ne”liğini tespit eden çok önemli bir yapıt olmayı günümüze kadar sürdürür. Bu çalışmanın amacı; Arap Uyanışı’nı, Arap milliyetçiliğinin inşası aşamasında oynadığı tarihsel rolü başlıca iki husus etrafında analiz etmektir. Bu doğrultuda Antonius’un çizdiği tarihsel eskizin kısaca özetlenmesi ve Arap Uyanışı karşısında oluşan eleştirel kanonun değerlendirilmesinin ardından, “milli uyanış” fikrinin felsefî temelleri ortaya koyulacaktır. Ardından Antonius’un yapıtının genelde görmezden gelinen bir parçası olarak, etnik milliyetçiliğin karşısında konumlandırdığı teritoryal milliyetçilikle münasebeti meselesi incelenecek ve kavmiyye-vataniyye ayrımının, esasında Arap Uyanışı’nın ortaya koyduğu önemli bir kırılma noktası olduğu ileri sürülecektir. 


EXTENDED ABSTRACT


George Antonius’ Arab Awakening was one of the first works to narrate the development of modern Arab nationalism and identity systematically. Up until the last quarter of the twentieth century, this book was considered a privileged work of literature. It profoundly impacted the official historiography of the newly formed nation-states in the post-Ottoman Middle East and the new wave of Arab nationalism that arose in response to the Arab–Israeli conflict. Finding a study comparable to this endeavor is impossible, given that the book was published in 1938. The study demonstrates that European sovereignty still exists in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq—areas Antonius frequently refers to as “northern Arab lands”—that the international community takes the Palestine issue seriously, and that this particular occasion raises awareness of the fragmented nature of post-Ottoman Arab geography. The story of the Arab national movement, which began in the nineteenth century, is also a concrete expression of the ideal of unity or the collapse of Arab nationalism based on ethnicity and language, known as “qawmiyya.” One of the book’s most distinguishing features is Antonius’ personal connections, which allow him to speak directly with key leaders from Nahda and the 1915 Rebellion. In some ways, this transforms the Arab Awakening into a record of the testimony of the most influential figures of the time. 

Antonius chose to highlight and leave out certain topics in his historical narrative based on his own worldview and the cultural context of his upbringing. Antonius does not wish to present an unbiased account of the Arab national story. The goal of writing the Arab Awakening was to establish an Arab identity and the ideal of Arab nationalism that would resurrect it broadly as a foundation, origin, and beginning.

There have always been critical works that challenge Antonius’ story, and prominent figures in contemporary Middle Eastern studies have not shied away from methodically dissecting the Arab Awakening, particularly in light of its overemphasis on external influences. Nowadays, it appears difficult to write anything about the subject without praising or denouncing Antonius and his masterpiece. Since the middle of the twentieth century, many who oppose the Arab Awakening have questioned the book’s fundamental ideas, focusing primarily on Antonius’ impartiality. Zeine Zeine, Albert Hourani, A.L. Tibawi, Elie Kedourie, and others have criticized the role of Beirut’s cultural revival. However, Ernest Dawn has a more limited literary effect. Dawn argued that Turkish nationalism played an important role in the rise of Arab nationalism. In addition to these important avenues, notable figures include Philip Khoury and Michael Provence, who emphasized notables’ politics as the foundation of Arab nationalism; Bassam Tibi, who highlights the impact of European-centered ideas on Bilad al-Sham; and Martin Kramer, who emphasizes Islamic modernism’s significance.

Finally, those criticizing Antonius, including the text’s content, tend to focus on Nahda’s historical significance and the relationship between Turkism and Arab nationalism. The purpose of this article, however, is to examine how the Arab Awakening shaped Arab nationalism throughout history, focusing on two main themes. This will initially expose the conceptual underpinnings of “national awakening.” The “awakening” motif, which pervades nearly all nationalist rhetoric, gives the national community a sacred origin while emphasizing some “premodern” ideas about the nature of national identity today. The question of Antonius’ relationship to territorial nationalism, which he opposes to ethnic nationalism, will then be examined as an often overlooked aspect of his work. It will be argued that the distinction between qawmiyya and wataniyya represents an important breaking point revealed by the Arab Awakening.

Because Antonius’ work contains so many problematic issues, it is important to criticize him. His worldview and the cultural milieu in which he grew up were the only factors that impacted the concerns addressed and ignored in the historical narrative he wrote. Antonius is the result of his political and cultural surroundings, having grown up in a cosmopolitan setting in Lebanon and receiving a Western education as a Christian intellectual. Thus, criticizing Antonius is analogous to criticizing “Antonius-type” late nineteenth-century Arab thinker. This issue, which many critics have previously ignored, necessitates a thorough examination of the intellectual milieu of the time.

In actuality, Antonius does not want to provide an unbiased account of the Arab national struggle. The goal of writing the Arab Awakening book was to provide a foundation, origin, and beginning for the Arab identity and the ideal of Arab nationalism, which will resurrect it globally. Antonius examines the past through his own lens, attempting to interpret the pertinent events in accordance with a single ideal to construct a narrative that will lend historical legitimacy to the Arab national cause.

The goal of this study is to provide an introduction to an alternative interpretation of Antonius’ magnum opus. The first section of the article provides a brief overview of the historical trajectory of the Arab national movement as described in the Arab Awakening and divides text criticism into several sections. A comprehensive assessment of the Arab Awakening criticisms reveals that they follow multiple broad trajectories, and a chronological analysis reveals a clear distinction between past criticisms and current complaints. The discourse that established the Arab identity as a contemporary form of belonging and the concept of “awakening,” which was deemed the most important component of the work, were then subjected to philosophical and sociological analysis. Finally, research has begun on the textual foundations of the distinction between territorial nationalism (wataniyya) and ethnic nationalism (qawmiyya), which should be viewed as one of the most important issues of the Arab Awakening and a pivotal paradigm for the entire twentieth-century Middle Eastern history. Comparing the nation-state nationalisms of Western-dominated mandate states is required to highlight the differences between these two types of nationalism, which also served to stifle this ideal in the face of unitary Pan-Arab nationalism.


PDF View

References

  • Antonius, George. “Syria and the French Mandate.” International Affairs 13/4 (1934): 523-539. google scholar
  • Antonius, George. The Arab Awakening: The Story of the Arab National Movement. New York: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1938. google scholar
  • Antonius, George. Arap Uyanışı: Arap Ulusal Hareketinin Öyküsü. Çev. Mehmet Akif Koç. İstanbul: Selenge Yayınları, 2021. google scholar
  • Arslan, Melikşah. “Arapçılık ve Helencilik Arasında Osmanlı Devleti: Kudüs Rum Ortodoks Patrikhanesi Krizi (1908-1914)”. Osmanlı Araştırmaları 60/1, (2022): 179-215. google scholar
  • Baktıaya, Adil. Osmanlı Suriyesi’nde Arapçılığın Doğuşu: Sosyo-Ekonomik Değişim ve Siyasi Düşünce. İstanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2017. google scholar
  • Baram, Amatzia. “Territorial Nationalism in the Middle East.” Middle Eastern Studies 26/4 (1990): 425-448. google scholar
  • Bhambra, Gurminder K. “Beginnings: Edward W. Said and Question of Nationalism.” Interventions 8/1 (2006): 1-8. google scholar
  • Boyle, Susan Silsby. Betrayal of Palestine: The Story of George Antonius. Colorado: Westview Press, 2001. google scholar
  • Choueiri, Youssef. Modern Arab Historiography: Historical Discourse and the Nation-State. New York: Routledge, 2003. google scholar
  • Cleveland, William. “The Worlds of George Antonius: Identity, Culture and the Making of an Anglo-Arab in the Pre-World War II Middle East.” Auto/Biography and the Construction of Identity and Community in the Middle East. Haz. Mary Ann Fay içinde 125-139. New York: Palgrave, 2001. google scholar
  • Cleveland, William. Bir Arap Milliyetçisi Yaratmak: Osmanlıcılıktan Arap Milliyetçiliğine Satı el-Husri. Çev. Burak Demiryakan. İstanbul: Edebi Şeyler, 2018. google scholar
  • Corm, Charles. La Montagne.e Inspiree. Beyrouth: Editions de la Revue Phenicienne, 1934. google scholar
  • Cortas, Wadad Makdisi. O Sevdiğim Dünya. Çev. Gamze Varım. İstanbul: Metis Yayınları, 2010. google scholar
  • Danış, Fahri. “Suriyecilik ve Arapçılık Karşısında Teritoryal Lübnan Milliyetçiliği.” Lübnan: Kimlik, Toplum ve Siyaset. Haz. Fahri Danış ve Yasin Atlıoğlu içinde 97-139. İstanbul: Vadi Yayınları, 2021. google scholar
  • Danış, Fahri. “Lübnan Düşüncesinin Oluşumunda Beyrut’taki Misyoner Okullarının Katkısı.” İnsan ve Toplum 13/2 (2023): 29-54. google scholar
  • Dawisha, Adeed. Arab Nationalism in the Twentieth Century: From Triump to Despair. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003. google scholar
  • Dawn, Ernest. From Ottomanism to Arabism: Essays on the Origins of Arab Nationalism. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1973. google scholar
  • Foucault, Michel. “Yazar Nedir?.” Sonsuza Giden Dil. Haz. Ferda Keskin ve Ömer Albayrak. Çev. Işık Ergüden. İstanbul: Ayrıntı Yayınları, 2014. google scholar
  • Fromkin, David. Barışa Son Veren Barış: Modern Ortadoğu Nasıl Yaratıldı? 1914-1922. Çev. Mehmet Harmancı. İstanbul: Epsilon Yayınları, 2008. google scholar
  • Gat, Azar. Uluslar: Siyasi Etnisite ve Milliyetçiliğin Uzun Tarihi ve Derin Kökleri. Çev. Şeyma Özcan. İstanbul: Bilge Kültür Sanat Yayınları, 2019. google scholar
  • Gelvin, James L. Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the Close of Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. google scholar
  • Haddad, Mahmoud. “The Rise of Arab Nationalism Reconsidered.” IJMES 26 (1994): 201-222. google scholar
  • Haim, Sylvia. “’The Arab Awakening’, A Source for Historian?” Die Welt des Islams 2/4 (1953): 237-250. google scholar
  • Hitti, Philip K. History of the Arabs. New York: Macmillan, 1937. google scholar
  • Hitti, Philip K. History of Syria: Including Lebanon and Palestine. New York: Macmillan, 1951. google scholar
  • Hobsbawm, Eric. Milletler ve Milliyetçilik: Program, Mit, Gerçeklik. Çev. Osman Akınhay. İstanbul: Ayrıntı Yayınları, 2010. google scholar
  • Hopwood, Derek (haz.). Studies in Arab History: The Antonius Lectures, 1978-1987. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1990. google scholar
  • Hopwood, Derek (haz.). Arab Nation, Arab Nationalism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000. google scholar
  • Hourani, Albert. The Emergence of the Modern Middle East. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981. google scholar
  • Hourani, Albert. “The Arab Awakening Forty Years After.” Studies in Arab History: The Antonius Lectures, 1978-87. Haz. Derek Hopwood içinde 21-41. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1990. google scholar
  • Hroch, Miroslav. Avrupa’da Milli Uyanış: Toplumsal Koşulların ve Toplulukların Karşılaştırmalı Analizi. Çev. Ayşe Özdemir. İstanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2011. google scholar
  • Kayalı, Hasan. Jön Türkler ve Araplar: Osmanlıcılık, Erken Arap Milliyetçiliği ve İslamcılık, 1908-1918. Çev. google scholar
  • Türkan Yöney. İstanbul: Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, 2017. google scholar
  • Kedourie, Elie. “The American University of Beirut.” Middle Eastern Studies 3 (1966): 74-90. google scholar
  • Kedourie, Elie. Nationalism in Asia and Africa. London: Franck Cass, 1970. google scholar
  • Khoury, Philip. Urban Notables and Arab Nationalism: The Politics of Damascus 1860-1920. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. google scholar
  • Koç, Mehmet Akif. George Antonius’un Arap Uyanışı adlı kitabına takdim, 7-11. Çev. Mehmet Akif Koç. İstanbul: Selenge Yayınları, 2021. google scholar
  • Kramer, Martin. “Arab Nationalism: Mistaken Identity.” Deadalus 122/3 (1993): 171-206. google scholar
  • Kramer, Martin. Arab Awakening & Islamic Revival: The Politics of Ideas in the Middle East. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1996. google scholar
  • Lesch, Ann M. “Antonius, George.” Encyclopedia of the Palestinians. Haz. Philip Matar içinde 22. New York: Facts on File, 2005. google scholar
  • Makdisi, Ussama. “‘Anti-Americanism’ in the Arab World: An Interpretation of a Brief History.” The Journal of American History 89/2 (2002): 538-557. google scholar
  • Maxwell, Alexander. “Typologies and Phases in Nationalism Studies: Hroch’s A-B-C Schema as a Basis for Comperative Terminology.” Nationalities Papers 38/6 (2010): 865-880. google scholar
  • Maxwell, Alexander. “Contingency and ‘National Awakening’.” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 26/2 (2020): 183-201. google scholar
  • Muslih, Muhammad. “The Rise of Local Nationalism in the Arab East.” The Origins of Arab Nationalism. Haz. Rashid Khalidi vd. içinde 167-189. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. google scholar
  • Özkırımlı, Umut. Milliyetçilik Kuramları: Eleştirel Bir Bakış. İstanbul: Doğu Batı Yayınları, 2013. google scholar
  • Patel, Abdulrazzak. The Arab Nahdah: The Making of Intellectual and Humanism Movement. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013. google scholar
  • Provence, Michael. The Last Ottoman Generation and the Making of the Modern Middle East. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017. google scholar
  • Said, Edward. Başlangıçlar: Niyet ve Yöntem. Çev. Ferit Burak Aydar. İstanbul: Metis Yayınları, 2009. google scholar
  • Schayegh, Cyrus. “The Mandates and/as decolonization.” The Routledge Handbook of the History of the Middle East Mandates. Haz. Cyrus Schayegh ve Andrew Arsan içinde 412-420. New York: Routledge, 2015. google scholar
  • Sheehi, Stephen. “Butrus al-Bustani: Syria’s Ideologue of the Age.” The Origins of Syrian Nationhood: Histories, Pioneers and Identity. Haz. Adel Beshara içinde 57-79. New York: Routledge, 2011. google scholar
  • Smith, Anthony. National Identity. London: Penguin Books, 1991. google scholar
  • Smith, Anthony. Nations and Nationalism in a Global Era. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995. google scholar
  • Smith, Anthony. “Ethnic and Territorial Nationalism.” Encyclopedia of Nationalism. Haz. Athena Leoussi içinde 62-64. London: Transaction Publishers, 2001. google scholar
  • Tauber, Eliezer. “When Two Anti-Zionist Corresponded: A Short Note on George Antonius and Elizabeth P. MacCollum.” Israel Affairs 28 (2022): 145-152. google scholar
  • Tibawi, A.L. A Modern History of Syria: Including Lebanon and Palestine. London: Macmillan, 1969. google scholar
  • Zeine, Zeine N. The Emergence of Arab Nationalism: With a Background Study of Arab-Turkish Relations in the Near-East. New York: Caravan Books, 1973. google scholar

Citations

Copy and paste a formatted citation or use one of the options to export in your chosen format


EXPORT



APA

Danış, M. (2024). Criticizing Antonius: A Different Perspective On The Official Arab Nationalist Narrative. Journal of Oriental Studies, 0(44), 101-124. https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1422116


AMA

Danış M. Criticizing Antonius: A Different Perspective On The Official Arab Nationalist Narrative. Journal of Oriental Studies. 2024;0(44):101-124. https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1422116


ABNT

Danış, M. Criticizing Antonius: A Different Perspective On The Official Arab Nationalist Narrative. Journal of Oriental Studies, [Publisher Location], v. 0, n. 44, p. 101-124, 2024.


Chicago: Author-Date Style

Danış, Mehmet Fahri,. 2024. “Criticizing Antonius: A Different Perspective On The Official Arab Nationalist Narrative.” Journal of Oriental Studies 0, no. 44: 101-124. https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1422116


Chicago: Humanities Style

Danış, Mehmet Fahri,. Criticizing Antonius: A Different Perspective On The Official Arab Nationalist Narrative.” Journal of Oriental Studies 0, no. 44 (May. 2024): 101-124. https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1422116


Harvard: Australian Style

Danış, M 2024, 'Criticizing Antonius: A Different Perspective On The Official Arab Nationalist Narrative', Journal of Oriental Studies, vol. 0, no. 44, pp. 101-124, viewed 18 May. 2024, https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1422116


Harvard: Author-Date Style

Danış, M. (2024) ‘Criticizing Antonius: A Different Perspective On The Official Arab Nationalist Narrative’, Journal of Oriental Studies, 0(44), pp. 101-124. https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1422116 (18 May. 2024).


MLA

Danış, Mehmet Fahri,. Criticizing Antonius: A Different Perspective On The Official Arab Nationalist Narrative.” Journal of Oriental Studies, vol. 0, no. 44, 2024, pp. 101-124. [Database Container], https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1422116


Vancouver

Danış M. Criticizing Antonius: A Different Perspective On The Official Arab Nationalist Narrative. Journal of Oriental Studies [Internet]. 18 May. 2024 [cited 18 May. 2024];0(44):101-124. Available from: https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1422116 doi: 10.26650/jos.1422116


ISNAD

Danış, Mehmet Fahri. Criticizing Antonius: A Different Perspective On The Official Arab Nationalist Narrative”. Journal of Oriental Studies 0/44 (May. 2024): 101-124. https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1422116



TIMELINE


Submitted18.01.2024
Accepted19.03.2024
Published Online30.04.2024

LICENCE


Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.


SHARE




Istanbul University Press aims to contribute to the dissemination of ever growing scientific knowledge through publication of high quality scientific journals and books in accordance with the international publishing standards and ethics. Istanbul University Press follows an open access, non-commercial, scholarly publishing.