Preventing Autonomy: European Interests and the Application of a Standard of Civilization

Part of the Middle East Today book series (MIET)


The standard of civilization, as it was applied to the Ottoman Empire and, subsequently, to the French Mandates of Lebanon and Syria, produced a set of material and immaterial benchmarks. As such, the populations were required to accede to a set of socio-political norms as well as apply modernization reforms that replicated the institutions and structures of statehood in Europe. However, and as discussed in this chapter, the standard of civilization became intertwined with the interests of European states. Because the civilizing project and modernization reforms, being the products of a standard of civilization, could not be divorced from political and economic interests, the standard that was required of the Ottoman Empire, Lebanon, and Syria continued to shift. The result was the continued subordination of the Ottoman Empire and the Syrian provinces, the continuation of the civilizing project, and—as such—the continued application of imperial interference and intervention. This is evident throughout the Tanzimat period as well as the French Mandate period.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies, School of Languages, Cultures, and SocietiesUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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