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TALK | Intervention: An Eastern Mediterranean genealogy

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November 17, Friday, 11:30 am
Fayerweather Hall, Room 310

Andrew Arsan (University of Cambridge)

Respondent: Aaron Jakes (New School)

Moderator: Konstantina Zanou (Columbia University)

The times in which we live are rife with interventions - humanitarian, financial, and political - into the inner affairs of sovereign states. Deep incisions into the body politic, they injure even as they seek to heal, upturning conventional understandings of the state as an autonomous entity by inserting foreign elements beneath its skin. This paper sketches out a genealogy for these practices, tracing them back to the nineteenth-century Mediterranean and the particular sovereign arrangements born of the Ottoman empire’s unhappy encounter with Britain and France. From the 1830s onwards, it argues, these two states devised novel ways of organising population, territory, and debt and new understandings of sovereignty. And in doing so, they made of intervention a principle of international life.

Event co-sponsored by the Middle East Institute (MEI) & Columbia Global Centers

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Speaker Bio

Andrew Arsan is a political, cultural, and intellectual historian of the modern Middle East and of French and British imperialism, and University Lecturer in Modern Middle Eastern History in the Faculty of History. Born in Beirut, he lived in Paris and London, where he studied at the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, before coming up to St John's to study for a BA in History. After a circuitous round of research and teaching that has taken him – amongst other places – to Provence, Princeton, Paris, Dakar, and Beirut, he eventually returned to Cambridge, taking up a position as College Lecturer here at St. John’s, where he is Director of Studies for Part II.Andrew’s research interests include the history of migration and the circulation of people, goods, and ideas through the world; the history of non-European political thought; and the imperial histories of Britain and France. He runs a Part II paper on the Middle East in the History Faculty, and lectures for the two world history papers at Part I, 'Empires in World History from the Fifteenth Century to the First World War' and 'World History since 1914'.